Signifies a deed or public instrument in writing.
Chirographs were anciently attested by the subscription and crosses of witnesses; afterwards, to prevent frauds and concealments, deeds of mutual covenant were made in a script and rescript, or in a part and counterpart; and in the middle, between the two copies, they drew the capital letters of the alphabet and then tallied, or cut asunder in an indented manner, the sheet or skin of parchment, one of which parts being delivered to each of the parties were proved authentic by matching with and answering to one another. Deeds thus made were denominated syngrapha by the canonists because that word, instead of the letters of the alphabet, or the word chirographum, was used. This method of preventing counterfeiting, or of detecting counterfeits is now used by having some ornament or some word engraved or printed at one end of certificates of stocks, checks and a variety of other instruments which are bound up in a book, and after they are executed, are cut asunder through such ornament or word.
Chirograph is also the last part of a fine of land, commonly called the foot of the fine. It is an instrument of writing beginning with these words: 'This is the final agreement,' etc. It includes the whole matter, reciting the parties, day, year and place, and before whom the fine was acknowledged and levied.
A word derived from the Greek, which signifies 'a writing with a man's hand.' A chirographer is an officer of the English court of C. P. who engrosses the fines and delivers the indentures of them to the parties, etc.