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Deed of covenant for the production of title deed

When a large estate was broken into smaller landholdings and sold off piece by piece, a question arose as to who should retain the older title deeds relating to the whole estate, which were needed in order to prove title.

The solution usually adopted was that the seller retained the original deed bundle, but made a covenant (agreement) with the purchaser. Should there ever be a need to prove title, the seller would produce copies of the title deeds for the lawyers to look at, and would also keep the originals safe and be able to produce them if required.

In many cases, the covenant formed part of the main deed of conveyance. However, from the mid-eighteenth century until the 1870s it became more usual to produce a separate deed of covenant, usually made on the same date as the conveyance.

Deeds of covenant to produce title deeds usually include a schedule of the relevant title deeds, which can be invaluable for researchers if the original deed bundle has actually been lost over the years.

Purpose

A promise to guarantee title to land which has been sold.

Features of deeds of covenant

  • 16th-19th centuries
  • large, rectangular
  • written on parchment
  • usually written in English
  • indenture (wavy top edge)
  • schedule of title deeds
  • seal

Important words and phrases

The most important phrase to help identify a covenant is:

...do covenant promise and agree

There is usually a nominal consideration for the agreement, e.g. 10 shillings.

Example

Ne 6 D 2/31/20 - Deed of covenant from William Cobb to Henry P.F. Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle under Lyne for the production of title deeds; 2 Sep. 1817

Deed Ne 6 D 2/31/20

This transcription of the deed of covenant has been broken down into the standard sections common to most deeds from the early modern period onwards.

Date

This Indenture made the second day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventeen

Parties

Between William Cobb of East Markham in the county of Nottingham Farmer of the one part and The Most Noble Henry Pelham Duke of Newcastle Knight of the most noble order of the Garter of the other part

Recitals

Whereas by indentures of lease and appointment and release the lease bearing date on the day next before the day of the date of the appointment and release and the appointment and release bearing or intended to bear even date with these presents and made or expresed to be made between Leonard Norfolk of East Drayton in the said County of Nottingham Farmer of the first part William Nicholson of Dunham in the said County of Nottingham Farmer of the second part and the said Henry Duke of Newcastle of the third part For the considerations in the said indenture of appointment and release expressed The said Leonard Norfolk Did direct limit and appoint and also grant bargain sell alien release ratify and confirm and the said William Nicholson Did bargain sell and release unto the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs and assigns All that messuage dwellinghouse or tenement situate standing and being in the parish of East Markham in the said County of Nottingham with the yard garden stable dovecote cowhouse and appurtenances thereunto adjoining and belonging And Also All that close piece or parcel of inclosed land or ground situate lying and being in East Markham aforesaid called or known by the name of the Howgates Close containing by estimation three acres (be the same more or less) And Also All that other close piece or parcel of inclosed land or ground also situate lying and being in the parish of East Markham aforesaid and called or known by the name of the Howgates close containing six acres and six perches (be the same more or less) which said messuage closes and premises were or are bounded respectively on or towards the west by the great North road on or towards the north by an estate belonging to the said Duke of Newcastle and on or towards the east and south by lands of the said Duke of Newcastle and were then in the tenure or occupation of the said Leonard Norfolk Together with the rights members and appurtenances to the same hereditaments and premises belonging or appertaining To hold the same unto and to the use of the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs and assigns for ever And whereas the deeds evidences and writings comprized or mentioned in the schedule hereunder written are in the custody and possession of the said William Cobb and relate not only to the title of the said messuage or tenement closes lands and hereditaments so appointed and conveyed to the said Henry Duke of Newcastle as aforesaid but also to the title of other hereditaments the estate of the said William Cobb and the said William Cobb at the request of the said Henry Duke of Newcastle hath agreed to enter into the covenant for the production thereof unto or for the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs or assigns as hereinafter is contained

Operative Parts or 'Testatum'

Now this Indenture Witnesseth that in consideration of the premises And also for and in consideration of the sum of ten shillings of lawful money of Great Britain to the said William Cobb paid by the said Henry Duke of Newcastle at or before the execution hereof The receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged He the said William Cobb for himself his heirs executors and administrators doth hereby covenant promise and agree with and to the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs and assigns that he the said William Cobb his heirs and assigns (unless prevented by Fire or some other inevitable accident) shall and will from time to time and at all or any time or times hereafter upon every reasonable request in writing to him or them made for that purpose and at the proper costs and expence of the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs or assigns Produce and shewforth or cause and procure to be Produced and shewnforth in any part of the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs or assigns or to his and their or any of their Counsel agents or attornies or at any trial hearing commission or examination in or directed by any court or courts of law or equity and to any arbitrators lawfully authorized or upon any other fit and reasonable occasion All and every or any of the deeds evidences and writings which are comprized in the Schedule hereunder written or hereunto annexed And also all other deeds evidences and writings (if any not being of recors) which relate to or concern the said messuages closes lands and premises or any part thereof together with other other hereditaments and premises of equal or greater value which now are or hereafter may be in the custody or lawful power of him the said William Cobb his heirs or assigns or which he they or any of them can obtain without suit at law or in equity when and as often and in such manner as shall be requisite for the maintenance manifestation defending or proving the estate interest right title property or possession of him the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs or assigns in or to the said messuage closes lands and premises comprized in and appointed or conveyed or mentioned or intended to be appointed and conveyed by the hereinbefore mentioned or recited indentures of lease and appointment and release or any part thereof respectively and also shall and will from time to time and at all times hereafter at the like request costs and charges of the said Henry Duke of Newcastle his heirs or assigns make or cause to be made and delivered to him or them such true and attested copies (duly stamped) of the same deeds and evidences respectively or of any of them as he or they may require and shall and will in the mean time keep the said deeds evidences and writings safe whole uncancelled and undefaced (loss or damage by Fire or other inevitable accident only excepted)

Witnesses

In Witness whereof the said parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.

[Signature and seal of Wm Cobb]

Endorsements

The Schedule to which the above written Indenture refers [List of six deeds and documents covenanted to be produced]

[On the back: signatures of two witnesses]

 

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