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Finding Out About Indentures

  • Hester Swift


In the Spring of 2015, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library was contacted by Mark Engsberg, Director of Library Services at Emory Law, enquiring about old English legal documents. Mark knows several of us at the Institute through the IALL conferences. He was emailing on behalf of Professor Tina Stark, an Emory faculty member, who was planning a visit to London and hoped to see collections of indentures while she was there.



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1 Bordwell, Percy, An Eighteenth Century Deed , 8 Iowa L. Bull. 73 (1922), p. 74 .

2 Cornwall, Julian, How to read old title deeds, XVI-XIX centuries, University of Birmingham, Dept. of Extra-Mural Studies, 1964, p. 10 .

4 “indenture, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2016.

5 8 & 9 Vict. c.106.

6 Vanessa Carr, ‘The Public Record Office, The National Archives and the historian’ <>; Norman James, ‘The Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC)’ <>

8 Cornwall (footnote 2), p. 25; The National Archives, ‘Court of Common Pleas, General Eyres and Court of King's Bench: Feet of Fines Files, Richard I - Henry VII’ <>

12 The National Archives, ‘Land conveyances by feet of fines 1182–1833’ <>

13 Statute of Frauds, 29 Cha. 2, c.3.

14 Cornwall, Julian, How to Read Old Title Deeds, XVI-XIX centuries, (University of Birmingham, Department of Extra-Mural Studies, 1964), p. 9 .

15 Ibid., p. 12;  Stoljar, S.J., A History of Contract at Common Law (Australian National University Press, 1975), p. 16 .

16 27 Hen. VIII, c. 16.

17 Greenberg, Daniel (ed.), Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law, 4th ed. (Sweet and Maxwell, 2015), “Bargain and sale.”

18 Woodley, Mick (ed.), Osborn's Concise Law Dictionary, 12th ed. (Sweet and Maxwell, 2013), “Lease and release.”

19 Law of Property Act 1925, s.51(1).

20 Greenberg, Daniel (ed.), Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law, 4th ed. (Sweet and Maxwell, 2015), “Bond.”

21 The image of this document is at < >; it is handwritten, in Latin.

24 1966, Cmnd 3084 (“Denning Report”). These weeding exercises were carried out for practical reasons: “If our proposals are implemented,” said Denning, “the Public Record Office alone will be relieved of two hundred tons of records (occupying 15,000 feet of shelving),” (p. vii).

* Foreign & International Law Librarian, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.

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Finding Out About Indentures

  • Hester Swift


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