Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Need Some Help With a Deed

I’m reaching out to my fellow genealogists for some help with deed language.  As you may know from previous blog posts, I’m fairly new to land records.  Most of my immediate ancestors were urban folk who rented homes in Chicago, so land records were not a priority for me.  But as I continue researching the line that’s been in the United States since colonial times, land records are essential to my research.

I’ve begun my land research in Michigan, where my ancestors initially purchased land, in Oakland County, from the government in the early 1820s.  Of the deeds I’ve pulled so far, they contain the standard “boilerplate” information about the transaction.  They are then signed by the grantor(s), with witnesses listed.  But it seems that the ones where the wife is also a grantor, there is additional language recorded by a Justice of the Peace.  This is what I am having a hard time figuring out, what exactly this language means.  Following is an example of the language in question, that follows the signatures of the deed:

Territory of Michigan}
Oakland County} ss:  Be it remembered that on this seventh day of March A.D. 1831 before the subscriber a Justice of the Peace in and for the county aforesaid Came Robert Parks and Polly his wife to me personally knowing to be the persons within described and who executed the within deed and severally acknowledges that they executed it for the uses and purposes therein mentioned—And the said Polly being by one examined seperate and apart from her husband acknowledges that she executed the within deed freely and voluntarily without any threats fear or compulsion of her said husband or any other person.

The portion in red is the part I don’t fully understand.  Why was it necessary to do this, and what exactly does it mean?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!



Thomas MacEntee said...

This has to do with Polly Parks status as a femme covert


From: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/acknowledgment

30. Illinois. Before a judge or justice of the supreme or district courts of the United States, a commissioner authorized to take acknowledgments, a judge or justice of the supreme, superior or district court of any of the United States or territories, a justice of the peace, the clerk of a court of record, mayor of a city, or notary public; the last three shall give a certificate under their official seal.
31. The certificate must state that the party is known to the officer, or that his identity has been proved by a credible witness, naming him. When the acknowledgment is taken by a justice of the peace of the state, residing in the county where the lands lie, no other certificate is required than his own; when he resides in another county, there shall be a certificate of the clerk of the county commissioners court of the proper county, under seal, to his official capacity.
32. When the justice of the peace taking the acknowledgment resides out of the state, there shall be added to the deed a certificate of the proper clerk, that the person officiating is a justice of the peace.
33. The deed of a feme covert is acknowledged before the same officers. The certificate must state that she is known to the officer, or that her identity has been proved by a witness who must be named; that the officer informed her of the contents of the deed; that she was separately examined; that she acknowledged the execution and release to be made freely, voluntarily, and without the compulsion of her husband.
34. When the husband and wife reside in the state, and the latter is over eighteen years of age, she may convey her lands, with formalities substantially the same as those used in a release of dower; she acknowledges the instrument to be her act and deed, and that she does not wish to retract.
35. When she resides out of the state, if over eighteen, she may join her husband in any writing relating to lands in the state, in which case her acknowledgment is the same as if she were a feme sole. Ill. Rev. L. 135-8; 2 Hill Ab. 455, 6.

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Thanks, Thomas!

Miriam said...

Yeah, what Thomas said. This was pretty standard "boilerplate" language, too. It has to do with the way things were in those days; women had few rights, one of which was to own a share in their husband's land. It was to protect her from having her share of their land sold without her permission.

Michael Hait said...

...or with her coerced permission.

GrannyPam said...

Wow, a huge explanation from Thomas. This wording is very standard, and I find it on every early Michigan deed under which our married male ancestors sold land. I have always thought of it as signing off of dower rights. It seems to give a clear title to the purchaser.

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Pam, I wondered about dower rights as well, which is one of the reasons I asked. I'm glad to hear that similar verbiage is found in your MI deeds as well.

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