The Friends of Devon's Archives (FODA) provide, in their Devon Freeholders 1711-1799 pages, an extensive description and discussion of the Freeholders Books held by the Devon Record Office (ref: QS/7). Quoting from the introductory page:
The absence of comprehensive lists of inhabitants is a well-known hindrance for the study of Devon society during the eighteenth century. In addition to the 1723 oath of allegiance rolls and later eighteenth century land tax assessments the survival of a series of freeholders books are a valuable source of information. The books were compiled for the purposes of identifying inhabitants of the county who were eligible to serve on juries. With certain exceptions, the qualification from 1692 until 1730 was to own freehold or copyhold land with an annual value of £10 or more. After 1730, tenants of land worth £20 per year held on long leases were also eligible. Eligibility was restricted to men between the ages of 21 and 70. Therefore, the lists contain the names of the more substantial property owning inhabitants of Devon parishes during the century. Freeholders books survive in the records of the Devon quarter sessions from 1711 until approximately 1816. 61 volumes are extant up to and including 1800.
The FODA pages include indexed transcripts of nine of these volumes, one for each decade until the end of the eighteenth century. This valuable resource has been produced by Simon Dixon, who kindly provided photographs of QS7/1-52 to GENUKI in order that transcriptions of all the other volumes from the period 1711-1780 could also be prepared.
Below are links to the FODA indexes, and to the set of transcripts and indexes to the transcripts (containing over 130,000 names) that have been produced by GENUKI's volunteer transcribers from Simon Dixon's photographs.
All of the GENUKI transcripts have been independently checked. However, apparent errors, e.g., of freeholder's names, that have been revealed by the bringing together of entries from different volumes in order to produce the GENUKI indexes, have in general not been corrected - in fact sample checks have demonstrated that many of these errors in fact are in the original documents. (Note that the GENUKI indexes provide only the standardised, or in some cases corrected, parish and hundred names - the parish and hundred names as given in the orignal volumes are however included in the transcripts, which in each case identify the transcriber(s) and checker involved.)
(Files covered: QS7/1 (1711); QS7/9 (1721); QS7/14 (1733); QS7/20 (1741);
QS7/28 (1751); QS7/36 (1762); QS7/44 (1771); QS7/53 (1783) and QS7/56 (1799).)