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Legal terms used in deeds and in other proceedings

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This list contains legal terms contained in memorials of Irish deeds. It is a short list, only. For further information about ancient legal documents, see the excellent resource entitled, Manuscripts and Collections, hosted by the University of Nottingham.



Acreages were usually stated in terms of English (Statute), Irish (Plantation), or Scots (Cunningham) measures. An Irish acre = 1.62 statute acres, and a Cunningham acre = 1.3 statute acres.

In English statute measure, 40 perches = 1 rood, and 4 roods = 1 acre.


Advowson. The perpetual right of presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice or cure, corresponding to the right of patronage in the canon law. All advowsons formerly belonged to some manor, whose lord, having endowed the church with a house and glebe, obtained the right to present a parson thereto; but in process of time the manor and advowson became separated; and now [1838] comparatively few advowsons remain annexed to the manors, which are generally co-extensive with the parish. Thus the distinction of an advowson appendant and advowson in gross was created; the former being the advowson as originally annexed to the manor, and the latter in its separated and disunited state. The first disunion of the advowson from the manor was in favour of ecclesiastical corporations, and subsequently of colleges, the annexation to which is styled an appropriation, as the acquisition of an advowson by a lay person, i.e. not in holy orders, is termed an impropriation. The right of presentation may be, and very often is, parted with for one turn only; but such an assignment must be made during the life of the present incumbent, and before a vacancy in the church, else the presentation would be void, as an encouragement of simony. […] — Ref.1


Amerciament. A pecuniary punishment for some fault or misconduct, differing (in theory at least) from a fine in being less out of leniency (merci) than the fault or misconduct deserved. Magna Charta, c. 24, requires a freeman to be amerced only for a great fault, and in proportion only to its greatness. (pg 24.) — Ref.2

Appendance, Appendant:

Appendance, a variant of the word: ‘Appendant, appendens. Is a thing of inheritance, belonging to another inheritance that is more worthy. As an advowson, common court, &c. may be appendant to a manor, common of fishing appendant to a freehold: land appendant to an office: a seat in a church to a house, &c. but land is not appendant to land, both being corporeal, and one thing corporeal may not be appednant to another that is corporeal; but an incorporeal thing may be appendant to it.’ […] — Ref.3


Appurtenances, pertinentia, derived from the French appartenir, to belong to.) Signify things both corporeal and incorporeal appertaining to another thing as principal: as hamlets to a chief manor; and common of pasture, piscary, &c. Also liberties and services of tenants. Brit. cap. 39. […] Common appurtenant may be to a house, pasture, &c. Out-houses, yards, orchards, and gardens are appurtenant to a messuage; but lands cannot properly be said to be appurtenant to a messuage. 1 Lill. Abr. 91. And one messuage cannot be appurtenant to another. Ibid. […] — Ref.4


Attornment, (Attornamentum, from the French Tourner) Signifies the Tenant’s Acknowledgment of a new Lord, on the Sale of Lands, &c. As where there is Tenant for Life, and he in Reversion grants his Right to anoterh; it is necessary for the Tenant for Life agree thereto, which is called Attornment. It gives no Interest, but only perfects the Grant of another: And Tenant in Tail is not compellable to attorn, on the Reversion being granted; he having an Estate of Inheritance. — Ref.5

Ballyboe, ballybetagh, sessiagh, &c. — old Irish land measures:

[1.] — The word Baile or Bally as an Irish topographical term was employed in two senses, the Ballyboe and the Baile-Biatach. Boe means a habitation or house, and is equivalent to the Norse By, which exists in so many English town-names, as Appleby, etc. The Norse Ból and By appear to be synonymous; at least there is no doubt that By originally was a mansion or principal farm house, including of course sufficient land to keep a family in independence. In Ireland this appears to have been the quantity of land sufficient to graze twenty-one cows or three Cumals, the legal qualification of a Bó Aire of the lowest class, that is, of a free man having political rights; and in addition, a certain quantity of forest, and sufficient meadow land to provide winter fodder. The following curious Irish entry in the Book of Armagh appears to represent such a typical homestead: 3Cummen and Brethán purchased Ochter n-Achid, with its appurtenances, both wood, and plain, and meadow together with its habitation and garden.3 Dr. Reeves makes the Ballyboe a ‘cow-land,’ and thinks the term analogous to the Latin Bovata and Saxon Ox-gang; in this, however, he errs by supposing Boe to be equivalent to Bó, a cow, as indeed most people are in the habit of doing.

In some parts of Ireland the Ballyboe is called a ‘Tate,’ which Dr. Reeves thinks is properly ‘Tath,’ and perhaps connected with ‘Tothland,’ the name of a division once used in England. He also mentions a custom in Norfolk and Suffolk called Tath. The word is, however, obvioulsy ‘Teti,’ a house, as distinguished from a hovel or bothy, that is, a Norse Ból or By, and a Franish ‘Mansus.’ The compounds of Tate or Tatty, as topographical names, occur only in the counties of Fermanagh, Monaghan, and Tyrone, with the exception of a few in Armagh and Louth. — Ref.6

[2.] — Thomas Larcom, the first director of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, made a study of the ancient land divisions of Ireland and summarised the traditional hierarchy of land divisions as being 10 acres = 1 Gneeve; 2 Gneeves = 1 Sessiagh; 3 Sessiaghs = 1 Tate or Ballyboe; 2 Ballyboes = 1 Ploughland, Seisreagh or Carrow; 4 Ploughlands = 1 Ballybetagh, or Townland; 30 Ballybetaghs = Triocha Céad or Barony. […] In the settlement of Ulster a ballybetagh means a town able to sustain hospitality which contained 15 tates, each of 60 English acres, so a ballybetagh amounted to 960 acres. — Ref.7

[3.] — The denominations of land which formerly prevailed through the diocese [of Derry] were the following: — Ref.8

• The Ballybetagh.—Sometimes abbreviated to Ballybet, which derived its name from baile biatač, ‘a victualler’s town,’ and was reckoned the thirtieth part of a Trioča-cead, or cantred. It was the largest measure of land, and generally contained four quarters, which being very variable in their extent, there was no fixed standard for their complex. The barony of Tirkeeran, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, consisted of fourteen ballybetaghs, and Keenaght of thirteen. In the notes to the preceding rental, the numbers of ballibetaghs in several of the parishes are specified. In the county of Monaghan this denomination generally contained sixteen tates.

• The Quarter was one of the four components of the ballibetagh, and contained three ballyboes.

• The Ballyboe was one of the three components of a quarter, and was the commonest measure of land. Tirkeeran contained fourteen ballybetaghs, or 182 ballyboes, which gives an average of thirteen ballyboes for each ballybetagh, twelve being the exact number. In this barony there are 92,756 acres, which, being divided by 182, give about 509 acres as the average extent of a ballyboe. There are, according to the Ordnance survey, 228 townlands, each containing an average of about 406 acres, so that the ancient ballyboe may be estimated as a fifth larger than our present townland. Kenaght [sic] contained thirteen ballybetaghs, and is divided at present in 272 townlands, which allows nearly twenty-one townlands to a ballybetagh. The ballyboe was sometimes called a townland, and if our divisions bearing that name are more numerous now, it is chiefly owing to the fact that in many instances the generic names, as well as those of the intermediate and lower species, are retained and applied to independent portions of land.

• The Sessiagh, three of which constituted a ballyboe. The name in Irish was Seiffeač, which was formed from feiffeaf eač, ‘a yoke of six horses.’

• The Tullagh consisted of a ballyboe and a sessiagh, that is, a ballyboe and a third. […]

• The Tate, or Tath, or Tagh, varied from ten to sixty acres. The word was very common in Monaghan, but of rare occurrence in Tyrone.

