Medieval Terms Defined

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

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.

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)

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

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