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 words and phrases frequently used in manorial records is also included. Users are advised to consult the Latin vocabularies listed in Further reading for assistance in translating commonly occurring words such as house, field, rent, and the like. 

admittance (or admission) ceremony by which a new tenant gained entry to a customary holding, by paying a fine; usually preceded by a surrender
affeerer person chosen to asses the level of a fine
amercement a penalty, or fine
assize of bread and ale system regulating the price and quality of bread and ale
bailiff oversaw day-to-day running of a manor
bovate measurement of land
burgage a freehold property in a borough, or a property held by burgage tenure
commutation of services replacement of labour services owed with a money payment
copyhold form of holding land, marked by the fact that the tenant would have a copy of the court roll recording his admission
court baron court held by the lord or lady of the manor for their local tenants to administer the customs of the manor and enforce payment of dues and services
court leet of the frankpledge and dealt with the administration of local justice for common offences
curtilage a piece of ground attached to a house
customary tenant tenants holding land according to the customs of the manor
customs of the manor the set of rules by which manors were governed/administered
demesne the property held by the lord or lady of the manor themselves
distraint impounding of goods/chattels until a payment is made
enfranchise convert copyhold land into freehold tenure
entry fine a payment due when a new customary tenant entered land
essoin payment made in lieu of attending court in person
estreat collective term for fines and amercements imposed in the manorial court
fealty allegiance or fidelity
frankpledge see view of frankpledge
freeholder tenants who paid a money rent to the lord or lady of the manor
hayward oversaw the making of hay and harvesting
heriot payment made on the death of a tenant
homage the tenants who attended a manor court
leasehold land let out in a way which was not restricted or governed by the custom of the manor
merchet payment made for obtaining permission for a daughter to marry
pain a rule/regulation of the manor
pinder kept the manorial pound/pinfold
precept order issued to the bailiff of the manor for the holding of a court
presentment a statement by the jury of matters to be dealt with by the manorial court
reeve 'foreman' of the manor
resiant resident of a manor
rood a measurement of land
seisin possession of land or other property
steward chief officer of a manor
suit of court attendance at the manor court
suit service service rendered by attendance at the manor court
surrender ceremony by which an existing tenant gave up a customary holding; usually followed by an admission
tenant at will tenants who paid a rent and whose tenure was entirely dependent on the good will of the lord
tithingman one of a group of ten men with a mutual responsibility for their good behaviour
view of frankpledge a system of mutual responsibility for the maintenance of law and order, usually consisting of around ten households
villein tenants who occupied lands on condition of performing services for the lord of the manor
virgate a measurement of land
admitto/ere to admit
afferator/oris assessor/affeerer
amerciamentum/i amercement
annuatim annually
arreragium/i arrears
assisa/ae assize(s)
attornatus/i attorney(s)
baillivus/i bailiff (s)
bedellus/i hayward(s)
bovata/ae bovate
burgagium/i burgage
communis/e common
compotus/i account(s)
concedo/ere to grant
coram before
curia baronis court baron
curia leta court leet
curia magna court leet
curia parva court baron
curtilagium/i curtilage
custumarius/a/um customary
dampnum/i damages
debeo/ere to owe
decenna/ae tithing(s)
decennarius/i tithingman(men)
defalta/ae default
defectus redditum defect of rent
dimitto/ere to demise/lease
districtio/onis distraint(s)
distringo/ere to distrain
do/dare to give
domina/ae lady
dominium/i lord
dominus/i lord
essonia/ae essoin(s)
exitus/us issue/revenue/profit(s)
extenta/ae survey(s)
firmarius/i farmer/renter(s)
hereditatio/onis inheritance
heres/edis heir
homagium/i homage(s)
honor/oris honour
ingressus/us entry(ies)
inquisitio/onis inquiry
jurator/oris juror
magister/i master(s)
manerium/i manor(s)
manus/us hand(s)
merchetum/i merchet(s)
messor/oris hayward(s)
misercordia/ae amercement(s)
obolus/i halfpenny(ies)
onus/eris charge(s) [in accounts]
pena/ae pain/penalty
pertinentia/ae appurtenance(s)
perquisitum/i profit(s)
peto/ere to claim
prepositus/i reeve(s)
presentatio/onis presentment(s)
recepta/ae money(ies) received
roda/ae rood(s) [measure of land]
seisina/ae possession
senescallus/i steward
servicium/i service(s)
solidus/i shilling(s)
solvo/ere to pay
tenens/entis tenant
teneo/ere to hold
tenura/ae tenure(s)
vendico/are to claim
vendo/ire to sell
veredictum/i verdict(s)
villanus/i villein(s)
virgata/ae virgate(s)
visus franciplegii view of frankpledge
petivit admitti tenens he petitioned to be admitted tenant
fregerunt assisiam panis et cervisie they broke the assize of bread and ale
fecit finem pro ingressu he paid an entry fine
secundum consuetudinem manerii according to the custom of the manor
in manus domini into the hands of the lord
omnia bene all is well
ad opus et usus to the use and behoof
de placito debiti in a plea of debt
de placito transgressionis in a plea of trespass
in plena curia in open court
in propria persona sua in his own person
in respectu ad proximam curiam adjourned until the next court
summa totalis sum of the total


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Manuscripts and Special Collections

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