Westphalia Court Records
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is a codex territorialis, a public register kept by administrations to document all properties of all subjects in villages or cities. Of interest are fields, vineyards, meadows, gardens, houses, farms, ponds, woodlands and other properties. All mills, borders, margins, field stones, neighbors and alternate names were contained in such records as well as interest, bonds, taxes and statute labor were documented in minute details. The Lagerbuch is also known as Erbbuch, Erbregister, Feuersocietäts-Catastrum, flurbuch, Flurregister, Grund- und Hypothekenbuch, Markungsbuch.
When a Lagerbuch is correctly organized, it should contain two parts: The Lagerbuch to find the individual properties and the Sahlbuch, in which each property of an owner is listed with taxes, tributes and complaints. All subjects are listed in alphabetical order.
The Lagerbuch can contain specifically the following information:
1. The name of the village with its borders and if the village has administrative privileges, whether it carries the name of nobility, i.e., Adlig- or whether a village belongs to the Church (Stift) or it belongs to a city.
2. The name of the overlord/manor lord
3. The landscape in which the property is located is named by its traditional name
4. All properties are described as they are found with outline and numbers
5. When property is listed , all proprietors ‘ names are given, their neighbors mentioned, the quality and what kind of ground it is, if it belongs to the farm and if it is inalienable or alienable, whether it is a fief or inheritable.
Here is an example of a possible entry:
A meadow, belongs to Peter Fischer, lies in the East against Johann Sellmer’s meadow, in the West borders on the Ellerbach, in the South borders on village property and in the North borders on Herrmann Schulz’ and Ludwig Frank’s fields. The meadow can be mowed twice a year, is of first class quality, capacity of 5 Morgen 24 Ruthen (acreage) is a fief and belongs to the farm.
In the second part, the Sahlbuch, the following information can be found:
1. Who is the overlord of the village.
2. The location and the borders of the village are being described, all markers are being listed with
distance between them and their numberings and conditions.
3. The size of the village and the number of farms with full acreage,half acreage and those who only
occupy a house (Beisitzer)
4. If there is a church and if this church was an affiliate or the actual parish church.
5. If there is an administration in the village, a school
6. There follows detailed information about the yield, the use, the growth, amount of acreage,
meadows, woodlands, cattle, horses, sheep and fattening and how the population profits from it.
7. Descriptions of what areas were deserted and unusable and what to do with them.
8. If there were rivers and streams or lakes information was given about size, depth and whether there
was fish, what sort of fish and whom they belonged to. Were the stretches of water navigable, were
there bridges and how many.
9. What privileges and freedoms did the village have. What sort of tributes and taxes encumbered the
10. Were there mills in the village. What freedoms were granted the miller.
11. Was beer brewed and spirits distilled in the village and who was privileged to do this.
12. The whole population of the village is listed with all their individual obligations, what to give as
The Lager/Sahlbücher are of multiple importance.
1. The situation of a population in a village or city is being portrayed.
2. No piece of land is unaccounted for.
3. Taxes are easily assessed by using Lager/Sahlbücher
4. Costly investigations into land disputes can be avoided
5. Reports concerning conditions of land by higher administrations can be shortened
6. Easy access to the information in Lager-Sahlbücher makes it possible to create maps
Of course, the usefulness of such books depends on the carefulness with which these books were kept
Since the information in them constantly changed.
The official administrator was also urged to keep duplicate.
There are some Lagerbuch records for the city of Bielefeld from 1627. They were filmed by The
Genealogical Society of Utah in 1966 and are available through www.familysearch.org Family History
Catalog, International film number 582340. The film can be ordered through the Family History Center
Verdicts against witches
To bring an indictment against witches was much more common in Protestant Germany than it was among Catholics. Court regulations concerning torture were closely observed. Witchcraft was supposed to be punished with penance to make amends for actual damages. However, in Protestant regions such guidelines were intensified because witchcraft was viewed as collaboration with the devil and such acts were always worthy of death. Mainly women were involved, but men and children were not spared.
The accused was to confess under torture and show remorse and was to denounce accomplices. The following procedure was to be ensued:
See http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexenverfolgung (the text is in German. By hi lighting the URL and putting it into Google language tools, translate a website (choosing German to English) a rough translation is provided by Wikipedia.
There are some records available on procedures against witches in Westfalen. www.familysearch.org Family History Library Catalog, International film 1945963 shows some Ratsprotokolle (city records) of Rüthen (Möhne).
All those who were able to get a Konsens (consensus) from their manor lord or the corresponding authorities in the city (city administration, magistrate, guilds etc.) were able to marry. The reason for such restrictive measures was mainly to assure the support of a family. Not everyone was allowed to marry. If Konsens was denied, there could be problems with marrying beneath ones standing, as was often the case with officers, administrators or members of the nobility, there could be relationship issues, religious differences. People had to apply for Konsens when one partner came from out of town.
There are some applications filmed for the city of Iserlohn.The records are on International film number 2390049. The film can be ordered through the FamilySearch support system at local Family History Centers.
In the early development of cities (1000-1600) there also evolved the representation of properties on maps and in registers. The mapping and registration of land was of great importance in the colonization and administration efforts of newly conquered territories. In 1150 Charlemagne introduced property taxes. First, these contributions were non monetary and were estimated according to gross profits. Property taxes changed in the middle of the 17th century and was now measured according to yield and had to be paid with money. Taxes were to be more just. Therefore, the exact worth of each property and each taxpayer had to be known. For this reason, the creation of a “Steuerstock” was ordered. At the base of this tax was the surveying of land. In Brandenburg the Schoß- and Hufenregister was created. In Frankfurt occurred the first allotment surveying. This constituted not only the base for a levy, but also assured the legal safeguarding of properties. By the end of the 18th century, there was still not a Kataster as we know it today with exact measurements. Taxation occurred still by arbitrariness. For instance, in Prussia existed 33 different systems for property taxes. The aim was to streamline the distribution of taxes. Until 1872 the cadastre of Prussia was purely tax driven, then the additional function of the cadastre was to serve ownership rights. By 1900there existed in the German Reich the Eigentumskataster /Mehrzweckkataster. The cadastre became the official index for the Grundbuch (land register), served the requirements for taxes, official statistics, economics and planning and became the base for topographical maps.
Familysearch has in its collection the Bördekataster von 1685 in which all owners, houses, acreage and yield are listed. The area in question is the Nieder and Oberbörde (fertile lands around the city of Soest in Westphalia). The book lists 48 villages and has three registers, featuring an index by topics, an index of family names and farms and an index of field names and bodies of water. The book can be located in the Family History Library Catalog, call number 943.56/S2 R29k