To the Topographer and Genealogist the search amongst the bundles
of Feet of Fines is a lengthy and often a disappointing task, owing,
in a measure, to the little information given in the Official Index at
the Public Record Office. It is the experience of the writer that the
Index has been carefully compiled, and contains but very few errors;
we seldom, however, find more names mentioned than those of the
plaintiff and deforciant who stand first in the cause, and but little
information is given regarding the nature and situation of the
The object of this work is to place in the hands of those interested
in the topography and genealogy of Yorkshire a complete index of
the names of all places and persons in the Feet of Fines, for that
county, during the period over which it extends, together with such
information as will enable them to see at a glance how far it may
be desirable to consult the original documents.
The compiler would impress upon the searcher that the work is
intended to be used simply as an index or work of reference, and not
as an abstract, though it approaches more nearly to the latter than
to the former. He would also beg of him to be lenient as regards
errors, to which a work of this nature is peculiarly liable. Allowance,
he hopes, will be made for his own clerical errors, for those in the
original documents and for the difficulties he was often placed in with
regard to the faithful rendering of many names, owing to the
peculiarities of the old court hand; in which it is almost needless here
to say, the letters "i," "m," "n," and "u" are represented by so many
strokes or minims, the latter letter also, as frequently as not, taking the
place of "v;" making it impossible to avoid mistakes, even with a fair
topographical knowledge and a tolerably extensive acquaintance with
the names of the county families of that period ; and also having at
hand the ever ready assistance of the officials of the Public Record
Office and other experts working there, to all of whom he is under
deep obligations, and desires here to thank.
He has only further to say that the Feet of Fines are generally in
good condition. Here and there a bundle is missing, and in such cases
he obtained his information from the Notes of Fines, and when these
were not available, as happened for two or three terms, he made use of
the De Banco Rolls, in which, however, the information is not so
fully given, and occasionally some of the Fines are difficult or
impossible to find, owing to omission or to entry on the Roll of some
other term; at any rate, some few, a diligent and tedious search failed
to bring to light. He trusts that when completed his work will be
the means of assisting many in their topographical and genealogical
pursuits, and of, perhaps, saving others many hours of what might
otherwise have proved useless and unprofitable search.
The following description of the Records of Fines is given
in the Second Report of the Deputy Keeper of the
Public Records.—Appendix I., page 33.
No. 23. Description of the Records of Fines.
1st. The foundation of the Fine is the Writ of Covenant on which is
indorsed the King's Silver, &c.,
2nd. It is followed by the Concord, signed by the parties, and either
acknowledged in open Court, or before Commissioners. In the
latter case there are annexed to it the—
3rd. Dedimus Potestatem, containing the names of Commissioners
for taking the Fine, and the—
4th. Affidavit to verify the taking of the acknowledgments, &c.
5th. Note of the Fine.
The Note of the Fine is made out by the Chirographer from
the Concord, and from which and the other proceedings he draws
6th. Foot of the Fine.
The Foot and previous proceedings annexed, the Chirographer
deposits with the Custos Brevium.
The Chirographer retains the Notes in his own possession,
and files them in bundles, of each term ; putting on a separate
piece of parchment the proclamations which he annexes to each
bundle: and the Note of the Fine, with the proclamations, has
always been given out for evidence.
7th. Foot and Indentures of Fine.
Then on a separate piece of parchment, follows the Foot of
the Fine, and the two Indentures are engrossed, which, together
with the above processes annexed, are sent to the Custos Brevium
Office. The parchment is divided into three, the Foot is
retained, and the Indentures given out to the parties.
If the parties, parcels, and date of the Fine only were required,
they were obtained from the books kept at the King's Silver
Office; but these Records are now partially destroyed and
damaged by fire.
It was the practice to enter the whole proceedings from the
Writ to the Foot in the Fine Roll of the Common Pleas, which
must not be confounded with the Chancery Fine Roll: but these
entries, being irregularly and not uniformly made, cannot be
N.B.—The wavy lines in the example of Fines in the above
description show the mode in which the several parts were separated