• The Gort was used to denote a measure of six acres, probably from the fact that this was about the quantity of ground which was generally assigned for the vicars’ gorts, or gardens.

[4.] — Poll, Tate, and Ballyboe, are synonymous terms, but the [equivalents in] acreage was in every case dependent on local factors and varied with the circumstances in the particular county. — Ref.9

[5.] — In Armagh the prevailing denomination [for land] was the ‘ballyboe or town,’ which contained three sessiaghs; […] In Tyrone as in Armagh, the ballyboe or townland was the prevailing denomination, and contained three ‘sheshawghes’ or sessiaghs; it had besides a compound denomination called tullagh, consisting of a ballyboe and a sessiagh, that is, a townland and a third. — Ref.10


Burgage, definition: ‘Burgage Tenure is where an ancient borough is, of which the king or another lord spiritual or temporal is lord, and they that have tenements within the borough, hold of the king their tenements, that every tenant for his tenement ought to pay to the king certain rent, and from these boroughs came burgesses to parliament.’ — Ref.11

Casual ejector:

Casual ejector, In ejectment, a nominal defendant, and who continues such until appearance by or for the tenant in possession. — Ref.12

Cestui que vies :: also, cestui à que vie:

  • [Cestui que vie:] French mediæval form; trans. the person or persons for whom or whose benefit or use or trust, &c.
  • Where a person is entitled to an estate or interest in property during the life of another, the latter is called the cestui que vie. … Cestui que vie is a corruption of cestui à que vie, ‘ he for whose life.’ — Ref.13

Connaissance du droît:

[1.] — Connaissance du droît, a French term, translated literally as: “knowledge of (one’s) right;” in the English language, approximates the meaning of the phrase, “the common law,” but perhaps more precisely, “the law, or custom, that is commonly held, or widely understood, to prevail in instances such as this.”

[2.] — What, in law French as called a fine [sur cognizance de droit, come ceo que il ad de son done;’ or, a fine upon acknowledgment of the right of the cognizee, as that which he hath of the gift of the cognizor. This was the best and surest kind of fine, for thereby the deforciant, in order to keep his covenant with the plaintiff, of conveying to him the lands in question, and at the same time to avoid the formality of an actual feoffment and livery, acknowledged in court a former feoffment or gift in possession, to have been made by him to the plaintiff. This fine was therefore said to be a feoffment of record; the livery, thus acknowledged in court, being equivalent to an actual livery: so that this assurance was rather a confession of former conveyance, than a conveyance thus originally made; for the deforciant, or cognizor, acknowledged the right to be in the plaintiff, or cognizee, as that which he had de son done of the proper gift of himself, the cognizor. — Ref.14

[3.] — Cognizee: One to whom a fine of land was acknowledged. — Cognizor: One who acknowledged the gift of the plaintiff or cognizee ina fine; the defendant. — Deforciant: One who keeps out of possession the rightful owner of an estate. — Fee: (i) In feudal law, an estate in land granted by a lord to his vassal on condition of homage and service. (ii) The land so held. — Feoffment: The transfer of a fee. — Livery: Official delivery of property, especially land, to a new owner. — Ref.15

Court Baron:

Court Baron, Curia Baronis, Is a Court that every Lord of a mannor (which in ancient Times were call’d Barons) hath within his own Precincts. Barons in other Nations have great Territories and Jurisdictions from their Sovereign: but here in England, what they be, and have been heretofore, see in Baron, Of this Court and of a Court-Leet, you may read at large in Kitchin, who hath writ a whole Book of them.

   Co. 4. Rep. among his Copy-hold Cases, fol. 26, b. saith, That this Court is two-fold; as if a Man having a Mannor in a Town, to grant the Inheritance of the Copy-holders thereunto belonging to another; This Grantee may keep a Court for the Costomary [sic] Tenants, and accept Surrenders to the use of others, and make both Admittances and Grants. The other Court is of Free-holders, which is properly call’d The Court-Baron, wherein the Suitors, that is, the Free-holders, be Judges, whereas of the other the Lord, or his Steward, is Judge. — Ref.16

Court Leet:

Court-Leet; or Leet. The word Leet is found in Conqueror’s charter for the foundation of Battle Abbey, and not unfrequently in Domesday-book. […] The Leet, which required the attendance of all the resiants, within the particular hundred, lordship, or manor, and concerned the administration of public justice, was usually held in the open air. According to Hawkings, a Court-Leet is a Court of Record, having the same jurisdiction within some particular precinct, which the sheriff’s tourn hath in the county.

[…] Leet is also a word used for a Law day in several of our antient statutes.

The Leet is a Court of Record for the cognisance of criminal matters, or pleas of the crown, and necessarily belongs to the king; though a subject, usually the lord of a manor, may be and is entitled to the profits, consisting of the essoign-pence, fines and amerciaments.

[…] This court is held sometimes once sometimes thrice, but most commonly twice in the year; that is, within a month after Easter, and a month after Michaelmas. As to the place in which it is held, that it has been said, may be any where within the precinct.

The general jurisdiction of the court extends to all crimes, offences, and misdemeanors at the common law, as well as to several others which have been subjected to it by act of parliament. If the offence be treason or felony, the presentment, (in these cases called an indictment,) must be returned to the king’s justices of oyer and terminer, and gaol-delivery.

Essoign is an excuse for him that is summoned to appear and answer to an action, or to perform suit to a court baron, &c. by reason of sickness and infirmity, or other just cause of absence. It is a kind of imparlance, or craving of a longer time, that lies in real, personal, and mixed actions: and the plaintiff as well as the defendant shall be essoigned to save his default. […] Note: Thus, essoign-pence referred to the custom of sending a penny in to the court when one, who was summoned, could not attend.

the pecuniary punishment of an offender against the king or other lord in his court. … The difference between amerciaments and fines, is this; fines are said to be punishments certain, and grow expressly from some statutes; but amerciaments are such as are arbitrarily imposed. […] Also fines are imposed and assessed by the court; amerciaments by the country; and no court can impose a fine, but a court of record: other courts can only amerce. — Ref.17

Deed Poll:

Deed Poll. A deed may by one party only is not indented, but polled or shaved quite even, and therfore called a deed-poll, or a single deed. […]

A deed-poll is said to be a deed testifying that only one of the parties to the agreement hath put his seal to the same, where such party is the principal or only person, whose consent or act is necessary to the deed: and it is therefore a plain deed, without indenting, and is used when the vendor, for example, only seals, and there is no need of the vendee’s sealing a counterpart, because the nature of the contract is such as to require no covenant from the vendee, &c. […]

All the parts of a deed indented, in judgment of law, make but one entire deed; but every part is of as great force as all the parts together, and they are esteemed the mutual acts of either party, who may be bound by either part of the same, and the words of the indenture are the words of either party, &c. But a deed-poll is the sole deed of him that makes it, and the words thereof shall be said to be his words, and bind him only. […] — Ref.18


Deodand, is where any moveable thing inanimate, or beast animate, doth move to or cause the untimely death of any reasonable creature, by mischance, without the will or fault of himself, or of any person. 3 Inst. 57.

This, although it be not properly homicide, nor punishable as a crime, yet is taken notice of by the law, as far as the nature of the thing will bear, in order to raise an abhorrence of murder; and the unhappy instrument or occasion of such death is called a deodand (Deo dandum, to be given to God), and was anciently paid into the hands of the king’s almoner, to be applied to pious uses for the soul of the deceased. Also all such weapons, whereby one man kills another, are forfeited. And therefore, in all indictments for homicide, the instrument of death, and the value, are presented and found by the grand jury (as, that the stroke was given by a certain penknife, value sixpence), that the king or his grantee may claim the deodand; for it is no deodand, unless it be presented as such by a jury of 12 men. 3 Inst. 57. 1 Haw. 66.

