21 B.U. L. Rev. 281 (1941)
The Beginnings of the Recording System in Massachusetts

handle is hein.journals/bulr21 and id is 285 raw text is: THE BEGINNINGS OF THE RECORDING SYSTEM
The recording of deeds, mortgages, leases and instruments of sale has
become in the course of years a significant auxiliary to the law of real
and personal property. As a means of providing security to the buyer,
or the creditor, it has become an essential part of much business trans-
acted in writing. Yet its history, for which the sources lie chiefly in
statute and decision, remains to be written; its origins, which are
primarily American and antedate the earliest English registration acts,
have never been      systematically  explored.'    Over thirty   years ago
Professor Beale wrote a short but suggestive paper on the early history
of recording   in  this country;2 but the article has been noticeably
neglected and since then the subject has received scant attention.8 As an
important chapter in American legal history, certain aspects of the
subject merit reexamination, others, further consideration and study.
With the general history of the recording system in the United States,
its extension, and the interpretation of recording acts, we are not here
*A.B., Harvard, 1935. Henry Fellow, Merton College, Oxford University, 1935-
1936. Member, The Society of Fellows, Harvard, 1936 to date. Lowell Lecturer,
Lowell Institute of Boston, 1939. Lecturer in history and sociology, Harvard,
1938-1939. Special Student, Harvard Law School, 1939 to date. Author: The
Statute of York and the Interest of the Commons (1935); Petitions of Repre-
sentatives in Parliament, 53 English Historical Review (1938) ; Francis Accur-
sius, 54 Law Quarterly Review (1938) ; The King's High Court of Parliament,
24 History (1940) ; also other articles, notes and reviews in English and American
legal and historical journals.
'Misapprehensions on the matter are responsible for curious statements in judges'
opinions and in law review articles. Thus, A. G. Reeves, Progress in Land Title
Transfer, 8 Columbia Law Review (1908), 441: The prevalent American method
of recording all instruments of conveyance, mortgages and other liens, in such
manner as to make them constructive notice to subject purchasers . . . and to give
priority of right to priority of record in favor of him who has taken title without
notice of outstanding claims, may be said to have begun in Anglo-Saxon law with
the statute of enrollment of deeds of bargain and sale, in 1535. This, as will
appear, is not close to the truth. The chief way in which England has affected
American recording statutes directly seems to have been through the statute of
fraudulent conveyances; cf. J. Hanna, The Extension of Public Recordation, 31
Columbia Law Review (1931), 620.
'J. H. Beale, The Origin of the System of Recording Deeds in America, 19
Green Bag (1907), 335-339.
'But see the survey of the subject in New York, S. G. Nissenson, The Develop-
ment of a New York Land Registration System, 20 New York History (1939),
16-42, 161-188. The problem is adverted to by R. B. Morris, Studies in the History
of American Law (New York, 1930), pp. 69-73, but there is little advance on Beale.
On the other hand, see the important remarks by J. Goebel, Jr., King's Law and
Local Custom in Seventeenth Century New England, 31 Columbia Law Review
(1931), 446-447.

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