Glossary of Terms

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:
      Supervision of Watch and Ward as specified by the Statute of Winchester 1285
      Upkeep of the stocks, lock-up, etc.
      Inspection of alehouses and suppression of gaming-houses
      Apprenticing of pauper children
      Supervision and removal of itinerant strangers and beggars
      Collection of county rates and taxes
      Maintenance of parish arms and training of the militia
      Convening of parish meetings
      Care of the parish bull
      Representation of parishioners who did not attend church regularly
      Assistance at shipwrecks in the vicinity
      Apprehension and detention of suspected criminals and arrest of escaped prisoners
      Suppression of riots and unlawful assemblies
      Compilation of juror's lists
      Collection of child maintenance from fathers of illegitimate children.

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