Final concords often look extremely impressive. Up to the late eighteenth century they were written in archaic legal handwriting. However, they do not really provide very much information on their own. It is important for researchers to understand that they are only part of a bigger procedure. They do not tell the whole story of a transaction, and might not be worth spending much time deciphering.
A final concord, or 'fine', was the product of a 'collusive action', or a fake legal procedure. The word 'concord' means 'agreement'. The legal procedure usually took place in the Court of Common Pleas. In the medieval period some procedures took place in some borough courts. In legal language, the verb for executing a final concord is 'to levy'; therefore, fines were always 'levied'.
Final concords were abolished by the Fines and Recoveries Act 1833.
Medieval fines had the effect of conveying freehold or copyhold property from one party to another, for a monetary consideration. Later fines were additional legal documents providing back-up to a real conveyance such as a feoffment or a lease and release. They could also be part of a sequence of documents used to bar an entail or to create a settlement of freehold land.
Features of final concords
- small, rectangular
- written on parchment
- written in archaic court hand up to the mid-eighteenth century
- written in Latin until 1733
- indenture (wavy top edge)
- vague description of land, e.g. 2 messuages and 150 acres of land in the parish of X
- approximate monetary consideration, e.g. £20, £100
- often dated using saints' days and law terms. See the Research Guidance on dating documents for help with deciphering these dates
The fine was written out three times on a large sheet of parchment, which was then cut up using wavy lines. The two parties (the plaintiff and the deforciant) kept two of the parts, and the 'foot of fine' was kept by the court as a record of the procedure.
Originally, the word 'chirograph' was written along where the lines were to be cut, so that when the pieces were put back together again it could be proved that they matched each other. Sometimes you will see the word 'chirograph' in old archive catalogues - this means a final concord.
Foot of Fine
(kept by the court)
(kept by the plaintiff)
(kept by the deforciant)
Script and rescript parts of a final concord (Ne D 1926)
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Important words and phrases
Fines can be identified by the first words:
[Latin] Hec est finalis concordia
[English] This is the final agreement
At face value, a fine was a record of proceedings in court between two parties:
- the plaintiff, or querent (often abbreviated to 'pl.' or 'quer.' in old calendars of deeds)
- the deforciant, or defendant (often abbreviated to 'def.')
The plaintiff brought an action in court to recover land from the deforciant. The plaintiff claimed that the land was rightly his. In court, the deforciant simply agreed that the plaintiff was right. The plaintiff agreed to pay a sum of money to the deforciant for this agreement, and the freehold passed to the plaintiff.
What was really happening was that the plaintiff was about to buy the land, to hold it as a mortgagee, or to hold it as a trustee for someone else. The deforciant was the current owner. The two parties had already agreed the conveyance beforehand.
Because it was not a real conveyance, the description of the property involved is extremely vague. Also, the money paid for the agreement is often an approximation of the real consideration money.
Various other deeds and documents were also produced in association with a final concord. These help to explain the reasons for levying a fine, especially if the fine is part of a settlement or mortgage:
- 'Covenant to levy a fine': a deed of covenant promising to levy a fine to help secure a conveyance or settlement, within a specified period of time
- 'Deed to lead the uses of a fine': deed stating in detail what is to be done and why. The deed will probably state that the fine is 'to enure' [i.e. the lands are to belong] to the person who acts as the deforciant in the fine
- 'Deed to declare the uses of a fine': similar, but produced after the fine was levied
Quick check-list for reading and understand final concords
- The plaintiff is the purchaser or recipient of the land
- The deforciant is the seller or owner of the land
- The description of the property gives only a vague idea of the real land involved
- Other deeds of around the same date and involving the same people are more likely to tell you what the real point of the transaction is: whether it is a simple conveyance, a mortgage, or a settlement. Look for feoffments, lease and releases, covenants to levy fines, deeds to lead the uses of a fine, or deeds to declare the uses of a fine
