"This indenture made on the something something ..." ... what?
May 9, 2017 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Can you read and transcribe this document which I understand to be a land deed from 1670?

I have a feeling that either this is too much to ask, or turns out it's something that you would do just for fun. I'm hoping for the latter.

When I was a kid I came into possession of this piece of parchment. It was verbally conveyed to me that it's a land deed. I'd love to know if that's true but my skills at reading handwriting from that time are miserable at best.

(if it's not true, or it's an elaborate fake for some reason, I'd also like to know that. I'm not assuming this thing has any intrinsic value. Also if it is a land deed I'm hoping the boundaries are detailed enough that [someone] can go find it on a map and point out where it was.)

Here are bunch of shots taken today that hopefully give enough detail. I don't have a scanner so I had to do it with regular camera photography. If you can read any of it, please reply with the section name to help out. If you need something re-shot I'm happy to do so.

The following links go to full-size .jpg images hosted on Flickr:

detail shot

just for kicks - I don't think it has any details of significance

on the back side

the entire thing in one shot [high contrast version]

Better detail
the NW corner [high contrast version]
the NE corner [high contrast version]
the SW corner [high contrast version]
the SE corner [high contrast version]

I think it goes without saying that I thank you in advance for any information you can provide.
posted by komara to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Given the date and locale referenced, I think this guy Is probably the Sir William Wyndham mentioned. I'll try some more from a better computer later.
posted by corb at 9:19 PM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think it begins "This indenture made on the 9th of October in this the seventh (?) year in the reign of our sovereign Lord Charles the Second by the grace of God of England, Scotland and Ireland king." Based on a hasty skim, it looks like Sir William Wyndham in Somersetshire, in consideration for the receipt of eight pounds, is granting and demising some land - I can't make out the exact title - to Nicholas (?) Bart who currently occupies it. My guess would be the grant of a long lease to an existing tenant? But I'm not sure.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:17 PM on May 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've just glanced at it quickly - but it looks real, and it's nice and clean and should be pretty easy to transcribe for someone who knows the hand (I do). It will obviously take a bit of time; maybe the historians on here can crowd source it.
posted by jb at 12:41 AM on May 10, 2017

The date is the 10th of October, in the Two and Twentieth year of the reign of Charles II.

This regnal year calculator confirms that is 10 October, 1670.
posted by jb at 12:47 AM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's a 99-year lease (for the term of four score and 19 years), between Sir William Wyndham of Somerset and Nicholas Beare, gentleman, of Devon for some mesuages (houses, usually with a bit of land attached) and/or crofts currently in Beare's possession in a town in Devon.
posted by jb at 1:06 AM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

sorry, I misread: it's a 99-year lease for a house with some land called "Crosses Tenement" (possibly Croffes, but I think Crosses), in Silferton in Devon. And more will wait for a larger screen (I keep coming back on my mobile because I'm excited. I didn't think I would ever miss reading land documents - but hey, they specify a herriot! nice old medieval tradition, that.)
posted by jb at 1:25 AM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Based on the tithe apportionments list for Silverton, Devon (pdf) there seemed to be a house and cottage in an area called Crosses (p14). If I'm crossreferencing the numbers correctly on the tithe map available on this page then it would be about here on the 1905 OS Map, or here on Google Maps.
posted by scorbet at 4:02 AM on May 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

jb has it, but just to add a few more details: the parties are Sir William Wyndham, Bart., of Orchard, in Somerset, and Nicholas Beare, gentleman, of Rewe, in Devon.

Wyndham was MP for Somerset in the Second and Third Protectorate Parliaments (1656 and 1659) and MP for Taunton in the Cavalier Parliament (1661). The Wyndham family still own the family estate at Orchard Wyndham. Beare is more difficult to trace, but he is probably the Nicholas Beare whose estate at Silverton was forfeited to the Commonwealth in 1652 and who compounded for his estate (i.e. paid a fine to retain possession of his land) in 1653. So this document tells some interesting stories: about how the Royalist gentry in the West Country stuck together, how they recovered and consolidated their lands after the Restoration, and how some of these landed gentry families still survive today.
posted by verstegan at 6:16 AM on May 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

...If Wyndham sat in the Protectorate Parliaments, he was not likely to have been much of a Royalist, even if his trimmer-self did continue to sit post-Restoration!

