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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Land and Property Records including Manorial Documents and Maps  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Contents

Marriage and Family Settlements

Amongst the deeds there may also be marriage settlements and family settlements, typically for gentry and substantial landowners, but sometimes for those of quite modest means. These should not be confused with parish Poor Law settlements.

Marriage Settlement

A marriage settlement was drawn up before, or sometimes shortly after, a marriage typically with a father transferring land, shares or money to a son, or to a daughter and her husband, to ensure that they had sufficient income. A groom could also make a settlement effectively tying up some of his property to ensure his wife’s continued comfort. The deed will give the names, occupations and places of residence of husband and wife and usually gives details of their parents as well. The named trustees would be family members or good friends of the families involved, and would hold the property, which is described, on behalf of the newlywed couple. Sometimes earlier generations are also named, particularly the couple’s parents’ own marriages with their parents and relatives.

Unett and Tanner (Making a Pedigree: An Introduction to Sources for Early Genealogy, 1997) describe in detail two such marriage settlements which are abstracted here.

  • ­ The first is dated 23 Aug 1723 involving:
Robert HOLMES of Birchen, Herefordshire with his considerable estates.
His intended wife Joyce WEBB of Bartonstreet, Gloucestershire, widow of Nicholas WEBB, and her many lands and personal estate.
Five trustees.
Robert HOLMES settles a sufficient part of his estate on Joyce to provide £200 per annum income free of tax and she agrees to convey certain properties to the trustees.


  • ­ The second example concerns a yeoman with much less land in 1667 but also in Herefordshire.

A later example from my own family is given in full below.

Chart: Marriage Settlement 1782

This Indenture Tripartite made the Twenty first day of June in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Two Between

Patrick Hay Esquire Captain in the Service of the Hon’ble the united Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies under their Military Establishment of Fort William in Bengal but now serving in a Detachment from thence on the coast of Choromandel of the first part. Sarah Dashwood of Fort Saint George on the coast of Choromandel Spinster of the Second part, and Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Coote Knight of the Bath and Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s the said Company’s force in India and Thomas Graham Esquire in the Civil Service of the said United Company at their Presidency of Fort William aforesaid of the third part.

Whereas a marriage is intended shortly to be had and Solemnized between the said Patrick Hay and Sarah Dashwood. And whereas the said Patrick Hay hath placed in the hands of the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham the Sum of five thousand Pounds stirling in lawful money of Great Britain, the receipt hereof the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham do Acknowledge by their being parties to and Signing and Sealing these presents. And whereas the said Patrick Hay hath agreed to settle the said Sum of five thousand Pounds on the said Sarah Dashwood and to her Sole use and behoof in manner as hereinafter is mentioned.

NOW this Indenture Witnesseth that in pursuance and performance of the said recited Agreement and for and in Consideration of the said Intended Marriage, It is hereby agreed and declared by and between all and every the parties to these presents and the and the true intent and meaning of them and of these presents is and are that the said principal Sum of five thousand Pounds so by him the said Patrick Hay placed in the hands of the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham together with the Interest, profits and produce thereof shall from henceforth go, be paid, applied and disposed of to, for and upon the several uses, Intents and purposes hereinafter mentioned of and Concerning the same. That is to say upon trust that they the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham of the Survivor of them, or the Executors, Administrators or assigns of such Survivor shall and do as soon as Conveniently Can and may be by and with the Consent of the said Patrick Hay and Sarah Dashwood during their joint lives, and of her the said Sarah Dashwood of she Survives the said Patrick Hay, such Consent to be testified in writing under their or her hand and Seal Executed in the presence of two or more credible witnesses, lend and place out the said principal Sum of five thousand Pounds or any part thereof in any Public Bank Stock or fund or upon one or more good and Sufficient Securities, either real or personal, and in such a manner as the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham or the Survivor of them, or the Executors, Administrators or assigns of such Survivor, by and with such Consent so testified as aforesaid shall in their discretion think fit, together with full power to the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham or the Survivor of them, or the Executors, Administrators or assigns of such Survivor, with such Consent as aforesaid as Occasion may require to call in and new place the said Principal sum of five thousand Pounds upon any new Security, either Real or personal, and upon this further trust that they the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham or the Survivor of them, or the Executors, Administrators or assigns of such Survivor shall and Do permit and Suffer or also sufficiently authorize and Empower the said Patrick Hay to receive the Interest, profits and produce to arise, be had or made of the said five thousand Pounds during his natural life to and for his own use and benefit and from and immediately after his decease then upon this further trust that they the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham or the Survivor of them, or the Executors, Administrators or assigns of such Survivor shall and will pay of Cause to be paid unto the said Sarah Dashwood in case she Survives the said Patrick Hay, her Executors, Administrators or assigns the said Sum of five thousand Pounds to her and their only use and behoof for Ever in lieu, bar and Satisfaction of her Dower and Thirds at common Law or otherwise which she can or may have or Claim of, into or out of all, every or any of the Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments whereof and wherein the said Patrick Hay now is or hereafter may by Entitled and the said Sarah Dashwood doth hereby Covenant, promise and agree to and with the said Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham, their Executors, Administrators or assigns to receipt of the said sum of five thousand Pounds in lieu, bar and Satisfaction of her Dower or Thirds as aforesaid.

