Glossary

This is an alphabetical glossary containing terms that you may find used in Warwickshire's Past Unlocked. Click on the appropriate letter below to go to the section of the glossary that you require.

If you are unable to locate the word that you are looking for, then please do not hesitate to contact us and let us know.

If you would like to know of more terms within the category of your term, then please go to the glossary by category

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . V . W . Y

A

TermMeaning
AdvowsonThe right to nominate a clergyman to a benefice, often subject to the approval of a diocesan bishop.
AffidavitA sworn statement made in the presence of a person qualified to receive it
AlienationTransferring ownership of something to someone else
AmercementsFine paid in a manorial court
AnyTextYour search term, i.e. the word or word(s) that you enter in the AnyText box on the Search the Catalogue page. The software will search every field of every record for the term that you have specified.
AppurtenanceA minor property, right or privilege belonging to a greater property: an appendage.
AquittanceA written discharge from a debt or obligation
ArableCultivated land (usually ploughed)
AssigneeSomeone appointed to act on behalf of someone else; a representative
AssizeA royal court of justice presided over by a judge responsible for trying serious criminal and civil cases in a group of counties (known as a circuit). Assizes were held several times a year in each assize town within the circuit (normally one per county) from the 14th century until 1971 when they were replaced by the Crown Court.
Assizes of Bread and AleA process that took place in manorial courts to ensure that bakers and brewers sold goods of proper quality and quantity.

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B

TermMeaning
BannsThe published intention of marriage which are announced on three Sundays before the actual ceremony in the parish.
Bargain and SaleA method of conveying property by private agreement, common in the 16th century. The name is also given to the deed recording the transaction
Barring an entailPreventing an entail from taking effect
BastardyA term used widely in legal proceedings referring to children born out of wedlock.
BeneficeAn ecclesiastical office, or the income derived from it. It is usually applied to the incumbency of a parish church.
Bull (papal)A written mandate of a pope of a more serious nature than a brief. In early times sealed with the pope's signet ring, but later by a special form of lead seal, called the "bulla".
BundleA group of documents, often tied together and described as one unit.
BurgageThe house or plot of land held by the inhabitant of a town or borough OR a tenure of land in an ancient borough.
BurgessA citizen of a borough, with full municipal rights.
ButtA short or irregularly shaped strip of land in an open (pre-enclosure) field, or one that lies at right angles to other strips.

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C

TermMeaning
CatalogueA list of documents, mainly from one collection, giving their reference number, brief description of their composition and content and their date.
CensusA population survey. In England and Wales, a census has been held every 10 years from 1801, but it is only since 1841 that names of the inhabitants were systematically recorded.
ChanceryA Central Court specialising in equity cases, often relating to inheritance, debts and land ownership.
ChantryA chapel inside a church, or on its own site, funded by a wealthy person in exchange for the perpetual saying of mass for the funding family
ChattelsPersonal Property
ChirurgeonSurgeon
ChurchwardenA parish officer responsible for the upkeep of the church fabric, accounting for the expenditure of the church rate, control and extermination of vermin, etc.
ClergyThe body of all those appointed to the Christian ministry.
CloseA small hedged or walled field; an enclosure from the open fields
CodicilA signed and witnessed addition to a will
CollectionAll records (which could include a number of accessions) deposited by a single individual or body.
Common RecoveryA method used to bar an entail, involving fictitious legal proceedings
Consistory CourtA church court
ConstableThis officer was the keeper of law and order in the parish. Appointed by the parish vestry meeting he served for one year, unpaid. The office was replaced by the establishment of a county police force in the mid-19th century.
ConstablewickA township or tithing under the jurisdiction of a constable.
ConveyanceA general term for a deed which transfers land
CopyholdTenure of manorial land, with obligations to perform certain services for the lord. Copyhold tenure was abolished in 1922.
CounterpartOne of two identical documents prepared as part of a deed or lease. The counterpart is executed by the grantee, who then exchanges this for the original part executed by the grantor.
Court BaronA manorial court which enforced the customs of the manor, and dealt with land transfers, agricultural management, etc.
Court of AugmentationsA court set up during the reign of Henry VIII to administer former monastic lands.
Court BaronA manorial court which enforced the customs of the manor, and dealt with land transfers, agricultural management, etc.
Court LeetA manorial court which handled petty offences such as common nuisances or public affray, or the breaking of the Assize of Bread and Ale, and also with the maintenance of highways and ditches.
CovenantAn agreement creating an obligation contained in a deed.
Croft(i) A small piece of enclosed land near a dwelling.
(ii) A small dwelling.
CurateAn assistant of a beneficed clergyman.