It was heretofore holden, that things fixed to the freehold, as the wheel of a mill, or a bell hanging in the steeple, may be deodands; but by the later resolutions they cannot, unless they were severed before the accident happened. 1 Haw. 66.

Where a thing, not in motion, is the occasion of a man’s death, that part only which is the immediate cause is forfeited; as if a man be climbing up the wheel of a cart, and is killed by falling from it, the wheel alone is a deodand: but wherever the thing is in motion, not only that part which immediately gives the wound (as the wheel, which runs over his body), but all things which move with it and help to make the wound more dangerous (as the cart and loading, which increase the pressure of the wheel) are forfeited. Id.

After all, as this forfeiture seemeth to have been originally founded, rather in the superstition of an age of ignorance, than in the principles of sound reason and policy, it hath not of late years met with much countenance in Westminster-hall. And when juries have taken upon them to use a judgment of discretion, not strictly within their province, for reducing the quantum of the forfeiture, the court of king’s bench hath generally refused to interfere on behalf of the lord of the franchise, to assist so odious a claim. Fost. 266. — Ref.19

Duty-work, duty-fowl, duty-eggs, &c.

[1.] — Duty work.—It was formerly common in Ireland to insert clauses in leases, binding tenants to furnish their landlords with labourers and horses for several days in the year. Much petty tyranny and oppression have resulted from this feudal custom. Whenever a poor man disobliged his landlord, the agent sent to him for his duty work, […] the tenants were often called from their own work to do that of their landlord. Thus the very means of earning their rent was taken from them: whilst they were getting home their landlord’s harvest, their own was often ruined, and yet their rents were expected to be paid as punctually as if their time had been at their own disposal. This appears to be the height of absurd prejudice. — Ref.20

[2.] — Beside the rent, aids, and reliefs, the tenant had to pay certain ‘dues’ in kind, and perform certain ‘duties.’ Contributions of poultry, eggs, &c., were required, as ‘duty-fowl,’ ‘duty-eggs,’ and soforth. The ‘duty-work’” to be performed consisted in labour given to plant, reap, and gather the landlord’s crops, to thresh his corn, draw home his turf, or like agricultural services. A rate of payment was occasionally fixed, but this payment was always less than the market value of the labour. The tenants had to neglect their own occupations in order to perform this labour. A receipt was passed for its performance as well as for the rent-payment, and for non-performance a penal sum was reserved in the lease, to be recoverable in the same manner as rent. — Ref.21

Enfeoff, and Feoffment:

[1.] — Enfeoffe. To make a gift of any corporeal hereditaments to another. — Ref.22

[2.] — Feoffments and Grants were the two chief modes used in the common law for transferring property. The most comprehensive definition which can be given of a Feoffment seems to be, a conveyance of corporeal hereditaments, by delivery of the possession, upon, or within view of, the hereditaments conveyed. Thus delivery was thus made, that the lord and the other tenants might be witnesses to it. No charter of feoffment was necessary; it only served as an authentication of the transaction; and when it was used, the lands were supposed to be transferred, not by the charter, but by the livery which it authenticated. […]

The proper limitation of a feoffment is to a man and his heirs; but feoffments were often made of conditional fees, (or of estates tail as they are now called,) and of life-estates; to which may be added, feoffments of estates given in frank marriage and frankalmoigne. To make the feoffment complete, the feoffor used to give the feoffee seisin of the lands: this is what the feuists call Investiture. It was often made by symbolical tradition, but it was always made upon or within view of the lands. When the king made a feoffment, he issued a writ to the sheriff, or some other person, to deliver seisin; other great men did the same; and this gave rise to powers of attorney. — Ref.23


Escheat, from the French eschoir, to happen, signifies chance or accident, and in our law denotes an obstruction of the course of descent, and a consequent determination of the tenure, by some unforeseen contingency; in which case, the land naturally results back, by a kind of reversion, to the original grantor, or lord of the fee. – 2 Black. 244.

Escheat whereby the descent is impeded for want of heirs is, where the tenant dies without any relations on the part of any of his ancestors, or where he dies without any relations of those ancestors, paternal or maternal, from whom his estate descended; or where he dies without any relations of the whole blood. Bastards also are incapable of inheritance; and therefore if there be no other claimant than such illegitimate children, the land shall escheat to the lord: and, as bastards cannot be heirs themselves, so neither can they have any heirs but those of their own bodies; and therefore if a bastard purchase lands, and dies seised thereof without issue and intestate, the land shall escheat to the lord of the fee. Aliens also, that is, persons born out of the king’s allegiance, are incapable of taking by descent; and, unless naturalized, are also incapable of taking by purchase; and, therefore, if there be no natural-born subject to claim, such lands in like manner shall escheat.

By attainder for treason or other felony, the blood of the person attainted is so far corrupted, as to be rendered no longer inheritable. But in this case a difference is to be noted, between forfeiture of lands to the king, and escheat to the lord of the fee. Before the introduction of feuds, part of the punishment for such offence was forfeiture of lands to the crown; afterwards, escheats being introduced in consequence of the feudal tenure, they operated in subordination, as it were, to this more ancient and superior law of forfeiture.

The doctrine of escheat upon attainder is properly this; that the blood of the tenant, by the commission of any felony (under which denomination all treasons were formerly comprized), is corrupted and stained, and the original donation of the feud is thereby determined, it being always granted to the vasal on the implied condition of his well demeaning himself. In consequence of which corruption and extinction of hereditary blood, the land of all felons would immediately revest in the lord, but that the superior law of forfeiture intervenes, and intercepts it in its passage; in case of treason, for ever; in case of other felony, for only a year and a day; after which time it goes to the lord in a regular course o£ escheat.

As a consequence of this doctrine of escheats, all lands of inheritance immediately revesting in the lord, the wife of the felon was liable to lose her dower, till the statute i Ed. 6. c. 12. enacted, that albeit any person be attainted of misprision of treason, murder, or felony, yet his wife shall enjoy her dower. But she has not this indulgence where the ancient law of forfeiture operates; for it is provided by the statute 5 & 6 Ed. 6. c. 11. that the wife of one attainted of high treason shall not be endowed at all. – 2 Black, c. 15. (pp. 315–6). — Ref.24


Estreat. This word, which is derived from the Latin extractum, denotes a copy or extract from the Book of Estreats, that is to say, the rolls of any Court in which the americiaments or fines, recognisances, &c. imposed or taken by that Court upon or from the accused, and which are to be levied by the bailiff or other proper officer of the Court. Recognizances are said to be estreated when they are forfeited by the failure of the accused to comply with the condition of the recognizance, as by failure to appear or otherwise. 25

Fieri facias:

Fieri facias, A judicial writ of execution, that lies where judgment is had for debt or damages recovered in the king’s courts; by which writ the sheriff is commanded to levy the debt and damages of the goods and chattels of the defendant, &c. […]

This writ is to be sued out within a year and a day after judgment; or the judgment must be revived by acire facias; […] — Ref.26


