“Beating” or “Bumping the Bounds”


Have you ever heard the term “Beating the Bounds”? It was a rather weird, but practical way of remembering where property corners for a parcel of land existed and the process of passing that information along to successive generations.

A property corners “reputation” is a very important facet when determining the original corners of a particular tract of land. How do you perpetuate the reputation of a property corner? Well, you can apply the same question to keeping a story alive through the years…you repeat the importance of the topic and pass the information to successional generations so it “lives on”. There have been boundary court cases where the reputation of a property corner outweighed the factual and mathematical data which proved a corner in question was not positionally correct. Because the corner was accepted by the property owner and adjoining neighbors the reputation of the visible marker became the accepted property corner.

Beating the Bounds was an ancient custom in England and also in colonial New England in the United States where periodically communities hosted boundary related ceremonial events. During the event, a group of prominent citizens from the community, whether it was in an English Parish, New England Town, or other civil division, would walk the geographic boundaries of their locality for the purpose of maintaining the memory of the precise location of these boundaries. The “Beating” portion is where the event got interesting.

Below is a link to a site which has a fantastic article explaining the event of “Bumping the Bounds”.
Bumping the Bounds – Quirky Sussex History by Kevin Gordon