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The language of the law. Part Latin, part Anglo-Saxon, all confusing.

So in class this week at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), one of the documents the students are grappling with is a deed of sale and conveyance.

deed of trustSale and conveyance?


Makes perfect sense, right?

If, as The Legal Genealogist noted earlier this week, we use all the words like give and bequeath and devise to cover all the legal bases when we transfer property by will,1 it makes sense that we’d use all the legal terms we can when transfering property by deed.

So… what’s the difference between a sale and a conveyance? Why was it important to use one rather than another, and what bases were covered when someone used both terms anyway?

A sale, when it comes to property in a deed, denotes a transfer of title “where the price or consideration is … paid in money…”2

A conveyance, on the other hand, was a broader term: it included any “instrument in writing under seal, … by which some estate or interest in lands is transferred from one person to another; such as a deed, mortgage, etc.”3

So, to put it another way:

The main difference is that the Sale Deed transfers the legal title of property from one person to another in case of a sale, i.e. the first party actually sells the title of the property to the second party in return of a specific amount of money. However, in a Conveyance Deed, there is no such restriction. A Conveyance Deed can transfer the legal title of property from one person to another in case of a gift, an exchange, a lease (i.e. on a temporary basis), mortgage or other circumstances.4


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Bequeath or devise,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 20 July 2015 ( : accessed 23 July 2015).
  2. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1059, “sale.”
  3. Ibid., 273, “conveyance.”
  4. Difference between Sale Deed and Conveyance Deed,” ( : accessed 23 July 2015).
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