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Use of crosses among the
"6th. 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.
"7th. The nature of the tenure is then subjoined, whether for life or lives, or in perpetuity, or whether any reversion is to ensue.
"8th. The services from which the land is liberated, and those to which it is to continue subject, are then expressed.
"9th. Some exhortations are then inserted to others, not to disturb the donation, and some imprecations on those who attempt such disturbance.
"10th. The date, the place of signature if a royal grant, and the witnesses, usually conclude it. The date is sometimes in the beginning (a).”
VIII. Although seals were in use among the instead of seals. Anglo-Saxons, probably for impressing the wax which closed their epistles (b), yet they did not employ them for authenticating their charters, but used only the sign of the cross; which was accounted the most solemn mode of confirmation, and a sure amulet against wrong-doers, according to the old verse, "Per Crucis hoc signum, fugit hinc procul omne malignum (c)." Thus Edgar concludes his charter to (c) Spelman's English Works,
(a) Turner's Anglo-Saxons,
Crowland Abbey, dated 966:-"I Edgar, monarch of all Albion, have confirmed this deed with the sign of the Holy Cross, +." Dunstan does the like:-"I Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, have fortified this deed with the sign of the Holy Cross, which we set up in triumph over our enemies + " Then the rest of the bishops and nobles subscribe in like manner with crosses. Again, in King Edgar's char ter of the sanctuary at Westminster, dated 968:-"I Dunstan, though a sinner, yet Archbishop of Canterbury, have sealed this liberty or privilege with the joyful sign of the cross+ (a)." Some Saxon kings, however, as Edward the Confessor, and perhaps Edgar, used both seals and crosses; but the usage did not possess the uniformity and constancy of a legal custom (b).
IX. Important as were the ultimate consequences Anglo-Norman. of the Norman conquest both to our laws and literature, yet the alterations produced in the forms of conveyancing did not immediately follow that event, but rather resulted from those progressive changes which terminated in a general fusion of laws. Hume, Blackstone, and most other modern writers (c), have given currency to the opinion, that an immediate change ensued in the language of our laws,
(a) Spelman, p. 235. (b) Ibid. p. 236; Palgrave, P. 2, 216; and see Ellis's Introd. to Dom. B. i. 40, note.
(c) Hume, i. 230; Bla. Com. iii. 317, iv. 415; Turner's Middle Ages, v. 422; Quarterly Re
view, x. 272, art. xii. by the
and acts of
charters, and acts of state; and that, conformably to the ordinance of the Crown, they were henceforward expressed in the French tongue. Daines Barrington, in his observations on the statute De Scaccario, 51 Hen. III., first pointed out the groundlessness of this opinion; and Luders, in his masterly tract " On the Use of the French Language in our Ancient Laws and Acts of State," has supported the same view with great learning and research. This last able writer doubts whether any such ordinance as is ascribed to the Conqueror was ever given (a): it rests on the authority of a doubtful reading of a passage in the history of Ingulfus-a work whose authenticity was questioned by Dr. Hickes (b), and which a distinguished living critic conceives to be a forgery of Richard II.'s time (c). Certain it is, however, that although the French language was spoken by the superior classes of society from the Conquest to the reign of Edward III. (d), yet, until the time of King John, all records, acts of state, laws, writs, and charters both of sovereigns and subjects, (with one doubtful exception) (e), are either in Latin or Saxon (ƒ). I need hardly remark that Domesday
(a) Luders's Tracts, vi.
(d) Ibid. i. 63; Turner's Middle Ages, v. 441. Henry's Hist.
(e) I allude to the laws of William the Conqueror, in the history of England ascribed to Ingulfus. They are in French,
but evidently a mere repetition of the laws of Edward the Confessor. Both Ritson, (Dissertation on Romance, p. 66), and Luders, (p. 377), suppose them to have been originally written in Saxon, and afterwards translated into French.
(f) Luders's Tracts, p. 342; Barrington's Observations on Ancient Statutes, p. 54. As to the
Book, the most important publication of William's reign, and which was completed in 1086, is in the former language (a). Latin, indeed, was employed by the Normans for these purposes in their own country; and it would have been strange, as Mr. Luders remarks, if, in England, they had adopted a language neither conformable to their own native usage, nor that of the people whom they had subdued (b). Soon after 1270, French, however, was brought into common use; it was employed in private letters, and in grammar schools boys construed their Latin lessons into that tongue (c). During the reigns of Edward III., Richard II., Henry IV., and Henry V., and perhaps much earlier, conveyances were usually in the French language (d). In the reign of Henry VI. they were often in English, but more commonly
language of acts of parliament, a full and accurate account is given in the Introduction to the Statutes at large, edited under the Record Commission, chap. iv. sect. 2. Of law proceedings, see Luders, passim, and Mr. Amos's notes to Fortescue, p. 179, and Blackstone and Reeve.
(a) Sir Henry Ellis, in his useful Introd. to Dom. B. i. 12, takes occasion to remark that the Dom-boc of Alfred, which is not extant, was in reality a code of laws, and not a survey of the King's dominions, as is commonly supposed. Sir Martin Wright, however, has quoted a passage in his Tenures, p. 57, note, from Ingulfus, who had seen the
Dom-boc, which cannot be reconciled with Ellis's opinion.
(b) Luders's Tracts, p. 349. (c) Hallam's Literature of Europe, i. 63.
(d) I have counted in Madox's Formulare one French instrument of the reign of Edward II., eight of Edward III., ten of Richard II., seven of Henry IV., and three of Henry V. Sir John Cavendish, who was Chief Justice in Richard II.'s reign, begins his will in Latin, but the rest is in French, "quia lingua Gallica amicis meis et mihi plus est cognata et majis communis et nota quam lingua Latina," &c.- Ruggle's Memoir of the Cavendish family, in the Archæologia, xi. 55.
Charters in the reign of Henry III.
in Latin (a). Both these languages continued to be used indiscriminately until the reign of James I., when the Latin was almost wholly superseded by the English (b).
X. About the reign of Henry III. or Edward I. the Forms of Conveyancing began to assume a very methodical composition (c), which has in great meaChirographum. sure continued to the present day. A charter was often called "chirographum," originally, perhaps, from the meaning of the word-hand-writing, and afterwards from the usage (which obtained also among the Anglo-Saxons) (d) of writing it in capitals either at the top or bottom of the deed, of which there were often two copies on the same piece of parchment. Duplicates, however, were made only when there were two or more parties interested in the deed; so that when the parchment, with the word "chirogra
(a) Madox's Form. contains
it is said, that in the reign of Henry VI. the English language, which had been partially introduced in the time of his predecessor, was generally adopted.
(b) The Boke of Instruments, published in 1543, contains more Latin forms than English; but in West's Symbolæography, which appeared in 1594, there are more English than Latin.
(c) Spelman's English Works, p. 236; Madox, Form. Diss. p.
(d) Madox, Form. pp. 176, 238, 421.