A Sasine Explained
Sasines follow a set form and a knowledge of what is contained in each section often makes it unnecessary to read the whole document. The following is an outline of the usual form of a sasine recorded in the general or particular register:
- In the heading, the date of registration is given and often a short summary in English of the lands concerned and the name of the person reseiving sasine (being infeft). The first paragraph then gives the date of writing the sasine (usually shortly before the date of registration), the names of the parties concerned in the transaction and a description of the lands being conveyed.
- Three parties then 'compear' (appear):
- the procurator (actornatus in Latin) appearing for the person who is being given sasine or sometimes this person may appear personally
- the bailie (ballivrus) representing the person who owns the land and is now passing it to someone else
- the notary public who is the officiating lawyer
- The procurator has in his hands the 'precept of sasine' which he reads aloud. This is the authorisation granted by the feudal superior of thre lands that the sasine should be given and again the lands to be conveyed are described. If the precept is described as 'a precept of clare constat', then the person being seised has had to prove that he has the right to inherit (via a Retour). In this section reference may be made to the fact that the lands are 'under reversion' showing that this is a case of a mortgage - on repayment of the loan, the lands will revert to the original owner, the lender then renouncing his rights to the property. The date of signing the precept is given - sometimes some considerable time before the registration of the sasine - and signed before witnesses. The names of the witnesses should always be noted as sometimes they are relatives of one of the parties concerned.
- Having recited yet again the terms of the sasine and the lands involved, sasine is then given by the notary to the new owner physically by the giving of earth and stone or other suitable symbols and by the registration of 'instruments' or legal documents. These proceedings are again witnessed, usually by a different set of witnesses whose names should be noted.
The most important parts of a sasine are:
- The description of the lands concerned, and the names of the giver and getter (in the first paragraph).
- The terms under which the lands are conveyed - by inheritance, purchase or as a security for a loan, (also in the first paragraph).
- The witnesses to the precept and the witnesses to the giving of sasine.
Reproduced from Tracing Scottish Ancestors, by Rosemary Bigwood, published by Collins, 1999.
Return to: Sasines