Manuscripts and Special Collections


The following list is not exhaustive, but aims to cover most of the terms which may be encountered by modern researchers.

A selection of Latin phrases frequently used in deeds is also included. Users are advised to consult the Latin vocabularies listed in the Bibliography for assistance in translating commonly occurring words such as house, field, rent, and the like. 

Term Definition
abstract of title document showing how the title of a property devolved to the current owner; often a summary of prior ownership listing details of previous deeds
abuttal adjoining property to that involved in a deed
administration process by which goods and possessions passed to the heirs of a person who had died intestate
annuity annual money payment
apportionment allotment, usually of a sum of money such as a rent or a tithe payment, between a number of beneficiaries in the proportion due to them.
appurtenance other 'things' belonging to a property, e.g. yards, gardens, rights etc
assignee person to whom something has been assigned or transferred
assignment transfer - perhaps of a lease or a mortgage
bar entail prevent an entail from taking effect
bargain and sale an early form of conveyance
bond agreement to pay a penalty if certain conditions or actions are not performed
chancery formerly the highest court of the land, to which many cases relating to property were taken
common recovery a legal 'fiction' by which land could be transferred instead of using a conveyance
consideration usually the purchase money for a property; sometimes the consideration was not a monetary payment but the 'natural love and affection' from a parent to a child
convey to transfer freehold property from one party to another
copyhold property held by copy of court roll, i.e. held of a manor
corporeal hereditaments tangible property such as land and buildings
counterpart a second copy of an indenture, exactly matching the first
covenant an agreement entered into by one or more parties to a deed
curtilage a yard or court belonging to a dwelling house
declaration of trust process by which a person is made a trustee, including details of what the trust involves
deed poll deed made and executed by only one party
defeasance a deed which acted to cancel a recognizance of a statute staple
deforciant the defendant in a final concord
demandant person/group attempting to recover property in a common recovery
demise lease
determination ceasing of provisions within a deed
devise to transfer property through a will
devisee someone receiving property from a will
dower a widow's right to one third of her late husband's property
easement a right or a privilege over property, e.g. a right of way
encumbrance something affecting title to property, e.g. a mortgage or entail
endorsement something written on the back of a deed
enrolment copy of a deed kept on a court roll
entail the settlement of property so that it must descend in a specified manner, for example from father to eldest son or husband to wife; the property must not be sold or otherwise disposed of
equity of redemption the right of a mortgagor to redeem the property he has mortgaged; this right could be passed to a third party
executor/executrix person appointed to carry out the provisions of a will; an executor is male, executrix female
exemplification a formal copy of a deed, normally issued with a seal of court; most commonly a common recovery, but sometimes a fine
fee/fee simple absolute possession of freehold land
feoffee a trustee who holds land without specified conditions
feoffment a means of conveying property, technically by a ceremony called livery of seizin
final concord record of a collusive court case in which the plaintiff demanded property from the deforciant; usually used as a further way to prove title following a feoffment
fine another term for a final concord; OR a sum of money paid for the granting of a lease or admission to copyhold
freehold land held in fee simple
gift the transfer of real property in medieval times; the term was used even if no money changed hands
grant means of transferring property
grantee person to whom something is granted
grantor person who grants something to another
incorporeal hereditaments intangible property, such as rights and privileges
indenture a type of deed which had an 'indented' top; usually two copied prepared, one to be kept by each party
intestacy act of dying without having made a will
lease a grant of property for a specified amount of time, usually a term of years
leasehold property held by means of a lease
lease and release a means of conveying property; a lease was granted for a year, and the following day the lessor or grantor's rights of ownership were released in return for a consideration
lessee person to whom a lease was granted
lessor person granting a lease
letter of attorney document allowing one named party to act on behalf of another
letters patent a form of royal grant
livery of seizin the delivery of possession of freehold property
memorandum note summarising the terms of a particular transaction; often endorsed on deeds
messuage term used for a property, often a dwelling house
moiety half of a property
mortgage a loan secured by property temporarily transferred from mortgagor to mortgagee
mortgagee person lending money in a mortgage
mortgagor person borrowing money in a mortgage
partition division of property between two or more interested parties
party/ies a person, group or organisation playing one of the roles in the transaction recorded by a deed, e.g. as lessor/lessee, seller/purchaser etc
plaintiff the person/group demanding property in a final concord
portion a share of property allotted to an individual or group
probate the process of establishing that a will is valid
quitclaim deed renouncing any rights or interests in property
recital the repetition of a previous event or deed which may affect property being transferred; the event or deed is 'recited' at the beginning of the new deed; a recital is always introduced by the word 'whereas'
recognizance a strong form of a bond, normally cancelled by a defeasance
remainder an estate in expectation, i.e. the words which indicate that a person will inherit, e.g. the property is transferred to A and his heirs, and in the event of there being no heirs, the remainder to B (therefore B will inherit instead)
reversion the return of a leased property to the original owner after the lease has expired
seizin possession of freehold property
settlement transfer of property to trustees, for specified purposes
statute staple a strong form of bond, normally cancelled by a defeasance
surrender the return of leasehold or copyhold property to the lessor or lord of the manor
tenant to the praecipe a third party in a common recovery to whom property is conveyed in name in order for it to be recovered
tenement a description of property, usually including a building; a messuage may be divided into two tenements
tenure the way in which property is held e.g. freehold tenure, leasehold tenure
testator/testatrix person writing a will; a testator is male, a testatrix female
title the ownership of property
trust holding property according to specified conditions, e.g. to administer or manage the estate and pay the profits to another, perhaps an underage heir
trustee the person holding property in trust
uses the purposes for which a property is held in trust by a trustee - usually specified in a settlement
vouchee person summoned in a common recovery to give proof of title to property
wardship feudal right of a lord to custody of his tenant's heir whilst a minor
warranty an undertaking by a grantor to support a new owner's rights to property transferred
whereas word which marks the beginning of a recital in a deed
Details of entire Latin phrases found in deeds
ad quod hoc presens scriptum pervenerit to whom this present writing shall come
dedi, concessi et hac presenti carta confirmavi have given, granted and by this my present charter have confirmed
concessit et dimisit have conceded and leased
cum pertinentiis with appurtenances
data apud (name of place and date) dated at
de me et heredibus meis from me and my heirs
ex parte altera on the other part
ex parte una on the one part
firmiter teneri et obligari am firmly bound and obliged
habendum et tenendum to have and to hold
hec est finalis concordia this is the final concord
hec indentura facta inter this indenture made between
hec conventio facta inter this agreement made between
hiis testibus (list of names) these being witness
imperpetuum / in perpetuum forever
in cuius testimonium huic presenti carte sigillum meum apposui in witness of which I have attached my seal to this present charter
noverint universi per presentes me know all men by these presents that I
remisse, relaxasse et quietclamasse have remised, relaxed and quitclaimed
sciant presentes et futuri know (all men) at present and in future
sibi et heredibus suis to him/her and his/her heirs


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