As an introduction to this Calendar of Feet of Fines we can
hardly do better than transcribe a portion of the description
of that class of document given in Scargill Bird's "Guide to the
"A Fine (Finis, or Finalis Concordia), so called from the words
with which it begins, and also from its effect in putting a final end to
all suits and contentions, was an amicable agreement or composition of
a suit (whether real or fictitious) made between the parties with the
consent of the judges, and enrolled amongst the Records of the Court
in which the suit was commenced, by which freehold property might
be transferred, settled or limited. These Fines are said to be of equal
antiquity with the first rudiments of the law, instances having been
produced of them even prior to the Norman invasion, and they, no
doubt, originated in actual suits for recovering the possession of lands
or other hereditaments, the possession thus gained being found so sure
and effectual that fictitious actions were soon introduced for the sake
of obtaining the same security. The Records of these actions exist in
an almost unbroken series from the reign of Richard I. to the year
1834, when a statute was passed 'For the abolition of Fines and
"The Foot, or conclusion of the Fine, sometimes called the Chirograph, begins with the words Haec est finalis concordia, and recites
the whole proceedings. . . . In addition to the Foot, two Indentures,
or transcripts thereof, were engrossed by the Chirographer on the same
piece of parchment, which was then divided into three indented portions,
the Foot, between which and the two Indentures the word 'Cyrographum'
was written, being retained by the Custos Brevium, and the Indentures
being given to the respective parties to the Fine."
Having considered the nature of a Fine we may next examine
its form. In the subjoined example, of which a translation is
given, I have divided the formula into six portions:—a. The
statement of date and place of the Court in which the Fine was
levied. b. The names of the judges before whom it was levied.
c. The names of the parties concerned, and of their attorneys, if
any; and the statement of the property in question. d. The
nature of the action brought. e. The composition made by one
of the two parties. f. The compensatory payment made for the
grant or lease of the property.
(Words printed in Italics are omitted in the Calendar.)
a. Hec est finalis concordia facta in curia domini Regis apud Westmonasterium die Jovis proxima post Octabas Omnium Sanctorum
anno regni regis Johannis primo.
b. Coram Magistro Thoma de Husseburn Willelmo de Warene Simone
de Pateshill justiciariis et aliis fidelibus domini Regis tunc ibi
c. Inter Johannem A. et Aliciam uxorem suam petentes per ipsum
Johannem positum loco ejusdem Alicie ad lucrandum vel
perdendum et Ricardum B. tenentem; De una acra terre in N.
d. Unde placitum fuit inter eos in prefata curia.
e. Scilicet quod predictus Ricardus recognovit predictam terram esse
jus predictorum Johannis et Alicie, tenendam de predicto Ricardo
et heredibus suis ipsis Johanni et Alicie et heredibus Alicie in
perpetuum, reddendo inde per annum unum denarium ad Pascha
pro omni servicio salvo forinseco servicio.
f. Et pro hoc fine et concordia et quieta clamancia predicti Johannes
et Alicia dederunt predicto Ricardo unam marcam argenti.
(a). This is the final composition made in the court of the lord King
at Westminster on the Thursday next after the Octave of All Saints
in the first year of the reign of King John (b) before Master Thomas
de Husseburn William de Warenne and Simon de Pateshill, judges,
and other faithful servants of the same lord King then present there
(c) between John A. and Alice his wife demandants, by the same John
put in the place of the same Alice to gain or lose, and Richard B.
tenant; concerning one acre of land in N. (d) about which there has
been a suit between them in the said court; (e) (this is the composition)
namely that the said Richard acknowledges the said land to be the right
of the said John and Alice, to be held of the said Richard and his
heirs to the said John and Alice and the heirs of the said Alice in
perpetuity, paying therefor yearly one penny at Easter for all service
except forinsec service; (f) and for this fine and composition and quitclaim the said John and Alice have given the said Richard one mark
Of the variations found in the above formula the most important
are the following:
d may read "Unde recognicio mortis antecessoris summonita fuit
inter eos;" and other variants are also met with which present no
particular features except that if d. reads "Unde placitum warantie
carte summonitum fuit inter eos" then e will read "Scilicet quod
predictus Ricardus recognovit predictam terram esse jus predictorum
Johannis et Alicie ut illam quam habent de dono ipsius Ricardi et
illam eis warantizavit tenendam &c."
e may read "Scilicet quod predictus Ricardus remisit et quietum
clamavit totum jus et clamium quod habuit in predicta terra de se et
heredibus suis predictis Johanni et Alicie et heredibus Alicie in
Instead of "pro omni servicio salvo forinseco servicio" we may have
"pro omni servicio quod predicto Ricardo et heredibus suis pertinet, et
faciendo capitalibus dominis illius feodi omnia servicia que pertinent
ad unam acram terre ipsius feodi in predicta villa."
With regard to the Calendar here printed much need not be
said. In order to economise space a certain number of contractions have been used and the formal phrases common to all the
Fines have been much shortened by the omission of all the words
printed above in italics, the reconstruction of any Fine with the
aid of the key should present little difficulty. The place names
have been identified as far as possible in the Index Locorum. A
List of the Contractions and a Glossary of the more unusual words
follows this Introduction.