In Witness whereof the parties to these presents Have hereunto set their hands and Seals the day and year first above Written.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered P. Hay [seal]
Where no Stamped Paper is to be had S. Dashwood [seal]
By P. Hay and S. Dashwood

In the Presence of Thos E. Ogilvie
Js Copham

And by Sir Eyre Coote and Thomas Graham Eyre Coote
In the presence of George Tyler Thos Graham
Js Copham

Received of the above Named Patrick Hay the above mentioned Sum of five thousand Pounds By his Bond or obligation bearing Even date with the above Deed Executed by him to me for that Sum for the purpose above mentioned. Eyre Coote
Thos Graham

Witness Js Copham
George Tyler


Family Settlements

Family Settlements were usually drawn up once each generation as the eldest son came of age. The documents detail the family as it is at this time and list the property and money that each child could expect. There are often references to the preceding family settlement, and the deed could entail property within the family for the succeeding generations. Obviously very many names and relationships would be given in the documents, hence their usefulness to the genealogist. Alcock (Old Title Deeds, 2001) and Herber (Ancestral Trails , 2003) have further details on how these worked.

The bundles of deeds for an estate or family may contain all kinds of other documentation if the lawyers had been thorough in tracking down legal confirmation of heirs. These include parish register transcripts for christenings, marriages and burials, sworn statements by living witnesses stating relationships, and three- or four-generation family trees which had been drawn up at the time to explain the descent of property. It can be readily seen that deeds are high quality original sources as they were done to legal standards. They are more reliable than parish registers but can confirm them, and also provide substitutes for missing church records. Settlements are also particularly important in establishing migration of members of a family from one place to another, providing the all-important link between christening and marriage of an individual

Charity and Trust Deeds

Charity and trust deeds differed from family settlements because they were always in the hands of trustees and were virtually perpetual. When trustees died, became incapable or moved away then new ones were appointed by a double transaction: the survivors conveyed to a third party who then conveyed to the new, enlarged group of trustees (see examples below).

Chart: Schedule of Salisbury Methodist Deeds 1702-1853 FHL film 1526306

Schedule of Deeds belonging to the Meeting House and School Room and Premises, Salt Lane, Salisbury
1702 Harrison to Morgan and others Triplicate copies of Conveyance of Meeting House and C…(?)
1720 Long to Morse Conveyance
1724 Long to Feake and others Conveyance in Trust
1742 Feake to Freemantle Conveyance in Trust
1742 Freemantle to new trustees Conveyance in Trust
1763 Feake and others to Elliott and others Release
1763 Elliott and others to new trustees Release
1776 General trust deed and the hands and seals of surviving Trustees Deed Poll [this is a deed cut smooth , not indented]
1793 General Trust Deed ditto Deed Poll
1815 Wansey and others to Gardiner and others Release
1853 Bell and others to Harding and others Conveyance enrolled


Chart: Copy of 1742 Salisbury Methodist Deeds FHL film 1526306

17 Sep 1742 Indentures of Lease and Release, the latter made between John FEAKE the Elder, Jos. MITCHELL, Thos MITCHELL, Jos BURDEN, Benjn BATCHELLOR (surviving Trustees) of one part and Willm FREEMANTLE of the other part.
Reciting last Abstracted Deed.
And reciting death of Rd GOODRIDGE, Jas SAMUELLS,
Thos HARRIS, Jno BIRT, Jas GREENAWAY and Jos
BATCHELLOR and removal of Jno ELDERTON to London
and reduction of Trustees to 5.
And reciting in Public Meeting on 30th Aug then last past
and that thereat Robt WHITHEAR, John MERRIS, John
CARPENTER, Thomas DYKE, John FEAKE the younger
and Willm MOORE the younger were duly chosen Trustees
It is Witnesses that in order that said Premises might be duly granted to surviving and new Trustees upon the Trusts of last Abstracted Deed and for a nominal consideration paid by said Willm FREEMANTLE to said surviving Trustees They did grant, bargain, sell, alien, release and confirm unto said W. FREEMANTLE (in his actual etc) and to his heirs
All said Abstracted Premises . (To which description is added that the Messuage or Tenement was then made use of for a Meeting House).and the reversion etc and the Estate etc.
To hold same.
Upon Special Trust to reconvey same to said surviving and new Trustees upon same Trusts as contained in last abstracted Indenture within 10 days.
Executed by all surviving Trustees and attested.
20 Sep 1742 Indentures of Lease and Release THE LATTER MADE BETWEEN SAID Willm FREEMANTLE of the one part and said surviving and new Trustees of the other part ………..


The deeds of land which was transferred for charitable purposes, such as schools, burial grounds, parks, museums, working class dwellings and nonconformist chapels were enrolled on the Close Rolls from 1737. There are about 35,000 of them and are well indexed by place and are described more fully in TNA research guide L8. Copies can be found with papers of these institutions or bodies, such as those above. There is a surprising amount of family history detail in the actual copies, for example those for 1742 presented above.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Land and Property Records including Manorial Documents and Maps offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

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