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Banner Text  A GLOSSARY of Archaic Terms used in the Court Rolls & other documents  Banner Text



A financial penalty which the lord exacted from a tenant who was "in mercy" for an offence committed within the manorial jurisdiction, such as a service omitted, an affray, trespass, false claim and many others. As is sometimes noted in the roll, an offence could be forgiven.



1. The act or offense of grubbing up trees and bushes, and thus destroying the thickets or coverts of a forest.

2. A piece of land cleared of trees and bushes, and fitted for cultivation; a clearing.



Either to arrest or, as usually in these rolls, to secure by means of sureties for future attendance in court.



An oxgang, or as much land as an ox can plow in a year; an ancient measure of land, of indefinite quantity, but usually estimated at fifteen acres.



A unit of assessment for tax. The tax levied on each carucate came to be known as "carucage".

The carucate was based on the area a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season. It was sub-divided into oxgangs, or "bovates", based on the area a single ox might till in the same period, which thus represented one eighth of a carucate; and it was analogous to the hide.


Claim of court:

A rendering of the abbreviation for Curie Calumpnia which appears in the margin to indicate that cases have been removed either to a wapentake court or to some feudal or seignorial court.



A little close adjoining to a dwelling-house, and enclosed.



An enclosed area of land around a dwelling.



The seize of a person's goods and sometimes also his lands to compel him to pay his rent, perform his services, appear in court, etc.



1. To remove or carry away to a distance, especially so as to conceal.

2. To take (oneself) to a distance.



Excuse for non-appearance in a court of law at the appointed time.



A grant of lands as a fee. In old England the transfer of property that gave the new owner the right to sell the land as well as the right to pass it on to his heirs.



A payment "offered" at least notionally to the lord by his tenants for favours at the lord's discretion as landlord, such as permission to enter a tenement, marry off a daughter or leave the manor.



The buying or contracting for any merchandise or victual coming in the way of the market; or dissuading persons from bringing their goods or provisions there; or persuading them to enhance the price, when there; any of which practices make the market dearer to the fair trader.

Typically, forestalling referred to the practice of intercepting sellers on their way to a market, buying up their stock, then taking it to the market and marking it up. It could also mean the creation of partnerships or agreements under which goods would not be brought to market. Forestalling is often used and understood as a catch all clause for marketing offences.



A Yorkshire term which refers to a procedure analogous to waging one's law. It is used to prove ownership of cattle.



A variable unit of land area used in medieval England outside the Danelaw, defined according to its arable yield and taxable potential rather than its exact dimensions. This gave it a range of approximately 15 to 30 modern acres (6 to 12 hectares). The Danelaw equivalent was the carucate.

A hide could agriculturally support one household.

Five hides were expected to produce one fully armed soldier in times of war.

Ten hides were formed into a tithing.

Ten tithings made a hundred.

A variable number of hundreds would be grouped to form a shire.


A hundred:

A geographic division used to divide a larger region into smaller administrative units.

It may in some areas once have referred to a hundred men under arms.

In England, specifically, it has been suggested that it referred to the amount of land sufficient to sustain one hundred families.

The land covered by one hundred "hides", the smallest land unit used by the Anglo-Saxons for taxation purposes.


Love day. (Dies Amoris)

Usually defined as days before which the parties were to reach a settlement by compromise. Often it seems to mean merely an indulgent postponement.



A villein could not marry his daughter without the lord's consent, and the compulsory payment of merchet.

There are instances in the Court Rolls where a sum was paid for a licence to marry, as in the case of Matilda, the widow of John de Dene, who paid two shillings for a licence, but was also fined sixpence for having married without permission.



This word is synonymous with dwelling-house; and a grant of a messuage with the appurtenances, will not only pass a house, but all the buildings attached or belonging to it, as also its curtilage, garden and orchard, together with the close on which the house is built.



One of two equal parts; a half; as, a moiety of an estate, of goods, or of profits; the moiety of a jury, or of a nation.


Quit Claim:

A release or acquittal of a man from all claims which the releasor has against him.


Quit Rent:

1. A rent paid by the tenant of the freehold, by which he goes quit and free; that is, discharged from any other rent.

2. In England, quit rents were rents reserved to the king or a proprietor, on an absolute grant of waste land, for which a price in gross was at first paid, and a mere nominal rent reserved as a feudal acknowledgment of tenure.



A postponement of a case, summons, distraint, inquisition etc. usually until the next court.



The possession of an estate of freehold. Seisin was used in contradistinction to that precarious kind of possession by which tenants in villenage held their lands, which was considered to be the possession of their lords in, whom the freehold continued.

1. Seisin is either in fact or in law.

2. Where a freehold estate is conveyed to a person by feoffment, with livery of seisin, or by any of those conveyances which derive their effect from the statute of uses, he acquires a seisin in deed or in fact, and a freehold in deed: but where the freehold comes to a person by act of law, as by descent, he only acquires a seisin in law, that is, a right of possession, and his estate is called a freehold In law.

3. The seisin in law, which the heir acquires on the death of his ancestor, May be defeated by the entry of a stranger, claiming a right to the land, which is called an abatement.

4. The actual seisin of an estate may be lost by the forcible entry of a stranger who thereby ousts or dispossesses the owner this act is called a disseisin.



A short piece of land in arable ridges and furrows, of uncertain quantity; also, a ridge of land lying between two furrows.


Sicut alias and Sicut pluries:

Indicate the successive orders to do something, generally to distrain. Sicut alias is a second writ or order issued after failure to execute the first; Sicut pluries is a third or subsequent writ issued after the failure to execute the first and the Sicut alias.



(OF). Tenement a holding, a fief. ( Feud. Law.) That which is held of another by service; property which one holds of a lord or proprietor in consideration of some military or pecuniary service; fief; fee.



(In medieval Europe) a peasant personally bound to his lord, to whom he paid dues and services, sometimes commuted to rents, in return for his land.


Wager of law:

The primitive procedure in which the defendant offers to find other suitors who would join with him in swearing his innocence.



A subdivision of shires or counties, especially in the Midlands and North of England.  Corresponding to the hundred in other shires.



In an action of replevin, the reprisal of other goods in lieu of those taken by a first distress and eloigned.


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