Page images


expression, nobilibus vassallis ;3° and grants of kings to their CHA P. vassals are not unfrequent.

The Anglo-Saxon proprietors of land in demesne were, in many respects, the little sovereigns of their territories, from the legal privileges which, according to the grants, and to the customs of the times, they possessed and were entitled to exercise. Their privileges consisted of their civil and criminal jurisdictions, their pecuniary profits and gafols, and their power over the servile part of their tenantry and domestics.

It is an appendage to many grants of land, that the possessors should have the sac and soc, or a certain extent of civil and criminal jurisdiction. Thus Edward the Confessor gave to the abbot of Abbendon sace and socne, toll and team, infangenetheof binnan burgan, and butan burgan; ham soene, grithbrice and foresteal." Similar privileges are given, with many additions, in various grants, and they conveyed, not only the right of holding courts within the limits of the estate, to determine the causes and offences arising'within it, but also the fines and payments, or part of them, with which the crimes were punished. In some grants these fines were shared with the king." Sometimes the liberty of holding markets, and of receiving toll, is allowed, and somteimes an exemption from toll. There seems to be no doubt that the Anglo-Saxons took lands by inheritance. The peculiar modes of inheritance, called gavelkind, where all the children inherited, and borough-english, where the youngest son was the heir; have been referred to the Saxon times.


30 Asser. Vit. Alfredi,. p. 33.

NI MS. Claud. C. 9. p. 130.

32 Ibid. p. 104.


Their Conveyances.




1st, The

E have several of their grants of land without any

pecuniary consideration ; of their conveyances on purchase; of their deeds of exchange; their testamentary devises, and their leases. These are all short and simple as short and as simple as they might always be made if the ingenuity of mankind were less directed to evade their legal contracts by critical discussions of their construction. The Saxon conveyances consisted principally of these things:

grantor's name and title are stated. In the older charters the description is very simple. It is more full in those of a later period; but the grants of Edgar are generally distinguished from those of other kings, by a pompous and inflated commencement.

2d, A recital is usually inserted, in many instances preceding the donor's name. Sometimes it states his title, or some circumstance connected with it. Sometimes the recital is on the brevity and uncertainty of life, and on the utility of committing deeds to writing—sometimes of the charitable or friendly feelings which occasioned the grant; and one recital states that the former land-boc, or conveyance, had been destroyed by fire, and that the owner had applied for new ones.

3d, The conveying words follow, which are usually “ Do “ et concedo; donare decrevimus; concedimus et donamus; “ dabo ; trado;" or other terms of equivalent import, either of Latin or Saxon.

4th, The person's name then occurs to whom the land is granted. The name is sometimes given without any addition, and sometimes the quality or parentage is simply mentioned, as Eadredo, Liaban fili Birgwines; meo fideli ministro Æthel

C H A P.


wende; Æthelnotho præfecto meo; Ealdberhto ministro meo, atque Selethrythe sorori tuæ, &c.

5th, What lawyers call the consideration of a deed is commonly inserted. This is sometimes pro intimo caritatis affectu, pro ejus , humili obedientia, pro redemptione animæ meæ, and such like. Often it is for money paid, or a valuable consideration.

6th, Another circumstance frequently mentioned in the royal grants is, that it was done with the consent of the witena or nobles, or in other grants of the superior lord.

7th, The premises are then mentioned. They are described shortly in the body of the grant by their measured or estimated quantity of land, and the name of the place where they were situate. Some general words then follow, often very like those annexed to the description of premises in our modern conveyances. The grants show that the land of the country was in a state of cultivated divisions, and was known by its divisional appellations. Sometimes the name given to it is expressed to be that by which it was locally known among the inhabitants of the district. At others the name is expressed to be its ancient or well-known denomination. The appellation, however, is usually Saxon ; though in some few places it is obviously British.