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D

TermMeaning
DateofcopyThis field is most often used in descriptions of photographs. Some of the photographs in our collection are copies of much older images. The date of the photograph's content is recorded in the date field and the dateofcopy field is used to record the date that the reproduction was made.
DecretalConcerning a decree, (a decision backed by force of law)
DefeasanceRendering something null and void
Deforciant/sA person who wrongfully keeps another out of an estate
Demesne/DemesnesLand retained by the lord of the manor for his own use, or which was part of the main farm of the manor.
DemiseTo convey a property by lease.
DepositorThe individual or body who owns or is responsible for the records.
DeviseeA beneficiary of a will
DiaconateManaged by a deacon or deacons
DisburseTo pay out or expend
Distrain/DistreintA term originally applied to the seizure of possessions, generally livestock, in compensation for an alleged breach of feudal service obligations.
DocRefNoThis stands for Document Reference Number and is a unique number that we assign to all documents.
Document ProductionThe process by which documents are retrieved from the strongrooms for consultation in the searchroom.
DonativeSomething that is given (normally referring to a benefice)
DorseThe reverse side of a document.
DowerPart of an estate that a widow can claim for the rest of her life, or until her re-marriage
DriftwayA road along which cattle or horses are driven to pasture or market

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E

TermMeaning
EADEncoded Archival Description. A computer language used to display archival catalogues on the internet.
EnclosureThe process of dividing land previously held in common into individual holdings.
EncroachmentThe extension of private property enclosing part of a green, common or another person's land.
EntailSettlement of the inheritance of a landed estate, so that future generations cannot bequeath or alienate it at pleasure.
ExecutrixA female person appointed by the testator to carry out the intentions of the will.

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F

TermMeaning
FacultiesA licence or authorisation issued by a senior ecclesiastical official. Often issued to authorise building work in parish churches
Fee simpleFreehold land which can be disposed of according to the wishes of the owner.
Feoffeei) Someone who holds a feudal tenure known as a fief, or
ii) A trustee
FeoffmentThe public transfer of land by the owner to the purchaser, consisting of the ceremony called "livery of seisin". The written record of this transaction became known as a charter or deed of feoffment.
Filiation1. A persons parentage.
2. In effect, an order for the maintenance of an illegitimate child.
Following on from a single woman naming the putative father of her child, churchwardens or overseers of the poor made application to the Justices of the Peace requiring the father (sometimes the mother) to pay maintenance to the parish, for so long as the child was chargeable to the parish. As part of the process, a warrant of apprehension could be issued in order to bring the putative father before JPs, prior to the filiation order being made.
Fine/Final ConcordAn agreement made as a result of a fictitious suit, in order to confirm the possession or conveyance of land OR (Fine only) money paid for a lease or admission to copyhold land.
FitherA small strip of land between two ridges.
FoldyardAn enclosure for sheep.
FondsAn alternative name for a collection. All records (which could include a number of accessions) deposited by a single individual or body.
FondsNoAn artificial number that we use to group together all of the items in a collection. This number is also used to build the tree.
Foredraft/foredraught/foredriftA land leading from a dwelling to a road or field.
FrankpledgeA manorial system whereby groupings of 10 to 12 households (known as tithings) were held jointly responsible for the behaviour of each member. At the manorial Court Leet, a View of Frankpledge would regulate the working of the tithings.
FurlongOriginally a furrow's length in a ploughed field later (1) a unit of length, 220 yards or 201 metres (2) a block of strips of land in an open (pre-enclosure) field.

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G

TermMeaning
GlebeLand held by the incumbent (i.e. the rector or vicar) of a parish.

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H

TermMeaning
HadeUncultivated land at the end of a block of strips of land, giving room for a horse-drawn plough to turn.
HandbillSingle page printed notice or advertisement
HeadlandUncultivated land at the end of a block of strips of land, giving room for a horse-drawn plough to turn.
HereditamentsAny property which may be inherited.
HeriotA feudal obligation which has evolved over time. Most commonly, this refers to the practice whereby the heir to a deceased copyhold tenant has to give his best beast to the lord of the manor or, later, a money payment. In effect, it comprises a fee to enter copyhold land
Highway SurveyorsAn Act of 1555 required the annual appointment at Easter of a 'Surveyor of the Highways' for each parish or township. The unpaid officer was empowered to raise local rates and had a particular responsibility for the supervision of statue labour, whereby local people were called upon to maintain their roads. In 1835 a new system was introduced whereby Justices of the Peace appointed paid surveyors for groups of parishes.
HolmA pasture of water meadow.
HomageA ceremonial pledge of loyalty and obligation made by a tenant to his lord or a collective term for the assembly of tenants at a manorial court
HomestallAnother word for homestead, or, a farmyard
HouseboteThe right to take wood from common land for building or repairing buildings
HundredAn administrative division of a shire, the influence of which declined as parishes, manors and judicial bodies became more important. They were probably first established in the 10th century, and had ceased to be of any practical importance by 1888.

