A recognizance is an obligation of record entered into generally, but not necessarily, in a criminal case, before some court of record or magistrate duly authorized, with condition to do some particular act; as, for instance, to appear at court as a witness, or for trial, to keep the peace, or to pay a debt.9
It is often said that the seal imports a consideration, but, as we shall see, this is incorrect. At common law the question of consideration is altogether immaterial. The form alone gives the contract its validity.10
All contracts under seal are called "deeds" or "specialties." We generally use the term "deed" as applying to conveyances of land, but it applies as well to all contracts under seal. Particular contracts under seal, deeds, or specialties are: (1) Grants or conveyances of land, in which the parties are called respectively "grantor" and "grantee;" (2) bonds, which are obligations conditioned upon the payment of money, or the doing or forbearance from doing some act, the parties to a bond being called respectively "obligor" and "obligee;" and (3) covenants, which are agreements between two or more persons, entered into by deed - that is, under seal whereby one or more of them promises the other or others the performance or nonperformance of certain acts, or that a given state of things does or shall or does not or shall not exist, the parties being called respectively "covenantor" and "covenantee."
8 Jones v. Williams, 13 Mees. & W. 628. See "Judgment," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 900; Cent. Dig. § 1719.
9 Black, Law Diet. tit. "Recognizance;" 2 Bl. Comm. 341. It is not signed by the party entering into it. People v. Barrett, 202 111. 287, 67 N. E. 23, 63 L. R. A. 82, 95 Am. St. Rep. 230. See "Recognizance," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 1; Cent. Dig. §§ 1-19.
10 Leake, Cont. 76.