The Surrey Feet of Fines 1509–1558
An intriguing title, Feet of Fines! In reality the explanation is rather mundane – they are the records that were deposited in the Public Record Office from the long-abolished Court of Common Pleas, consisting of the lower part (the foot) of a document on which the ‘Fine’ or ‘Final Concord’ was written in triplicate on a single membrane of parchment, twice in the upper part with the writing parallel to the sides and once at the bottom across the membrane. The two upper sections were separated and went to the two parties involved in the dispute: the lower was lodged with the Court of Common Pleas. The judgements recorded related to the ownership of land and property in cases where there had been doubt, usually because of the absence of documents.
The physical form of the record had become fixed as early as July 1195 and remained unchanged down to the statutory abolition of Fines in 1833. Indexed copies of the Feet of Fines for the period 1509–1798 are held by the Public Record Office. Those for Surrey for the early part of that period have been published in Abstracts of Surrey Feet of Fines 1509–1558, volume 19 of the Surrey Record Society, 1946. The work was largely that of C.A.F. Meekings, an assistant keeper at the Public Record Office, who served on the Council of the Surrey Record Society and was responsible for a number of its publications. For the volume in question Meekings provided an introduction which set out the history of the Feet of Fines, and there is a preface by Mr. Hilary Jenkinson, who was Secretary of the Surrey Record Society, giving the background to the publication.
Local historians will ask, what is there relating to Epsom and Ewell in the volume? The index refers to five properties in Epsom and nine in Ewell, briefly summarised in the following where the fines are identified by a reference number, as given in the SRS publications, and the year.
667 1551 John Mynne v. Robert and Elizabeth Broke involving numerous
properties and more than 700 acres of land.
680 1552 Henry Goldyng v. Henry and Ursula Mynne involving the manor
of Rokesle (Shalford) which was in Ewell, as well as Epsom.
831 1555 Bartholomew Fromondys v. Joan Woodman, widow, involving
45 acres of land.
862 1556 Richard Wryght and Alexander Rutherforth v. Edward and Elizabeth Bavesdyke
involving a messuage and 70 acres of land.
988 1557 The Lord King (Henry VIII) v. John, Abbot of the Monastery and Convent of St. Peter
the Apostle, Chertsey, involving many manors and thousands of acres of land.
(This was the time of the dissolution of Chertsey Abbey)
6 1509 John Codyngton and Henry Saunder v. John and Margaret
Treglyston involving a messuage and garden in Ewell.
54 1514 John and Elizabeth Scotte v. Thomas and Alice Codyngton
involving the rent of the manor of Fenellys and its mill.
57 1514 Richard Plestowe and others v. Nicholas and Joan Major involving two messuages
and 9½ acres of land.
130 1527 Henry Wyat, kt, and others v. Robert and Elizabeth Draper
involving various properties and land, some in Ewell.
281 1538 Thomas Fromond v. Richard and Elizabeth Codyngton
involving various quantities of land, some in Ewell.
279 1539 Richard Bray, senior v. Richard Bray, junior, involving 36
acres of land.
757 1554 Richard Garth v. Edward and Agnes Whytchurche involving
the manor of Mordern including land in Ewell.
785 1555 Thomas Musrege v. Nicholas and Alice Venner involving a
messuage and three acres of land.
Abstracts of Surrey Feet of Fines 1509–1558 (Surrey Record Society 19, 1946).