Peppercorn Rents

"the yearly rent is five shillings plus one pepper corn at the feast of St. Michael the Arch Angel only if lawfully demanded "

What does this mean???

Peppercorn rents originated during the Middle Ages in Britain. When a piece of property was deeded over as a reward for good service (or because the tenant was a favorite of the overlord) a nominal rent was charged as a reminder that the tenant didn't own it outright. A single peppercorn (or a single rose i.e. rose rents) was among the most popular forms of this style of "quit rent" but there were various other curious forms of payment, such as a frog, a roast pork dinner or the donation of a petticoat to a poor woman.

The Feast of St. Michael or Michaelmas (September 29) is one of the standard days for paying rent or settling debts.

There are three terms in the academic year at University of Oxford: Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. Michaelmas term begins on or about the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel.

In the Azores, islands in the Atlantic Ocean there are numerous paintings of St. Michael in Catholic churches. In religious art he is usually depicted with a sword and is often shown administrating the passage of souls from purgatory to heaven.

That the Feast of St. Michael is quite ancient is attested to by the numerous churches dedicated to him throughout Europe.

We should not forget that, although most of our early English immigrant ancestors were protestants, many of them followed a liturgical tradition in which saints were venerated (not worshipped) as a matter of course.

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Created March 26 2001
Updated April 24, 2006
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