S. E. Thorne, 'Livery of seisin' in idem, Essays in English Legal History (1985), 31-50.


In general, the dispositive words were in the past (perfect) tense, in the following forms:

The indication is thus that the giving and granting have already taken place and that only confirming is done by the charter. In short, the charter is assumed to have been evidentiary and not dispositive -- it records an action which has already taken place.

The putting into possession probably occurred by a symbolic livery, by a representative sod of earth, or placing an object on an altar in the case of gifts to religious houses, or in a public assembly. The charter simply allowed a more permanent record of what had occurred than the memory of witnesses (although that change was gradual).

In the early 12th century, however, the tense of the words is quite often the present: do et concedo.