Primary Sources: National

Most of these likely to be relevant to the amateur researcher are very well known. Each of them is a subject in themselves; a detailed description is outside the scope of this site. They include the national register of births marriages and deaths; census returns; wills since 1858 and the International Genealogical Index (IGI or Mormon Index)

Most of them are available on the internet, with limited amounts of material free of charge. Census returns are available at Warwick, Solihull and Birmingham. So is the national register of wills.

Primary Sources: Local

Although secondary sources specific to Knowle may be thin on the ground, we have excellent primary sources.  As already said most of the old Knowle records are at the Warwickshire County Record Office. They include

Unfortunately there are no Land Tax Record  or Glebe Terriers for Knowle

The following may be of particular interest.  Items can be found in various repositories.

Photographs & Postcards

Many of these hold a great deal of detail, showing houses and people, including school and sports groups.  Apart from the obvious uses for places they are useful for such things as costume, transport and social history.  Knowle Local History Society holds images from various sources.  There are numerous postcards from about 1900 onwards, many of them out of copyright. Unfortunately every photographer seems to have stood in the same place.

The Enclosure Map (1817)

This is the earliest map of the whole of Knowle.  It shows each plot of land, numbered, and its owner. It is a manorial document, which includes those parts of Knowle on the Solihull side of Purnell's Brook.  The survey which accompanies it is also at Warwick. It lists the owners and occupiers of each plot, usage and whether land is freehold or copyhold.  Knowle Library has a 19th century working copy of the map.  Knowle Local History Society has  images and a few entries from the schedule.

The Tithe Apportionment (1841)

This is a parochial record, showing only those parts of the Knowle within the ecclesiastical parish. The area beyond Purnell's Brook is on the Solihull tithe apportionment, which is also at Warwick, with a copy at Solihull.  The original map and the accompanying schedule are at Warwick. We have a copy of the northern part of the map and a partial transcription of the schedule. The complete schedule is available on line via the Warwickshire County Record Office web site.  The map shows individual numbered plots and buildings, but no owners. The schedule lists owners, occupiers, usage and other information.   


These show lists of residents from 1828 - 1940 with occupations. Later directories are more detailed and show addresses.  Also general information about the church, the school, larger houses, transport and agriculture.  In early volumes Knowle and Solihull were combined, but after 1860 they were listed separately. As they are based on the parochial boundaries we do not have entries for the area beyond Purnell’s Brook.  

A Note about House Names

House numbers were not introduced in Knowle until about 1940. Some houses have been known by the same name for decades, whilst others have been changed several times. And there is often more than one house with the same name.  As house numbers were included in the 1940 edition of the directories, numbers and house names can often be correlated if there was no change of occupant between 1936 and 1940.

Sale Brochures

These are a priceless source. Many of them have maps.  They contain numerous references to property and individuals. There is an excellent collection of brochures and posters at Knowle Library, lodged by Peter Davy - mostly the sale particulars produced by Samuel Davy & Sons since the late 19th century.  We also collect modern sale particulars for interesting properties, which the local estate agents kindly give us.

Four Knowle Estates

Four Knowle estates were sold between 1849 and 1904:

The Society has copies of all four, but there is no map of the Knowle Hall estate (not even in the Bodleian Library, where copies were lodged in 1849).  Properties are not named in the brochure, but many can be identified by correlation with the 1841 tithe schedule.  Note that the deeds of these properties date only from 1850.

Court Rolls

The Court Rolls are a record of the proceedings of the Manor Court at Knowle. They are manorial records and held at Warwick. They are complete and indexed by name from 1788 onwards, but some earlier ones are missing.  They include copyhold property transactions - similar to freehold but subject to certain conditions, and known as admittances and surrenders rather than buying and selling.  They also include whole or partial wills.  This is a gold mine for tracing the ownership and occupation of property.  From the late 19th century onwards copyhold land was converted to freehold and was abolished completely in 1922.  For freehold property the researcher needs access to other documents, such as the deeds.

Property Deeds

These are obviously more difficult as they are not publicly available and tend to be lodged at banks or building societies.  We actively seek information about Knowle property and are hot on the trail of any interesting ones which come on to the market. We are indebted to owners who have let us copy their deeds, or make notes and to solicitors who have let us sit in their offices to do so.


Knowle was a manorial peculiar, with testamentary matters falling within the jurisdiction of the manor court not the diocese. There are therefore no Knowle wills at Lichfield Diocesan Record Office.  A small collection survives at Warwick and some may be downloaded from the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC). There are extracts from some wills in the manor court rolls and references to others. Transcripts of some later wills can be found at Birmingham Reference Library and many can be downloaded from the internet at reasonable cost (about £3.50). Earlier ones are in Secretary Hand, which is not difficult to read with practice.

Ordnance Survey Maps

There are good collections of large scale (25” to the mile) OS at Solihull Central Library and Warwick.  Knowle Library has a small selection. The 1888 and 1904 maps show the names of larger houses.

Oral History

Oral history records can reveal information that could never be found in any written source, including anecdotes which bring publications and exhibitions alive.  There is a good collection at Knowle Library.  The Society also holds these and is constantly adding to them.

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