Manuscripts and Special Collections

Abstract of title

Abstracts of title are chronological descriptions of the contents of all the title deeds relating to a particular property or estate. They were normally drawn up by lawyers when the property was being sold, in order to prove the seller's title. Abstracts of title first appeared around the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The benefits for the researcher of using abstracts of title are as follows:

  • They can be used to trace the history of the ownership of a particular property over a long period of time
  • They can refer to deeds and documents which no longer exist in the deed bundle, and supply important missing information
  • They can help avoid the need to read the original deeds in a bundle. Abstracts of title provide the main points of each deed, written in a consistent (usually neat) hand


Proving the ownership and descent of a particular property or estate

Features of abstracts of title

  • 18th-20th centuries
  • Written on paper
  • Often highly abbreviated

Important words and phrases

The words and phrases used in abstracts of title are the same as the usual clauses within the deed forms that are being described. Abstracts of title were drawn up by lawyers, for lawyers. They already understood what they were writing, and abbreviated many words and phrases which were familiar to them. Therefore, some experience of legal terminology is helpful. In the example below, an understanding of the normal wording of a lease and release would be useful.


Ne 6 D 2/31/16 - Abstract of title to a messuage, brick-yard, lands and premises on Cleveland Hill in the parish of East Markham in the County of Nottingham; 1817

Deed Ne D 2/31/16

This abstract is divided into three parts, the first for Howgates Close which is three acres in size, the second for Howgates Close which is six acres in size and the third for both the closes together; the first part begins with a lease and release dated 28 and 29 Jul. 1742 and ends with a lease and release dated 18 and 19 Mar. 1771; the second part consists of a lease and release dated 9 and 10 Oct. 1783; and the third part begins with a lease and release dated 5 and 6 Apr. 1795 and ends with a lease and release dated 23 and 24 Mar. 1813.

In the following transcription of the first page, the clerk's abbreviations have been left as they have were originally written.



Abstract of the Title of Mr Leonard Norfolk to a Messuage Brick Yard Lands and Premises on Cleveland Hill in the parish of East Markham in the County of Nottingham


As to Howgates Close containing three Acres

28th & 29th

July 1742

Indres of Lease & Release respectively made between Thos Morley of

Wirksworth in the County of Derby Gentleman of the one part & John Burton of West Markham in the County of Nottingham Taylor of the other part


It is witnessed that sd Thos Morley in Conson of twenty and two pounds to him paid by sd John Burton Did for himself his heirs and assigns grant bargain sell alien release & confirm unto the sd John Burton his Heirs and Assigns


All that his Moiety or undivided half part of All that Close of Meadow or Pasture ground commonly called Howgates Close situate lying & being in East Markham in the sd County of Nottingham containg by Estimation two Acres & an half (be the same more or less) the South Field of East Markham aforesd lying South thereof And the land of Mr Molineux North And also one Land containg by Estimation half an Acre (be it more or less) situate lying & being on the South side of Bacon Hill in East Markham aforesd the land of the sd Mr Mollineux lying on the North thereof which sd premies were then in the possession of sd John Burton.

Together with all & singular ways &c. (All which sd premises were then in the actual possession of the sd John Burton by virtue of a Bargain & Sale &c)

And the Reversion &c. And all the Estate &c.


To hold unto & to the use of sd John Burton his heirs & Asss for ever.

To be held of the Chief Lord or Lords of the Fee or Fees &c.

Covenants from sd Thos Morley that he was lawfully seized - had power to Convey - for ...



Next page: Requisitions on title


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