Glossary of Terms
Absolute/absolutely : Without any conditions
Acre : A measure of land area; 640 acres = 1 square mile. An acre is approximately 4,124 square metres or 0.4 hectares
Ad valorem : A tax based on the value of real estate or personal property (Latin for "according to value")
Admittance : Entrance given or permitted
Aletaster : A manorial official who tested the quality and measurement of ale and beer sold within the manor. Quite often his responsibilities included also the testing of the quality or weight of bread
Alien : To transfer property from one person to another
Amerce : To punish by a fine imposed arbitrarily at the discretion of the court (from Old French � merci 'at the mercy'
Appurtenance : A right belonging to a property (eg the right to fish in the river at the bottom of the garden or to draw water from a well)
Arable : Land being or capable of being tilled for the production of crops
Assurance : Conveyancing; The act of transferring property title from one person to another
Backside : A yard at the back part of, or behind a house, and belonging thereto
Brickburner : A person who tended to a kiln in which clay bricks were fired
Brook : A small natural stream of fresh water
Churchwarden : A parish officer responsible for keeping the church and representing the people in parochial matters
Common : A tract of land, usually in a centrally located spot, belonging to or used by a community as a whole
Common Field : Under the open field system, each manor or village had two or three large fields, usually several hundred acres each, which were divided into many narrow strips of land. These strips were cultivated by individual families of peasant farmers
Compounded : Settled (a debt, for example) by agreeing on an amount less than the claim
Constable : An officer appointed by the manor or parish with a wide range of duties which varied over the centuries. They included:
Copyhold : Property and/or land held, subject to the custom of a manor. When transferring the property the tenant first surrendered it to the lord of the manor who held the fee simple, and then the new tenant was admitted on payment of a fine (see Leasehold, Freehold)
Cordwainer : A shoemaker or worker in (originally, cordovan)leather
Court Baron : An English manorial court dating from the Middle Ages, with no jurisdictional franchise, its chief business being to administer the "custom of the manor" and to admit fresh tenants who had acquired copyholds by inheritance or purchase
Court Leet : An English manorial court dealing with petty offences such as common nuisances or public affray, the breaking the Assize of Bread and Ale and with the maintenance of highways and ditches
Court Roll : Rolls of parchment on which the proceedings of the Court are recorded
Covert : Married
Coverture : The condition of a married woman as legally under the protection of her husband (until the Married Woman's Property Act of 1882, married women could not, by law, own property; before this, they and their possessions were considered as possessions of the husband - fortunately we live in more enlightened times)
Croft : A small plot of ground adjacent to a house and used as a kitchen garden or for pasture
Curtilage : A court or area of land attached to and including a dwelling-house; Messuage
Defalcation : Misappropriation of funds held by a trustee or other fiduciary; Embezzlement
Defeazance : From the French defaire 'to undo', is a collateral deed made at the same time with a feoffment or other conveyance containing certain conditions upon the performance of which the estate then created may be defeated or totally undone. The difference between a condition and a defeazance is that the condition is inserted in the deed and a defeazance is usually a deed by itself relating to another deed
Distress : Goods seized for debt, especially non-payment of rent
Disurance : ?
Earsh : Dialect word used in South and West England to describe a stubble field in which a grain crop � wheat, barley or rye - had been harvested, leaving stubble or short stalks
Edifice : A structure that has a roof and walls and stands more or less permanently in one place; A building
Easement : The right one landowner has been granted of making limited use of his neighbour's land, as the right of access to water, right of way, etc., at no charge
Encroachment : Entry to another's property without right or permission
Enfranchisement (of copyhold): The conversion of a copyhold estate into a freehold
Equity of Redemption : The right of a homeowner with a mortgage (a mortgagor) to reclaim the property after it has been forfeited. Redemption can be accomplished by paying the entire amount of the debt, interest, and court costs of the foreclosing lender.
Esquire : In medieval times, a candidate for knighthood who served a knight as an attendant and a shield bearer; An English country gentleman; Later a title of respect, usually abbreviated Esq., placed after a man's name
Essoin : An excuse for not appearing in an English law court at the appointed time (also appears as 'Essoign' & 'Esoign')
Estate : In lands tenements and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein; from Latin, 'status' signifying the condition or circumstance in which the owner stands with regard to his property
Expectancy : The position of being entitled to possession of any property at a future time by virtue of reversion, remainder or death
Feoffment : The gift of any hereditament to another; however by the mere words of the deed it is not completed - there remains a ceremony to be performed called 'livery of seisin'.
Fealty : The fidelity owed by a vassal to his feudal lord; The oath of such fidelity.
Feme Covert : A married woman [from Anglo-French: a covered woman, one protected by marriage]
Fiduciary : Person to whom property or power is entrusted for the benefit of another.
Fine : A sum of money paid on particular occasions e.g. on inheriting/purchasing a copyhold property
Frankpledge : A system from Anglo-Saxon times whereby each village was divided into tithings - associations of 10 households responsible for each other's behaviour. At a Manorial Court, a 'View of Frankpledge' regulated the working of the tithings.
