An indenture is a legal contract between two parties, particularly for indentured labour or a term of apprenticeship but also (as in the case below) for certain land transactions. The term comes from the medieval English "indenture of retainer"— a legal contract written in duplicate on the same sheet, with the copies separated by cutting along a jagged (toothed, hence the term "indenture") line so that the teeth of the two parts could later be refitted to confirm authenticity. Each party to the deed would then retain a part. When the agreement was made before a court of law a tripartite indenture was made, with the third piece kept at the court. The term is used for any kind of deed executed by more than one party, in contrast to a deed poll which is made by one individual. In the case of bonds the indenture shows the pledge, promises, representations and covenants of the issuing party.
There are several examples of surviving Cuckfield land indentures. Please contact cuckfieldconnections.org if you wish to learn more about them.
Click this video link to learn more about what information indentures provide about our ancestors; the link at the end of this article is also helpful in learning about the history of this legal document.
The following is an early eighteenth century Cuckfield Indenture. As a legal document its main purpose is to ensure that there is no possibility of misinterpretation over a transaction; so the information is often dry and legalistic. However, the documents state the specifics concerning the parties involved in the transaction, its nature, and all pertinent information and such content today forms a remarkably vivid testimony to the interests and customs of these long-gone times.
In order to make the content a little more 'reader-friendly', I have highlighted those elements (dates, people involved, the transaction itself and places concerned).
This indenture made the ninth day of June in the fifth year of the reign of sovereign Lord George by the grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith on June 9th 1719.
Between Charles Sergison of Cuckfield in this county of Sussex, Esquire of the one part and Thomas Newington of Brighthelmstone in the said county of Sussex, gent and his wife Ann of the other part, witnesseth that the said Charles Sergison for and in consideration of the sum of fifty four pounds of lawful money of Great Britain to the said Charles Sergison in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents for the full and absolute purchase of the Messuage or Cottage, Orchard and Bankside herein after mentioned the receipt whereof the said Charles Sergison doth hereby acknowledge and thereof and every part thereof doth acquit, release and surcharge the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs, executors, administrators by those presents to know the said Charles Sergison hath granted, bargained and sold, aligned, released and confirmed, and by these presents doth, grant, bargain, sell, align, release and confirm unto the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife in their actual possession now being by virtue of a bargain and sale thereof to him made for one whole year by indenture bearing date this day before the date of these presents and by force of this statute for transferring into their possession and their heirs all that Messuage or Cottage with the Orchard and Bankside thereto adjoining conveying by estimation the area more or less situate lying and adjoining to this town of Cuckfield aforesaid called Bankes or by whatsoever other name or names the same be called or known late Wynpenny’s and heretofore Burts and now or late in the occupation of John Packham, mason, or his assigns together with all ways, water, water-courses, rents, refits, commodities, emoluments, and promised with their and every of their appurtenances thereto belonging. Together with the seats in the church of Cuckfield to the said house belonging. And also all this estate and estate right gifts and trust of possession of property having benefit trust and demand whatsoever in law or equity of him the said Charles Sergison of in or to the said premises or any part thereof and the revet and revets, remainder and remainders of all and singular the said premises and of every part thereof to have and to hold the said Messuage or Cottage Orchard and Bankside herein before mentioned or intended to be hereby granted, bargained, sold, aligned, released and confirmed and every part and parcel thereof both their and every of their appurtenances unto the said Thomas Newington and Ann and his wife and their heirs and assigns. To the only use and behoof of the said Thomas Newington and and his wife and their heirs and assigns forever. And the said Charles Sergison for himself his heirs, executors, administrators and for every of them doth covenant, promise and grant to and with this said Thomas Newington and the said Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns by these presents in manner and form following (that is to say) that he the said Charles Sergison at the time and sealing of this delivery of these presents is and standeth lawfully, rightfully and absolutely seized of and in all and singular the said Messuage or Cottage, Orchard and Bankside hereditaments and premises herein before mentioned and intended to be hereby granted and of and in all and every part and parcel thereof both their and every of their appurtenances of good, sure and fair absolute and indefeasible estate or inheritance in terms simple without any manner of condition, routing or proviso or limitation of use or uses or other restraint matter or thing whatever to determine after or change the same and that he the said Charles Sergison now has in himself full power, good right and lawful absolute authority to grant, bargain and sell, release and confirm the aforesaid Messuage or Cottage, Orchard and Bankside hereditaments herein before mentioned and intended to be hereby granted and every part and parcel thereof with their and every of their appurtenances onto the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns in manner and form as aforesaid. And that shall or may be lawful to and for the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns from time to time and at all times hereafter peacefully and quietly to have, hold, occupy, possess and enjoy all and singular the said Messuage or Cottage, Orchard, Bankside, hereditaments and premises herein before mentioned and intended to be hereby granted and every part and parcel thereof with their and every of their appurtenances without the lawful pursuit, trouble, interruption and demand of him the said Charles Sergison, his heirs or assigns or any other person or persons lawfully claiming or to claim the said premises or any part thereof from by or hinder him, them or any of them. And that free and freely and clearly and absolutely acquitted, exonerated and discharged of and from all and all manner of former and other gifts, grants, bargains, jointure forward, the jointure and joiner of Ann, now wife of the said Charles Sergison also wills, entails, proofments, mortgages, estates, annuity to rents arranged or rent fines, fissures forfeitures, statutes and judgements, extents, extensions and of and from all other estates, titles, troubles charges and encumbrances whatsoever. And the said Charles Sergison for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators and for every of them does further consent, promise and grant to and with the said Thomas Newington and and his wife and their heirs and assigns by these presents that he the said Charles Sergison and his heirs and all and every other person and persons whatsoever anything have or lawfully attaining, shall or may at any time hereafter have or to any lawful any Estate right, gift, interest of into or out of the said Messuage or Cottage, Orchard and Bankside hereditaments and premises herein before mentioned. And intended to be granted and every or any part or parcel thereof with their and every of their appurtenances shall and will from time to time and at all times hereafter upon the reasonable request and at the costs and charges in the law of the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns make, acknowledge, suffer, levy and execute or cause to be made done, acknowledged, suffered, conveyed and executed all and every such further and other lawful and reasonable thing and things desired and assurances in the law whatsoever for the further and better-assuring, sure-making, settling and conveying of the said Messuage or Cottage, Orchard, Bankside, hereditaments and premises herein before mentioned intended to be hereby granted and every part and parcel thereof with their and every of their desire unto and upon the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns for ever according to the purport, time, intent and meaning of these presents be it by fine or fines to deed or deeds involved or not involved with single, double or treble vouch or vouches released or confirmation by all and every of the said ways or means whatsoever by the said Thomas Newington and Ann his wife and their heirs and assigns or by his or their council learned in the law shall be reasonably devised, advised and required in witness whereof the said partners to those present indentures interchangeably have set their hand and seals this day and year first above written.
Sealed and delivered the three sixpenny stamps hereon affixed in the presence of
The ninth day of June 1719
I thereto in the name of Charles Sergison do hereby acknowledge to have had and received the worth in the name of Thomas Newington and Ann his wife the sum of four and fifty pounds being the full consideration and money