Understanding terms and conditions

There are a large number of terms and conditions recorded within the database, which give further details about transactions. These appear on the pages for individual transactions, either attached to individual possessions:

Or at the left-hand side of the screen, applied to all the possessions in the transaction:

It is also possible to search for charters with particular terms and conditions:

The number and variety of these terms and conditions reflect the wording of charters. Our practice has been to record the terms and conditions explicitly mentioned in the charter, with only limited attempts at standardization. When looking at details of a transaction or searching for terms and conditions, it is therefore useful to be aware of how they are presented.

1) Terms and conditions are broken down into smaller components where possible. For example, a condition that “if the terms of the contract are violated, the contract will be ended” is broken down into the separate components “if terms of contract are violated” and “contract to be ended”, since we also have charters in which the contract is not ended if its terms are violated. Similarly, a census payable every St Martin’s day which is altered if one spouse died is recorded as “Feast day of St Martin” and “census altered on death of spouse”. Terms and conditions for a particular possession or transaction should be presumed to be combined, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise in the notes.

2) Terms and conditions not explicitly recorded are not entered. Thus, “full rights” is normally only recorded as a term if there is an explicit statement that the holder or recipient may do whatever they like with a property. “No census” is recorded only when there is an explicit statement that a census will not be demanded. 

3) Transactions are assumed to take place with immediate effect: terms concerning the time of execution are only recorded if they are to be postponed for some reason.

4) We are in the process of developing a hierarchy of terms and conditions, but the variety and complexity of these make it a slow process. However, some of our broader categories may already be of use:

Property rights: specific rights either granted or retained over particular pieces of property, e.g. grants made in benefice or where the right to manumit the unfree on a property is retained.

Duration: for how long particular transactions are valid, e.g. for nine years, for life of a married couple.

Time of execution: at what point in the future a transaction will take effect, e.g. post-mortem, after death of tenant.

Stated purpose: the purpose for which property is transferred, e.g. for lights, to be transferred on to another agent.