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gave it to his neighbour; and this was a testimony in Israel," signifying, perhaps, that the purchaser had a full right to walk over the land, and otherwise enjoy it as his own. Sir Francis Palgrave supposes that, before the introduction of written instruments, land was granted by a form similar to that by which it was demanded or defended; and that even after written instruments were employed, the ancient traditional form, couched in a sort of alliterative rhythm, was recited by the party when he delivered possession of the land (a).
IV. To determine with historical precision at what. Introduction of period the Anglo-Saxons began to employ written of Conveyance. Forms of Conveyance, has baffled, and is still likely to baffle, the researches of antiquaries, however devoted to what Prynne calls "the heroic study of records." According to an ancient manuscript quoted by Spelman, the first written conveyance, or pnite, was made by Withredus, King of Kent, in 694; and, as declared by the charter itself, was appointed to be
(a) Palgrave, P. 2, 135, note, Goguet, tom. i, liv. 1. p. 59, and others, indeed, conjecture that originally all laws were composed in verse, and sung. It is certain that ancient Indian grants were in verse; but judging from the specimen preserved by Sir William Jones, i. 529, which is as voluminous as any modern settlement, this style of composition must have been extremely inconvenient in practice. It was at
tended, too, with various religious
Charter of 694.
kept at Canterbury as a precedent for posterity to Charter of Ced- imitate (a). Selden, however, cites a charter of Ced
walla in 687,
and of Ethelbert walla, King of the South Saxons, made to Theo
dore, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 687 (b). And one of still earlier date, the charter of Ethelbert in 605, is upon record (c). At whatever period, however, the introduction of written conveyances took place, it did not immediately occasion the disuse of symbols, which continued long after the Conquest (d), and partially indeed even to the present day. The charter of Cedwalla, before alluded to, concludes in these remarkable words:-" For a further confirmation of my grant, I Cedwalla have laid a turf of the land aforesaid upon the Holy Altar; and with my own hand, being ignorant of letters, have set down and impressed the mark or sign of the cross." Sometimes the charter itself was enclosed in the shrine of the saint to whose monastery the land was given (e).
V. When land was conveyed by a written instrument it was called "bocland (f)," and the instrument itself a "land-boc," corresponding to the "libellus de terra" of the continental practitioners, and the " possession-boke" of the ancient Jews (g). The primitive
(a) Reliq. Spelm. p. 8.
(d) Ellis's Introd. to Dom. B. i. 338, published under the direction of the Record Commission. Madox, Form. Diss. p. 1.
(e) Selden's Jan. Angl. p. 44; Ellis's Introd. to Dom. B.
(f) Spelman's Glos., Bocland. Allen's Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative affords the most complete account of the Anglo-Saxon tenure of landed property, pp. 131-164.
(g) Spelman's English Works, p. 233; Jer. xxii. 12.
ing of "boc."
signification of the Saxon boc is birch; the bark of Primitive meanwhich tree, being, in ancient times, commonly used as a material for writing, gave its name to a book in our language; in like manner as the inner bark of the linden or teil tree was called by the Romans liber, and by the Greeks Bißros, and in both languages signified a book (a). The Anglo-Saxon land-bocs, at least when they concerned the temporalities of the church, were usually transcribed by the clerks of the Scriptorium into chartularies or leiger books, and often trans- Chartularies. lated into the Latin tongue (b). Sometimes the description of the land is in Saxon, and the rest in Latin (c). To the diligence of these monastic scribes, or chancellors as they were often called (d), we are indebted for nearly all our knowledge of our ancient laws; and Mr. Hallam, though he condemns the clergy, sternly and severely, for counteracting the progress of improvement, yet confesses that but for them the very records of philological literature would have perished (e).
VI. The Anglo-Saxon conveyances were not made Form of Angloaccording to any prescribed form, but in almost every bocs.
(a) Taylor's History of Ancient Books, p. 46. Cowley, in his learned notes upon the first book of Davideis, has collected much interesting information on this subject.
(b) Reliq. Spelm. p. 9; Spelman's English Works, p. 234.
(e) Textus Roffensis, p. 93, et alibi, Hearne's edit.; Madox,
Form. p. 175. Park has printed
(d) According to an old verse,
(e) Hallam's Literature of Europe, i. 6.
instance varied in some particulars (a). They are short and simple; "as short and as simple," says Turner," 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 (b).” Sometimes they were expressed in the style of an address to the grantee, as in the grant of a kinsman of the King of Essex, made about 961: "I Hodilredus, the kinsman of Sebbi, in the province of the East Saxons, with his consent, of my own will, in sound mind, and by just advice, for ever deliver to thee, and from my right transcribe into thine, the land, &c., with all things belonging to it, with the fields, wood, meadows, and marsh, that as well thou as thy posterity may hold, possess, and have free power to do with the land whatsoever thou wilt (c)." When made by a king, the land-boc was often in the decretal form, as in the following, dated in 704:-"We have decreed to give in dominio to Waldhare, bishop, part of a field, &c. The possession of this land so as aforesaid, with the fields to be sowed, pastures, meadows, marshes, fisheries, rivers, closes, and appurtenances, we deliver to be possessed in dominio by the above bishop in perpetual right, and that he have the free power of doing whatsoever he will (d)."
(a) Spelman's English Works, p. 324; Turner's Anglo-Saxons,
(d) Ibid. ii. 749; Heming. Chart. p. 15. On the subject of Anglo-Saxon wills, see Gale's
(b) Turner's Anglo-Saxons, valuable Inquiry into the Origin ii. 568.
(c) Ibid. ii. 556, from Cott. MS. Augustus ii. 26, printed in Smith's Appendix to Bede, p. 748.
of Testamentary Jurisdictions, printed in App. to Fourth Real Prop. Rep.
VII. "The Saxon conveyances," says Turner (a), Constituents of "consisted principally of these things:
"1st. The 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 commence
"2nd. A recital is usually inserted, in many instances preceding the donor's name. Sometimes it states his title, or some circumstances 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 donor had applied for
"3rd. 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.
"5th. What lawyers call the consideration of a deed is commonly inserted. This is sometimes 'Pro intimo caritatis affectu,' 'Pro ejus humili obedientia,' and such like. Often it is for money paid, or a valuable consideration."
(a) Hist. Anglo-Saxons, ii. 568.