A feoffment is similar to a deed of gift, recording the sale of real property (land or buildings). It developed in the Middle Ages.
Although many other forms of conveyance developed from the sixteenth century onwards, feoffments continued to be used into the nineteenth century. Sometimes they were produced alongside other forms of conveyance as part of a 'belt and braces' approach to recording a land sale, to make absolutely sure that everything was legal.
Although some true feoffments were produced using a similar form of words to the medieval equivalent, feoffments from the sixteenth century onwards were more likely to be hybrid documents combining elements of the feoffment with elements from a deed of bargain and sale
. These are described in archival catalogues variously as 'feoffment', 'bargain and sale with feoffment', or 'bargain and sale with livery of seizin'.
Sale of real property (land or buildings) from one party to another, for a monetary consideration. The amount of money involved is not usually specified until around the sixteenth century.
Features of medieval-style feoffments
Features of later feoffments
- 16th century-1845
- larger, rectangular
- written on parchment
- usually written in English; some written in Latin until 1733
- indenture (wavy top edge)
Important words and phrases
Feoffments record in the past tense what has been done to transfer the property:
Dedi concessi feoffavi et confirmavi...
Concessi bargindisavi feoffavi et vendidi...
[English] Have given, granted, enfeoffed and confirmed...
Have granted, bargain, enfeoffed and sold ...
Have given, granted, alienated, bargained, sold, enfeoffed and confirmed...
They make reference to the practice of 'livery of seizin'. This was a ritual in which a physical piece of land (a clod of earth or a twig) was given from the seller to the purchaser, to represent the passing of the freehold. A memorandum of livery of seizin was written onto the back of the document (endorsed) from the fifteenth century onwards. 'Seizin' is sometimes spelt 'seisin' or 'sasine'.
The actual operative word 'enfeoffed' or, in Latin, 'feoffasse
', do not have to appear in the deed for it to be classed as a feoffment - it is the livery of seizin which is important.
After 1290 feoffments had to include a statement that the services relating to the land were held 'of the chief lord of the fee' (de capitalibus dominis feodi).
Ne D 1383 - Feoffment (Latin) from Edward Thurland to Thomas Hugill of a toft in Elkesley, Nottinghamshire; 30 Apr. 1561
View this deed: front | reverse
View a line-by-line breakdown of this deed
This is a medieval form of feoffment, written on a small piece of rectangular parchment, 23 cm wide by 15 cm long. It has the following typical characteristics of this type of feoffment:
- It is a deed poll, that is, the top of the deed is cut in a straight line. This indicates that the deed was made by just one person
- It begins with the words 'Omnibus Christi Fidelibus' - although other forms of words are sometimes used for feoffments
- It includes the phrase 'dedidisse concessisse et hoc presenti scripto meo confirmasse'. It does not, however, use the word 'feoffasse'
- The land is described only in the most general terms - although this was beginning to change by this stage in the sixteenth century
- There are no details of what payment was made for the land - although it is stated that there was a monetary consideration. By the stage in the sixteenth century exact amounts were sometimes being stated
- The land is transferred to John Bevercotes and his heirs and assigns (i.e. in fee simple) for ever
- It is to be held 'of the chief Lord of the fee' - this is typical of a medieval feoffment
- It has been sealed with one personal seal
- Attorneys are appointed in order to take seizin of the land - this is another key clause identifying the deed as a feoffment
- On the reverse, there is a memorandum that livery of seizin has been delivered
[line 1] Om[n]ibus Xpi [Christi] fidelibus ad quos hoc presens Scriptu[m] p[er]venerit Edwardus Thurland de Gamston
