Sasines - Background Information and Methodology
Sasines are the records of land & building ownership. They record land sales, loans secured over the land, repayments of loans, annuities created, restrictions on the land use, etc. Historic sasines are held by the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Printed Abridgements - concise summaries of the transactions - were made to enable local access. The Fife abridgements, from 1781 - 1947, were available in the library in Cupar. Those for the whole of Scotland can now be searched on computer, in person, in Edinburgh. The Abridgements have the bare facts about a land or property transaction. There are much, much fuller details in the actual sasine itself.
From the point of view of local history of the area, I copied the Abridgements from 1782 to April 1894 (for Newport) and to December 1896 (for Wormit) . There are a few earlier and a few later.
I didn't copy the abridgements completely, but took abbreviated notes from them. They are presented here 'as is', any errors are mine. I have linked these to actual locations wherever possible. No doubt some entries are missing, but I believe I have almost all of them. Entries concerning the large estates (Tayfield, St Fort, Scotscraig, etc) were not copied in any detail and, indeed, many have been omitted. Altogether I copied over 2700 abridgements. In time, they will all appear here.
Although most of this information is from the printed Sasine Abridgements, a few full sasines were also consulted for more detail.
All the 2741 entries I noted can be searched here.
As an example, there is an abridgement in 1826, no. 2901, registered on 1 Feb 1826, which creates 2 plots and is in the database as follows:
|1826.02901||David Gibb, presently residing at Maryton seised 42 falls 17 ells & 40 falls 4 ells grnd, pt of lands of Seacraig in village called Maryton on feu ch by Robert Dalgleish of Scotscraig, 16 Jan 1826. PR.147.14||Scotscraig to David Gibb||1 Feb 1826||151, 97, 250||sasine extract|
For each entry, I gave the abridgement a reference - 1826.02901 (first 4 figures for the year of registering, decimal part for the number of the abridgement); then come the abbreviated notes of the printed abridgement; then I summarised the transaction even further 'Scotscraig to David Gibb'; I gave the full date of registering in Edinburgh '1 Feb 1826'; then plot ID numbers (if the location can be ascertained); and if there is an extract from the full sasine, it is noted here.
This transaction refers to 2 plots of land. For each one, I have given it a plot ID number (of no significance whatsoever) and where possible have located the plot on a map. Clicking the link to 'view the plot details' will take you to a page showing the location of the plot and any other transactions connected with the plot. Present-day addresses have also been linked there. In addition, since every plot is created out of another, larger plot (in this case the area known as Maryton or Marytown), I have created a plot ID number and map for that larger area as well.
|97||Maryton||lot 3||42 falls 17 ells||in N most street of Maryton||view plot details|
|151||Maryton||lot 17||40 falls 4 ells||in the middle street of Maryton||view plot details|
|250||Maryton||whole area||view plot details|
For this abridgement, I also accessed the full sasine - which gives much more detailed information as well the names of witnesses.
|Extract from full sasine:|
|Cupar 1 Feb 1826 … to David Gibb presently residing at Maryton … in presence of David Gray servant to Thomas Honeyman, innkeeper at Maryton … from … Robert Dalgleish Esq in favour of David Gibb … that part of the lands of Seacraig belonging to him plots 3 and 17 on the plan of the ground feued out by the deceased William Dalgleish to form a village called Maryton & made out by David Neave, architect Dundee … no. 3: 42 falls 17 ells Scotch measure, no. 17: 40 falls 4 ells; no. 3 bounded by lot no. 4 of said plan on the E, by a cart road 25' breadth on the S, by lot no. 2 on the W, by a cart road 30' broad on the N; no. 17 bounded by lot no. 18 on the E, a cart road of 24' breadth on the S, by lot no. 16 on the W, and a road of 25' on the N; … one half of the road is included in the measurements of the ground … reserving always to Robert Dalgleish the full & exclusive property of the Seabraes betwixt the northmost road or street and the river Tay with liberty to build thereon so as not to obstruct the said vassals lights, but the vassal shall have the use of the braes for the purpose of taking water there from & bleaching clothes thereon … to make up pavements; … not to block pavements … in presence of … John Thomson groom to the said Thomas Honeyman, innkeeper at Maryton … PR 147/14, RS 32/147/14|
The Plot Pages
Example: Plot ID 160 - Maryton lot 1
A sasine plot is part of a hierarchical structure, being created out of a larger plot and having sub-plots created from it. On the page of information about the plot there are
- usually a photo and a map showing its location, the map also shows sub-plots
- details about the plot - the feuing area it is part of, its size and the properties built on it
- a link to the larger plot from which it was created
- links to sub-plots created from it, with descriptions and giving the properties built on them
- a link to any properties remaining on the site which are not part of sub-plots
- the sasine abridgements for the plot, in reverse order - oldest last
- an alphabetical list of all names mentioned in the sasine abridgements
To get to an individual property via the sasines, you will have to go down the hierarchy of plots and sub-plots until you reach the bottom level, by selecting 'sub-plots created from this plot' each time.
