deed – a written instrument conveying real property or an interest therein

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n. (bef. 12c)

1. A written instrument by which land is conveyed.

2. At common law, any written instrument that is signed, sealed, and delivered and that conveys some interest in property.  See special contract and contract under seal under CONTRACT.— aka (in senses 2 and 3) evidence of title.  Cf. CONVEYANCE; BILL OF SALE. — deedvb. [1]

1. Broadly defined, a writing sealed and delivered by the parties; in the modern sense, an instrument conveying real property or an interest therein.  23 Am J2d Deeds § 1. [2]

1. A document by which real property, or an interest in real property, is conveyed from one person to another.

2verb. To transfer or convey by deed. [3]

     Excerpt from Henry Finch’s Law, or a Discourse Thereof (1759):

     A deed is a writing sealed and delivered.  For if either a parchment without writing be delivered as one’s deed, yet it is not his deed, though an obligation be afterwards written in it: or if it be a writing but not sealed at the time of the delivery of it as his deed, it is a scrole and not his deed.   Or if l make and seal a deed, and the party take it without my delivery, I may plead it is not my deed. [4]

     Excerpt from Ray Andrews Brown’s The Law of Personal Property (2d ed. 1955):

     “What then is a deed?   Unfortunately the word is not free from ambiguity.  In the original and technical sense a deed is a written instrument under the seal of the party executing it.  Because, however, of the wide use of such instruments in the conveyance of real estate, it has come to mean in popular acceptance any formal conveyance for the transfer of land or of an interest therein.  The dual use of the term has crept into the language of courts and law writers, so that in the reading of cases it is difficult to determine whether the word is used in the first and original sense, or whether it connotes a formal instrument of the type ordinarily employed for the conveyance bf land. [5]

     Excerpt from Gerald Dworkin’s Odgers’ Construction of Deeds and Statutes (5th ed. 1967):

     “All deeds are documents, but not all documents are deeds.  For instance, a legend chalked on a brick wall, or a writing tattooed on a sailor’s back may be documents but they are not deeds. A deed is, therefore, a particular kind of document. It must be a writing and a writing on paper or its like, e.g., vellum or parchment.  Any instrument under seal is a deed if made between private persons. It must be signed, sealed, and delivered. A deed must either

(a) effect the transference of an interest, right or property, or
(b) create an obligation binding on some person or persons, o
(c) confirm some act whereby an interest, right, or property has already passed.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: Henry Finch, Law, or a Discourse Thereof 108 (1759).

[5]: Ray Andrews Brown, The Law of Personal Property 5 46, at 11819 (2d ed. 1955).

[6]: Gerald Dworkin, Odgers’ Construction of Deeds and Statutes 1 (5th ed. 1967).


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