Frequently asked questions about the North Riding Register of Deeds (NRRD)

This page answers some frequently asked questions about the NRRD. It should be read in conjunction with the accompanying pages: introduction to the NRRD and guide to using the NRRD.

What should I do before I visit the County Record Office to use the NRRD?

  • Read our other pages on researching house history, which provide an overview of our collections, as some of these other resources may also be useful to your research.
  • Find out as much as you can about the property’s history and previous owners. Speak to neighbours, previous occupants or estate agents to see what they may know.
  • Check if you already have copies of, or can get access to, old title deeds and other documents, such as sales particulars, which may give you details of when the property was sold and who the previous owners were. Makes notes of any names and dates and bring this information with you. Deeds may be held by a solicitor or mortgage company.

Can you help me with my search?

Our search room staff can help you to use the indexes, show you how to use the microfilm readers and retrieve the relevant post-1885 deeds volumes for you to view. We are unable to offer legal advice about interpreting deeds.

What if I am unable to visit the Record Office in person?

We can carry out searches of our collections on behalf of customers. Our minimum fee is for half an hour’s research. Please see our online shop for details of our ‘Family History Research’ service, which covers all types of research in multiples of 30 minutes up to an initial maximum of one hour. You can also contact us by phone or email to discuss your requirements. It is helpful to us if you can let us know as much about your query as possible.

Can I copy the registered deeds?

Self-service black and white print-outs and/or digital copies of deeds prior to 1885 may be made from microfilm when visiting our search room. We do not permit photography of original deeds volumes using mobile phones or cameras. Copies of registered documents may be ordered via our reprographics service and, if required, they can also be certified. Details of our printing and copying fees may be found on our website.

What are the key differences between the NRRD indexes and deeds volumes before and after 1885?

Legislation was introduced in 1884 to ensure a common system of registration across the three Yorkshire ridings. There are, therefore, two different systems for before and after the year 1885. There are illustrated examples in our guide to using the NRRD.

Both systems are indexed by name and place, known as the indexes of parties and indexes of lands.

These indexes list the name of the parish or township, but do not include detailed addresses. You will need to look at the deeds themselves for details of the property they relate to. You may find, however, that in some of the later indexes, there is mention of a street name in some of the larger urban areas, e.g. Middlesbrough or Scarborough, particularly when several transactions in that place are listed under one party.

Before 1885 – for deeds from 1736 to 1884:

  • The Registry is indexed by place and by name (surname first).
  • The place indexes list the main parties, the name indexes generally list only the vendor (seller).
  • These indexes are first letter indexes, not strictly alphabetical, by place and surname. Searches of these earlier indexes may be more time-consuming than those after 1885.
  • The indexes and deeds volumes are fragile and accessible on microfilm only, to protect the originals from wear and tear.
  • Appendix I of NYCRO Guide no. 1 pp.219-220 will help you to work out which microfilm numbers you need for both the indexes and the deeds volumes.
  • The references are alpha/numerical e.g. AB/321/456 (book/page number/deed number) The earliest deeds books ran from A-Z, then in a sequence from AA, AB, etc through to MU. The letters J and V were not used to avoid confusion with the letters I and U.
  • The indexes show only the year of registration in the index margins at the start of the entries for that year, not against each entry.

There is also an index of wills 1800-1884, as some wills were registered where they relate to transfer of ownership of property.

After 1885 – for deeds from 1885 to 1970:

  • The indexes are accessible as bound volumes on the search room shelves in five-year blocks (e.g. 1885-1889, 1890-1894 etc.).
  • The indexes are fully alphabetical by name (parties) and place (lands). Names are arranged alphabetically by surname, forenames and/or initials.
  • The indexes list all parties involved in the transaction, both vendor(s)/seller(s) and purchaser(s)/buyers.
  • The references are numerical e.g. 1234/654/789 (book number from 1-2056/page number/deed number).
  • The indexes show the date of each registration.
  • The place index was discontinued from about the mid-1960s.
  • The deeds are bound in in large, green-leather volumes, which hold around 1000 pages each
  • Deeds volumes will be retrieved on request; there is no need to fill out a document request slip.

What information do the indexes contain?

In the indexes, you will find:

  • Before 1885 – the year of registration; after 1885, the full date of registration.
  • The type of instrument: ‘memorial’, conveyance, indenture, mortgage etc.
  • The names of the people (parties) involved: before 1885 – the seller or main parties; after 1885 the seller(s) and buyer(s) (also known as vendor and purchaser).
  • The parish or township.
  • The NRRD volume reference (before 1885 – letters; after 1885 – numbers), page number and deed number.

What information do the deeds contain?

In the deeds, you will find:

  • The date of the original transaction.
  • The date and time of registration.
  • The type of instrument: conveyance, indenture, mortgage etc. and whether or not it is a memorial (summary) of the original.
  • The names of the people (parties) involved, usually the seller(s) and the buyer(s) (also known as vendor and purchaser).
  • The parish or township.
  • A written description of the property (land and buildings) and its boundaries (which may be abbreviated or shortened in memorial versions of deeds).

You may also find:

  • A location plan  – some deeds, especially those after 1885, will include a hand-drawn plan, an Ordnance Survey map extract or a tracing from such a map.
  • Some entries in the register make reference to an earlier deed or deeds, which can be very helpful in tracing earlier transactions. It is, therefore, easier to work backwards in time rather than forwards with these records.
  • Some complete versions of deeds may contain details of covenants and easements.

Where can I find deeds for other areas of York and Yorkshire?

Separate registries operated in the West and East Ridings and are housed at Wakefield and Beverley respectively:

The West Riding Registry of Deeds (WRRD), 1704-1970, is held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield; read their online user guide. The WRRD includes areas within the historic Ainsty of York. The historic West Riding covered areas which roughly correspond to the Craven, Harrogate and Selby districts of North Yorkshire.

The East Riding Registry of Deeds (ERRD), 1708-1976, is held by the East Riding Archives in Beverley; read their online user guide. The historic East Riding covered the southern parts of the Ryedale District of North Yorkshire.

The historic City of York was not covered by any of the registries. Explore York Archives holds a small number of deeds for council-owned properties in the 18th century. As some parts of the current City of York Council area were formerly within the Ainsty and West or North Ridings (see above), deeds for these areas may be found in the corresponding registries of deeds.

How do I find a deed after 1970?

Although compulsory registration was introduced in most areas by 1974, property in some parts of North Yorkshire did not have to be registered until as late as 1st December 1988 (see section 8.1 of this online guide to first registrations for dates and areas).

For some areas of the North Riding and North Yorkshire, therefore, there is a gap of several years between the last entries in the NRRD in August 1970 and the start of compulsory land registration.

HM Land Registry has an online webpage about searching for property information that may be helpful and an online blog on locating title deeds.