[line 2] in Com[itatu] Nottingh[a]m Armiger Salutem in d[omi]no sempiterna[m]. Sciatis me prefat[us] Edward pro certis
[line 3] pecuniar[um] S[um]mis mihi per Thoma[m] Hugyll al[ia]s Fowler premanib[us] solut[is] ac pro alijs diversis
[line 4] Rac[i]onabilib[us] causis et considerac[i]onib[us] me sp[ecia]l[ite]r movent[ibus] dedisse concessisse & hoc p[rese]nti Scripto
[line 5] meo Confirmasse prefat[o] Thome Hugyll al[ia]s Fowler unu[m] Toftu[m] cu[m] suis p[er]tin[entiis] in Elkysley in
[line 6] d[i]c[t]o Com[itatu] Not. vocat[um] woode thinge H[ab]endu[m] gaudend[um] & tendend[um] p[re]d[i]c[tu]m Toft[um] cu[m] suis p[er]tin[entiis] p[re]fat[o]
[line 7] Thome Hugyll al[ia]s Fowler hered[ibus] et assignat[is] suis ad propriu[m] opus et usu[m] pred[icti] Thome
[line 8] hered[um] et assignat[orum] suo[rum] imp[er]p[etuu]m De Capital[ibus] d[omi]nis feod[i] ill[ius] p[er] seruicia inde prius debita
[line 9] et de Iur[e] consuet[a] Et ego vero pred[i]c[t]us Edward Thurland & hered[es] mei p[re]d[ictum] Toft[um] cu[m] suis p[er]tin[entiis]
[line 10] p[re]fat[o] Thome Hugyll al[ia]s Fowler hered[ibus] et assign[atis] suis contra om[n]es gentes Warrantizabimus &
[line 11] imp[er]p[etuu]m defendem[us] p[er] p[rese]ntes Ac Insup[er] Nov[er]it[is] me p[re]fat[um] Edward Thurland fecisse ordinasse
[line 12] constituisse et in loco meo p[er] p[rese]ntes posuisse dil[ec]tos mihi in Xpo [Christo] Leonard Tomson & Will[ielmu]m
[line 13] Roger yome[n] meos veros & legitti[m]os Attornat[os] con[iuncti]m et divi[si]m ad intrand[um] & Ingrediend[um] pro me
[line 14] vice et no[m]i[n]e meo in p[re]d[ictum] Toftu[m] cu[m] suis p[er]tin[entiis] et in quaml[i]b[e]t inde p[ar]cell[am] Ac inde plena[m] et pacificam
[line 15]possessione[m] et sei[sin]am p[ro] me vice et no[m]i[n]e meo capiend[um] Et post huiusmodi possessio[n]em & sei[sin]am sic inde
[line 16] capt[as] et ha[b]it[as] deinde p[ro] me vice et no[m]i[n]e plena[m] et purifica[m] possessio[n]em & sei[sin]am de et in p[re]d[icto] Tofto cu[m] suis p[er]tin[entiis]
[line 17] p[re]fat[o] Thome Hugyll al[ias] Fowler hered[ibus] et assign[atis] suis ad propriu[m] opus et usu[m] pred[ictum] imp[er]p[etuu]m deliberandu[m]
[line 18] s[e]c[un]d[u]m tenore[m] vim forma[m] et effectu[m] hui[us] present[is] Script[i] mei Rat[um] et grat[um] h[ab]ens et ha[b]itur[us] totu[m] et
[line 19] quicquid dicti Attornat[i] mei no[m]i[n]e meo fecerint seu eor[um] alter fecer[it] in p[re]miss[is] vel circa p[re]miss[a]
[line 20] In Cuius rei Testimonium huic p[rese]nt[i] Script[o] meo Sigill[um] meu[m] apposui Dat[um] ultimo die Ap[ri]lis
[line 21] Anno Regni Elizabeth[e] dei gra[tia] Anglie Fra[u]nc[ie] & Hib[er]nie Regine fidei defens[oris] &c Tertio
[Signed 'By me Edward Thurland', and sealed with red wax seal]
On the reverse side:
[line 1] M[emoran]d[um] q[uo]d se[is]i[n]a & possessio delib[er]a[ta]* fuit p[er] infrano[m]i[n]at[o] Will[ielm]o Roger [* the writer has put deliberand’ in error for deliberat’
[line 2] infrascripto Thome Hugyll al[ias] Fowler xviijo die Junii s[e]c[un]d[u]m
[line 3] vim forma[m] & effectum hui[us] p[re]sent[is] Carta* in p[re]senc[ia] Thome [* the writer has put Carta in error for Carte]
[line 4] Strange Xpoferi Marnh[a]m Joh[ann]e* Halywell & al[iorum] [* the writer has put Johanne in error for Johannis]
[line 1] To all faithful Christian people to whom this present writing shall come, Edward Thurland of Gamston
[line 2] in the county of Nottingham, esquire, eternal Greetings in the Lord. Know that I the said Edward for certain
[line 3] pecuniary sums paid to me beforehand by Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler and for other diverse
[line 4] and rational causes and considerations especially moving me, have given, conceded and by this my present writing
[line 5] have confirmed to the aforenamed Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler one Toft with its appurtenances in Elkysley [Elkesley] in
[line 6] the said county of Nottingham, called Woode Thinge, to have, enjoy and hold the aforesaid Toft with its appurtenances to the aforenamed