Frank-pledge, Franci plegium, From the French Frank, liber, and pledge, i. fidejuffor, signifies a Pledge or Surety for Free-men: For the ancient Custom of Freemen of England, for the preservation of the Publick Peace, was, That every free-born Man at fourteen Years ofa ge, after Bracton (Religious Person, Clerks, Knights, and their eldest Sons excepted) should find Surety for his Truth towards the King and his Subjects, or else be kept in Prison; whereupon a certain number of Neighbours became customably bound one for another, to see each Man of their Pledge forth-coming at all times, or to answer the Transgression committed, by any broken away: So that whosoever offended, it was forth-with inquired in what Pledge he was, and then they of that Pledge either brought him forth within 31 Days to his Answer, or satisfied for his Offence. This was called Frank-pledge, and the Circuit thereof Decenna, because it commonly consisted of ten Housholds [sic], and every particular Person thus mutually bound for himself and his Neighbours, was called Decennier, because he was of one Decenna or another. This Custom was so kept, that the Sheriffs at every County-Court did, from time to time, take the Oaths of young Ones, as they attained the age of fourteen Years, and see that they comprised in some Dozen; […] — Ref.27

Habere facias possessionem:

Transcriber’s note: — This text includes, amongst others, the following sample writ of judgment which appears most apt in the case of James Stevenson of Stewartstown v. John Stephenson of Ravenhill, per Memorial no. 195-473-131139, Stephenson to Stevenson (8 & 9 Dec. 1758) (link pending) —

George II, (&c.) To the sheriff of __, greeting: Whereas James Stevenson, lately in our court before us at Dublin, by our writ, and by the judgment of the same court recovered against John Stephenson his term yet to come and unexpired of and in the following recited premises——all that one Moiety of one Dwelling House & Backhouses thereunto belonging in the Town of Stewartstown in the County of Tyrone bounded on the East by James Templeton’s House on the South with the Great Street on the West with William Lind’s House & on the North with Henry Mullholand’s Garden as also of one other Dwelling house with a Garden and Tenement thereunto belonging in the possession of William Taker one wais[-] [waiste?] Tenementt & Garden in the said Town of Stewartstown commonly called Scots Tenement which two Last Tenements are bounded by Williamm Edmunston’s house on the South by William Lind’s Garden on the West by Church Lane on the North by the Mean [Main?] Street on the East as also one field or park commonly called the Eleven Acre park Situate near Stewartstown aforesaid as also of one Moiety of the two Lower Sessioghs of Gallvally known by the name of Gallvally and Ruskyroe together with a part of the Town and Lands of Tamilanane Adjoyning thereunto Situate Lying near Stewarts town aforesaid and also the full and Entire half or Moiety of all and Singular the yearly Rents fees and Duties Reserved & made payable upon the Several Leases Articles Minnitts or Agreem’ts whereby all and Singular the Houses Lands and premises herein after Mentioned or any part or parcell thereof are Granted Demised or Sett to the Severall Tenments and occupiers thereof the amount of the Yearly Rents as Well Chattles as Freehold amounting in the Whole to the Yearly Sum of Nineteen pounds all that the two Squares or parcells of Ground in Stewartstown aforesaid with the four Messuages or Dwelling Houses therein Erected Late in the possession of James Templeton Deceased William Lind Robert Speer Deceased and William Stevenson and James Stevenson party to these presents Respectively with the backsides Gardens Turbary or Turff Bogg thereunto belonging as also the Several parks or parcels of Land Called and known by the Names of the Church Park the Nine Acre park the park Lying between the Nine Acre park & Drumagullion as also the Lower Sessioghs of Gallvally Adjoyning the Nine Acre park Containing in the whole Sixty Acres plantation measure together with all and Singular the Ways Easements and Appurtenances thereunto and unto all and Singular the premises hereby Granted belonging or in any manner Appertaining Situate Lying and being in the Barony of Dungannon and County of Tyrone—in your county with the appurtenances which the Lords of Manor of Castle Stewart on the [date] demised to the said James Stevenson, for a term which is not yet expired, to wit, from [date] unto the full end and term of [number of] years from thence next ensuiing, and fully to be complete and ended, by virtue of which said demise the said James Stevenson entered into the aforesaid deed of lease with the appurtenances, and was possessed thereof until the said John Stephenson afterwards, to wit, on the said 12th day of January 1747 (link pending), with force and arms entered into the aforesaid premises with the appurtenances, into and upon the possession of the said James Stevenson, from his said tenements and aforesaids, his term aforesaid therein not yet expired: therefore we command you, that without delay you cause the said James Stevenson to have his possession of his term aforesaid yet to come, of and in the aforesaid recited premises with the appurtenances, and in what manner you shall have executed this our writ, make known to us at [Dublin], on [date] next, wheresoever we shall then be in Dublin and have there then this writ. Witness, [name of presiding Magistrate], (&c).

Possession was probably taken peaceably, but this was the usual form written into these writs.

The text includes the following description of this type of writ:

[1.] — This writ is judicial, and derives its name from its effective mandatory part, which literally means ‘that you cause to have possession.’

It issues on the judgment for the lessor of the plaintiff in ejectment, and its use is to put him in possession of the premises sought to be recovered by the ejectment.

The steps to be taken on the part of the lessor of the plaintiff, previously to issuing this written in K.B. [Court of King’s Bench], are detailed according to the exigencies of the case, and C.P. [Court of Common Pleas] under tit. EJECTMENT, sect. IX. ante. See also same title, sect. V. Certain forms where other executions are incorporated with this writ, will be found amongs the FORMS thereto subjoined.

The same general rules as to when and by and against what parties this writ may issue, are applicable to the habere facias possessionem as to other writs of execution. See titles EXECUTION. FIERI FACIAS.

This writ, being a writ of execution, must be sued out within a year and a day; if afterwards, a writ of scire facias is necessary, though formerly doubted; otherwise the court will award a writ of restitution, quia erronicè emanavit, because it issued irregularly.

But if execution be taken within, and continued beyond, the year, there is no necessity for a writ of scire facias. Runn. Ejectm. 481, who cites 2 Inst. 471. 2 Leon. 77-8.

And if the plaintiff die within the year and a day, his executors cannot take out execution without a scire facias. Ib.

But if the plaintiff hath a judgment, with stay of execution for a year, he may, after the year, take out his execution without the scire facias. Booth v. Booth, 6 Mod. 288. […]

The words of the writ are, quod habere facias possessionem, so that there must be a full and actual possession given by the sheriff, and consequently all power necessary for this end must be given him. If therefore the recovery be of a house, the sheriff may justify breaking upon the door, if he be denied entrance by the tenant. 5 Co. 91 b.

But the plaintiff must be carefull not to take out execution for more than he has a right to recover, and must take possession, at his peril, of only that to which he has title. Roe, dem. of Saul v. Dawson, 3 Wils. 49. See Connor v. West, 5 Burr. 2672.

If the plaintiff recover several messuages in the possession of different persons, the sheriff must go to each house, and deliver the possession thereof, and this is done by turning the tenants out of each of the houses. Roll. Abr. 886. But though the messuages were in possession of one tenant, it is said that the surest and best way is for the sheriff to remove all the tenants (occupiers) entirely out of each house, and when the possession i squitted, to deliver it to the plaintiff. 2 Bac. Abr. 434. […] — Ref.28

[2.] — Habere facias possessionem: A judicial writ that lies where one hath recovered a term for years in action of ejectione firmæ, to put him into possession. F.N.B. 167. And one may have a new writ, if a former be not well executed. Mich. 21 Car. 1. B.R. — Ref.29


Hereditaments, hæreditamenta. All such immoveable things, whether corporeal or incorporeal, which a man may have to him and his heirs by way of inheritance; and which, if they are not otherwise devised, descend to him that is next heir, and fall not the executor as chattels do. […] It is a word of very great extent, comprehending whatever may be inherited or come to the heir; be it real, personal, or mixed, and though it is not holden, or lieth not in tenure. […] And by the grant of hereditaments in conveyances, manors, houses, and lands of all sorts, rent, services, advowsons, &c. pass.

