Court of Common Pleas: Feet of Fines Files, Henry VIII - Victoria
The later files of feet of fines, from the reign of Henry VIII to the early part of the reign of Victoria. Fines were abolished in 1834, but a few fines initiated before the abolition were completed during the period down to 1839.
Fines continued to be a means whereby conveyance of land could be carried out and recorded in the Court of Common Pleas through a fictitious suit initiated by a writ of covenant and concluded by the purchase of licence to concord; the main alternative method of doing so was, by the sixteenth century, the levying of a common recovery in the court.
The fines were largely restricted to five predominant forms, while the procedures for publicising the transactions, and other matters concerning them, were defined by the Statute of Fines 1489 (4 Hen VII, c 24).
Note: Abstracts of feet of fines are searchable in the Medieval Genealogy website.
The division of the feet of fines at 1509 derives entirely from the rearrangement of undertaken in the late nineteenth century, during which all the pre-Henry VIII fines were guarded and filed in modern files with red covers and placed in metal cases, and those physical arrangements made the basis of a system of references which is still used. The files in this series were not similarly put into red files, although some of the sixteenth century documents were later, in the 1920s and 1930s.
A contemporary series of repertories to the notes of fines, from 1509-1839 that show which feet should exist in the files for a particular county, arranged by term and then by county or city, with separate sections for joint county fines are in: IND 1/7233-7244 IND 1/17217-17268. The foot may be filed in a later term than the note. The repertories consist of two separate series, which slightly overlap, the earlier being more informative than the later. The first runs to 1759, written in Latin and in a court hand until 1733, then in English written in a round hand: IND 1/17255. Each entry gives, after the county, the name of the plaintiff (querent) and defendant (tenant), and the place(s) where the property lay.
The later series gives only the county and parties, not the location of the property, and begins in 1756: IND 1/17262. Another series of contemporary repertories from 1623 (but effectively from Easter 1640 since the first volume is seriously damaged) to 1834, but with substantial gaps. It includes exactly the same fines as the other series, but not in the same order. For 1623 to 1734 see: IND 1/7182-7189. The entries were annotated in the 1850s with the numbers then being stamped on the original fines from 1735 starting with IND 1/7191.
Subsequent contemporary repertories are in: IND 1/7192 IND 1/7195-7232. Files which are entitled 'index to feet of fines', and list feet of fines by county and number under term for 1731-1732: IND 1/7190 for 1743-1745: IND 1/7193 for 1745-1747: IND 1/7194. They are arranged in the order of the numbers stamped on the dorses of the feet, and seem to have been created to fill gaps in the series of contemporary repertories which were being annotated as part of the same process of arrangement.
Various antiquarian indexes and calendars to some of the earlier fines in the series, mostly from 1509 to 1558, are in Le Neve's Indexes. They are not comprehensive and do not give modern references, see: IND 1/17149, IND 1/17153, IND 1/17154, IND 1/17162, IND 1/17163, IND 1/17174.
A short series of entry books of returned writs of covenant, 1611-24 are in IND 1/7178-7181. The entries are apparently in chronological order, and note the return day of the writ, the value of the land as returned, the date it was taken and, where appropriate, the names of the commissioners appointed to take the fine, and the name of the attorney.
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- CP Records of the Court of Common Pleas and other courts
- Records relating to the Conveyancing of Land and Property Title
- CP 25/2 Court of Common Pleas: Feet of Fines Files, Henry VIII - Victoria