[line 7] Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler, his heirs and assigns, to the proper use and behoof of the aforesaid Thomas
[line 8] , his heirs and assigns, forever, [to be held] of the chief lords of that fee by the services thence formerly due,
[lines 9-11] and of right accustomed. And I truly, the aforesaid Edward Thurland and my heirs, will warrant and for ever defend the aforesaid Toft with its appurtenances against all men, by these presents, to the aforenamed Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler, his heirs and assigns. And know as well that I, the aforenamed Edward Thurland have made, ordained,
[line 12] constituted and in my place by [these] presents have placed my beloved in Christ Leonard Tomson and William
[line 13] Roger, yeomen, as my true and lawful attorneys, jointly and severally, to enter and go into, for me
[line 14] in my place and name, the said Toft with its appurtenances, and into every parcel thereof, and to take full and peaceful
[line 15] possession and seizin for me in my place and name, and after such possession and seizin thereof [have been] thus
[line 16] taken and had, then for me, in my place and name to deliver full and peaceful possession and seizin of and in the aforesaid Toft with its appurtenances
[line 17] to the aforenamed Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler, his heirs and assigns, to the proper use and behoof aforesaid, for ever,
[line 18] according to the tenor, force, form and meaning of this my present Writing, having and [in the future] to have, [as] valid and acceptable, all and
[line 19] whatever my said attorneys shall do, or either of them shall do, in or about the premises
[line 20] In witness of which matter I have affixed my seal to this my present writing. Given on the last day of April
[line 21] in the third year of the reign of Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, defender of the faith etc.
On the reverse side:
[line 1] Memorandum that seisin and possession was delivered by the within-named William Roger
[line 2] to the within-written Thomas Hugyll alias Fowler on the 18th day of June according to
[line 3] the force, form and meaning of this present charter, in the presence of Thomas
[line 4] Strange, Christopher Marnham, John Halywell and others.
Ne D 2841 - Feoffment from Robert Rushton and others to Thomas Burrill of two cottages in Hill End, Newark, Nottinghamshire; 28 Mar. 1730
This is a more modern form of feoffment. It is written in the contemporary style of deeds from this time, on a much larger piece of parchment, 82 cm wide by 35 cm long. It is a hybrid of a deed of bargain and sale and a deed of feoffment, and has the following typical characteristics:
- It is an indenture, that is, the top of the deed is cut in a wavy line. This indicates that the deed was made between two or more parties. Some pairs of indentures were cut from the same sheet of parchment, and could be verified by checking that the top parts of each fitted together correctly
- It begins with the words 'This Indenture...'
- It includes the word 'enfeoffed', along with a string of other operative words
- The consideration is stated in full
- The land is transferred to John Holles and his heirs and assigns (i.e. in fee simple) for ever
- It has been sealed by the three people selling the land
- On the reverse, there is a memorandum that livery of seizin has been delivered
Like many feoffments of this period, this deed was part of a group of deeds working together to convey land. It includes a covenant to levy a fine (final concord) of the same premises, to 'enure' to the purchaser Thomas Burrill and his heirs. A fine would help to make the conveyance legally watertight, and could also be part of a procedure to break an entail or create a settlement of the land. The covenant also refers to compensation if the property was 'recovered' by the heirs of George Bradshaw, who was perhaps a previous owner of the property. However, no final concord or any other related deeds survive in the Newcastle collection to build up a bigger picture of this transaction.