Hereditaments are of two kinds, corporeal and incorporeal. Corporeal consist of such as affect the senses; such as may be seen and handled by the body: Incorporeal are not the object of sensation, can neither be seen nor handled, are creatures of the mind, and exist only in contemplation.

Corporeal Hereditaments consist wholly of substantial and permanent objects, all which may be comprehended under the general denomination of land only. For land, says Coke, comprehendeth in its legal signification any ground, soil, or earth whatsoever, as arable, meadows, pastures, woods, moors, waters, marshes, furzes, and heath. 1 Inst. 4. It legally includes also all castles, houses, and other buildings; for they consist, saith he, of two things; land, which is the foundation, and the structure thereupon: so that if I convey the land or ground, the structure or building passeth therewith. It is observable that water is here mentioned as a species of land, which may seem a kind of solecism; but such is the language of the law; and therefore one cannot bring an action to recover possession of a pool, or other piece of water, by the name of water only; wilier by calculating its capacity, as for so many cubical yards; or by superficial measure, for twenty acres of water, or by general description, as for a pond, a water-course, or a rivulet: but he must bring his action for the land that lies at the bottom, and must call it twenty acres of land covered with water. Brown. 1-42.

Land hath also in its legal signification, an indefinite extent, upwards as well as downwards. Cujus est solum ejus est usque ad cælum, is the maxim of the law; upwards, therefore, no man may erect any building, or the like to overhang another’s land; and downwards, whatever is in a direct line, between the surface of any land and the centre of the earth belongs to the owner of the surface; as is every day’s experience in the mining countries. So that the word land includes not only the face of the earth, but every thing under or over it. And therefore if a man grants all his lands, he grants thereby all his mines of metal and other fossils, his woods, his waters, and his houses, as well as his fields and meadows. Not but the particular names of the things are equally sufficient to pass them, except in the instance of water; by a grant of which nothing passes but a right of fishing. Co. Lit. 4. But the capital distinction is this; that by the name of a castle, messuages, toft, croft, or the like, nothing else will pass, except what falls with the utmost propriety under the term made use of; but by the name of land, which is nomen generalissimum, every thing terrestrial will pass. 1 Inst. 4, 5, 6. By the name of a castle, one or more, manors maybe conveyed; and è converso by the name of a manor, a castle may pass. 1 Inst. 5: 2 Inst. 31. See 2 Comm. 17. l9.

An Incorporeal Hereditament is a right issuing out of a thing corporate, (whether real or personal,) or concerning, or annexed to, or exercisable within the same. Co. Lit. 19, 20. It is not the thing corporate itself, hut something collateral thereto; as a rent issuing out of lands, &c. or an office belonging to jewels, &c. Or, according to logicians, Corporeal Hereditaments are the substance which may be always seen, always handled; Incorporeal Hereditaments are but a sort of accidents, which inhere in, and are supported by that substance; and may belong or not belong to it, without any visible alteration therein. Their existence is merely in idea, and abstract contemplation, though their effects and profits, which are totally distinct, may be frequently objects of our bodily senses. 2 Comm. 20. These Incorporeal Hereditaments are stated in the commentaries to be principally of ten sorts; Advowsons, Tithes, Commons, Ways, Offices, Dignities, Franchises, Corodies, or Pensions, Annuities, and Rents. As to all which see those several titles in this Dict. — Ref.30


Heriot.—Norman-French: heriet (Britt. 178a). late Latin: heriotum, from Anglo-Saxon: hergeata, heregeatve, an implement of warfare, because the lord on the death of his tenant was entitled to a certain number of the tenant’s horses and arms, varying according to his military rank (Cnut’s Laws, II § 70), or, in the case of a villein, to his best beast (William I.’s Laws. 20. Compare the German Besthaupf, Grimm’s R.A. 364). Originally, heriot and relief (q.v.) were spoken of as synonymous, but after the Conquest, ‘relief’ became appropriated to free tenants, and ‘heriot,’ to villeins. (Britt. 178a.)

Heriots are of three kinds: Heriot service; suit heriot; and heriot custom.

Heriot service can only exist as incident to a freehold tenure created before the Statute of Quia Emptores. It consists in the right of the lord to the best beast of a tenant dying seised of an estate of inheritance, and is recoverable by seizure or distresss [sic]. Hence it is said to lie both in prender and in render. […]

Suit heriot is the right to some chattel of a deceased tenant, reserved on a grant or lease of freehold lands made in modern times. It is not confined to the best beast or to the case of a tenant dying seised of an estate of inheritance. A suit heriot being a species of rent, the lord must either distrain or bring an action for it, and cannot seize it. […]

Heirot custom is usually found in copyholds, though it also occurs in freeholds held of a manor in which the freeholders are subject to a set of customary rules. It is not recoverable by distress except by special custom, and is in other respects entirely regulated by local custom. Thus, it may be confined to the second best beast, or to animals of a particular kind, or to ‘dead goods.’ A heriot custom may also be due on alienation as well as on death. […] — Ref.31

House-, fire-, hedge-, and hay-boot:

[1.] — [House-, fire-, hedge-, and hay-boot:] If the Tenant have a Right to use the Woods, that Sort of Common is known by the several Names of House-boot, Fire-boot, Hedge-boot, and Hay-boot; and these every Lessee for Life or Years, if not restrained by any particular Covenant, may take by Law, tho’ not authorized by any particular Agreement: And he who has a Right to one may take the Rest, but must take Care not to cur more than he has Occasion for; and may, as it seems, cut Wood for such Purposes some Time before he use the same, that it may grow dry and fit for Use. But the Wood for Fire-boot must be consumed in the Housing on the Land leased; the House-boot, for repairing such Houses; and so of Hay-boot and Hedge-boot, or else the Tenant will be guilty of Waste. — Ref.32

[2.] — House-boot is of two kinds, the one to repair the houses, the other to burn, which is called fire-boot.

There is an estover called plough-boot, viz. stuff to mend the tenant’s ploughs, carts, harrows, wains, and for making rakes and forks, for getting in his hay and corn.

The estover called hedge-boot, or hay-boot, is timber and wood for making gates and stiles, and boughs and bushes for mending and repairing hedges and fences. — Ref.33

Impeachment of waste:

[Impeachement of waste:] A tenant for life ‘without impeachment of waste’ has as full power to cut down trees and open new mines, for his own use, as if he had an estate of inheritance; and is in the same manner entitled to the timber if severed by others. He may sell and assign to a purchaser all the timber and timberlike trees, which will include the thinnings to be selected by the purchaser. But the words ‘without impeachment of waste’ will not permit a tenant for life to unlead a house and pull down the tiles. The intention of the clause “without impeachment of waste” is to enable the tenant to do many things—such as opening new mines—which would at common law amount to waste; but it does not authorize such destructive waste as cutting down ornamental timber. The privilege thus given by the words ‘without impeachment of waste’ is annexed to the privity of estate; so that if the person to whom that privilege is given changes his estate, he loses the privilege. But while his estate continues he may by lease or licence authorize others to do whatever he is entitled to do himself. — Ref.34

Instant, Proximo, and Ultimo:

Inst., Prox., Ult., for instant, proximo, ultimo.

• Instant, the current month: as On the 10th Inst. or inst.
• Ultimo, the month just past: as On the 10th ult.
• Proximo, the next month: as On the 10th prox.

‘Instant,’ for instante mense, in the current month; ‘Proximo,’ for proximo mense, in the next month; ‘Utlimo,’ for ultimo mense, in the last month (Latin). — Ref.35

Irish Currency:

Irish Currency Prior to the Year 1826.