If you're interested in trying to decipher this hand yourself, OP (it's what's called "secretary," and not that hard for a modern eye to pick up), there's this whole neat list of early modern paleography self-teaching resources.
posted by praemunire at 9:53 AM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

The UK National Archives also have paleography resources, including some interactive tutorials.
posted by jb at 10:58 AM on May 10, 2017

you might also post on MeFi Jobs as 'volunteer'?
posted by calgirl at 12:51 PM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

"you might also post on MeFi Jobs as 'volunteer'?"

calgirl, that's not a bad idea. Honestly, though, I'm already beyond satisfied with the answers given. As an American it truly didn't occur to me that the people listed would be identifiable and already have their own Wikipedia pages, etc. I was mistaken in thinking that the true interestingness would be in the full text.

I mean I grew up in rural Tennessee where deeds often read things like "walk forty feet from the edge of the creek by the cedar tree until you reach the first fencepost on the south. Follow that up the ridge until you find the rock outcropping" and so forth. In hindsight of course this thing would have granular identifying information within a specific historical context.
posted by komara at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

that's actually what a lot of 17th century land title documents would say in England - sometimes with less detail (eg 'next plot over from the eastern edge'). The people in question knew what was being described; if it went to court, they'd get an elderly, locally knowledgable person (almost always a man) to report on exactly where these markers were.
posted by jb at 5:43 PM on May 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

here's what I have so far in transcribing.

"This Indenture made the Tenth day of October in the Two & Twentyeth yeare if the Raigne of our Soveraigne Lord Charles the Second by the grace of God of England Scotland ffrance & Ireland King Defender of the ffaith &c. Annoqz[?] diiv 1670. Betweene Sr William Wyndham of Orchard in the County of Somersett Knight & Baronett of th[e ]one p[ar]te And Nicholas Beare of Rewe in the County of Devon Gentm of th[e ]other p[ar]te Witnesseth that the said Sr William Wyndham for & in Consideracon [next part inserted above] of ???? dis? made [by] the said Nicholas of all such estate as he the said Nicholas hold [or held] by Coppy of Court Roll of & in the Tenement hereafter menconed as alsoe [end insert] of the sume of Tenne pounds of lawful English money to him in hand paid by the said Nicholas Beare before the sealing & deliv[er]y hereof the receipt whereof the said Sr William Wyndham hereby acknowledgeth & thereof & ev[er]y p[ar]te thereof doth acquite & discharge the said Nicholas Beare his Exec[uto]rs and Adm[inistrato]rs & ev[er]y of them by these pr[e]sents hath Demised granted to farme letten & by these pr[e]sents doth demise[?] grant & to ffarme lett unto the said Nicholas Beare All those his seaven partes (the whole in twelve p[ar]tes to be Divided) & all the p[ar]ted purpertyes & porcons of him the said Sr William of in & to all that mesuage or Tenem[en]t w[i]th th[e]app[ur]tenances called Crosses Tenem[en]t scytutae lying & being in Silferton in the County of Devon nowe in the tenure or occupation of the said Nicholas Beare his Assignee or Assignes &c[?] together w[i] Seaven p[ar]tes (in twelve ptes to be Divided) of all the howses outhouses Barnes Stables Orchards Gardens lands meadowes pastures feedings wayes paths waters watercourses profitts comodotyes & advantages whatsoever to the same pr[e]misses or any pte belonging or in any wise apptnyncing Except"

Don't run spellcheck on this - it's disheartening (so much red). But I was transcribing with original spelling as much as possible, so that if you wished to look at the transcription and match it to the hand, you would know exactly what letters should be there - there are a lot of short forms - I've expanded them using square brackets.

As you can see, there was a bit I couldn't decipher in the inserted bit - I wondered if it could have been Roman numerals but couldn't see clearly enough. Anyone else have suggestions/corrections? (In addition to non-standard spelling, I've probably made a bunch of typos - I was doing this quickly on my lunch hour).

I have to keep going to get all the details, but sounds like there's a house but also some land in the lease - and it's a good chance that Nicholas Beare isn't living in the house or he would be described as being of Silferton, not Rewe. More likely, he's the main tenant but he's subletting out the property - and given he's described as a gentleman, he's unlikely to be directly farming it himself (unless he's really come down in the world).
posted by jb at 5:54 PM on May 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

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