Skip to main content


burgages were forms of tenure. In the royal burghs of Scotland, they were properties held from the crown for rent and with the obligation of performing watch and ward. In England, they were properties in certain boroughs held freehold: in parliamentary boroughs they could carry the right to vote, which gave them a value far in excess of their economic worth. Before the Great Reform Act of 1832 there were 29 burgage boroughs. Since it was not difficult for patrons to buy up a majority of burgage properties, many burgage boroughs, particularly in Wiltshire and Yorkshire, were soon closed up and saw few elections: Thirsk was not contested between 1673 and 1832. The burgage boroughs had many idiosyncrasies. At Droitwich the properties were dried-up salt-pans; at Downton some of them were at the bottom of a stream into which the property had long since fallen; Old Sarum had only seven voters. In the 18th cent. patrons controlled the voters by issuing snatch-papers—title deeds to the property to be produced at the hustings to prove freehold, but at once taken away for safe keeping. In 1832 thirteen burgage boroughs lost both their seats and another nine lost one seat. See also boroughs.

J. A. Cannon

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"burgages." The Oxford Companion to British History. . 20 Feb. 2019 <>.

"burgages." The Oxford Companion to British History. . (February 20, 2019).

"burgages." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved February 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.