Previous to the year 1826 Ireland had a currency of different value from that of Great Britain, although the denominations were the same, namely:—

[Format:] Old Irish value. Systematic name. British value.
4 Farthings = 1 Penny = 12/13d.
12 Pence = 1 Shilling = 11-1/13d.
20 Shillings = 1 Pound = 18s. 5-7/13d.
21 Shillings = 1 Guinea = 19s. 4-8/13d.

By the Act 6th, George IV, chapter 79, which took effect from 5th January, 1826, the currency of Great Britain was constituted the currency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and debts contracted previous to the Act were paid in British currency at the rate of twelve-thirteenths of the amount of Irish currency. British gold and silver coins were constituted the legal currency of Ireland.

To convert Irish money into British Sterling, multiply by 12 and divide by 13.

To convert British Sterling into Irish Currency, multiply by 13 and divide by 12. — Ref.36


[1.] — Jointure of lands. A Jointure is a settlement of lands and tenements made to a woman in consideration of a marriage; or it is a covenant, whereby the husband, or some friend of his, assureth to the wife lands or tenements for term of her life: it [is] so called, either because it is granted ratione junctura in matrimonio, or for that land in frank-marriage was given jointly to husband and wife, and after to the heirs of their bodies, whereby the husband and wife were made as it were joint-tenants during the coverture. […]

Jointure is defined to be a bargain and contract of livelihood, adjoined to the contract of marriage; being a competent provision of freehold lands & tenements, &c. for the wife, to take effect after the death of the husband, if she herself is not the cause of the determination or forfeiture of it. — Ref.37

[2.] — The term ‘jointure,’ though in common use among lawyers to denote the provision ordinarily made out of land for the maintenance of a widow, does not accurately describe either the provision made according to the present usual practice or that made according to the practice which that now prevalent superseded. This general though inaccurate use of the term originated in a still more ancient practice. Before the Statute of Uses was passed it was held that a widow was not dowable of a use. Dower had therefore then, as it has again, ceased to be relied on as a provision for widows, and, instead, it had become usual upon marriage to limit an estate in land to the husband and wife jointly; and that provision was aptly called a jointure. At an early date, however, this practice was superseded by one of limiting in immediate remainder, on the determination of a life estate in her husband, an estate for the widow’s life in specified land, and more lately, but yet long ago and very generally, by the present practice of limiting her to a rent-charge. — Ref.38

Lease and release:

Portions of the following paragraphs have been boldfaced by the transcriber.

LEASE AND RELEASE, A conveyance of the fee-simple, right or interest in lands or tenements, under the statute of Uses, 27 H.8. c.10; giving first the possession, and afterwards the interest, in the estate conveyed. Though the deed of feoffment was the usual conveyance at common law; yet, since the statute of Uses, stat. 27 Hen.8. c.10, the conveyance by Lease and Release has taken place of it, and is become a very common assurance to pass lands and tenements; for it amounts to a feoffment, the use drawing after it the possession without actual entry, &c. and supplying the place of livery and seisin, required in that deed: in the making it, a Lease or bargain and sale for a year, or such like term, is first prepared and executed; “to the intent,” as is expressed in the deed, “that by virtue thereof the Lessee may be in actual possession of the land intended to be conveyed by the Release; and thereby, and by force of the statute 27 Hen.8. c.10, for transferring of uses into possession, be enabled to take and accept a grant of the reversion and inheritance of the said lands, &c. to the use of himself and his heirs for ever: “Upon which the Release is accordingly made, reciting the Lease, and declaring the uses: and in these cases a pepper-corn rent in the Lease for a year is a sufficient reservation to raise an use, to make the Lessee capable of a Release. 2 Vent. 35: 2 Mod. 262.

Blackstone says, this species of conveyance was first invented by Serjeant Moore, soon after the Statute of Uses; and is now the most common of any, and therefore not to be shaken; though very great lawyers, as particularly Mr. Noy, Attorney-general to King Charles I. formerly doubted its validity. 2 Mod. 252. It is thus contrived: a Lease, or rather Bargain and Sale upon some pecuniary consideration for one year, is made by the tenant of the freehold, to the Lessee or bargainee. Now this, without any enrollment, makes the bargainor stand seised to the use of the bargainee, and vests in the bargainee the use of the term for a year; and then the statute immediately annexes the possession. He therefore being thus in possession is capable of receiving a Release of the freehold and reversion; which must be made to a tenant in possession, and accordingly the next day a Release is granted to him. This is held to supply the place of livery of seisin, and thus a conveyance by Lease and Release is said to amount to a feoffment. Co. Litt. 270: Cro. Jac. 604.

The form of this conveyance is originally derived to us from the common law; and it is necessary to distinguish in what respect it operates as a common-law conveyance, and in what manner it operates under the statute of Uses. At the common law, where the usual mode of conveyance was by feoffment with livery of seisin, if there was a tenant in possession, so that livery could not be made, the reversion was granted, and the tenant attorned to the reversioner. As by this mode the reversion or remainder of an estate might be conveyed without livery, when it depended on an estate previously existing, it was natural to proceed one step further, and to create a particular estate for the express and sole purpose of conveying the reversion; and then by a surrender or Release, either of the particular estate to the reversioner, or of the reversion to the particular tenant, the whole fee vested in the surrenderee or Release. It was afterwards observed, that there was no necessity to grant the reversion to a stranger; and that if a particular estate was made to the person to whom it was proposed to convey the fee, the reversion might be immediately released to him, which Release, operating by way of enlargement, would give the Releasee (or Relesee as he is sometimes termed) a fee. In all these cases the particular estate was only an estate for years; for at the common law the ceremony of livery of seisin is as necessary to create even an estate of freehold, as it is to create an estate of inheritance. Still an actual entry would be necessary on the part of the particular tenant; for without actual possession the Lessee is not capable of a Release, operating by way of enlargement. But this necessity of entry for the purpose of obtaining the possession, was superseded or made unnecessary by the statute of uses (27 Hen.8. c.10, above alluded to); for by that statute the possession was immediately transferred to the Cestui que use; so that a bargainee under that statute is as much in possession, and as capable of a Release before or without entry, as a Lessee is at the common law after entry. All, therefore, that remained to be done to avoid on the one hand the necessity of livery of seisin from the grantor, and to avoid on the other the necessity of an actual entry on the part of the grantee, was, that the particular estate (which, for the reasons above mentioned, should be an estate for years) should be so framed as to be a bargain and sale within the statute. Originally it was made in such a manner as to be both a Lease at the Common Law, and a bargain and sale under the Statute: but as it is held, that where conveyances may operate both by the Common Law and Statute, they shall be considered to operate by the Common Law, unless the intention of the parties appears to the contrary, it became the practice to insert, among the operative words, the words Bargain and Sell; (in fact, it is more accurate to insert no other operative words;) and to express that the bargain and sale, or Lease, is made to the intent and purpose that thereby, and by the statute for transferring uses into possession, the Lessee may be capable of a Release. The bargain and sale therefore, or Lease for a year, as it is generally called, operates, and the bargainee is in the possession, by the statute. The Release operates by enlarging the estate or possession of the bargainee to a fee. This is at the Common Law; but if the use be declared to the Releasee in fee-simple, it continues an estate at the Common Law; but if the use is declared to a third person, the statute again intervenes, and annexes or transfers the possession of the Releasee to the use of the person to whom the use is declared. It has been said, that the possession of the bargainee under the Lease is not so properly merged in, as enlarged by, the Release; but at all events it does not, after the Release, exist distinct from the estate passed by the Release. 1 Inst. 271. b. in n. See tit. Release I.

