Can refer to (1) the customary acre based on the strips of land in arable fields, and of varying area (2) the measured acre usually containing 160 square perches, equivalent to the statute acre if the perch was measured at 16.5 feet (3) the fiscal acre, that is the acres of which the carucate, virgate and bovate (q.v.) were composed. See P. D. A. Harvey, Manorial Records (1999) 16


The right of presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice, e.g. a church or chapel


Official (esp. in a manorial court) responsible for determining the level of fines and amercements

Assignment of dower

Allocation of a share of the lands of a deceased tenant, usually 1/3, to  his widow

Attorn, Attornment

Formal acknowledgement of right (made by tenants to a new lord)


Offspring born outside marriage with no rights of inheritance


Northern word for Oxgang (q.v.)


Type of freehold tenure in towns; also, property held by such tenure

Capital messuage

see messuage


A measure of land, originally a unit of fiscal assessment: often approximately 120 fiscal acres (q.v.) in area, but varying considerably

Cestui que use

Beneficiary of a trust (enfeoffment to use)


Government writing department that issued writs to hold inquisitions, received returns, and ordered subsequent actions.

Cornish acre

measure of land used in Cornwall, usually containing 40 to 60 statute acres (J. Hatcher, Rural Economy and Society in the Duchy of Cornwall 1300-1500 (Cambridge, 1970), 18n).

Court baron

manorial court, often described as being held every three weeks (but not necessarily held so frequently in practice by the fifteenth century)

Court leet

court exercising a minor police and criminal jurisdiction

Courtesy of England or Law of England

A widower’s entitlement to all estates of a deceased heiress by whom the man had fathered a living child (who might subsequently have died)


(1) That part of a manor held by the lord rather than the tenants; (often leased to tenants by the fifteenth century) (2) (in demesne as of fee, demesne as of fee tail, etc.) held directly by an IPM tenant (in contrast to lands held in service)


Common law right of a widow to one-third of all lands of which husband was seised at death and/ or during their marriage. See also Assignment of dower.


Convey land

Enfeoffment to use

Conveyance of land to trustees (feoffees) for a third party/ designated purpose (use)

Entail, tail

Settlement of land on recipient and heirs or on designated individuals. Tail general: to direct issue. Tail male: to direct male issue. Tail female: to direct female issue. Tail special: to issue of a particular union e.g. husband and second wife.


Forfeiture of land in default of heirs to original donor or his heirs


Official appointed (usually) annually in rotation by the crown to administer feudal rights in a particular county

ex officio (also virtute officii)

an inquisition post mortem taken without a writ, by authority of the escheator’s office; usually returned to Exchequer rather than Chancery


Detailed description and valuation of a property


Government finance department that received income from wardships and administered their estates


A measure of land: a quarter of a virgate (q.v.)


Oath due from feudal tenant on succession to estate

Fee simple

Simple tenure of land that was neither entailed nor enfeoffed


Estate official who administered feudal rights of a lord


One of panel of trustees granted property by donor (feoffor) to hold it to his use


A measure of land: a quarter of a virgate (q.v.)

Feudal aid

Obsolete royal levy on all knights fees on particular occasions.

Final concord or Fine

Fictitious lawsuit that enabled land to be transferred.

Frankpledge, view of

system of mutual surety for good behaviour; often associated with leet court (q.v.) as court (usually manorial and often private) that exercised low level criminal jurisdiction


System of partible inheritance in Kent and parts of Middlesex


Often used in the calendars to translate Latin grangia: carries the obsolete sense of a granary or barn, and ‘barn’ would be a more idiomatic translation


theoretically the area of land that would support a household, equivalent approximately to 120 a.


Formal act of submission to a feudal lord especially the king


Feudal grouping of estates and knights fees


Northern term for the holding of a manorial tenant (cf. virgate); often containing two bovates (q.v.)


Medieval term for a mentally ill person or person of unsound mind unable to administer their estates, the custody of which belonged to the king

Knights fee

Military service from a manor or other property due to superior lord (‘held by 1 knight’s fee’). Also implied other service. Also: property or land held by such a service (‘1 knight’s fee in Shinfield’)


Land held jointly by husband and wife for life, usually from marriage, often entailed on offspring of the match


used in some printed calendars (in CIPM H7 iii.p.10, for example) as a translation of Latin pascue.


see court leet


Formal delivery of seisin to property


Self-contained estate that typically but not always included (a) demesne lands (q.v.) (b) tenant holdings (c) a court and jurisdiction. Often held by military service of lord

Marriage portion

Dowry or payment due from father/ brother of a bride to father/ bridegroom at marriage

Mesne lord

Tenant of tenant in chief who exercised lordship over others


house with associated land and out-buildings: could range from a castle to a  modest vernacular building. Capital messuage, the principal messuage in a holding.


