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PREPARING FOR A COMMON RECOVERY
(Charles, of Shaftesbury and Pall Mall)
Attested Copy of his Bargain and Sale
to make a Tenant to the Praecipe for suffering a Recovery of Premises in the County of Dorset, whereby Abbott 'sells' for 10 shillings a long list of properties in and near Shaftesbury to his solicitor Charles Fry of Lincoln's Inn, "in order to bar dock and destroy all Estates tail and all remainders and recoveries thereupon expectant or depending ... that the same [properties] may be limited and assured To such uses ... as are hereinafter mentioned", the chief properties are "Wilkins Hays ... 12 acres ... in the Parish of St. James near Shaston within the Liberty of ... Alcister [now Alcester] ... Horse Close ... 10 Acres ... Broad Close ... 20 acres ... And all the estate right title interest use ... whatsoever both at Law and Equity ... to the intent that the said Charles Fry may ... become a good and perfect Tenant of the immediate Freehold", whereupon another partner in the firm, Henry Vines, is to sue Charles Fry and obtain the properties by a Common Recovery for Charles Abbott's use and ultimate possession, 3 sides paper 16" x 12 7/8", title on 5th side, in the neat hand of John Springall, clerk to Messrs. Vernon, Vines & Fry, 6th November 1800, this copy 2nd February
original neat pin through top left corners
A 'common recovery' converted an 'estate in tail', burdened by conditions as to who might inherit, into an 'estate in fee simple', with absolute power to dispose of it.
A representative of the owner claimed in court that the estate was all along in fee simple, and that he (the representative) had been disseised of it by a fictitious Hugh Hunt within the past thirty years. A 'common vouchee', usually the court crier, next claimed, also untruthfully, that he had sold the lands to the present owner. Judgment was given for the representative, and against the common vouchee, who was supposed to give the present owner lands of equal value. As he was a 'man of straw', he never did. In this way the estate was conveyed to the representative, to be returned or disposed of by private arrangement.
In later recoveries 'with double voucher', as here, the present owner in tail previously conveyed the estate to a further representative, the "tenant to the praecipe" who was to "suffer the recovery". The latter called upon the owner in tail to warrant his possession, and the owner in tail called on the common vouchee.
The present document even spells out what is to happen in court when the Common Recovery takes place. This includes the role of the common vouchee. He "shall appear and imparl", that is, ask the court's permission to confer with the owner in tail outside the court, "and after imparlance had shall make default and depart in contempt of the Court", leaving the way open for judgment against him.
Common recoveries, designed to bind all parties and cover all loop-holes, were abolished in 1833, and replaced by a simple form of deed made by the owner.
The first Abbott to own Wilkins Hays was John Abbott, Mason, in 1723. Was he, like the builder, ancestor of the Forsytes, 'Superior Dosset'?
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