As the operation of a Lease and Release depends upon the Lease, or bargain and sale; if the grantor is a Body Corporate, the Lease will not operate under the statute of uses; for a Body Corporate cannot be seised to an use, and therefore the Lease of possession, considered as a bargain and sale under the statute, is void; and the Release then must be of no effect for want of a previous possession in the Releasee. In cases of this nature, therefore, it is proper to make the conveyance by feoffment, or by a Lease and Release with an actual entry by the Lessee previous to the Release; after which the Release will pass the reversion. It may also be observed, that in exchanges, if one of the parties die before the exchange is executed by entry, the exchange is void. But if the exchange be made by Lease and release, this inconvenience is prevented, as the statute executes the possession without entry; and all incidents annexed to an exchange at Common Law will be preserved. 1 Inst. 271. b. in n.

When an estate is conveyed by Lease and Release, in the Lease for a year there must be the words bargain and sell for money, and five shillings or any other sum, though never paid, is a good consideration, whereupon the bargainee for a year is immediately in possession on the executing of the deed, without actual entry: if only the words demise, grant and to farm let are used, in that case the Lessee cannot accept of a Release of the inheritance, until he hath actually entered, and is in possession. 2 Lil. Abr. 435. But where Littleton says, that if a Lease is made for years, and the Lessor releases to the Lessee before entry, such Release is void; because the Lessee had only a right, and not the possession; and such Release shall not enure to enlarge the estate, without the possession: though this is true at Common Law, it is not so now upon the statute of uses. 2 Mod. 250, 251. And if a man make a Lease for life, remainder for life, and the first Lessee dieth; on which the Lessor releases to him in remainder, before entry; this is a good Release to enlarge the estate, he having an estate in law capable of enlargement by Release, before entry had. 1 Inst. 270.

No person can make a bargain and sale, who hath not possession of the lands: but it is not necessary to reserve a rent therein; because the consideration of money raises the use. If a Lease be without any such consideration the Lessee hath not any estate till entry, nor hath the Lessor any reversion; and therefore a release will not operate, &c. 1 Inst. 270, 278: Cro. Car. 169: 1 Mod. 263. On Lease at will, a Release shall be good by reason of the privity between the parties; but if a man be only tenant at sufferance, the Release will not enure to him; and as to the person who hath the reversion it is void, for such tenant hath not any possession, there being no estate in him. Litt. § 461, 462: Cro. Eliz. 21: Dyer 251.

In a Lease and Release, to make a tenant to the præcipe to suffer a recovery, where the release is made to A. B. and his heirs, (viz. the tenant to the præcipe,) it must be also said to the use of him the said A. B. and his heirs and assigns forever; for the Relessee must be absolute tenant of the freehold. 2 Vent. 312: Lil. Conveyance, 251. And a Release made on trust, must be to A. B. his heirs and assigns, to the only use and behoof of the Releasee, his heirs and assigns for ever; in trust for C. D. who is to be a party to the deed, and the purchase money to be paid by the cestui que trust. If the words to the use, &c. are not inserted in the Release, the estate doth not execute by the statute of uses, and the trust is void. Lil. Convey. 233, 251. See titles Recovery; Trust.

A Lease and Release make but one conveyance, being in the nature of one deed. 1 Mod. 252.

For further information as to the principles in which this form of conveyance originates, and under which it operates, see this Dictionary, titles Conveyance; Deed; Feoffment; Trusts; Uses; &c. — Ref.39


Messuage, Messuagium, Is properly a dwelling-house, with some adjacent Land assigned to the use thereof. […] Where it is said, That by the Name of a Messuage may pass also a Curtilage, a Garden, and Orchard, a Dove-house, a Shop, a Mill, a Cottage, a Toft, a Chamber, a Cellar, &c. yet may they be demanded by their single Names. […] — Ref.40


Muniment.—Title deeds and other documents relating to the title to land are sometimes called ‘muniments,’ from the Latin word munio, which signifies to defend or fortify, because they enable the owner to defend his estate.—Termes de la Ley. — Ref.41


Nihils, or Nichils, Are issues which the sheriff that is opposed in the Exchequer says, are nothing worth, and illeviable, for the insufficiency of the parties from whom due. Accounts of Nihil shall be put out of the Exchequer, Stat. 5 R. 2. c. 13. — Ref.42

Peppercorn rent:

[1.] — [Peppercorn Rent:] Rent having no money value. — Ref.43

[2.] — A peppercorn rent, as one of the nominal items payable by a vassal to his superior, seems to have originated in the feudal ages. The word peppercorn simply denotes anything of inconsiderable value, which freeholders pay their landlord to acknowledge that they held all from him.

          “Folks from mud-wall’d tenement
          “Bring landlords peppercorn for rent.” — Ref.44

Receiver’s fees:

Receiver’s fees: the charge of collection, commonly at a fixed rate. — Ref.45


[1.] — Remainder: In property law of the United Kingdom and the United States and other common law countries, a remainder is a future interest given to a person (who is referred to as the transferee or remainderman) that is capable of becoming possessory upon the natural end of a prior estate created by the same instrument. — Ref.46

[2.] — REMAINDER, is an estate limited in lands, tenements, or rents, to be enjoyed after the expiration of another intervening, or, as it is technically termed, ‘particular’ estate.

An estate in remainder is an estate limited to take effect, and be enjoyed, after another estate is determined. As if a man, seised in fee-simple, grants lands to one for twenty years, and, after the determination of the said term, then to another and his heirs for ever; here the former is tenant for years, remainder to the latter in fee. In the first place, an estate for years is created or carved out of the fee, and given to the former, and the residue and remainder of it is given to the latter. Both their interests are, in fact, only one estate; the present term of years, and the remainder afterwards, when added together, being equal only to one estate in fee. (2 Black. C. 11.) Remainders are either vested or contingent. Vested remainders, or remainders executed, are those by which a present interest passes to the party, though to be enjoyed in future, and by which the estate is invariably fixed to remain to a determinate person after the particular estate is spent; as if A. be tenant for years, remainder to B. in fee; hereby B.’s remainder is vested, which nothing can defeat or set aside. So, where an estate is conveyed to A. for life, remainder to B. in tail, remainder to C. in tail, with any indefinite number of other remainders over in tail to persons in esse, all these remainders are vested. The person entitled to a vested remainder has an immediate fixed right of future enjoyment, that is, an estate in præsenti, though it is not to take effect in possession, with primary profits, till a future period; and such an estate may be transfered [sic], aliened, and charged, much in the same manner as an estate in possession. It is not the uncertainty of ever taking effect in possession that makes a remainder contingent, for to that every remainder for life or in tail is and must be liable, as the remainder-man may die, or die without issue, before the death of the tenant for life. The present capacity of taking effect in possession, if the possession were to become vacant, and not the certainty that the possession will become vacant before the estate limited in remainder determines, universally distinguishes a vested remainder from one that is contingent. (Fearne, 215.) — Ref.47


REVERSION, [Reversio, from Revertor,] A returning again. 1 Inst. 142.

A Reversion hath two significations; the one is an estate left, which continues during a particular estate in being; and the other is the returning of the land after the particular estate is ended: It is said to be an interest in the land, when the possession shall fall, and so it is commonly taken; or it is when the estate, which was parted with for a time, ceaseth, and is determined in the persons of the alienees or grantees, &c. and returns to the grantor or donor, or their heirs, from whence derived. Plowd. 160; 1 Inst. 142.

But the usual definition of a Reversion is, that it is the residue of an estate left in the grantor after a particular estate granted away, continuing in him who granted the particular estate; and where the particular estate is derived out of his estate. Also a Reversion takes place after a remainder, where a person makes a disposition of a less estate, than that whereof he was seised at the time of making thereof. 1 Inst. 22. 142: Wood’s Inst. 151.

