A man of property in Kensington Place

Photo:29 Kensington Place

29 Kensington Place

Photo by Henry Bruce

History in our house deeds

By Bobbie Cheesman, North Laine resident

A lot of history can be found in the deeds of North Laine properties. Here is an interesting extract from the deeds of my property:

"Memorandum of an agreement made the 25th day of March 1830 between JOHN FIELD of Brighthelmstone in the County of Sussex, builder, of the one part and MICHAEL SMITH of the same place, bricklayer, of the other part, as follows:-

The said John Field for himself, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns agrees to grant and execute unto the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators and assigns and the said MICHAEL SMITH for himself, his executors, administrators and assigns agrees to accept and take a good and valid lease of all that piece of ground situate in the 3rd furlong, north laine in Brighthelmstone aforesaid containing from north to south 30 feet and from east to west 49 feet.

And which said piece of ground is part of 12 pauls of land formerly let by Thomas Attree and Edward Dudeney and is now assigned to the said JOHN FIELD and abuts to a piece of ground and messuage thereon erected in the tenure of Anthony Sheply Greene on the north to a piece of land let or agreed to be let to …..[blank] on the west, on the south to part of 8 pauls formerly Quinalls on the west and to a piece of ground, the use is herein after granted to the said MICHAEL SMITH on the east together with the free and sole use of a piece of ground lying in front of the aforesaid piece of ground containing from north to south 30 feet and from east to west 13 feet as and for front courts and the messuages intended to be built on the said first mentioned piece of ground upon condition that no erection or building shall be erected or built thereon and that the same be enclosed by a wall and fence similar to the other front courts adjoining or near thereto.

And also the use of a road 12 feet wide leading from the leakway between the 2nd and 3rd furlongs to the leakway between the 3rd and 4th furlongs in the north laine aforesaid.

To hold the same with the appurtenances unto the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators and assigns from the 25th day of March instant for the term of 70 years at and under the yearly rent of £6 payable half yearly.

And it is hereby agreed that such lease shall contain all the usual and customary covenants in building leases of land in Brighthelmstone aforesaid and particularly covenants on the part of the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators and assigns to pay the said rent and all the rates, taxes and outgoings to be charged upon or for or in respect of the said premises agreed to be demised during the said term hereby agreed to be granted to build upon the said piece of ground hereby agreed to be let within 2 years from the day of the date hereof, two good and substantial messuages of the value each of £150 and also to keep the same messuages when built in good and substantial repair during the said term hereby agreed to be granted and to insure and keep the same insured against loss or damage by fire to the amount of one half at least of the cost price of the building thereof.

And a covenant on behalf of the said JOHN FIELD, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns to pay the original ground rent and to save harmless and keep indemnified the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators and assigns and his and their goods and chattels, lands and tenements therefrom and of from and against all actions, suits, distresses, damages, costs, charges and demands in respect thereof.

And also if required, to deliver an abstract of title to the said piece of ground hereby agreed to be let as freehold of inheritance thereof unto the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators or assigns for the sum of £100 or  of one half part thereof for the sum of £50 at any time within the first 5 years of the said term on receiving 6 calender months notice in writing and all rent up to the end of the then current half year, he the said MICHAEL SMITH, his executors, administrators or assigns paying every expense relative to the making out and verifying the title to the said premises hereby agreed to be demised (except the expense of preparing the abstract of title) and also paying all the expenses attending the conveying the said premises to him or them.

And lastly the same MICHAEL SMITH, for himself, his executors, administrators and assigns agrees to pay the expenses of the lease hereby agreed to be granted and of the counterpart thereof.

AS WITNESS the hand of the said parties: John Field; Michael Smith; Henry Saithforth (?) of Brighton."

[Note: The original Memorandum is without paragraphs but these have been added to the above to make it easier to read. Similarly all numbers and currency references in the original are written in words but are reproduced here in numerals. For those unsure about the meaning of the term ‘messuage’ from property law, the dictionary defines it as: “a dwelling house together with its outbuildings, curtilage, and the adjacent land appropriated to its use”.]

The will of Michael Smith, builder and occupier (from the deeds of 29 Kensington Place)

I also found the will of Michael Smith among my deeds. He was the person who built the house and in addition, as can be seen from various bequests in his will below, several others.

This is the last will and testament of me, Michael Smith of Brighton in the County of Sussex, bricklayer, made this fourth day of January, one thousand eight hundred and fifty five. I resign my body to its mother earth, my spirit to God who gave it and my soul to the son of God who redeemed it.

I give and bequeath to my dear wife Ann Smith all that dwellinghouse situate No 8 Frederick Street and two rooms with the furniture, first floor front room and back bedroom now in our occupation as long as she shall remain my widow. But in case of her again being married or at her death, the aforesaid dwellinghouse No.8 Frederick Street shall fall to Michael Smith, son of John Smith, and Michael Immanuel Smith, son of William Smith, for their use or disposal.

I also give and bequeath to my son John Smith, carpenter, all that dwelling house situate No 29 Kensington Place except that portion to be occupied by my wife during the life or during the time she remains my widow. But at the marriage or death of my said wife when John is in possession of the whole of the said house, he must give his brother William ten pounds to make his brother’s share equal to his own. I also give and bequeath to my son William Smith, coach painter, all that dwellinghouse situate No 28 Kensington Place.

I also give and bequeath unto my daughter Caroline Martin all that dwelling house situate No 9 Frederick Street for her sole use.

But in case of no money at my death, my executors Mr George Piper, tailor, of the one part and Ann Smith, my wife, of the other part shall take the rents of the houses before named to pay my funeral expenses until such time as the whole of the expenses attending my funeral shall have been paid, after which each one takes possession.

I also give and bequeath unto my daughter Caroline Martin all my kitchen furniture.

Signed: Michael Smith

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of: George Henry Piper and William Henry Webber.

Testator died 27th September 1860

Has anyone else found something of interest in their house deeds?

[Note: The original will is without punctuation or paragraphs but both have been added here for the sake of clarity.

These documents (the Memorandum of Agreement and the Will) were previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 181, July/August 2006 and No 182, September/October 2006.]


This page was added on 18/10/2010.

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