Author Topic: Interpreting an old legal document  (Read 327 times)

Offline Rumpteton

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Interpreting an old legal document
« on: Saturday 14 April 18 14:51 BST (UK) »
Just wondering whether there is anyone out there up to speed on 18th century legal lingua franca. I recently uncovered the following from the National Archives relating to an ancestor of mine, and am unable to quite understand what it means:

"Counterpart lease for 99 years
Description:   
Determinable on the deaths of (2), aged 30 and John Salter, aged 2, son of (2) of cottage etc., at Norton, p. Freshwater, I.W., late occ. David Prince, now occ. (2). Consid: 8. Pays 5s. p.a.
 
(1) Joseph Whitehead, senior, of Newport, I.W., mercer

 (2) Thomas Salter of p. Freshwater, husbandman

Date:   29 September 1719"

Does it mean that a 99-year lease on the cottage is being taken over by Thomas Salter and his son, following the death of David Prince? As for Joseph Whitehead, is he witnessing the document, or is he the solicitor/conveyencer, or is he the owner of the cottage? Also, is it possible to determine any pre-existing relationship between David Prince and Thomas Salter? In other words, is it possible that the lease is being bequeathed from one to the other, as in an inheritance?

Any clarification would be most welcome!

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Offline horselydown86

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 14 April 18 15:32 BST (UK) »
1.  Does it mean that a 99-year lease on the cottage is being taken over by Thomas Salter and his son, following the death of David Prince?

2.  As for Joseph Whitehead, is he witnessing the document, or is he the solicitor/conveyencer, or is he the owner of the cottage?

3.  Also, is it possible to determine any pre-existing relationship between David Prince and Thomas Salter?

4.  In other words, is it possible that the lease is being bequeathed from one to the other, as in an inheritance?

1.  No.  The mention of Prince is purely to identify the cottage.  The present occupant of the cottage is Thomas Salter.

See this: late occ. David Prince, now occ. (2)

2.  Whitehead is either the owner or (at the least) he is a person who has the power to lease the cottage.

He may lease it from the local lord and is sub-letting it to Salter.  However, the length of the lease to Salter suggests that JW may be the owner.

3 & 4.  No, not from this kind of document, which confines itself strictly to the matters concerned in the lease itself.

Just from this information, I would say there was no relationship between Prince & Salter senior.

You may have research to suggest otherwise, but it's unlikely you'll find confirmation here (or the people who made this summary would have mentioned it).

ADDED:

This is a fresh lease to Salter senior, for 99 years from the date of the lease.  However there's a significant qualification: the lease is determinable by two lives - that of Salter senior & his son.

If both die before the end of 99 years, the lease ends.  That's why their ages are mentioned.

It was more normal for a lease to be determinable by three lives than two, for the greater security in three lives.

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Offline Rumpteton

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 14 April 18 22:08 BST (UK) »
Thanks for the clarification. That helps a great deal. Reason I was interested in any pre-existing relationship is that Thomas Salter (my direct ancestor) later switched his surname and that of several subsequent children to 'Prince alias Salter'. His son (also Thomas) became 'Salter, commonly known as Prince'. Subsequently, the Prince surname took over. Thomas's baptism, in 1688 (Freshwater, Isle of Wight), was registered only in his mother's name, 'Ann'. David Prince was 41 years old and already twice married at that point. There was an Ann Salter living locally who was 14 in 1688, and apparently never married. Circumstantial, I know, but my theory is that Thomas was David Prince's illegitimate son, by Ann Salter. But I guess I'll never know for certain!

Offline horselydown86

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 15 April 18 05:07 BST (UK) »
Circumstantial, I know, but my theory is that Thomas was David Prince's illegitimate son, by Ann Salter. But I guess I'll never know for certain!

Keep plugging away at it.  The names give you a prima facie case for some kind of relationship between your Salters and one of the Princes, somewhere along the way.  And in this lease document you have evidence of proximity.

If it were my research, I would still purchase a custom copy of this document, just to be sure.  There may be a clue in the document somewhere.

At the least you could email the Isle of Wight RO to ask the cost of a custom scanned digital image.

Offline Rumpteton

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 15 April 18 11:08 BST (UK) »
Great idea. I will get onto that. Thanks, again.

Offline Rumpteton

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #5 on: Monday 16 April 18 14:38 BST (UK) »
Another follow on from my recent posts re a lease document dated 29 Sep 1719 relating to Salter / Prince of Norton, Isle of Wight, :

Thomas Salter's wife Anne Salter nee Cooper was buried 23 Sep 1722, three years after the lease was signed. Unusually for the church in question (All Saints, Freshwater, Isle of Wight), the registrar has added: 'Wife of Thomas SALTER (sic) of Norton', as if there might be some doubt on the matter.

Had they split up at that point? Would this explain why Anne Salter's name is not on the lease document? If it had been, the lease could presumably have been determinable on three deaths, as opposed to just two (Thomas and two-year-old son, John). Or were wives excluded from legal documents at the time as a matter of course?

Offline horselydown86

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #6 on: Monday 16 April 18 15:28 BST (UK) »
Wives and daughters could both be included in the list of lives.

An example of a wife:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/e7e8bad1-37d3-4d3f-a1f2-d2c9586b6d46

It does seem odd that the lease wasn't for three lives when Anne was seemingly available to be included.  However, while it's a possibility, I don't think we can infer that they had split up - too much is unknown.

If you have an image of the original burial record, make a clip of the entry and post it here.  It seems most peculiar that a PR entry would have (sic) after a surname.  I would like to check exactly what is written.

Offline Rumpteton

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Re: Interpreting an old legal document
« Reply #7 on: Monday 16 April 18 16:38 BST (UK) »
Apologies, that was my 'sic', added to indicate that the original has 'SALTER' in caps. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the original; just the transcript provided on the Isle of Wight Family History Society website. A visit to the IOW records office is pending, and that is high on my list of docs to view and copy. Interestingly, there is no baptism record for Thomas's son John, aged 2, who is mentioned on the lease. For Thomas's next child (another Thomas), born Nov 1721, three months before Anne Salter's death, no mother is identified - unusual for Freshwater All Saints at the time.