Catalogue description Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, and successors: Annual Reports

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Details of CRES 60
Reference: CRES 60
Title: Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, and successors: Annual Reports

Reports of the Surveyor General of Land Revenue (1797-1809), the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues (1812-1832 and 1852-1924), the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings (1833-1851) and the Commissioners of Crown Lands (1925-1942). They are variously three yearly or annual reports. The records provide an overview of the administration of Crown lands, including details of both tenants and estates concerned.

Each report is accompanied by an appendix containing printed copies of documents such as memorials, accounts of money paid into the Bank of England, schedules of leases granted, accounts of fee farm and other unimproveable rents sold and other plans. In particular CRES 60/3 has several plans relating to the Metropolitan Improvements Schemes; CRES 60/7 has a plan and perspective view of Chelsea Bridge (1851), a plan and elevation of the Victoria Bridge at Windsor (1851), and a block plan of the proposed Public Record Office to be built on the Rolls Estate in London (August 1851).

Date: 1797-1942
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: LRRO 9
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Crown Lands, 1925-1956

Office of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, 1810-1832

Office of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, 1851-1924

Office of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings, 1832-1851

Surveyor General of Woods and Forests, 1715-1810

Physical description: 25 volume(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

The four reports of the Surveyor General of Land Revenue John Fordyce, were made in obedience to an Act of 34 Geo III, c75, 'An Act for the better management of the land revenue of the Crown, and for the sale of fee farm and other unimprovable rents'. The Act followed from 17 reports of three commissioners (of whom John Fordyce was one from 1788) made between 1787 and 1793 to enquire into the state and condition of the woods, forests and land revenues of the Crown and to sell or alienate fee farm and other unimprovable rents. The four reports were made at three yearly intervals as stipulated by the Act (except for the second report which follows after a space of five years), and were dated 1 December 1797, 14 December 1802, 4 March 1806 and 6 April 1809.

The death of John Fordyce in 1809 provided the opportunity to unite the Departments of Woods and Forests and Land Revenue as recommended by the commissioners referred to above. Accordingly an Act was passed for this purpose in 1810 (50 Geo III, c65), and the new commissioners in charge made their first report to Parliament on 4 June 1812, three years having elapsed since John Fordyce's last report.

The Act 10 Geo IV, c50, which consolidated legislation relating to the management of the Crown estates and revenues, required the commissioners to report annually for the year ending on the 5 January preceding the date of the report. Consequently the Seventh Report of the Commissioners, dated 8 June 1830, is also entitled their First Annual Report. In 1832, by the Act 2 Wm IV, c1, the Office of Woods was united with the Office of Works. The first combined report is dated 28 August 1833 and is numbered in sequence with the preceding ones, ie the Tenth Report of the Commissioners and the Fourth Annual Report.

The Act 11-12 Vict, c102 required the annual report to be made within three calendar months of the 31 March each year, and consequently the 26th Report (the 20th Annual Report) covers the period 5 January 1848 to 31 March 1849 only. The 27th and 28th Reports were submitted for the years ending 31 March 1850 and 31 March 1851 respectively. However, by the Act 14-15 Vict, c42 the responsibilities of the Commissioners for Public Buildings and Works were separated from those for Woods, Forests and Land Revenues with effect from 10 October 1851. Consequently the 29th Report, dated 23 June 1852, only covers the period 1 April 1851 to 9 October 1851.

The 30th Report of the Commissioners of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues is also entitled the First Report under the Act of 14-15 Vict, and is dated 4 October and 1 August 1852. It bears two dates as the reports by Charles Gore, the Commissioner responsible for the Land Revenues of the Crown in England, Wales and the Isles of Man and Alderney, and T F Kennedy, the Commissioner for Land Revenues in Scotland and Ireland,and Woods, Royal Forests, etc, were submitted separately. This report is for the half year 10 October 1851 to 31 March 1852. The 31st Report similarly bears two dates, but all the reports after the 30th one are for a full year ending on 31 March.

The 61st to 68th Reports were printed by Henry Hansard and Son. The 69th Report is the first to bear the imprint of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. The HMSO printed or published all the remaining reports except for those for 1940-1942 (see above). By the Crown Lands Act 1906, the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries was appointed to be a third, ex-officio Commissioner. The first report to include the President's signature is the 85th one, dated 27 June 1907.

In 1924 the management of the majority of Crown woods and forests was transferred to the Forestry Commission, and by the Order in Council dated 8 December 1924 (as mentioned above) the title of the commissioners was changed to the Commissioners of Crown Lands. Despite these changes the First Report of the new commissioners, dated 30 June 1925, is numbered in sequence with the preceding ones, bearing the title of the 103rd Report of the commissioners in obedience to the Acts of 10 George IV and 2 William IV, and the 74th Annual Report under the Act of 14-15 Victoria.

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