Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seigniorial Registers

Many of you have already noticed them - seigniorial registers which were published in the Třeboň digital archives. What are these registers? How can be used for the research? How to search them and what can be found there?

What are the seigniorial registers? 
Seigniorial registers are lists of dependent people, people who were subject to some authorities, to some domain. Administration of this lists (registers) was different on every domain. The list was usually created yearly but not all volumes were preserved till nowadays. The oldest registers were created in the second half of 16th century, the newest ones are from the half of 19th century.

The seigniorial registers were originally lists of orphans (as the oldest registers of Protivín domain) which developed into the lists of all dependent people on the domain. Great example of how the registers were administered is the Orlík nad Vltavou domain, property of the Schwarzenberg family. The books preserved from 1718 to 1780 - of course not all years can be found there but there are 41 books for those 63 years which is excellent number. 

Another example could be the already mentioned Protivín domain. First register comes from 1637 and it's the orphan's list. Regular dependent's list was firstly created in 1687 and since then there is book almost for every year till 1830. There are 200 books in this collection. 

What they contain and how to use them for research?
These lists contain all dependent people of the domain. Each village of the domain is listed. Every village is divided to three parts - housekeepers, hinds and orphans. Every part contains list of families and their members - head of the family mentioned in the first place, then his wife and children, often also other inhabitants of the house (parents, servants, cattle boys and so on).

Name and age of every family member is mentioned - and it's the perfect source for the genealogical research. If you have many books for short time span available, you can map the family from year to year and see how it grew, who died and who was born etc. This can help you when you are searching for family members in parish books which don't have indices - you know for whom you have to search. 

This can also help in case when surname after the house is used in the parish books. Both surnames, the "real" one and the one after the house are often listed in the seigniorial records.

How to search them? 
Seigniorial registers are usually divided into the smaller parts by the administrative units called "rychta" which were administered by reeve (rychtář). Every rychta was composed by few villages (often three and more). These villages are sometimes listed in alphabetical order, but more often by the geographical layout. 

There is a table of contents in the beginning or at the end of the register. Example can be found in the Orlík domain register from 1745

Table of contents in the Orlík domain register from 1745

This table gives you the name of "rychta" and then list of the villages which are administered by this unit. There is a folio (sheet) of the register mentioned next to every place - for example Milešov village can be found on folio 82. 

When you get to the village the families are then listed. You need to search family from family for the surname you are looking for, there is no other way how to search the registers. Here is an example of one of the families from the Orlík domain: 

Orlík domain register from 1725

First of all two numbers are listed. These are not house numbers as house numbers are used since 1770. These are internal numbers of the seigniorial records which means the page numbers of the cadastral registers where the house owner was also listed. 

Name, surname and age of the householder follows. In this case Gyržik Krotkeg (Jiřík Krotký), who was 44 years old. His wife is the next in the list - Alžbieta Žena, ie. Alžběta, wife, 43 years old. They had two children who were still staying with them - Gyržik (Jiřík), 14 years old, and Lydmila (Ludmila), 6 years old. They probably had some older children but those were probably already in service in some other house. Then there is a note "hosp." (hospodaří), meaning they are farming. 

Why are these registers useful? 
Information contained in the registers is great because even if your ancestors didn't have farm, they were just hinds or day-laborers, so you won't find them in the cadastral books as they had no land property, they still would be listed in the seigniorial registers. 

And these registers could be available even for time span where parish books are not yet available. It means they can help us mapping our family history before the era of parish records - of course only in case when the registers are available. Unfortunately there are too many domains where the registers are not available at all, so everything depends on luck...


  1. Thank you! I was wondering what information was in these registers. Very helpful! Glad you are back blogging again!

  2. Church records for Mlyny, Vlceves, Krec in Tabor were destroyed by fire. Seigniorial records for Radenin Hroby are limited to 1709. Do I have any other options?

    1. Hello, well it depends on what your ancestors did, if they owned some land property. If so, it's possible to try the cadastral books - but these are not yet online and I'm not sure if they really exist for this domain.

  3. Did these registries only exist in the Records from the Trebon archive? If they are not available online for other areas, are these registers available for other archives if you go to the actual archive offices? We have ancestors with records in the Pilsen and Litomerice archives, and I was just wondering if these registers might be available for either of those archives? Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie, these registries exist also for domains outside South Bohemia, they are just not online. They are stored in the domain archives, often directly in regional archives, but sometimes in district archives, it depends on type of domain.

    2. The Trebon archive has seigniorial registers for Msec, northeast of Prague. So they do have more than just South Bohemia.

    3. Urk ... meant northwest of Prague.

  4. I LOVE that you used Orlik as your example ;D This is MY land! What I don't completely understand is what you mean by "dependent." Do you mean that they are all serfs and employees? Or just orphans and disabled people? I know that my ancestors always worked for the estate.

    1. Hi Judi, "dependent" are serfs and employees of the domain, those who belong to the domain/estate. Personally free (independent) people are not included in the seigniorial registers because they were not a subject to any domain/estate, but directly to the king.

  5. Can you tell us more about who is included in these records? I have families from the church records that I can not find in the seigniorial records. Should I look in other villages or could they be omitted? I also wonder what judith.engels asked about what you mean by "dependent". Could that be why they are not included, if they are not dependent? Thank you!

    1. Dependent explained above, thanks for reminding me.

      There were more reasons why people were not included:
      - they were personally free, ie. independent, and didn't belong to any domain
      - village was divided between two or more domains/estates
      - there exist only orphan registries for that domain/estate

      Last point: There were two kinds of these registers - registers of all serfs and registers of orphans, widows and disabled only. Some estates have only the orphan registries to find out who has the estate's administration take care of.

    2. Thank you Blanka, I had wondered why I couldn't find them (ever, with MUCH searching). They were count's foresters, and gamekeepers. So in addition to moving around a lot, it seems they were free from the estates and won't be in these records. Thank you for the explanation.

  6. Could you please tell me how to find the seigniorial registers for Zaluzi u Budislav, and the nearby village of Nova Ves? I don't know which 'rychta' they were in.
    Thank you!

  7. Hello,
    Do you know where Seigniorial Registers would be found for the Příbram area?
    Thank you,

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