Glossary

Advowson The right of patronage of a church, monastery or other ecclesiastical benefice
Amerced Fined arbitrarily
Assizes A trial session held periodically in specific locations by a judge
Burgage A form of land tenure, associated with towns and with the payment of an annual rent
Castle guard A kind of knight’s service, whereby a tenant was bound when required to defend the overlord’s castle
Chattels Moveable possessions
Cinque Ports An ancient association of maritime towns in south-eastern England; originally (1278) numbering five (Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich), and later including Winchelsea, Rye, and several others, receiving special privileges for their part in the naval defence of England
Common pleas Ordinary law suits involving property that did not require the presence of the King to be decided
Custody Wardship or guardianship. When an underage heir inherited a tenancy, the overlord became the heir’s guardian, and was entitled to earnings from the land
Darrein presentment A legal action intended to prove title to the patronage of a church or other religious benefice
Demesne Estate, land or property directly managed by a landholder or lord
Disparagement Degradation by an unequal marriage
Disseised Seizure of land
Distrained Forced
Dower Land assigned to a wife for use after her husband’s death, usually one third of his lands
Escheat An estate that has returned to its principal lord for lack of any heir to its deceased tenant
Fee An estate in land held on condition of homage to an overlord
Fee farm Land held in return not for a service, but for an annual payment of money
Frankpledge A system where all men were divided into groups for mutual protection and to serve as keepers of the peace; view of frankpledge was a regular review of this system
Free man In Magna Carta, the term free man can mean anyone holding land by free tenure, as distinct from a villein, who was bound to a lord
Free tenement Land held by a free tenant
Haberjects A type of cloth
Hospitaller A person, especially a member of a religious order, devoted to the care of the sick or needy in hospitals
Hundred A principal unit of administration and local government into which most counties were divided
In chief Directly from the King, as distinct from holding land through another, intermediary landlord
Inquest of life or member A writ to prevent a man unjustly accused of treason or other felonry from having to face a trial by combat; the plea could be referred to 12 recognitors
Inspeximus An inspeximus issue of a charter is one that inspects and confirms a charter made by a former king
Justiciar The King’s chief political and judicial officer
Knight service Military service, in exchange for a land tenancy
Knight’s fee Land or an estate held in return for military service; the amount of land for which the services of one knight were due. Tenants by knight’s service were required to provide fully armed and equipped knights for the King’s wars, usually for 40 days a year
Lay fee Land held in an ordinary tenancy
Letters patent The King’s sealed letters generally sent to be publicly displayed or proclaimed
List A unit for the measurement of cloth
London quarter A standard unit of measurement. A quarter was nine inches, or a quarter of a yard
Marriage portion Land brought to a marriage from her father or other relative, for a wife’s use and upkeep during her husband’s lifetime.
Michaelmas The feast of St Michael (29 September)
Mort d’ancestor A legal action brought by an heir against someone who wrongfully took his property
Novel disseisin Recent eviction
Open law On trial
Peer A person of the same civil rank or standing
Praecipe A written royal command instructing that a tenant return a tenement to a claimant, or have the case heard in the King’s court
Recognisance A bond entered into before court binding someone to do something
Reeve An administrative officer of a town or district
Relief A payment due to the King by an heir on taking up possession of his estate
Russet A type of cloth, generally dyed reddish-brown
Saving his sufficiency Leaving him enough to live on
Scutage Money accepted by the King in lieu of knights provided for military service
Serjeanty A form of feudal tenure on condition of providing some specific personal service to the King. Petty serjeanties could involve ceremonially presenting to the King annually a small weapon such as a bow or a dagger or a knife
Socage A form of land tenure involving the payment of a rent
Tenement Property held as tenant marriage portion
Tithing Taxing of a tenth part of produce
Tourn The circuit made by a sheriff of a county twice a year in which he presided at each hundred-court
Vill A settlement, consisting of a number of adjacent houses and land
Villein A peasant occupier of land entirely subject to a lord