West Riding Registry of Deeds
The West Riding Registry of Deeds was established by Act of Parliament in 1704 and operated until September 1970. One of only five Deeds Registries in the country it was created to allow land holders to register the title to their property. The Registry operated across the whole of the West Riding of Yorkshire and contains summaries or memorials of the registered title deeds.
These memorials do not contain all the details of the original but will give the date, the names and addresses of the parties and a brief description of the property. They do not tend to give details of the covenants and frequently do not include a plan.
It was not compulsory to register your title deeds but the majority of people did register them when a transaction lead to a change in ownership. Between 1704 and 1970 some 7 million deeds were registered and indexed. Freehold and Leasehold deeds were registered but it was not possible to register Copyhold land or leases for less than 21 years. As well as title deeds probate documents were also registered to indicate the transfer of title.
Compulsory registration of land in West Yorkshire was introduced in 1974 and all land ownership is now recorded at the Land Registry. You can check the current owner of a piece of land at www.landregistry.gov.uk/wps/portal/Property_Search but if it has not changed hands since 1974 you may referred back to the Registry of Deeds.
For further information please see User Guide 4 - West Riding Registry of Deeds
Using the Registry of Deeds
You can visit the Registry of Deeds at our Wakefield office, we recommend you contact us to make an appointment before you visit as the searchroom can get very busy. Staff will be available to assist you and to answer any questions you might have. In order to find the relevant deeds you will need the address of the property and name of an owner prior to 1970. If you do not have this information then please ask us for advice on how to proceed before your visit.
There are a number of indexes to the Registry of Deeds but the only one that covers the entire period from 1704 to 1970 is the index of names. You should start by using this index to locate the individual you know owned the property at a specific time.
The index will give you the details of any registered deeds and you can then order the volumes using the document request slips in the searchroom. Staff will retrieve the volume for you. Once you have found the relevant deed you should be able to trace previous owners using the information in the memorial.
We are able to provide paper copies of the memorial deeds. There are a range of options depending on whether you need copies for personal or legal purposes. For further information see User Guide 5 – Current fees and charges.
EShop / Ordering