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I

TermMeaning
Imprest1. Enforced service in the army or navy.
2. An advance or loan of money.
IncumbencyOffice held by the incumbent - resident minister of the parish
IncumbentA rector, parson, vicar or minister of a parish
IndemnityProtection against loss or damage; legal exemption from penalties.
IndentureA document written in duplicate on the same parchment or paper, and divided into two by cutting a wavy line
InspeximusLatin for "we have inspected" in the context of inspection of charters
InstrumentA document used to carry out an action
InterdictionThe placing or issuing of a prohibition.
ItemThis is the actual document that we hold and that would be issued in the searchroom. It might be a single sheet of paper, a bundle of papers, a volume or an original bundle of deeds.

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L

TermMeaning
LammasEnclosed land (formerly open) used as common grazing after harvest; Lammas day was in early August.
LeasowA pasture.
LeetThe district covered by the Court Leet or the designated persons eligible to serve on the jury.
LevelUnlike library books, which tend to be catalogued one by one as separate items, archives are catalogued in groups. The archivist will look at all archives which belong together as part of a "collection", as identifying the links between the various documents is a significant part of the cataloguing process. To help users and other staff understand the context of a particular item, the archivist will create a catalogue which moves through different levels of description. You normally start with the collection as a whole - a brief description of the group of records, and end up with descriptions of individual items.
LevyAn assessment, duty or tax, or the act of collecting the same (in local records usually referring to parish rates).
LeyGrassland, or a field of grass.
LingA kind of heather.

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M

TermMeaning
ManorA manor is a territorial unit that was held by a landlord who held land directly of the Crown. In the Middle Ages the manor was an economic unit, which included the demesne which the lord farmed himself, and the rest of the land, which was farmed by tenants or used as common pasture and waste. It is distinct from an estate because it also held a Court.
ManorialOf or pertaining to a manor.
Manuscript/MSA handwritten document.
Mark (money)A sum of money used for account, after the Conquest the value was fixed at 160 pence or 13s 4d or two thirds of the pound sterling
Marriage SettlementFinancial and other arrangements made before or after a marriage, and the document recording these arrangements.
Math(i) A mowing.
(ii) Meadowland used for hay.
MeadowLand used for growing grass, often low-lying by a river.
MeerA small lake.
MeeseAnother word for sparrows or tom tits
MessuageA house and the ground around it.
Mill Holme/Mill HamA small meadow by a mill.
ModusA money payment in lieu of tithes.
MoietyA half
MurageA toll or tax levied for the building or repairing of the walls of a town. This also means the right of levying such a toll.

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N

TermMeaning
NonconformistRefusal to conform to the doctrine, discipline or polity of an established Church. Today, this terms is often used to describe Christian denominations other than the Church of England, e.g. Baptists, Methodists.
NookA corner or triangular area usually a small piece of land or corner in a building.

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O

TermMeaning
OrdinarySomeone possessing ecclesiastical jurisdiction such as a Bishop or a Judge with authority to take cases in his own right.
Overseers of the PoorA parish officer appointed to deal with the administration of the poor law as set down in the 1601 Poor Law Act. This Act continued until its reform in 1834. Later Overseers of the Poor became merely rate assessors and collectors. The office was abolished in 1925.
Overview/HitlistHitlist is the name given to a list of all of the items that have been found containing the required search term. The level, title, docrefno and date are given in a list providing an overview of the items that have been found.
Owing SuitThe obligation to attend a particular court.
OzierWillow used for hurdles, etc.

