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Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Deed Wording Changes with Time and Place

The content of deeds follows state statute and local custom. My 21 September 2011 post introduced you to the seven “Elements of a Deed,” but their exact wording can and will vary especially the ‘words of granting’.

Here is a modern example of a change to deeds in one location. In the past twenty five years, the first line of deeds in Hampshire County, Massachusetts has changed by local usage, not state statute. For centuries, the opening line was “Know all men by these presents.” At first, the modification used by some in the legal community was “Know all men and women by these presents.”  The next attempt to be gender neutral was “Know all persons by these presents,” and finally, for now the most used phrase is “Know all by these presents.” In this example, no meaning has changed, but the wording has.
Of the seven “Elements of a Deed,” it is the ‘words of conveyance’ that have changed the most over time. Generally, the older a deed, the longer the list of verbs used to grant the property to another. Where a modern deed is likely to say “John and Jane Smith grant to James and Judith Jones,” an older deed might say “grant, bargain, sell, convey, warrant and confirm…” This last quote is from a 1913 Montana deed.

However, just to keep you on your toes, let me quote the words of conveyance from a 2000 Florida deed – “grants, bargains, sells, aliens, remises, releases, conveys and confirms…” Local custom, state law and time affect the wording of a deed.

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