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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Scrivener’s Affidavit or Corrective Deed

As important as the wording of a deed is and as carefully as the document is prepared, mistakes happen. When that occurs, a Scrivener’s Affidavit or Corrective Deed is filed. (Remember that the name of the documents will change in the various states.)
This post was inspired by a woman at a recent presentation who asked if I wouldn’t have found something I had missed when I transcribed the deed. Transcribed the deed? Was she really suggesting that in this age of photocopying that I hand write a copy, word for word, from the document? Yes.

We agreed to disagree about the importance of this traditional step. Never having the time or the need to know the deed that intimately in my work as an appraiser, I couldn’t really see what was to be gained. I pointed out to her that most errors on a deed are in the names, especially the middle initials, and in the legal description. If a person who prepares deeds professionally makes mistakes on the description, how can a genealogist expect to get it right. Truce.
Whatever you choose to do to get the most out of a deed, read it very carefully or take the time to transcribe it, be aware that more experienced people that you make mistakes and correct them. 

A scrivener is a somewhat antiquated term for a clerk or copyist who prepares legal documents. If an error in a deed is minor, such as the spelling of a name or a middle initial is wrong, a Scrivener’s Affidavit is recorded. This document is used when you only need to clarify an aspect of the deed.
A Corrective Deed is used to change or substantially modify the description of the property, add or delete a grantor or grantee, or add other information that affects the title to the property or its description.  This would require the signature of the grantor and would be in the grantor/grantee index using the names you would expect.

On the other hand, Scrivener’s Affidavits are or can be indexed under the name of the scrivener and not the parties to the deed, making them really hard to find. Luckily, they are not used to change major items, but we genealogists would like to see the name or spelling changes. If you are lucky, the original deed affected may be noted in the margin of the affidavit or corrective deed. On the original deed, the book and page of the correction should be noted. This would be the ideal situation, and I hope you find it that way in your jurisdictions.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Chapman County Codes Plus Two Notes

If you are researching in one of the UK counties with a long name, such as Gloucestershire or Northumberland, you owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Colin R. Chapman, the originator of the three letter Chapman County Codes. Even my research in six-letter Norfolk is helped by not having to type anything but NFK twenty times each day. You can read his rather modest description of his accomplishment at his web site, www.lochinpublishing.org.uk/chapman_cc.htm.  (That is chapman_cc.htm.)

With a doctorate and career in industrial chemistry and engineering, Chapman was also a genealogist. He set out to organize already existing, but conflicting sets of abbreviations. He thought genealogists as well as historians, demographers and geographers would benefit. These codes were not commissioned by the post office as I bet many of us thought. Originally, Chapman’s list covered the counties of the British Isles and the Channel Islands, the Isle of Mann and the Isle of Wight, but now these codes are used by international standards organizations for developing abbreviations in other countries.
The website above gives a complete list of the original British Isles codes. (Google “chapman codes” and you will find lists at genuki, Wikipedia and rootsweb, some very international in scope.)

At the Lochin Publishing site, there is a list of ten of the fourteen genealogy books Dr. Chapman has written and you can order.  Notice that one is titled, Tracing Ancestors In Northamptonshire. No wonder he developed a code, NTH.
Note 1: I write this blog ahead to cover holidays and busy periods, but there are no new posts waiting in the wings to cover two travel periods, one next week and one beginning May 8th. Yes, I will be at the National Genealogical Society meeting in Cincinnati from May 8th to the 13th. If I am not exhausted and soaking my feet in ice water, I will try to post impressions from my first national meeting. Dick Eastman usually gives his readers this kind of heads up but seldom actually misses a day. I hope it works out like that for me, too.

Note 2: I may have had a break through so to speak on my English family, until now I describe it as a group of Ag Labs from Norfolk. Recently I saw that around the time of their emigration, they were becoming non-conformists, borne out by their records in both England and their new country. I want to study non-conformity and dissenters (terms I hate) and try to learn how that history relates to my family. As part of the 1851 British Census, there was a religious ‘census.’ It lists the churches and chapels in a community and the number attending services on a selected Sunday. My family left Norfolk in the early 1850s so it should prove very helpful, and you can look forward to  a series of religious posts.
Susan Lewis Well, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday - Hundreds in the UK and America

In December 2011, I wrote a post about the map at www.maps.familysearch.org. (English Juruisdictions in 1851) One of the divisions of a county is a ‘hundred.’ I stated that most of the post-1834 Poor Law Union districts followed the boundaries of the ancient hundreds. Having wondered for a long time exactly what a ‘hundred’ was and whether it had any genealogical significance, I researched it recently.

Hundreds have existed from at least the 10th century and included enough land to support one hundred families. Originally, the term referred to a group of 100 hides (units of land required to support one peasant family), whose size was related to soil conditions and terrain. According to the Oxford Companion to Local and Family History, a hide averaged about 120 acres so a hundred would cover 12,000 acres of land. In the four northern counties of England and some of southern Scotland, the equivalent division was a ward, and in the counties ruled by the Danes from the 9th through the 11th centuries, they were called wapentakes.
Until the Local Government Act of 1894, hundreds were the intermediate jurisdictions between  parishes and the county. The names of hundreds were taken from the original meeting places, which were away from settlements near geographic sites such as river crossings or forks in rivers.

In the south of England and the Domesday Book, the hide was used in tax assessment, and centuries of tax records are organized by hundreds. The hundred was used in other administrative, judicial and military ways. Eighteenth and early nineteenth century militia records and hearth tax returns were kept by hundreds, according to the Oxford Companion cited above.  Perhaps most important were the ‘hundreds’ courts which met twelve times per year in the thirteenth century. Later the intervals varied from two to three weeks. They ended when county courts were established in 1867.

As an off-topic aside, l will mention that the term came across the Atlantic with the colonists. At one time the counties of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were divided into hundreds. The term shows up in old land records in Virginia and Maryland as well.
Susan Lewis Well, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday – Legal Education for Non-Lawyers

There are large groups of professionals who need a working knowledge of land-related legal terms. I count Realtors®, appraisers, and surveyors at the top of this group.

I was a Realtor®. My ‘legal’ education began in 1979 with the first course I took to get my broker’s license. The text book we used was Real Estate Principles by Bruce Harwood. (Reston, Virginia: Reston Publishing Company 1977) It is a battered, but treasured part of my library. Revised many times since, it is used in college level real estate courses and in license prep courses for Realtors®.  Over the years, Harwood took on a co-author, Charles J. Jacobus, who is now the only author of the 2009 11th Edition.
It is noted for its definitions of terms for non-lawyers. For genealogy purposes, the older editions are generally fine. The early chapters define deeds, discuss legal descriptions and give details of recording procedures, the one item that has changed dramatically with the advent of computers and the internet. It is helpful for genealogists to know how records are handled at repositories, so a newer edition may be worth the expense.   

Later chapters of the book deal with mortgages and home finance, an area that does change rapidly. If you have a personal need for the information, then buy a new edition, but it will be costly. Amazon.com has a good selection of new and used volumes. Before buying, check American Book Exchange, www.abebooks.com.
An online source for basic legal information is www. lawyers.com. The site primarily exists as a referral network, if you need an attorney, but has a lot of basic information.  If you follow the path below, you will come to a basic page about deeds including the essential part of deeds, types of deeds and definitions of terms.

www.lawyers.com>Understand your legal issues>Real Estate>Residential Real Estate>Deeds
©2012, Susan Lewis Well