Sivut kuvina

II. By alienation.

1. Alienation in mortmain.

munire. 5. Drawing a weapon on a judge, or striking any one in the presence of the king's principal courts of justice. 6. Popish recusancy, or non-observance of certain laws enacted in restraint of papists (2). But at what time they severally commence, how far they extend, and how long they endure, will with greater propriety be reserved as the object of our future inquiries.

II. Lands and tenements may be forfeited by alienation, or conveying them to another, contrary to law. This is either alienation in mortmain, alienation to an alien, or alienation by particular tenants: in the two former of which cases the forfeiture arises from the incapacity of the alienee to take, in the latter from the incapacity of the alienor to grant.

1. Alienation in mortmain, in mortua manu, is an alienation of lands or tenements to any corporation, sole or aggregate, ecclesiastical or temporal. But these purchases having been chiefly made by religious houses, in consequence whereof the lands became perpetually inherent in one dead hand, this hath occasioned the general appellation of mortmain to be applied to such alienations (b), and the religious houses themselves to be principally considered in forming the statutes of mortmain: in deducing the history of which statutes, it will be matter of curiosity to observe the great address and subtle contrivance of the ecclesiastics in eluding from time to time the laws in being, and the zeal with which successive parliaments have pursued them through all their finesses: how new remedies were (b) See Vol. I. pag. 479.

of petit treason, or murder, or of abet-
ting, procuring, or counselling the same,
shall extend to the disinheriting of any
heir, nor to the prejudice of the right
or title of any person or persons, other
than the right or title of the offender or
offenders, during his, her, or their na-
tural lives only; and that it shall be
lawful to every person or persons, to

whom the right or interest of any lands, tenements, or hereditaments, after the death of any such offender or offenders, should or might have appertained, if no such attainder had been, to enter into the same.

(2) The liberality, or rather the justice, of modern times, has abolished this ground of forfeiture.

to purchase

To enable them lands, corporations obtained main from the

licences of mort


[ *269 ]

still the parents of new evasions; till the legislature at last, though with difficulty, hath obtained a decisive victory. By the common law any man might dispose of his lands to any other private man at his own discretion, especially when the feodal restraints of alienation were worn away. Yet, in consequence of these it was always, and is still necessary (c), for corporations to have a licence in mortmain *from the crown, to enable them to purchase lands; for as the king is the ultimate lord of every fee, he ought not, unless by his own consent, to lose his privilege of escheats and other feodal profits (3), by the vesting of lands in tenants that can never be attainted or die. And such licences of mortmain seem to have been necessary among the Saxons, above sixty years before the Norman conquest (d). But, besides this general licence from the king, as lord paramount of the kingdom, it was also requisite, whenever there was a mesne or intermediate lord between the king and the alienor, to obtain his licence also, (upon the same feodal principles), for the alienation of the specific land. And if no such licence was obtained, the king or other lord might respectively enter on the land so aliened in mortmain as a forfeiture. The necessity of this licence from the crown was acknowledged by the constitutions of Clarendon (e), in respect of advowsons, which the monks always greatly coveted, as being the groundwork of subsequent appropriations (ƒ). Yet, such were the influence and ingenuity of the clergy, Evasion of this that (notwithstanding this fundamental principle) we find rule by the clerthat the largest and most considerable dotations of religious By: houses happened within less than two centuries after the conquest. And, (when a licence could not be obtained), their contrivance seems to have been this: that, as the forfei

(c) F. N. B. 121.

(d) Selden, Jan. Angl. 1. 2, s. 45. (e) Ecclesia de feudo domini regis non possunt in perpetuum dari, absque as

sensu et consensione ipsius. C. 2. A. D.

(f) See Vol. I. p. 384.

(3) See the 5th chapter of this volume, pp. 59 and 72.

ture for such alienations accrued in the first place to the immediate lord of the fee, the tenant who meant to alienate first conveyed his lands to the religious house, and instantly took them back again, to hold as tenant to the monastery; which kind of instantaneous seisin was probably held not to occasion any forfeiture: and then, by pretext of some other forfeiture, surrender or escheat, the society entered into those lands in right of such their newly-acquired signiory, as immediate lords of the fee. But, when these dotations began to grow numerous, it was observed that the feodal services, ordained for the defence of the kingdom, were every day visibly withdrawn; that the circulation of landed property from man *270 ] to man began to *stagnate; and that the lords were curtailed of the fruits of their signiories, their escheats, wardships, reliefs, and the like; and therefore, in order to prevent this, which, convey it was ordained by the second of king Henry III.'s great charters (g), and afterwards by that printed in our common were made void, statute-books, that all such attempts should be void, and the land forfeited to the lord of the fee (h).

[ '

to prevent

ances to reli

gious houses

and the land


This ordinance

ed, produced

the statute de

. I.