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P

TermMeaning
PainsTerm used in manorial courts meaning a penalty or punishment, often a threat for not fulfilling an order or condition of the court.
Panage/PannageThe right of tenants to feed swine in common woodland
ParchmentThe treated skin of sheep or goats used as a writing material.
Parish, civilThese often covered the same area as the ecclesiastical parish but had responsibilities for the poor, the highways and for petty law and order. The system was overseen by the Justices of the Peace, meeting at Quarter Sessions. This function continues today with elected Parish Councils.
Parish, ecclesiasticalA unit of pastoral care that was also expected to provide the resources to maintain its church and support its priest. A parish could be formed from more than one manor.
Parochial Church CouncilA parochial governing body in the Church of England, consisting of the incumbent, the churchwardens and elected parishioners.
PastureUncultivated land, used for grazing.
PauperA poor person destitute of property and without employment usually reliant on a charity or poor relief from their parish of residence.
PCC (Prerogative Court of Canterbury)The Prerogative Court of Canterbury was the probate Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which proved wills of persons who left goods of considerable value, usually in more than one diocese or deanery. Wills from this court are held at The National Archives.
PeculiarAn ecclesiastical district (usually a parish) outside the jurisdiction of the archbishop, bishop or archdeacon. Peculiars were entitled to hold their own courts, hence, before 1858 they proved wills of people who owned property in their respective districts.
Penny LandA portion of land valued at a penny a year
Pent houseA shed attached to the side of a house, used at a smithy for horses to be shod.
PerchA unit of measurement of land: 1 perch = 1/40 rood, or 1/160 acre or about 30 square yards.
Petty SessionsThe meetings of local Justices of the Peace dealing with minor offences and the issuing of licences.
PhotocolourThis field is only seen on descriptions of photographs and is used to record whether the image is in Black & White, Colour or if it is Toned.
PhototypeThis field is only seen on descriptions of photographs and is used to record the type of photograph e.g. Ambrotype; Lantern; Slide; Glass Plate Negative; Print, Colour; Postcard.
PieceA field or close of ground, often arable.
PightleAn alternative name for a close or enclosed piece of land, usually though not always small in scale.
PikeA butt [see entry for butt, above] of land running to a point (often because it lies at an angle to other strips).
PinfoldA small enclosure for keeping stray animals in.
PingleA small piece of land, most commonly referred to in the Midlands.
Pipe RollThe annual accounts of Crown revenues, which were sent by sheriffs to the Exchequer, where they were rolled around rods, or 'pipes', for storage. They are now housed in the National Archives under E372.
PitA term often used to denote a pond.
PleckA plot of enclosed ground or meadow.
PoleA unit of measurement of land, either (1) square, equalling a perch, or (2) linear, equalling 5 1/2 yards.
Poll TaxA 'head' tax. The first poll tax was levied in 1377, then again in 1381. All persons over a certain age (depending on when the tax was instigated) were required to pay the tax. The 'poll tax returns' are the records created from these levies, naming each taxpayer. Copies can be found at local record offices, but the originals are held at the National Archives.
PolygamyMarriage with several spouses at one time
Poor LawRefers to the Acts: 43 Elizabeth chapter 2, 1601 and 4/5 William IV chapter 76, 1834, both pieces of legislation created in order to deal with the poor.
Pound (animals)An enclosure for stray animals that could be reclaimed on the payment of a fine.
PraecipeA legal term for a writ commanding a defendant to do something or to appear and show why it should not be done or an order to the clerk of the court requesting that a writ be issued and specifying its contents.
PrebendaryThe holder of a prebend, usually the canon of a cathedral or collegiate church.
PrebendThe right to a cathedral or collegiate church benefice.
PrecentorAn official in a Cathedral either a member ranking next to the dean in the Old Foundation or a minor canon or chaplain in the New Foundation. It is also one who sings and plays without accompaniment in a church.
PreceptoryAn estate or manor house supporting a subordinate community of the Knights Templars.
PresentmentsA formal statement of something to be dealt with legally. A statement made on oath by a jury, magistrate or J.P or a report made by a churchwarden to a bishop during a visitation.
Priest in ChargeAn incumbent of a parish who does not have permanent title, unlike a vicar and a rector.
ProbateA certificate showing that someone's will has been proved and registered.

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Q

TermMeaning
Quarter SessionsA system of quarterly meetings of the Justices of the Peace for each county and county borough which began in 1361. Records of Warwickshire Quarter Sessions do not survive before the seventeenth century. The Quarter Sessions court had both a judicial and administrative function so the surviving records include court minutes, calendars of prisoners along with licenses for ale houses, deposited plans for proposed public undertakings, including the construction of roads, railways and canals.
QuarternA quarter part of anything.
QuerentA complainant or plaintiff
Quietus (roll)Final settlement or discharge of a payment
QuitclaimThe act of renouncing a title or right or claim to another person.
QuitclaimThe act of transferring a title or right or claim to another
QuittanceDischarging a debt

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R

TermMeaning
Rate BookBooks recording payment of the poor rate.
RectoThe right hand page of an open book, the opposite of verso.
RectorA parson or incumbent of a parish whose tithes were not appropriated to a monastery or college in the past.
RecusancyA person who refused to conform to the rites of the Established Anglican Church.
Removal OrderThis was a warrant granted by the Justice of the Peace to forcibly transfer a pauper (or potential pauper) to his/her place of legal settlement.
RequisitionTo require, demand or call upon something for military purposes
RoodA unit of measurement of land: 1 rood = 1/4 acre or 1210 square yards.

