Saturday, April 30, 2016

Medieval to Early Colonial Terms and Definitions

Here is a list of terms which you may not know.

Advowson - see Patron of the living

Alias - at another time. My name is Jeanie Smith alias Jones. At another time I called myself Jeanie Jones.

Calendar Rolls (patent rolls) - The patent rolls comprise a register of the letters patent issued by the Crown, and sealed "open" with the Great Seal pendent, expressing the sovereign's will on a wide range of matters of public interest, including – but not restricted to – grants of official positions, lands, commissions, privileges and pardons, issued both to individuals and to corporations. The rolls were started in the reign of King John, under the Chancellorship of Hubert Walter. The texts of letters patent were copied onto sheets of parchment, which were stitched together (head-to-tail) into long rolls to form a roll for each year.[1] As the volume of business grew, it became necessary to compile more than one roll for each year.

Carucate (of land) - a medieval unit of land area approximating the land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. It was known by different regional names and fell under different forms of tax assessment. see below

Copyhold - Copyhold was a form of land holding that evolved from the Feudal system. The land was held from a manor. The tenant was given a 'copy' of the agreement. The rights and duties of the Copyholder differed from Manor to Manor. The copyhold lands could be inherited by the copyholder's children. See the wikipeida page on Copyhold for more details. Or see this definition of copyhold.

Deforciants - One who wrongfully keeps the owner of lands and tenements out of them. Usually named in a Feet of Fine (see feet of fine).

Diem Clausit Extremum - The phrase diem clausit extremum means he closed his last day, that is, he died. writ of Diem Clausit Extremum is a writ by which the heir of a deceased tenant in capite compelled the escheator to ascertain what land should escheat to the king.

In feudal England, upon learning the death of a tenant, the escheator would hold an inquisition post mortem to learn if the king had any rights to the land. These were often preceded by a writ of diem clausit extremum issued by the king to seize the lands.

Escheat - s a common law doctrine which transfers the property of a person who dies without heirs to the crown or state. It serves to ensure that property is not left in "limbo" without recognized ownership. It originally applied to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law, so that the ownership of the land reverted to the immediately superior feudal lord.

Fee-Tail - also known as In Tail or entail, opposed to Fee Simple,  is a form of trust established by deed or settlement which restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate in real property and prevents the property from being sold, devised by will, or otherwise alienated by the tenant-in-possession, and instead causes it to pass automatically by operation of law to an heir pre-determined by the settlement deed. The term fee tail is from Medieval Latin feodum talliatum, which means "cut(-short) fee", and is in contrast to "fee simple" where no such restriction exists and where the possessor has an absolute title (although subject to the allodial title of the monarch) in the property which he can bequeath or otherwise dispose of as he wishes.


Feet of Fines - sometimes Foot of Fines. At first glance this seems to be a record of a land dispute between the deforciants and the querent. In actuality it was a method of property conveyance that took the form of a fictitious lawsuit. The deforciants had already decided to sell his land to the plaintiff or querent. The court would issue a fine and give each party a written copy which in turn became a land deed. This was a preferred method of proving land ownership.

Feodary - A feudal tenant.

Frank Alomain - Frank almoin is a term of French law that means “free alms.” It is a type of tenure that existed under the Anglo–Norman law. It refers to the spiritual tenure by which a religious institution held land with a general duty to pray for the donor. This type of tenure implied an indefinite promise to pray for the soul of the donor. This tenure differed from the tenure by divine service, which required specific church services, such as a certain number of masses or alms distributions. The land held in frank almoin is called Alms land. Gifts to religious institutions in free alms were defined first as gifts to God, then to the patron saint of the religious house, and finally to those serving God in the specific house.

Frankalmoin is also reffered to as almoign, almoin, free alms or libera eleemosyna.

Free hold - ownership of the land and all immovable structures on it.

Hide - An Anglo Saxon term meaning the amount of land needed to support a free peasant family. The acreage was not yet fixed but was usually somewhere between 60-120 acres.

Inquistion Postmortem (IPM) - is a local inquiry into the lands held by people of some status, in order to discover whatever income and rights were due to the crown. Such inquisitions were only held when people were thought or known to have held lands of the crown.

Knight's Fee - a unit of land that could support a Knight and his service to the King

Messuage - a dwelling house and outbuildings, with land assigned to it's use.

Moiety - a fraction or share of land, i.e. one half, two thirds, etc. usually seen when land was divided between heirs.

Patron of the Living - Advowson (or "patronage") is the right in English law of a patron (avowee) to present to the diocesan bishop (or in some cases the ordinary if not the same person) a nominee for appointment to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation (jus praesentandi, Latin: "the right of presenting"). In effect, an advowson is the right to nominate a person to be parish priest (subject to episcopal approval), and such right was often originally held by the lord of the manor of the principal manor within the parish.

Patent Rolls - see calendar rolls

Querent - Party who initiated the legal action, often in a Feet of Fine (see feet of fine)

Quit claim - A quitclaim deed is a legal instrument which is used to transfer interest in real property. The entity transferring its interest is called the grantor, and when the quitclaim deed is properly completed and executed it transfers any interest the grantor has in the property to a recipient, called the grantee. (from wikipedia)

Reversion -A reversion in property law is a future interest that is retained by the grantor after the conveyance of an estate of a lesser quantum that he has (such as the owner of a fee simple granting a life estate or a leasehold estate). Once the lesser estate comes to an end (the lease expires or the life estate tenant dies), the property automatically reverts (hence reversion) back to the grantor.

Seisin - possession of land by freehold (see free hold)

Socage - a feudal tenure of land involving payment of rent or other nonmilitary service to a superior.

Virgate (of land) The virgate, yardland, or yard of land (Latin: virgāta [terrae]) was an English unit of land. Primarily a measure of tax assessment rather than area, the virgate was usually (but not always) reckoned as ¼ hide and notionally (but seldom exactly) equal to 30 acres. It was equivalent to two of the Danelaw's oxgangs. This was the amount of land that 2 oxen could plow in a single season. (see drawing below)










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