But, as this prohibition extended only to religious houses, being also evad- bishops and other sole corporations were not included therein; and the aggregate ecclesiastical bodies, (who, Sir Edreligiosis, 7 Ed. ward Coke observes (i), in this were to be commended, that they ever had of their counsel the best learned men that they could get,) found many means to creep out of this statute, by buying in lands that were bona fide holden of themselves as lords of the fee, and thereby evading the forfeiture; or by taking long leases for years, which first introduced those extensive terms, for a thousand or more years, which are now so frequent in conveyances. This produced the statute de religiosis, 7 Edw. I.; which provided that no person,

(g) A. D. 1217. cap. 43, edit. Oxon. (h) Non licet alicui de cætero dare terram suam alicui domui religiosæ, ita quod illam resumat tenendam de eadem domo; nec liceat alicui domui religiosa terram alicujus sic accipere, quod tradat illam ei a quo ipsam recepit tenen

dam: si quis autem de cætero terram suam domui religiosa sic dederit, et super hoc convincatur, donum suum penitus cassetur, et terra illa domino suo illius feodi incurratur. Mag. Cart. 9 Hen. III. c. 36.

(i) 2 Inst. 75.

religious or other whatsoever (4), should buy, or sell, or receive under pretence of a gift, or term of years, or any other title whatsoever, nor should, by any art or ingenuity, appro priate tohimself, any lands or tenements in mortmain: upon pain that the immediate lord of the fee, or, on his default for one year, the lords paramount, and, in default of all of them, the king, might enter thereon as a forfeiture.

This seemed to be a sufficient security against all alien- Origin of comations in mortmain: but as these statutes extended only to mon recoveries. gifts and conveyances between the parties, the religious houses now began to set up a fictitious title to the land, which it was intended they should have, and to bring an *action to recover it against the tenant; who, by fraud and [ *271 ] collusion, made no defence; and thereby judgment was given for the religious house, which then recovered the land by sentence of law upon a supposed prior title. And thus they had the honour of inventing those fictitious adjudications of right, which are since become the great assurance of the kingdom, under the name of common recoveries (5). upon this the statute of Westminster the second, 13 Edw. I. Westminster c. 32, enacted, that in such cases a jury shall try the true right of the demandants or plaintiffs to the land, and if the religious house or corporation be found to have it, they shall still recover seisin; otherwise it shall be forfeited to the immediate lord of the fee, or else to the next lord, and finally to the king, upon the immediate or other lord's default. And the like provision was made by the succeeding chapter (k), in case the tenants set up crosses upon their lands (k) Cap. 33.

(4) These words, according to ordinary construction, seem sufficient to include all corporations, sole, aggregate, ecclesiastical, or temporal; and so Lord Coke understood them. (1 Inst. 2 b). But, notwithstanding the extensive terms of the statute of Edw. I., it may be inferred from the statute of 15 Rich. II. c. 5, that until the passing of the

But The statute of

last named act, guilds and fraternities,
as well as mayors, bailiffs, and com-
mons of towns having a perpetual com-
monalty, and others having offices per-
petual, were not considered within the
restrictions of mortmain.

(5) See post, chapter 21, sect. 4, p.
357, and the appendix to this volume,
No. 5.


New method of conveyance devised by the

nal feoffees to

(the badges of knights templars and hospitallers) in order to protect them from the feodal demands of their lords, by virtue of the privileges of those religious and military orders. So careful indeed was this provident prince to prevent any future evasions, that when the statute of quia emptores, 18 Edw. I., abolished all sub-infeudations, and gave liberty for all men to alienate their lands to be holden of their next immediate lord (), a proviso was inserted (m) that this should not extend to authorize any kind of alienation in mortmain. And when afterwards the method of obtaining the King's licence by writ of ad quod damnum was marked out (6), by the statute 27 Edw. I. st. 2, it was farther provided by statute 34 Edw. I. st. 3, that no such licence should be effectual, without the consent of the mesne or intermediate lords.

Yet still it was found difficult to set bounds to ecclesiastical ingenuity; for when they were driven out of all their clergy to nomi- former holds, they devised a new method of conveyance, by which the lands were granted, not to themselves directly, religious houses. but to nominal feoffees to the use of the religious houses; thus distinguishing between the possession and the use, and [*272 ] receiving *the actual profits, while the seisin of the lands

the use of the


mained in the nominal feoffee; who was held by the courts of equity (then under the direction of the clergy) to be bound in conscience to account to his cestuy que use for the rents and emoluments of the estate. And it is to these inventions that our practisers are indebted for the introduction of uses

(2) 2 Inst. 501.

(m) Cap. 3.

(6) It is, perhaps, not quite accurate to say, that the statute of 27 Edw. I. marked out the proceeding noticed in the text; for, it is therein mentioned as a thing" accustomed." And see the stat. of 20 Edw. I., entitled statutum de brevi de inquisitionibus concedendis de terris ad manum mortuam ponendis, (which is printed among the "statutes uncertain

in their times,") where the writ in question is spoken of as an usual one: though the statute just named enacted, that such writ should not, thenceforward, be granted, unless upon petition presented in full parliament. This last provision, however, is abrogated by the act of 7 & 8 Will. 3, c. 3, stated post, in page 273.

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