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S

TermMeaning
Sanitary AuthorityNineteenth century administrative body responsible for local sanitation and hygiene matters.
Search TermSignificant words that might be used in the description of the type of record you are looking for
SectionThis is a level of description which describes an administrative grouping, e.g. Parochial Church Council, Personnel.
Seizin/SeisinPossession of property, as opposed to ownership
Selion/sIrregularly sized strips of arable land in open fields.
SequestrationThe process of appropriating the income and property of a benefice by the bishop.
SeriesThis is a level of description which describes a group of similar records, e.g. parish registers.
Settlement (right to reside)Settlement was a system whereby the poor or potentially poor had to prove they had a right to settle in a parish. It was a way of ensuring the parish supported only those that had a legal right to live within that boundary. If a pauper could not prove settlement, he/she would be removed to the parish deemed legal place of settlement. What constituted settlement altered from time to time but could depend upon apprenticeship, place of birth, marriage (in the case of women), and/or father or mother's place of settlement.
Settlement CertificateA settlement certificate was the written admission by a parish required by the poor, or potentially poor, which entitled them to legally settle in that parish.
ShrievaltyThe office or jurisdiction of a sheriff. Sheriffs were deputies of the Crown, and the main agent of the courts until the 14thcentury, and therefore of enormous executive influence in each county.
SladeA valley or side of a hill.
SlangA narrow strip of land between fields
Statute MerchantShorthand way of referring to the Statute of Merchants, 1285, which entitles someone owed a debt to seize the land of the person owing the money if he does not pay up by the appointed time
SuitA tenant's obligation to attend the lord of the manor's court.

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T

TermMeaning
TenementA house OR any holding of land, rent or property.
TerrierA document summarising land holdings, particularly of a church
TestamentA formal declaration, usually in writing, of a person's wishes as to the disposal of his property after his death. See also Will.
Tithe/TytheA tenth of all produce given to the rector of a parish, who in return was supposed to maintain the chancel of the church and provide for church worship. Tithes were categorised as 'great', being corn and hay, and 'small', being livestock, wool and non-cereal crops. Where the rector of a church was an organisation, such as a college, or a layperson, the small tithe was paid to the vicar who served in the rector's place.
TitleA right to property
ToftA plot of land to the rear of a building, often bounded at the rear by a back lane.
TranscriptAn exact copy of the wording of a document.

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V

TermMeaning
VersoThe left hand page of an open book, the opposite of recto.
VestryThe governing body of a parish. Generally appointment was based upon a property qualification, and often those qualifying held a position only after having first been invited to serve.
VicarOriginally, the minister who was appointed by an absentee rector. The vicar received the small tithes, whereas a resident rector received all the tithe. Parishes which today are served by a vicar must have paid tithes to a religion institution such as a monastery in the Middle Ages.
VillA township, parish or manor.
VirgateThe Latin form of yardland.
VoucheeIn law this means the person vouched or summoned into court to give warranty of title. It can also mean a person cited or appealed to as an authority for some fact or statement, or in evidence of some assertion.

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W

TermMeaning
WillA person's formal declaration, usually in writing, of his intention as to the disposal of his property or other matters to be performed after his death. See also Testament.
Window TaxThis was introduced in 1697 after the abolition of the hearth tax. Residents paid a tax based on how many windows their place of abode had, though only where 10 or more windows existed. After 1825 occupiers with less than 8 windows were exempt. This tax was abolished in 1851.
WoodwardA forest keeper.

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Y

TermMeaning
YardlandOne quarter of a hide. A hide is a variable measurement of land, but originally meant the amount of land that could be ploughed in a year using one plough with an 8-ox team. In the Midlands the average size of a yardland is generally accepted to be around 30 acres.
Ye"The". The sound of the "th" at the beginning of the word "the" used to be represented by a single letter (called a thorn) which resembles a modern letter "y".
YeomanThis term has changed its meaning over time but in the 13th-15th centuries it mainly referred to a knight's servants or retainers. In Tudor times the term was gradually widened to include prosperous working farmers below the rank of gentry. These yeomen worked their own land, did not necessarily have to be freeholders, and were considered to be more prosperous than the average husbandman.

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