Clare College Cambridge

August 2011 - Clare Lands

Similar to the other Cambridge Colleges, Clare would make a large proportion of its income through the management of any land that it owned. Although a large amount of land was given to the College in the 14th century upon its foundation by Elizabeth de Clare, much of the land subsequently acquired by the College through gifts from generous benefactors and as can be seen from the document below (ref: CCAD/3/3/21/1/9), the deeds created as part of the transfer of ownership of land were often quite elaborate. This particular document, dated 2nd August 1524, is an indenture from Philip Paris granting land to the Master and Fellows of Clare Hall (Clare College's title prior to 1856). Amongst the fellows to whom the indenture was addressed are Hugh Latimer, the famous Protestant martyr, Lancelot Ridley the 16th century theologian, and Nicholas Heath, later an Archbishop of York.

The document itself describes the grant of all property rights in Little Abington, Great Abington, Hildersham and Babraham owned by Philip Paris to Clare College and states that the money raised from the lands should be used by the College to endow a clergyman in Cambridge. It is also states that the money raised from the properties should be used to pay churchwardens in the churches in each of the four villages.

The most striking aspect of this document, however, has to be the great number of seals on the bottom of it. Each line of red wax seals is imprinted with the arms of each of the people mentioned in the document, proving that they had agreed to the terms of the document. The wavy line at the top of the document also shows that this is one of an identical pair of the same document, the other copy most likely being retained by Philip Paris for his own records. The idea behind this practice was in case there was any dispute over the terms of the indenture in future, the two documents could be put together to prove that they related to the same agreement.