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The language in a deed

Reader Roger Newman had no issues with the measurements of land mentioned in yesterday’s blog.

tenementWhether land was measured in acres or arpens (or arpents) was something he could figure out.

But parsing through a deed and some of the language in it?

That’s another story.

“I see this sentence in the middle in (a) deed when (the buyer) purchased it (1878), mortgaged it and when he sold it (1887),” he wrote. “I don’t see this in any other deeds I have. What does it mean?”

The language:

“155.50 acres of land. Together with all and singular the tenements, hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging, or in anywise appertaining. To have and to hold the said…”

What it doesn’t mean, of course, is that there was a city sitting on those 155.5 acres. Tenements, in this context, won’t likely be the kind you see in the illustration.

Tenement, in a legal sense, “signifies everything that may be holden, provided it be of a permanent nature, whether it be of a substantial and sensible, or of an unsubstantial, ideal, kind. … offices, rents, commons, advowsons, franchises, peerages, etc.”1 So “‘Tenement’ is a word of greater extent than ‘land,’ including not only land, but rents, commons, and several other rights and interests issuing out of or concerning land.”2

Hereditaments are those things “capable of being inherited, be it corporeal or incorporeal, real, personal, or mixed, and including not only lands and everything thereon. … The term includes a few rights unconnected with land, but it is generally used as the widest expression for real property of all kinds, and is therefore employed in conveyances after the words ‘lands’ and ‘tenements,’ to include everything of the nature of realty which they do not cover.”3

And an appurtenance is something “which belongs to something else; an adjunct; an appendage; something annexed to another thing more worthy as principal, and which passes as incident to it, as a right of way or other easement to land; an out-house, barn, garden, or orchard …”4

In other words, by selling the land and “all and singular the tenements, hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging,” the seller was transferring to the buyer the land, any and all rights associated with the land, any and all buildings on the land — in other words, everything there was to sell.

And to have and to hold…? No, this wasn’t a marriage contact (“to have and to hold from this day forward as long as you both shall live”). It’s a “common phrase In conveyancing, derived from the habendum et tenendum of the old common law.”5 That habendum et tenendum stuff is just Latin for have and hold — and it’s nothing more than “(f)ormal words in deeds of land from a very early period.”6

Parsing through the language in a deed can be tough work, indeed… but it’s important to know just what was being sold: whether it’s some rights or all rights, some of the land or all of the land, can be the clue we need to reconstruct a family.


  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1160, “tenement.”
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., 568, “hereditaments.”
  4. Ibid., 83, “appurtenance.”
  5. Ibid., 563, “have and hold.”
  6. Ibid., 555, “habendum et tenendum.”
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