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Exploration of Ska View Cottages continues with a detailed look at the first indenture or conveyance document, written in 1890.
This row of cottages is not listed although both Cleave House and The Old Cottage on either side are. From the 1890 auction notice (accessed through the British Newspaper Archive ) we know Ska View Cottages were Freehold and Newly Built. The auction was due 27 August 1890, and if the 4 cottages were not sold in one lot they would be separately auctioned. It seems no one was interested in all four. Luckily I have the deeds – indentures, conveyances and will extracts, that allow a picture of the ownership of No 2 Ska View Cottages to be built up.
At first sight Indentures are rather intimidating, however after finding your way around one or two, the mysteries seem to unfold rather more easily! This one is almost a metre square, dated 26 December 1890, the Conveyance of a dwelling house. It includes a garden a short way distant (in the allotments still in existence on Back Lane). It dates from the time when ‘Indentures’, though still known by this name, did not any longer have a zig zag cut edge to show they were matching other copies of the same agreement.
Payment of the taxes due, £2 10/- is shown by the attachment of two embossed stamps, firmly glued in place with something on the rear as well as shown below. There is also a green ribbon woven through the parchment on which the solicitor has placed his wax seal 4 times to confirm the signatories.
It appears that Mr Thomas Lethbridge of Sticklepath had had the cottages built, or at least had started building them, but then died. His daughters, Rebecca, wife of John Mew, draper of Barnstaple, and Dinah Bissett, widow of Dolton, inherited them and were selling the properties, along with the son-in-law, John Mew.
Indentures are legal documents covering a range of situations, mortgage or conveyance, apprenticeship etc etc. Early ones are on parchment. They are written in ‘secretary hand’ which probably took about 3 years to fully master but which means standard script is used across England for all such legal documents. Where a property is conveyed in ‘fee simple’ this is the freehold given in perpetuity. For more information about deeds including much older ones see Nottingham University.
All Indentures start with “This Indenture dated XXXX” and then state the parties involved in the contract. Words in ‘bold’ then go on to note the start of each new point. (Overall sections are known as: the Testatum or what the contract concerns; the Hebendum which is the legal provisos usually ignored by genealogists; and the Testimonium, the signatures and seals). My summary interpretation follows, with CAPITALS to indicate new sections (though not using the same words as the original):
THIS INDENTURE dated 26 December 1890
BETWEEN the three people mentioned above and Mary Richards of 29 Port Street Barnstaple, widow.
WHEREAS – Mr Thomas Lethbridge was “seized of the hereditaments and premises” (owned the property) at the time of his death and “hereby granted for an estate of inheritance in fee simple” (gave the freehold) in
HIS WILL dated 10 November 1873 (lots of details given) which came into effect when he
DIED 12 March 1876 and the Will was proved 12 April 1876. The property was inherited in by his two daughters.
THE SALE of 2 Ska View to Mary Richards is now agreed by the vendors in Fee Simple for £100.
THIS INDENTURE witnesses this sale and that the sellers acknowledge receipt of the £100.
EACH seller agrees
ALL “that Messuage or dwelling house being Number 2 Ska View Cottages in the Village of Sticklepath in the County of Devon with the outhouse held therewith all which premises are now in the occupation of “ (here a large blank space is left, suggesting to me it was unoccupied)
AND ALSO the garden area, to both of which Mary Richards and her “heirs or assigns” can take vehicles or animals as they wish.
ALLOWING access by the other cottage owners as needed
PARTY walls explained and current owners of neighbouring properties named.
SIGNATURES AND WITNESSES of the sellers and their solicitors.
If you picture the document folded in half with the fold to your left. The front ‘page’ and second page are taken up with the statement as summarised so far (Images as shown above). On the front page there are some pencil marks in the margins and a small purple stamp mark which do not have any meaning for me.
The third ‘page’ is divided into two with the plan at the top and an interesting statement on the lower part.
Thomas Lethbridge had left the property to his daughters solely, free from husbands wishes or debts, a statement therefore was needed to clarify that Rebecca was completing the sale “freely and voluntarily”. She had to discuss this with the solicitor without her husband present. This is signed by “A Perpetual Commissioner for taking acknowledgements of Deeds by married women”. This statement was completed 17 Dec 1890.
The final quarter of the document is blank other than the labelling of the document when folded up.
Looking at this legal document in some detail has been a learning process. I now feel more confident to look at others, perhaps even older ones if the chance arises. Next time a brief overview of No 2 owners from 1890 – 2015.