Scriveners' Company Common Paper 1357-1628 With A Continuation To 1678. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1968.
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Justification to disregard article regarding names on deeds
First of all, we say that at the time when the said article was drawn up, the custom or the usage then was to write on each kind of deed and writing 'Dat' London' ' or 'Don' a Lonndres', except only charters of lands and tenements granted outside London which, however, were to have the date when the lands and tenements were granted; and a [ ?] plan was then worked out by the wise men of the kingdom, and it has always since been used to remove the date of the grants (fn. 1) in the majority of all kinds of deeds and writings with the intention of alleging the date of the grant when it will be more suitable for the party [ ?] bringing an action. And, in that the writing of our names must be contrary to this kind of alleging—in a case where the alleging will take place outside the region (fn. 2) where one of us lives—the aforesaid article, that we should put our names on each deed, was never used or carried out to our knowledge and, for that reason it seems, in our humble estimation, that the said article is neither effectual nor necessary to be used.
Item, many deeds are delivered by us to various people, unsealed in our presence and [we need not sign our names] because it is possible that in our absence someone might wish, for a fraudulent reason, to seal the deed in the name of another party to the deed, without the actual party knowing and, because of the writing of our names, we would be, called to vouch for the party who made the deceit, to testify to such wickedness done of which we could have no knowledge.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it could happen that someone, for a deceitful and fraudulent purpose, might wish to have a certain deed written in the name of another person, asserting that he is that person when in fact he is not and, in order to accomplish such fraud, he might wish to have the deed sealed in our presence, we knowing nothing of the deceit or the person; and afterwards it could happen that this kind of deed could be brought into court and [?] become the subject of litigation and, on the strength of the writing of our names, we could be called to vouch for the party who made the deceit before a judge, or other person, to testify to such fraud, in which case we could not know the truth concerning the identity of the person, or about the deceit.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it could happen, through deceit or through malice, that someone could forge our signatures on scurrilous and biased deeds [ ?] drawn up and written by other people, to our slander and disadvantage.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it could happen, through deceit or through malice, that someone might wish, in order to slander us, to erase a certain word in some deed written by one of us, and forge another word according to the sense of the same deed, in abuse of the deed and of he who wrote it, on account of the writing of his name there when he was not at all to blame.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it could happen that someone might wish to deny that a deed is his, when in fact it is his deed and was sealed in the presence of one of us; and in this matter we could be called, and required in court, to testify as to the truth before a judge, or other person, because of the writing of our name, and we would know very well about the truth and the testimonies; and notwithstanding this testimony as to the truth, it could be decided by contrived inquiry, or malicious informing, that it is not his deed when in fact it is, which verdict would be very slanderous and degrading to us and therefore to our detriment.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it could happen that our names are written on a certain deed, as in ordained by the above-mentioned article, and someone through malice and enmity might wish to erase and carefully remove the name to damage us or, alternatively, someone might wish, through his position of superior power, not to allow us to write our names on deeds written by us and so, by default of writing our names, we could incur the penalty ordained for this to our great damage and detriment.
Item [we need not sign our names because] it seems to us that our entire handwriting, and that of our servants, in each deed which is not to be counterfeited, is quite sufficient [to identify us] in that the handwriting of us and our servants is and will be well known among us at all times afterwards. [pp. 223–78 blank]