When estates were large, they comprehended many pieces of land, of various descriptions. With the arable land, meadow, marsh, wood, and fisheries, were often intended to be passed. In our times, lest the words expressly used to indicate the land conveyed should not include all the property included in the purchase, words of large and general import are added, without any specific idea that such things are actually attached. Such expressions occur in the Saxon charters. Thus, in a grant dated in 679, after the land is mentioned, we have “ with all things pertaining to it; fields, ineadows, " marshes, woods, fens, and all fisheries to the same land “ belonging.” In the Anglo-Saxon grants of a more recent

BOOK date, the general words are nearly as numerous as in our


present deeds.

Besides the first description of the place, and the general words, there are commonly added, at the end of the grant, the particular boundaries of the land. The grants are, for the most part, in Latin, and the boundaries in Saxon.

8th, The nature of the tenure is then subjoined, whether for life or lives, or in perpetuity, or whether any reversion is to ensue.

9th, The services from which the land is liberated, and those to which it is to continue sụbject, are then expressed.

10th, Some exhortations are then inserted to others, not to disturb the donation, and some imprecations on those who attempt it.

11th, The date, the place of signature if a royal grant, and the witnesses, usually conclude it. The date is sometimes in the beginning

It may be here remarked, that the Saxon decds had no was seals. These were introduced by the Norman conquest.'

The divisions of land mentioned in the Şaxon charters are marked and distinguished by precise boundaries. We will mention some of them, as they will shew, very satisfactorily, the agricultural state of the country. They sometimes occur concisely in Latin; but it was far more usual to express them in Saxon, even in Latin charters. This was perhaps that they might be more generally and exactly known, and, in case of dispute, easier proved. The juries, gemots, and witnesses of the day, might mistake a Latin description, but not a vernacular one.

In 866 the boundaries of two manentes run thus: “ From Sture on the Honey-brook, up behind the brook on the old hedge; along the hedge on the old way; along the way on the

great street; along the street on four boundaries, then so to Calcbrook, along the brook; then so to Ilorse-brook, along

Ingulf. p. 70.

3 Gale, 409.



[ocr errors]

the brook; then so to the ditch, along the ditch to the Sture again ; on Sture to the ditch that is called Thredestreo, along the ditch on Heasecan-hill; from Heasccan-hill to the ditch, along the ditch to Wenforth, along Wenforth, then again on the Sture.'

66 First the Icenan at Brom-bridge, up and along the way to Hlide-gate; thence along the valley to Beamstead ; then by the hedge to Searnegles-ford ; then up by Swetheling to Sow-brook; then forth by the boundary to Culesfield, forth by the right measured to the Steed lea, so to the Kids-field; then to the boundary valley, so to the Tæppe-lea; so on to Sheep-lea, then to Broad-hramble, so to the old Gibbet-place, then on to the deep dell; then by the wooden boundary mark to Back-gate; thence by the mark to the old fold ; thence north and east to the military path, and by the military path to the Stocks of the high ford, so by the mere of the Hidestream to Icenan; then up by the stream and so to the east of Wordige; thence by the right mark to the thorn of the mere; thence to the red cross, so on by the Ealderman's mark; from the mark then it cometh to Icenan up by the stream to the ford of Alders; thence to Kid-burn, up and along the burn to the military path, so to the Turngate within the fish water to Sheepswick; then by the right mere to the Elderford, so to the Broad-valley, then to the Milk-valley, so to the Meal-hill, and along the way to the mark of the Forester's, south of the boundary to the hay-meadow, then to Clæanfield, so on Copper-valley, forth by the hedge on the angle field; then forth on the Icenan north of Steneford, so with the stream till it cometh again on Brombridge.

“ These are the boundaries of the sand to Cerotesege (Chertsey), and to Thorpe: That is, first on the Waymouth up and along the way to Way-bridge; from Way-bridge within the eel mill ditch; midward from the ditch to the old military street, and along the street on Woburn-bridge, and along


? Smith's App. Bede, 770.

3 Dugd. Mon. 37. BB

Vol. II.

« PreviousContinue »