The difference between a Reversion and a remainder is, that a remainder is general, and may be to any man, except to him who granteth the land, for term of life, or otherwise; and a Reversion is to himself from whom the conveyances of the land proceeded and is commonly perpetual, &c. Remainder is an estate, appointed over at the same time; but the Reversion is not always at the same time appointed over. See title Remainder.

Blackstone, with his usual accuracy and perspicuity, shortly defines a Reversion thus: ‘The residue of an estate left in the grantor, to commence in possession after the determination of some particular estate granted out by him.’ Coke describes a Reversion to be the returning of land to the grantor, or his heirs, after the grant is over: as, if there be a gift in tail, the Reversion of the fee is, without any special reservation vested in the donor by act of law; and so also the Reversion, after an estate for life, years, or at will, continues in the lessor: for the fee-simple of all lands must abide somewhere; and if he, who was before possessed of the whole, carves out of it any smaller estate, and grants it away, whatever is not so granted remains in him. A Reversion is never therefore created by deed or writing, but arises from construction of law; a remainder can never be limited, unless by either deed or devise. But both are equally transferable, when actually vested, being both estates in præsenti, though taking effect in futuro. 2 Comm. c. 11. cites 1 Inst. 22. 142. — Ref.48


Seisin (seisina, Fr. seisine), in the common law signifies possession. To seize is to take possession of a thing; and primer seisin is the first possession. Co. Litt. 152. And seisin is twofold, seisin in deed or in fact, and seisin in law: a seisin in deed is when an actual possession is taken; and seisin in law is where lands descend, and one hath not actually entered on them, but has a right to enter. 1 Inst. 31. Perk. 457, 458. 4 Rep. 9. 80. 1 Danv. Abr. 647. — Ref.49

Suit and service:

Suit and Service. When the tenant had professed himself to the man of his superior or lord, the next consideration was concerning the service which, as such, he was bound to render for the land he held. This, in pure, proper, and original feuds, was only two-fold:—to follow or do suit to the lord in his courts in time of peace; and in his armies or warlike retinue, when commonly called to the field. — Ref.50


The Clerk of the Estreats and Summonister. Towards the reign of Edward III. the casual revenue being so much increased, that the clerk of the pipe could not engross all the sums estreated on his annual roll, and many of them being small, and paid on the first demand, it was necessary to make them part of the annual charge, in the same manner as the other annual revenue of the King was; therefore a new officer was created, viz. the clerk of the estreats; and instead of delivering the estreats of the Exchequer and other courts to the clerk of the pipe, they were, thenceforward, delivered to him, and he issued a distinct process from the summons of the pipe, viz. the summons of the green wax, which is the first process; and hence in this kingdom he is also called the summonister.

And this officer, as well as the clerk of the pipe, receives the answer of the sheriff in court; and the nihils are to be entered on the great roll.

As clerk of the estreats, he has the care of all fines, americiaments, and casualties, that arise in any of the courts of record; and of the fines and amerciaments that are imposed in the Exchequer, in the King’s remembrancers office and pleas office, or at the assizes or sessions, which are brought into the clerk of the estreats, by the respective officers of the courts, and clerks of the peace; upon which he makes out process; which is transmitted under the seal of the court to the sheriffs, to levy such fines, forfeitures, and debts; and this process is in the nature of a feire facias, which notwithstanding the sheriff must answer in his accounts, or take bonds from the party, to clear such debts in court. — Ref.51

Terms – Hilary, Easter, Trinity, Michaelmas:

Terms, those spaces of time, wherein the Courts of Justice are open, for all that complain of wrongs or injuries, and seek their rights by course of law or action, in order to their redress; and during which the Courts […] sit and give judgments, &c. But the High Court of Parliament, the Chancery, and inferior Courts, do not observe the Terms; only the Courts of King’s Bench, the Common Pleas, and Exchequer, the highest courts at Common Law. Of these Terms there are four in every year, viz. Hilary Term, which begins the 23d of January, and ends the 12th of February, (unless on Sundays, and then the day after;) Easter Term, that begins the Wednesday fortnight after Easter Day, and ends the Monday next after Ascension Day; Trinity Term, which begins the Friday after Trinity Sunday, and ends the Wednesday fortnight after; and Michaelmas Term, that begins the 6th of November, and ends the 28th of November, (unless on Sundays, and then the day after.) — Ref.52

Termon or erenagh lands:

[1.] — […] When therefore we came to enquire the quantity of termon lands, I called unto me one of the best learned vicars in all the country, and one that had been a Brehon, and some skill in the civil and common laws, and with much ado, I got from him thus much light for the understanding of this matter. He told me, that the word termon doth signify, in the Irish tongue, a liberty, or freedom, and that all church lands whatsoever are called termon lands by the Irish; because they were ever free from all impositions, and cuttings, of the temporal Lords, and had the privilege of sanctuary, so as no temporal serjeant, or officer, might enter to arrest any person upon their lands, but the bishop’s officers only; howbeit, in common understanding, among us, that are English, we call such only termon lands, as were in the possession of corbes or herenachs. For the name of Corbe, I could not learn that it had any signification in the Irish tongue …] — Ref.53

[2.] — A coarb (comharba) was literally the ‘successor’ of the founding saint of a church and he enjoyed considerable but indefinable spiritual prestige. […] In function, though, a coarb was virtually the same as an erenagh.

The term airchinnech (anglicé erenagh) originally signified the head or superior of an early Irish ecclesiastical community called a monasterium, […] — Ref.54

[3.] — […] Sir Oliver St John reported in 1609, ‘there is no parish church in Ulster, but is built upon the erenagh lands, and has an erenagh belonging to it.’ Some hereditary heads were each known as a ‘coarb,’ and the English used the terms coarb and erenagh interchangeably. These parochial lands were inherited by families who simply paid rent to the bishops. The erenagh shared the cost of maintaining the church building with the parson and the vicar, and provided hospitality to visiting clergy when required. Other church lands of a similar nature were known as ‘termon’ lands, where sanctuary could be sought. — Ref.55

[4.] — Erenagh, (Ireland, historical, ecclesiastical) the head of a clan occupying church lands under a bishop in Gaelic Ireland. — Ref.56

[5.] — The erenagh was the steward of the lands. They were laymen, but retained some of the duties of the clerics. They were supposed to maintain some pretence of learning, and to dispense some hospitality, to pay some revenues to the bishop or abbot, and to help with the upkeep of the churches. — Ref.57

Toties quoties:

Toties quoties, As often as a thing shall happen. — Ref.58

Wife’s thirds:

Wife’s thirds: The interest taken by a wife in her deceased husband’s personalty by virtue of the Statute of Distributions may fall within the meaning of the term “thirds,” a word seldom used accurately, sometimes employed as a synonym of dower, which was called Triens or Tertia by the Feudists, and said to have been originally intended to denote the right of the widow to the third turn or third of profits incapable of division, has become in common parlance descriptive of the widow’s distributive share of her husband’s personal estate, or her interest in any property of his, whether real or personal, in case of his death intestate in her lifetime. — Ref.59

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. Legal terms used in deeds and in other proceedings. Online at Arborealis,, accessed [insert date of access].

See also:
Introductory notes about registered deeds and the memorials (copies) thereof
Scope of Irish deeds covered
Notes about the indexes provided on Arborealis
Notes about the transcripts of memorials of Irish deeds posted to Arborealis
List of blog articles pertaining to memorials of Irish deeds
— Nick Reddan’s Registry of Deeds Index Project Ireland website


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