CONVEYANCING. The act or art of pre paring the deeds or instruments used for the transference of property from one person to another. As such writings not only form the evidence of the right of the person pos sessing or claiming possession of property. but do in themselves constitute the title there to, it is of the greatest importance that the conveyancer employed to prepare them should be possessed of a competent knowledge of the law and have the skill required to frame them in such a form as clearly to express and attain the object intended. In the early stages of so ciety there is no call for the profession of a conveyancer; property is held in right of occu pancy. without any written title, and even lands are conveyed from one to another without writing, the new owner being usually put in possession in presence of witnesses called for the purpose, by some s:smbolical form, such as the delivery of earth and twigs.
In the early history of the .Jews, the symboli cal mode of transferring title prevailed (Ruth iv. 7). But they subsequently developed a much more artistic system of conveyancing, making use of all the safeguards that are used in modern times—viz, writing. witnesses, subscribing, seal ing. and recording the documents (Jer.
9-12). In Rome, as elsewhere, early trans fers of property, whether land or goods, were of a ceremonial character. Later, a distinction was made between property capable of transfer by a simpler process (res nee mancipi) mid such as could be effectually transferred only by the older and more formal method (ma mancipi). It was not until Justinian's reign that the distinction between the two classes of property was abol ished and a simple form of conveyance made sufficient for both.
Strictly speaking, the term conveyancing has no application to the various modes by which the title to chattels is transferred. These proc esses have almost always been of the simplest character, and do not even to-day usually call for expert knowledge or for elaborate writings to render them safe and effective. It is to the
feudal system of land tenures, and to the com plexities and refinements which it introduced into the simple notion of ownership. that we owe the difficulties and dangers which attend the transfer of title to land at the present time. As the feudal system nowhere exercised a stronger and more persistent influence than in England, so there is no country in Europe in which the con veyance of lands is as complicated and precarious an undertaking as it is in that country and in most of the United States. The number and variety of estates and other interests which may exist at one and the same time in the same parcel of land, and the diversity of circum stances under which these varied interests may arise, may be transferred and extinguished. have combined to make conveyancing one of the most technical and difficult branches of the work of the legal profession. In England it has resulted in the development of a special branch of lawyers who are known as conveyancers. In the United States the process of specialization has not gone so far as that, the business of conveyancing being still for the most part in the hands of the profes sion at large.
The process through which the conveyancer must go may be briefly described. He has first to make a careful search of the pnblit records and from these to prepare an ab stract (q.v.1 of the title to the land in question. Ile must then examine with the greatest care all of the documents consti tuting the chain of title, in order to de termine their validity and sufficiency. He will then be prepared to draw up the appropriate document to effect the transfer desired—which may be a deed of trust, a marriage settlement, a grant of the lands, or a last will and testament. In England, where no system of general regis tration of land titles is in force, the conveyancer has recourse to the original documents of title, which are carefully preserved and transferred with the land.