A measure of land:  equivalent in CIPM xxvi.15 to ¼ carucate. Sources cited in OED s.v. fardel (n.2), suggest equivalent to ½ virgate. OED s.v. nook, citing late sources, says 20 a. or 12 ½ a.


An eighth of a carucate (q.v.), a measure of land approximately 15 a.; often in practice referring simply to the standard peasant holding in a manor.

Oyer and terminer commission

Special judicial commission in criminal cases


The process of dividing an inheritance between several heirs; also, the document recording this process


(1) a unit of lineal measurement (by statute 16 1/2 feet, but local customary lengths varied)  (2) a unit of area (1/160 acre or 1/40 rood)

Prerogative wardship

Royal right to wardship of heir and all lands of an heir to property held in knight service of the crown regardless of who was lord of the other components

Primer seisin

Royal right to revenues of an estate between death of tenant and livery of the heir


Normal system of inheritance, by which males take precedence in order of birth over females of the same generation, the direct line takes precedence over collaterals, and sisters inherit equally

Proof of age

Formal process whereby under-age heirs are adjudicated of age and hence able to take up  their inheritance. The date of the heir’s birth is typically confirmed by the memories of jurors relating to that date: whether such memories are genuine or fictitious has been much debated.


Payment on entry to inheritance


¼ acre; a rod or perch [16.5 feet by statute] in width and a furlong [forty perches or 1/8 mile] in length.

que plura

see Writ que plura


Obsolete tax in lieu of feudal military service


Legal possession of land


Strip or ridge of land formed by the action of ploughing; division of a customary acre (Harvey, Manorial Records, 16).


A type of free tenure for particular designated service: could be grand or petty


Official appointed by the crown annually in rotation to administer ancient revenues (county farm), judicial and electoral business.


A type of estate tenure, usually solely for rent


see Entail

Tenant in chief

Landowner who held land directly of king


The site of a building


A trust

View of frankpledge

See frankpledge


(also yardland); a quarter of a hide or carucate: a measure of land often approximately 30 a. in area but varying considerably. Often in practice referring simply to the standard peasant holding in a manor.

virtute officii

see ex officio


a measure of land, often apparently equivalent to a virgate (q.v., and for full discussion see the blog).


Under-age heir of a feudal tenant whose wardship (guardianship) and marriage belonged to superior lord


A lord’s right of custody of lands and heir of a feudal tenant


Instructions (usually written) regarding use of lands after death (The modern will of moveable goods was called the testament)


Refers to the standard IPM writ, diem clausit extremum (q.v.)

Writ amotus

Issued to replace an earlier writ (of any kind, but usually d.c.e., when an escheator had been removed from office before that earlier writ had been executed

Writ certiorari de feodis, for fees

Similar to d.c.e but only ordering inquiry into knights’ fees and advowsons (q.v.)

Writ de dote assignanda, to assign dower

Used to initiate the process of assignment of dower (q.v.)

Writ de etate probanda, for proof of age

Used to initiate the process of proof of age (q.v.).

Writ de idiote inquirenda

Similar to d.c.e. but relating to the lands of an idiot (q.v.)

Writ de partitione facienda

Used to initiate the process of partitioning (q.v.) an inheritance

Writ devenerunt

Similar to d.c.e but used when the heir of a tenant had died while they were still a minor in royal wardship, and the lands were still in royal custody.

Writ diem clausit extremum (d.c.e.)

The usual writ addressed to the escheator regarding the lands of a tenant-in-chief. It commanded the escheator to inquire: what lands the tenant held in the county, of the king and of others, by what services, and their yearly value; the tenant's date of death; and the identity and age of their heir.

Writ (Exchequer)

Instructed Exchequer officials to send to Chancery an inquisition taken ex officio

Writ mandamus

As d.c.e, but issued when the tenant-in-chief’s death was known to have occurred more than a year ago. Included an additional instruction to inquire into who had occupied the tenant’s lands in the interval and received the profits.

Writ melius inquirendo, melius sciri

Used when the findings of an earlier IPM were inadequate in some way, to order inquiry into whatever facts were not properly specified or were said to be inaccurate

Writ plenius certiorari, plenius sciri

Similar to melius inquirendo. The relationship between these two writs requires further research. There is a possible distinction between writs which were initiated by petition and those which were initiated by the crown itself, but it is unclear if this was reflected in a distinctive type of writ, and any distinction is not clearly applied in the printed calendars. Writs titled plenius certiorari and melius inquirendo in the printed calendars are both currently classified as melius inquirendo for indexing purposes.

Writ plura, que plura

Issued when it was suspected that a tenant held more lands than had been detailed in the original IPM, and instructed the escheator to inquire into these further holdings. May also order inquiry as to who has occupied the additional lands in any intervening period.

Writ quia habitum religionis assumpsit

Similar to d.c.e, but used when a tenant-in-chief had entered a religious order, rather than died


see Virgate