The Practical Location of Boundaries

Early in the development of the common law of conveyancing, as everyone knows, the practice of physically consummating a conveyance by acts on the land itself was abandoned in favor of the more flexible and convenient devices authorized or required by the Statute of Uses and the Statute of Frauds. Now we do it all on paper and consummate the transaction at any convenient place. One of the requirements of this process is to make clear what land is being conveyed. So we describe the land on paper in one of the several ways which have been approved for this purpose. The courts, with admirable liberality, have not specified that any particular sort of description is required, but only that it shall be possible, in some lawsuit brought for the purpose, for a court to decide, from the language used and perhaps from certain other extrinsic matter, just where the land described is located. But these more civilized refinements may have lost something of value which was of the essence of the cruder feoffment. And thereby hangs a tale which, by your leave, I mean to tell in this space.