Re: Help with signatures - Steven Coker
Subject: Re: Help with signatures
From: Steven Coker
Date: May 24, 1999

Lee Adair wrote:
> Are signatures in the county Deed books originals or copies ....

Like today, the property owner keeps the original document.  The mortgage
company holds the deed to a house until the mortgage is paid off.  The lender
holds the title to a car until the car loan is paid in full.  After the mortgage
or loan is paid off, then the deed or title passes into the hands of the person
who bought the house or car.  The government maintains a register of the
conveyances of the property, but the register is not the original deed or
original title, it is a copy.

The "deed" that was recorded in the Register of Mesne Conveyances was a copy and
not the original document.  Copies are not always perfect or correct in every
detail - especially in spelling.  If you find the original of such documents you
may discover important differences from the recorded version.  

A very interesting and important difference is that the original documents often
contained the wax seal impressions made by persons who signed.  The recorded
copies merely indicate that a seal or mark was used.  The wax seals that people
used were as distinctive as a signature.  The seal was often a representation of
the armorial bearings of the person.  If you can find and get a good photograph
of such a wax seal impression, then you might be able to find it among the
various armorial registers in Europe.  That could be an excellent proof.

I've been told that sometimes when a person died, their seal would be broken and
placed in their grave.  I've also heard that sometimes the seal would be passed
on as an inheritance.  I haven't verified either of these traditions as fact. 
But, they both seem reasonable and logical to me.  Burying the seal with the
deceased would seem likely to me as a European tradition which might have
carried on in some early generations in America.  Obtaining new seals would
probably have been more difficult in America. So it seems logical that the
tradition might have changed to pass the seal on rather than destroying it.  

If the seals were buried with the deceased, then perhaps someday archaeology may
allow us to find and study some of these lost treasures.  So, the proof may be
buried in the woods, or the fields, or even under concrete or pavement
somewhere.  Just waiting for the day when an archaeologist digs it up.  Unless a
bulldozer gets it first.

Last year I examined the recorded version of the original 1691 deed of sale for
"Lott 90 in the original Draught of Charles Town" made by Mary Brigaud to
Maturin and Francis Guerin.  Lot 90 is on Meeting Street located at the site now
occupied by the Federal Judicial Center next to the Post Office in Charleston. 
On the 1725 Platt of Town lots and accompanying list of grantee's, lot 90 was
listed as having originally been granted to Henry Hughes on March 23, 1681. 
John Ladson is listed as granted lot 90 on May 10, 1695.  The "French Church" is
listed with Lots 93 and 94 which face onto King Street and which are immediately
behind Lot 90. The French Huguenot Church was later built on the corner of Queen
and Church Streets.

The original 1691 deed contains the wax seal impressions of my ancestors Mary
Brigaud, Isaac DuBose, and Susana DuBose.  It also contains the seal of Susana's
brother Peter Couillandeau.  Peter's seal is significantly damaged.  But, the
other three are largely intact and considerable detail of the impressions can be
discerned, with careful study.  There are differences I observed between the
original document and the recorded copy found in the State Archives.  A few of
these are itemized here.

1. The original shows Peter Couillandeau signed his name where the transcribed
Archives copy indicates he made a mark.

2. The original shows the spelling DuBosq in places where the transcribed
Archives copy shows DuBose.

3. The original shows the spelling Susana DuBosq in a place where the
transcribed Archives copy shows it as Susanna Dubose.

4. The original shows the spelling of names as Maturin Guerin, Francis Guerin,
Houry Hughs, Isaac Mazicq, and Peter Poinset.  Whereas the transcribed Archives
copy shows these as Martin Guerin, Ffrancis Guerin, Henry Heughes, Isaac Mazicy,
and Peter Poynsett.

5. The original shows the name Selies biset as a witness.  This name is omitted
on the transcribed Archives copy.

Also See[email protected][email protected]

Hope that helps,

Steve Coker
[email protected]

==== SCROOTS Mailing List ====

Go To:  #,  A,  B,  C,  D,  E,  F,  G,  H,  I,  J,  K,  L,  M,  N,  O,  P,  Q,  R,  S,  T,  U,  V,  W,  X,  Y,  Z,  Main