Freehold : A property and/or land held free of duty except to the monarch (see Leasehold, Copyhold)
Freesuitor : A freeholder who attends a manor court
Gentleman : A man of independent means who does not need to have a wage-paying job
Guinea : A sum of money equal to one pound and one shilling; Originally a gold coin whose value fluctuated with the market price of gold, the one pound and one shilling value was the market value at the time the value was fixed; Still used as a unit of price for e.g. racehorses
Hayward : An official who supervised the repair of manor or parish fences, looked after the common stock of animals and impounded stray cattle
Headborough : The chief of a frankpledge, tithing, or decennary, consisting of ten families; see Tythingman
Heriot : Fine due to the Lord of the Manor (e.g. the best beast) upon the death of a tenant
Homage : Service given to Lord of the Manor (see Fealty)
Husbandman : A farmer who breeds or raises livestock
Inter alia : Latin for "among other things"
Intestate : Having died without leaving a valid will
Land : The ground, the buildings built on it, the subsoil below the ground, property fixed to the ground, and the airspace above the ground necessary for its ordinary use
Leasehold : Property and/or land held, subject to the terms of a contract, for a specified period of time (see Freehold, Copyhold)
Licenced Victualler : The owner and/or manager of a public house or inn
Manor : The district over which the court of the Lord of the manor had authority
Mead/Meadow : A limited, relatively flat tract of grassland, either in its natural state or used as pasture or for growing hay
Member : Constituent part; Piece, Portion or Share
Messuage : Dwelling and offices (eg barns, sheds) together with the adjoining lands
Moiety : One of two parts; Half
Next Friend : In common law, 'next friend' is a phrase used to refer to a person who represents another person who is under disability or otherwise unable to maintain a suit on their own behalf and who does not have a legal guardian. Prior to the Married Women's Property Act of 1882, in British law it was also usual for a married woman to sue by a next friend.
Nugatory : Invalid; lacking legal force.
Parcel : A plot of land, usually a division of a larger area
Pasture : Grass or other vegetation eaten as food by grazing animals; Ground on which such vegetation grows, especially that which is set aside for use by domestic grazing animals
Perch : A measure of land; 1 Perch = 5� yards (5.077 metres). Also known as a Rod or Pole. 160 square perches = 1 acre
Plat : A small piece of land; a plot
Pound : English unit of currency; A public enclosure for the confinement of stray dogs or livestock
Proper Person : Acting on your own behalf, without the assistance of an attorney; From the Latin, 'in propria persona'.
Proviso : A clause in a document or contract that embodies a condition or stipulation
Quit Rent : A rent paid by a freeholder or copyholder in lieu of services that might otherwise have been required
Rack rent : Rent at the maximum obtainable annual value
Relict : Another term for widow; A widow who has not remarried
Remainder : Interest in an estate to come into effect after a certain other event happens e.g. inheritance by heirs after the death of their widowed mother (similar to reversion)
Residue : The remainder of an estate after all legacies and bequests have been given and once all debts, taxes and expenses have been paid
Respite(d) : To grant an interval of rest or relief
Reversion : Future possession of any property after some particular event (similar to remainder)
Rod : '... by the Rod' refers to a public ceremony in which the steward of the manor gave the tenant a rod as a symbol of the transfer (of copyhold land and premises).
Rod : A measure of land; 1 Rod = 5� yards (5.077 metres). Also known as a Pole or Perch. 160 square rods = 1 acre
Rood : A measure of land area; 40 square rods = 1 rood, 4 roods = 1 acre.
Several : Separate; distinct
Seizin : Possession (of land under freehold or copyhold); see Feoffment
Sole : Single, unmarried
Steward : One who manages another's property, finances, or other affairs. The Steward of a Manor was the chief agent of the Lord for its management, usually presiding over the Court and keeping the records.
Suit of Court : The attendance which a tenant was obliged to give at the Lord's Manor Court
Tenant : A person who holds, occupies, or possesses land or property by any kind of right or title, esp from a landlord under a lease
Tenement : A dwelling or habitation (or part of) occupied by one family
Time Immemorial : Time before legal memory - a property or benefit has been enjoyed for so long that its owner does not have to prove how they came to own it. In English law, in 1275, by the first Statute of Westminster, the time of memory was limited to the reign of Richard I (Richard the Lionheart), beginning 6 July 1189; In 1832, time immemorial was re-defined as "Time whereof the Memory of Man runneth not to the contrary." The plan of dating legal memory from a fixed time was abandoned; instead, it was held that rights which had been enjoyed for twenty years (or as against the Crown thirty years) should not be impeached merely by proving that they had not been enjoyed before.
Tithing : In Anglo-Saxon times, an association of ten families who stood security for each other and ensured that any member accused of a crime was available to answer the charge.
Title : The legal basis of the ownership of property, encompassing real and personal property and intangible and tangible interests therein.
Turf house : A house or shed formed of turf.
Tythingman : Originally the spokesman for a tithing, in later centuries the Deputy Constable
Verge : A rod, wand, or staff carried as an emblem of authority or office; The rod held by a feudal tenant while swearing fealty to a lord; see Rod
(Licenced) Victualler : The owner and/or manager of a public house or inn
Waste : An area of land not cultivated or inhabited, usually part of the common land
Yeoman : A farmer who cultivates his own land, on a commercial (rather than a subsistence) basis