Manuscripts and Special Collections

Introduction to deeds in depth

Photograph showing a close-up view of a bundle of deeds with wax seals

This skills unit follows on from the Deeds unit on this site, which gives basic facts about title deeds, deed bundles, and what can be learned from them.

This unit aims to help users read and fully understand old title deeds. This can be hard for first-time users, because deeds were written in formulaic legal language, and up to 1733 were often written in Latin.

For each type of deed, this unit provides:

  • a description of its usual features
  • an explanation of its content and its relationship to other deeds and documents
  • an image of a typical example
  • a transcription, and a translation if the deed is in Latin

The unit covers all the principal title deeds and associated documents which researchers might come across in a typical record office or manuscripts department. The earliest examples are of deed forms dating back to the twelfth centuries, and the unit covers the land law up to 1925. Deeds after 1925 are much simpler to use and understand.

The unit is arranged according to type of deed. The Deeds Table is a quick check-list of deed forms.

Throughout the unit, illustrative images are taken from the collections held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham.

This unit was written in January 2007.


Next page: Deeds relating to freehold land



Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651