This transcription of the important parts of the feoffment has been broken down into the standard sections common to most deeds from the early modern period onwards.
[line 1] This Indenture made the twenty eighth day of March in the third year of the reign of our Sov[er]eign Lord George the second ...
[line 2] Between Robert Rushton of Newarke upon Trent
[line 3] in the County of Nottingham Butcher and Ellenor his wife and John Rushton son and heir apparent of the said Robert Rushton of the one part and Thomas Burrill of Newarke aforesaid yeom[an] of the other part
Operative Parts, or 'Testatum'
[line 4] Witnesseth that the said Robert Rushton and Ellenor and John Rushton for and in consideration of the sum of thirteen pounds and five shillings of good and lawfull money of Great Brittain ...
[line 6] ... have granted bargained sold aliened
[line 7] enfeoffed released and confirmed and by these p[re]sents do grant bargain sell alien enfeoffe release and confirm unto the said Thomas Burrill his heirs and assignes
[line 7] All those two Severall Cottages or Tenements scituate
[line 8] standing and being in Newarke aforesaid in a certain Street or Place there called the Hillend now or late in the sev[er]all Tenures of the two widow Sharpes or their Assignes Together with all houses Outhouses Edifices buildings
[line 9] Barnes Stables Yards Gardens Orchards backsides ways easements paths passages proffitts priviledges advantages emoluments hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said p[re]mises belonging ...
[line 11] To have and to hold the said Cottages or Tenements ...
[line 12] ... unto the said Thomas Burrill his heirs and assignes to the only proper use
[line 13] and behoofe of the said Thomas Burrill and of his heirs and Assigns forever
Covenants, Conditions and Provisos
[line 13] And the said Robert Rushton and John Rushton for themselves jointly and Severally and for their joint and Severall heirs Execut[ors] Administr[ators]
[line 14] and Assignes do covenant promise and grant to and with the said Thomas Burrill his heirs and Assignes by these p[re]sents in manner and forme following (that is to say) that in case the said Cottages Tenements and p[re]mises shall be
[line 15] recovered of and from the said Thomas Burrill his heirs or Assignes by the heirs and Assignes of George Bradshaw Gent dec[eas]ed or by any other person or persons whatsoever that then and from thenceforth the said Robert Rushton and
[line 16] John Rushton their heirs and Assignes shall and will well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto the said Thomas Burrill the sum of ten pounds of good and lawfull money of Great Brittain And further that they the
[line 17] said Robert Rushton Ellenor and John Rushton their heirs and assignes ...
[line 18] ... shall and will ...upon the reasonable request Costs and charges in the law of the said
[line 19] Thomas Burrill his heirs and Assignes do [sic] levy execute and suffer ... all and every such further and othe reasonable act and acts assurance and assurances Conveyance and
[line 20] Conveyances ... for the better and more perfect assuring and suremaking and Confirmac[i]on of the said P[re]misses...
[line 22] And it is hereby granted covenanted and declared ... that as well all and every such fine
[line 23] and fines and all and every such further Assurances and Conveyances whatsoever to be had and levyed as aforesaid of the same p[re]misses ...
[line 25] shall be and enure and shall be adjudged deemed and taken to be and enure...
[line 26] ... to the only use and behoofe of the said Thomas Burrill and
[line 27] of his heirs and Assignes forever and to and for noe other use intent or purpose whatsoever
[line 27] In witness whereof the abovesaid parties to these p[re]sents have interchangeably sett their hands and seals the day and
[line 28] year first abovewritten
[Signatures of Robert Rushton, Elinor Rushton and John Rushton]
[Receipt for the consideration money of £13.5.0, signed by the three recipients and by two witnesses]
[Signatures of two witnesses to the deed]
[Memorandum of livery of seizin:]
Memorandum that peaceable and quiet possession and
Seizin of the Lands and hereditaments within menc[i]oned to be
granted was had and taken by the within named Robert
Rushton Ellenor and John Rushton and by them was deliv[er]ed
to the within named Thomas Burrill To hold to him the said
Thomas Burrill his heirs and Assignes forever according to the
Tenor form and effect of the within written Deed in the p[re]sence of
Edm[und] Hynde Jun[ior]
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