Foot of Fine for Thornbury

Foot of Fine for Thornbury dated 1412

A foot of fine (plural, feet of fines) is the archival copy of the agreement between two parties in an English lawsuit over land, most commonly the fictitious suit known as a fine of lands or final concord. The procedure was followed from c.1195 until 1833, and the considerable body of resulting records is now held at The National Archives, Kew, London.

History: In the reign of Henry II of England, the royal justices first began the practice of registering the settlement of disagreements over land by having both parties bring a suit before the royal courts: the resulting decision was thus given royal sanction.

At first, two copies of the agreement (“fine”) were made, created as chirographs: i.e. the text was written in duplicate on a single piece of parchment, which was then cut in half, one copy going to each of the litigants. Under Hubert Walter’s justiciarship, probably about 1195, the practice was started of writing the text in triplicate, so that a third copy could be filed in the treasury. This copy of the text was written at the foot of the piece of parchment, and so became known as the “foot of fine”. This is shown diagrammatically below:


One such “foot of fine” exists for Thornbury, the text of which states:

County: Devon.
Place: Westminster.
Date: The day after the Purification of the Blessed Mary, 13 Henry [IV] [3 February 1412]. And afterwards two weeks from Easter in the same year [17 April 1412].
Parties: Walter Clerk of Fenne and John Holeway of Wyle, querents, and John Cadya and Alice, his wife, deforciants.
Property: 1 messuage, 1 carucate of land, 30 acres of meadow, 12 acres of [wood and 200] acres of moor, called Dunneslond’, 8 messuages, 1 toft, 5 ferlings and 43 acres of land, 23 acres of meadow, 10 acres of wood, 32 acres of moor, 30 shillings and 9 pence of rent and a moiety of 1 messuage, of 1 carucate of land, of 10 acres of meadow, of 200 acres of moor and of 3 shillings of rent, and a fourth part of 1 carucate of land and of 4 acres of meadow in Muleslachebroke, Thornebury, Cokebury, Ludecote, Methe, Blaketoryton’, Petrismerlond’ and Frydelestoke.
Action: Plea of covenant.
Agreement: John Cadya and Alice have acknowledged the tenements, moiety and fourth part to be the right of John Holeway, of which the same John and Walter have 4 messuages, 1 toft, 1 carucate and 42 acres of land, 38 acres of meadow, 22 acres of wood, 212 acres of [moor] and the moiety and fourth part of their gift, and have granted to Walter and John Holeway the rent, together with the homages and all services of Walter Corun, John Croker of Hele, Robert Thorne, Richard Viel, John Fenman, Nicholas Wynscote, Simon Carpenter, Henry Lange, John Lachebroke, John Boghemede, Stephen Parys, Stephen Allerman, William Calwe, William Skynner and John Henstecote and their heirs in respect of all the tenements which they held before of John Cadya and Alice in the vills of Muleslachebroke, Thornebury, Cokebury, Methe and Ludecote, to hold to Walter Clerk and John Holeway [sic], of the chief lords for ever. And besides John Cadya and Alice granted for themselves and the heirs of John that 2 messuages, 2 ferlings of land and 2 acres of meadow in the vill of Ludecote – which Stephen Parys held for life – and that 1 messuage, 1 ferling of land and 1 acre of meadow in the same vill – which Stephen Parys and John Parys held for their lives – and that 1 acre of land in the same vill – which William Skynner held for life – and that 1 messuage, 1 ferling of land, 6 acres of meadow and 10 acres of moor in the vill of Blaketoryton’ – which Thomas Laurence and Anastasia, his wife, held for their lives – and also that 1 messuage, 1 ferling of land, 6 acres of meadow and 10 acres of moor in the same vill – which Thomas Bate and Joan, his wife, held for the life of Joan – of the inheritance of John Cadya on the day the agreement was made, and which after the decease of Stephen, Stephen and John Parys, William, Thomas and Anastasia and Joan ought to revert to John Cadya and Alice and the heirs of John – after the decease of [the same persons] shall remain to Walter and John Holeway and the heirs of John, to hold of the chief lords for ever.
Warranty: Warranty by John Cadya and Alice and the heirs of Alice in respect of the toft, moiety and fourth part, and by John Cadya and Alice and the heirs of John in respect of the messuage, land, meadow, moor and rent.
For this: Walter and John Holeway have given them 300 marks of silver.
Standardised forms of names. (These are tentative suggestions, intended only as a finding aid.)
Persons: Walter Clarke, John Holloway, John Cady, Alice Cady, Walter Coren, John Croker, Robert Thorne, Richard Veale, John Fenman, Nicholas Winscott, Simon Carpenter, Henry Lang, John Lashbrook, John Bowmead, Stephen Paris, Stephen Allerman, William Callow, William Skinner, John Henscott, John Paris, Thomas Lawrence, Anastasia Lawrence, Thomas Bate, Joan Bate
Places: Venn, Willey (in Sampford Courtenay), Dunsland (in Bradford, Black Torrington, Cookbury and Thornbury), Lashbrook (in Bradford), Thornbury, Cookbury, ‘Ludecote’, Meeth, Black Torrington, Peters Marland, Frithelstock, Hele


The Foot of Fine showing the wavy top edge where is has been cut from the other two parts rather in the same way as Indentures:




Comments are closed.