Ne D 1926 - Final concord (Latin) of the manor of Haughton, Nottinghamshire; 1538
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View a line-by-line breakdown of this deed
In this example:
- the plaintiff is Sir William Holles; and the deforciants are John Babington, esquire and his wife, Senche
- the fine is dated 'from the day of St Hilary in 15 days', in 29 Henry VIII. By reference to Cheney's A Handbook of Dates, this can be translated as 27th January 1537/8. The feast of St Hilary always fell on 13th January, which in 1538 was on Sunday. The octave of St Hilary (a period of eight days inclusive) fell on 20th January; the quindene (fifteen days inclusive) on 27th January
- an earlier deed of mortgage (Ne D 1921), dated 21 April 1537, explains that John Babington was mortgaging the manors of Haughton and Egmanton to Sir William Holles to raise £300. The mortgage includes a covenant to further assure Sir William Holles' title to the manor of Haughton. This is what was achieved here by this final concord
[line 1] Hec est finalis concordia fac[ta] in Cur[ia] d[o]m[ini] Regis apud Westm[onasterium] a die S[an]c[t]i Hillarij in quindecim dies Anno regno[rum] Henrici Octaui dei gra[tia] Angl[ie] & Franc[ie] Regis fidei defensoris d[o]m[ine] Hib[er]n[ie] & in
[line 2] t[er]ra sup[re]mi Capitis Anglicane eccl[es]ie a conqu[estu] vicesimo nono coram Joh[an]e Baldwyn Antonio Fitzherbert Will[ielm]o Shelley & Thoma Willughby Justic[iarios] & alijs d[o]m[ine] Regis
[line 3] fidelib[us] tunc ibi p[re]sentib[us]. Int[er] Will[ia]m Hollys militem quer[entem] et Joh[an]em Babyngton Armig[er]um & Sanchiam ux[or]em eius defo[rciantes] de Man[er]io de Houghton cum p[er]tin[enciis] ac de trib[us] mesuagijs
[line 4] ducentis acris t[er]re ducentis acris prati quingentis acris pasture viginti acris bosci viginti acris iampno[rum] & uruere & viginti solidaris redditus cum p[er]tin[enciis] in Houghton unde
[line 5] pl[ac]it[u]m conuenc[i]on[i]s Sum[monitum] fuit int[er] eos in eadem Cur[ia] Scil[ice]t q[uo]d p[re]d[ic]ti Joh[an]es & Sanchia recogn[verunt] p[re]dicta[m] Man[er]iu[m] ten[ementa] cum p[er]tin[enciis] esse Ius ip[s]ius Will[ielm]i ut illa que idem Will[ielmu]s h[ab]et de
[line 6] dono p[re]d[ic]to[rum] Joh[an]is & Sanchie Et illa remiserunt & quietumclam[averunt] de ip[s]is Joh[an]e & Sanchia & hered[ibus] ipius Sanchie p[re]d[ic]to Will[ielm]o & hered[ibus] suis Imp[er]p[etuu]m Et p[re]te[re]a ijdem Joh[an]es &
[line 7] Sanchia concesserunt p[ro] se & hered[ibus] ipius Sanchie q[uo]d ip[s]i Warant[izabunt] p[re]d[ic]to Will[ielm]o & hered[ibus] suis p[re]d[ic]ta[m] Man[er]iu[m] & ten[ementa] cum p[er]tin[enciis] cont[ra] om[n]es ho[m]i[n]es Imp[er]p[etuu]m. Et p[ro] hac
[line 8] recogn[icione] remissione quietaclam[atione] Warant[ia] fine & concordia Idem Will[ielmu]s dedit p[re]d[ic]tis Joh[an]i & Sanchie quadringentas libras Sterlingo[rum].
[line 1] This is the final Agreem[en]t made in the Court of our Lord the King at Westm[inste]r from the Day of St Hilary in fifteen days in the twenty ninth year of the reign of Henry the eighth after the Conquest by the Grace of God King of England & France, defender of the faith, Lord of Ireland and in
[line 2] those lands supreme Head of the church of England before John Baldwyn, Antony Fitzherbert, William Shelley & Thomas Willughby, Justices of our Lord the King
[line 3] and other faithful people then and there present Between William Hollys, knight, querent, and John Babyngton, esquire, and Sanchia his wife, deforciants, of the Manor of Houghton [Haughton] with its appurtenances and of three messuages,
[line 4] 200 acres of land, 200 acres of meadow, 500 acres of pasture, 20 acres of wood, 20 acres of furze and heath and 20 shillings in rent with the appurtenances in Houghton. Whereupon
[line 5] a plea of covenant was Summoned between them in the same Court That is to say that the aforesaid John & Sanchia have acknowledged the aforesaid Manor and tenements with the appurtenances to be the Right of him the said William as those which the said William has of
[line 6] the gift of the aforesaid John & Sanchia And those they have remised & quitclaimed from them the said John & Sanchia & the heirs of the said Sanchia to the aforesaid William & his heirs for ever. And moreover the said John &
[line 7] Sanchia have granted for them & the heirs of the said Sanchia that they will warrant to the aforesaid William and his heirs the aforesaid Manor and tenements with the appurtenances against all men for ever. And for this
[line 8] recognizance remise quitclaim warranties fine & agreement the said William has given to the said John and Sanchia four hundred pounds Sterling.