For example, to get to 20 Kilnburn: start at the 19th century feuing areas & estates map --> Kilnburn field (plot 253) --> Plot 441 (26-30 Cupar Rd, 16-20 Kilnburn) --> Plot 448 (30 Cupar Rd, 16-20 Kilnburn) --> Plot 460 (18-20 Kilnburn) --> 20 Kilnburn
Once the property page has been reached, it is possible to go back up the hierarchy of plots by selecting the plot (under 'Early Sasines' at the foot of the page) and then selecting 'Larger plots from which this one is created' right back up to Kilnburn Field.
Most of these are for taking out and paying back loans (mortgages), sales of the property, inheritance of the property, the transfer of the property or the loans to trustees / executors, selling a loan on to another party, restrictions placed over the buildings or property, plus a few less frequent reasons. The wording in the abridgements varies. For example:
|Transaction||Date||Abridgement text||Explanation||link to plot|
|Loan secured on the property||pre-1869 (lender first, property owner last)||Peter Geekie gets bond & disp £350 by George Just over 27 falls 33 ells & ho etc t/on, part of croft of Broadhaugh||The owner of the property (George Just) gets a loan of £350 from Peter Geekie, secured over the property - 27 falls 33 ells and house etc, part of the croft of Broadhaugh.--- gets bond & disp £350 by = receives an obligation to repay £350 ( + interest not stated) using the property as security||1850.03286|
|Loan secured on the property||from 1869 (property owner first, lender last)||Bond £500 & disp by James Brown builder to Isabella Stewart / Malcolm, Lochee, widow, of pce grnd & dw ho, the 2nd south from Wester Bogie Place, on E side of Kilnburn Place, 28' frontage, pt of 252.33 pol of Kilnburn Field||The owner of the property (James Brown, builder) gets a loan of £500 from Isabella Stewart or Malcolm, Lochee, widow, secured over the property - a piece of ground & dwelling house, the 2nd south from Wester Bogie Place, on the east side of Kilnburn Place, with a 28' frontage on the street, part of a bigger plot of 252.33 poles of the Kilnburn Field.--- bond £500 & disp by J B = J B gives an obligation to repay £500 ( + interest not stated) using the property as security||1880.06421|
Abbreviations in the notes
t/on - thereon; t/p - turnpike; dw - dwelling; ho - house; pt - part; pce - piece; grnd - ground; bldg - building; Tr/Trs - Trustee/Trustees; ... - words omitted; pol - poles; yd - square yards; : - bounded
A guide to old Scots legal terms is very useful. This is a good online Scottish Legal Glossary.
The Small Print
A few cautionary notes:
- the date of registering is of necessity later than the date of the actual transaction on the ground, which again is later than the date of the original documents authorising the transaction (16 Jan 1826 in the case at the top of the page)
- in some instances many years can elapse between the creation of the original document and the recording of the sasine
- the date of a sasine is no indication of the date of any building on the property
- I have found the printed abridgements to be 'economical', confusing and inaccurate (in terms of the descriptions of the properties concerned); this becomes apparent as you try to follow the transactions through, or read the full sasine
- I have abridged the Abridgements
- my knowledge of the legal terms has grown considerably, but there will be times when I have misunderstood a transaction; the lack of punctuation in the abridgements can make things very difficult to follow at times
- remember I am doing this from a local historian's point of view, not that of a property lawyer
- on the plot and property pages, the transactions are listed in reverse order - newest first, earliest last; and there may be occasional gaps in the listings
- the maps are indicative only and should be treated as such
- usually, unfortunately, I didn't note down the reference of the full sasine; if you need to follow it up, you will need to access the abridgement and note the reference number given at the end of the extract (in the abridgement at the top of the page, I did note it down: PR.147.14)
- present-day street addresses are not given in any of the sasine entries and cannot be searched for; I have added them as links; if you know the present-day address, access the information, if any, from the list of present-day addresses
- the abridgements and transactions on the large estates (Tayfield, St Fort, Scotscraig, etc.) are long, verbose and complex; I have noted the place names and the bare bones of some of the abridgements, but for others I have skipped over or omitted them entirely; they are not my main interest