A fine was a final concord or amicable agreement putting to an end litigation, either actual or fictitious, and acknowledging lands to be the rights of one of the parties. By the fourteenth century these final concords before the royal justices became the standard instrument for the transfer of land between freeholders. The proceedings were heard in various courts, most notably by justices in eyre, as well as in the central court of common pleas. For convenience of reference, the publications listed below include final concords from all courts, predominantly, though not exclusively from the eyres.
Records of fines occur as early as 1175. The earliest fine preserved in the National Archives dates from 1182, and the series is almost unbroken from the reign of Richard I to the year 1834. Fines were recorded in a series of four documents; the writ of covenant, the concord or actual agreement signed, the note of the fine which was a copy of the concord, and the foot and indentures of the fine made out in triplicate on the same piece of parchment and divided, the foot being retained by the court official, and the others given to the two parties. The feet of fines are arranged in the Public Record Office by county, while the concords and notes of fines are arranged chronologically.
Many of the final concords made in eyres have been printed in full or in abstract.
The printing of the final concords arranged by county was begun by J. Hunter for the Record Commission in 1935, (25) but only two volumes were published, covering Bedfordshire to Dorset. The work of publishing the early fines was then undertaken by the Pipe Roll Society, and all the chronologically arranged fines down to 17 John have now been printed (Pipe Roll Society, vols.17, 20, 12, 24, n.s., 27 and 32).
The fines of many counties have also been published in full, or calendared by local societies. Several of the main examples have been listed below, but in addition, records have been published for the following counties: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devonshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancaster, Northumberland and Durham, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, and Wiltshire. In addition the online site, Medieval Genealogy maintains a database of searchable abstracts of feet of fines that presently covers the years 1360-1509. It includes a list of published editions, arranged by county, at http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/counties.shtml
25. Hunter, Joseph, ed. Fines, Sive Pedes Finium: Sive Finales Concordiae in Curia Domini Regis: Ab Anno Septimo Regni Regis Ricardi I. Ad Annum Decimum Sextum Regis Johannis, A.D. 1195-A.D. 1214. 2 Vols. London: Printed by G. Eyre and A. Spottiswoode, 1835-1844.