Pl E12/6/19/165/24 - Final concord (English) of land in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire; Trinity term 1819
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In this example:
- the plaintiffs are John Turner, John Salmon and Nathan Jackson; and the deforciants are John Michael Blagg and Elizabeth Blagg
- the fine is dated 'from the day of Holy Trinity in three weeks', in 59 George III. By reference to Cheney's A Handbook of Dates, this can be translated as 27th June 1819. Trinity Sunday fell on 6th June in the year 1819. The octave of Trinity (a period of eight days inclusive) fell on 13th June; the quindene (fifteen days inclusive) on 20th June; and 'three weeks' on 27th June
- A later deed to declare the uses of the fine, produced on 14 February 1820 (Pl E12/6/19/165/27), explains that the plaintiffs were devisees in trust under the will of the late Joshua Senior. Some years earlier, Joshua Senior had purchased the land (the Sheepcote Bridge Close) from John Blagg of Mansfield, and had erected a cotton mill on it. There was now a question mark over the legality of Blagg's conveyance to Senior. The final concord was a confirmation of the conveyance, from Blagg's son and widow to Senior's trustees. The fine was to 'enure' [i.e. the lands were to belong] to the use of the trustees and their heirs, upon the trusts in Joshua Senior's will
[line 1] This is the final Agreem[en]t made in the Court of our Sovereign Lord the King at Westm[inste]r from the Day of the
[line 2] Holy Trinity in three weeks in the fifty ninth year of the reign of George the third by the Grace of God of the
[line 3] united Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland King Defender of the Faith before Robert Dallas, James Allan
[line 4] Park, James Burrough & John Richardson Justices of our Lord the King & others then & there present
[line 5] Between John Turner, John Salmon & Nathan Jackson Plts And John Michael Blagg Gent. & Elizabeth
[line 6] Blagg Widow Deforc[ian]ts of six Messuages three Barns one Water mill three Gardens twenty acres of
[line 7] Land twenty acres of Meadow twenty acres of pasture five acres of Land covered with water &
[line 8] com[m]on of pasture for all Cattle with the appurt[enance]s in Mansfield Whereupon a plea of Coven[an]t was
[line 9] Sum[m]oned between them in the same Court that is to say that the afores[ai]d John Michael & Elizabeth
[line 10] have acknowledged the afores[ai]d Tenem[en]ts & com[m]on of pasture with the appurt[enance]s to be the Right of
[line 11] him the s[ai]d John Turner As those which the s[ai]d John, John Salmon & Nathan have
[line 12] of the Gift of the afores[ai]d John Michael & Elizabeth And those they have Remised & Quitclaimed from them
[line 13] the s[ai]d John Michael & Elizabeth & their heirs to the afores[ai]d John Turner, John Salmon &
[line 14] Nathan & the heirs of the s[ai]d John Turner for ever And moreover the s[ai]d John Michael
[line 15] hath granted for him & his heirs that they will warr[an]t to the afores[ai]d John Turner, John
[line 16] Salmon & Nathan & the heirs of the s[ai]d John Turner the afores[ai]d Tenem[en]ts & com[m]on of pasture with
[line 17] the appurt[enance]s against him the s[ai]d John Michael & his heirs for ever And further the s[ai]d Elizabeth
[line 18] hath granted for her & her heirs that they will warr[an]t to the afores[ai]d John Turner, John Salmon & Nathan
[line 19] & the heirs of the s[ai]d John Turner the afores[ai]d Tenem[en]ts & com[m]on of pasture with the appurt[enance]s against her the
[line 20] s[ai]d Elizabeth & her heirs for ever And for this Acknowledgm[en]t Remise Quitclaim Warranties Fine &
[line 21] Agreem[en]t the s[ai]d John Turner, John Salmon & Nathan have given to the afores[ai]d John Michael & Elizabeth
[line 22] four hundred pounds Sterling.
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