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Forms of Assurances.


I. IN distributing the Forms of Assurances con- Plan of the pretained in the following collection under the twofold sent collection division of “ Common Forms” and “ Precedents,”topically arranged,— my object is to furnish the practitioner, first, with the materials for drafting; and, secondly, with various models of drafts, adapted to the usual exigencies of practice. There is no novelty, indeed, in this classification, for it has often been adopted by practitioners, and is said, though perhaps not quite correctly, to have been first introduced by Mr. Preston : it possesses, however, many obvious advantages over the usual plan of most printed collections, which, as they contain only precedents or drafts used on former occasions, cannot furnish more than the particular varieties incident to each transaction. Such collections may very well serve to suggest the frame or form of instruments; but to draw from them exclusively-a practice much exploded among well-educated draftsmen - is as if a builder, instead of having his masonry ready at hand,

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should be obliged on all occasions to pull down some existing fabrics, and to construct a new one with the materials of the old.

Sources for a history of Forms of Assurances.




II. It may be expected, perhaps, that some account should be premised of the history of Forms of Assurances, and of the principal writers who have contributed to the improvement of this branch of legal practice. Materials for such an essay, though

by no means superfluously abundant, are not wanting. Textus Roffen. The Textus Roffensis, or register of the church of

Rochester, which we owe to the successive labours of

Ernulphus, Sir Edward Dering, and Hearne; the Hemingi.

Chartularium of Heming, containing some most va

luable transcripts from the ancient register of WorHickes, Disser- cester; the Dissertatio Epistolaris of Dr. Hickes, tatio Episto

addressed to Sir B. Shower, on the utility of ancient Madox, Formu- northern literature; and the Formulare Anglicanum lare Anglica

of Madox, with other works which it would be tedious to enumerate, afford the most authentic materials for illustrating the history of Assurances from the earliest time down to the reign of Henry VIII. From that period --an epoch indeed in legal history, wherein we can detect the dawn of what may be termed the jus novum of Conveyancing — we possess various collections of Forms, published from time to

time for the professional use of practitioners. This Spelman. subject too engaged the particular attention of Sir

Henry Spelman. In his posthumous works there is a treatise on ancient deeds and charters, unfinished it is true, but displaying the unequalled accuracy and erudition of that profound antiquary. Something


also may be gleaned from the tracts of Selden, espe- Selden. cially his Janus Anglorum, which was rendered into English, with notes, by Dr. Adam Littleton, under the assumed name of Redman Westcot. Though one of Selden's earliest efforts, and much inferior to his subsequent productions, it yet exhibits traces of that accurate research and learning, which, in his riper manhood, rendered him one of the greatest ornaments of our constitutional literature (a). Madox, with Madox. that unaffected modesty and learned diligence which characterize his valuable writings, has given us the fruit of his researches on this subject in the able Dissertation prefixed to his Formulare. Most readers are acquainted with the popular but superficial work of Dalrymple on Feuds, wherein the author has Dalrymple. devoted a chapter exclusively to the history of Forms of Conveyance. Of the works of living writers it is unnecessary to speak: no one, however, can travel along “the ways of hoar antiquity” without being guided and informed by their learned labours. With Sketch of the

history of Forms these and other sources of information, I shall en- of Assurances. deavour to lay before the reader a very brief historical account of Forms of Assurances.

III. The Anglo-Saxons, ignorant for the most part Anglo-Saxons. of the art of writing, conveyed their landed property from one to another in open folkmoot, by means of visible signs or symbols, which awakened attention, and engraved the transaction in the memory of the

(a) Selden forms one of the Clarendon introduces the account principal figures in that splendid of his own Life. i. 35. Oxford gallery of portraits, with which edit. 1827.


Witan, called together by the “ Mot-bell” to record it (a). These symbols do not appear to have been reduced to any such artificial system as obtained in

the old Roman (6), or even in the Scottish law (c); Symbols of con- but varied with the fancy of the donor. One deli

vered a turf, another a staff or spear, and a third an arrow (d). Ulfus, son of Toraldus, and a noble of Northumbria, having entered into the minster of York, filled his huge drinking-horn with wine, and there

upon his bended knees gave away to God and to St. Peter all his lands and revenues; and quaffing the wine, placed his horn upon the altar in token of the gift (e). A curious instance of alienation by symbols is mentioned in the life of St. Birlanda (f). The chaste daughter of Oidelardus, repulsing the unnatural addresses of her father, incurred his hatred, and was disinherited by the offended parent, who conveyed all his dominions to St. Gertrude by placing all the symbols of property upon her shrine---a turf, a twig, and a knife. Among the ancient Jews, as appears from the book of Ruth (g), when a purchase was effected, the party“ plucked off his shoe, and

p. 233.

(a) Spelman's English Works, (e) Selden's Jan. Angl. p. 54.

The horn of Ulfus is still pre(6) Savigny, i. 2; Gibbon, v. served in the minster, and part of 362, who pointedly remarks that the “Terra Ulfi ” is now in the the "jurisprudence of the first possession of the chapter of the Romans exhibited the scenes of a cathedral. Palgrave's Hist. of pantomime."

England, i. 151. (c) Palgrave's English Com- (f) Palgrave's English Commonwealth, P. 2, 227.

monwealth, P. 2, 227, citing Ac(d) Reliq. Spelm. p. 8. Sel- ta Sanctorum, i. 379. den's Jan. Angl. p. 54. Madox, (9) Chap. iv. ver. 7. Form. Diss. p. 1.

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