Indented lease, 1410
An example, largely typical of its kind: This indenture made between dom. John Wessington sacrist of the church of Durham of the one part and Robert of Merrington barker of the other attests that the said John sacrist grants and at farm demises to the said Robert a certain tenement with its appurtenances in Framwelgate in Durham, lying between the tenement once of William of Sheraton of the one part and the tenement once of John Fulmard of the other, to have and to hold the said tenement with all its appurtenaces to the said Robert from the feast of Pentecost A.D. 1410 as long as a term of 15 years then next following fully complete, rendered for it annually to the said sacrist and his successors 12s. of silver at two terms of the year, namely at the feasts of St Martin in the winter and Pentecost, by equal portions, and satisfying every year to the lord bishop and the borough of Durham all burden belonging to the said tenement; and if it should happen that the said rent of 12s. be behind after any term, unpaid in part or in whole, for 40 days, then it is licit for the said sacrist and his successors to distrain on the said tenement with its appurtenances and to retain the distrained things with him until over the said rent and its arrears, whatever they be, he shall be fully satisfied.
At this point the document diverges from the simplest norm, to take into account the decayed state of the property: 'Et predictus sacrista ad ingressum dicti Roberti dictum tenementum in coopertura reparabit Et predictus Robertus ad principium termini sui predicti de nouo edificabit infra dictum tenementum quamdam domum longitudine duarum copularum de Syles ad cuius edificacionem predictus sacrista et successores sui inuenient predicto Roberto meremium grossum et aliud meremium congruum predicte domui et quareram pro fundamento eiusdem et predictus Robertus cariagium et facturam eiusdem in omnibus sumptibus suis totaliter inueniet et adquiret' [view]. It was not unusual in the north-east of England to specify the size of a building in terms of the number of pairs of siles, the principal timber members used in its construction, see O.E.D.
The final, routine, clauses, concern Robert maintaining the property and leaving it in a sufficient state, binding himself, his heirs and executors to payment of the rent, and conclude with the sealing-clause 'partes predicte partibus huius indenture sigilla sua alternatim apposuerunt' [view]. As was common by this date the scribe saw no need to write any description of the document along the line of the indenting cuts.
The drafting of the document, or that on which it was modelled, is quite sophisticated in its Latinity: although there is no accusative-and-infinitive construction in the second line, following "testatur", there is one in the seventh line, following "contingat" with the future infinitive "fore" absolutely correct, where a less accomplished draftsman might have chosen a "quod" construction, while in line nine there is a fine example of "si que" for "if any", again used absolutely correctly.