From the Turf and Twig, Livery of Seisin Ceremony.
|Spencer-Pierce Farm which was conveyed by Turf and Twig.|
"This deponent saith that about the yeares 1651 or fifty-two I was at the farm y’ Mr. John Spencer sold to Mr. Daniell Peirce in Newbury, and Mr. Spencer and Mr. Peirce with myselfe and another, I suppose it was Mr. William Thomas, and, as we were going through the land of ye said farme, Mr. Pierce said to Mr. Spencer you promised to give me possession by turfe and twigge. Mr. Spencer said soe I will, if you please to cutt a turff and twigge, and Mr. Pierce did cut off a twigge off a tree, and cutt up a turfe, and Mr. Spencer tooke the twigge and stuck it into the turff, and bid us beare witness that he gave Mr. Pierce possession thereby of the house and land and ffarme that he had bought of him, and gave the turff and twigge to Mr. Pierce and further saith not.
Taken upon oath 10 Jan. 1679.
JOHN WoooBRHXiE, Commissioner."
|William Penn Statue, New Castle Common, Delaware|
|Sealing of the Freeman's Purchase With the Presentation of Turf and Twig|
|1797 Early American Deed|
When conveyance was made by turf and twig the transfer was supplemented by a deed in the usual form, duly signed and recorded. Witnesses signed an affidavit attesting that they witnessed the deed of transferring the clump of dirt. And this, my friends, is the origin of the word deed! In colonial deeds and wills the term “seized” is frequently used to describe the land they are selling as something which they are“lawfully seized and possessed of,” or that someone “died seized” of a piece of property. Although some of the terminology from the Livery of Seisin exists today, the ancient ceremony became obsolete as literacy increased and only a written deed was deemed necessary. See the video below to observe how the turf and twig ceremony was performed.