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“ have decreed to give in dominio to Waldlare, bishop, part CHA P. “ of a field, &c. The possession of this land so as afore“ said, with fields to be sowed, pastures, meadows, marshes, “ fisheries, rivers, closes, and appurtenances, we deliver to “ be possessed in dominio by the above bishop in perpetual
right, and that he have the free power of doing whatsoever 66 he will.” 04
There seems to have been no prescribed form of words for the conveyance of a freehold estate, because we find that almost every grant varies in some of its phrases. The most essential requisite seems to have been that the words should imply an intended perpetuity of possession. One other specimen of a freehold grant, not quite so absolute as the above, may be added : “ That it may be in his power, and may “ remain firmly fixed in hereditary right, both free from 46 the services of all secular things within and without, and “ from all burden and injury of greater or smaller causes, “ and that he may have the liberty of changing or giving it s in his life, and after his death may have the power of
leaving it to whomsoever he will.”65
Freehold estates also occur, made subject to the three great services to which almost all lands were liable. In these cases the duty of military expedition, and bridge and castle work, are expressly excepted.“ A modification of this freehold tenure is, where the grant is for the life of the person receiving it, with a power of giving it to any person after his death in perpetual inheritance. This kind of estate very frequently occurs in the Saxon grants, and differs from the
pure and absolute freehold, inasmuch as it does not appear that the tenant for life had the liberty of alienating it before his death, nor that it was descendible to his heirs if he made no testamentary devise.
5+ Appendix to Bede, p. 749. ES MS. Chai ters of the late Mr. Astle, No.7. 06 MS. Claud. C. 9. p. 112, 113.
Thus in a grant, dated 756, the part which lawyers call the habendum, and which determines the nature of the tenure, is thus expressed: “ I will give it him for ever-That he may “ have and possess it as long as be lives, and after that time, " that he may leave it to any person he shall please, to be
possessed in hereditary right, with the same liberty in which “ it is granted to him.
Others are in these plırases: “ To have and possess it in his
own possession, and for bis days to enjoy it happily, and " after his days to leave to whomsoever shall be agreeable to “ him in everlasting inheritance.” 68
A very common tenure in the Anglo-Saxon times was, that the person to whom an estate was conveyed should hold it for his life, and should have the power of giving it after his death to any one, two, three, or more heirs, as mentioned in the grant; after which it should revert either to the original proprietor making the grant, or to some ecclesiastical body or other person mentioned in it.
Thus Oswald gives lands to a person, in the stability of perpetual inheritance; that in having, he may hold it, and pos. sessing it, may enjoy it, for the length of his life. After his death he might leave it to any two heirs whom he preferred, to have it continuedly–After their death it was to revert to the church of St. Mary.%.
In 984 Oswald gave to his kinsman, Eadwig, and his wife, three mansa, for their lives. If the husband survived her, he was to be deemed the first possessor, or heir of the land; or if she survived, she was to be the first beir. They were empowered to leave all to their offspring, if they had any ;
if not, the survivor was to leave it to any two heirs.
Thus a bishop gave to Berhtwulf, the Mercian king, certain lands “ for the space of the days of five men, to have
69 Smith's App. Bede, p.773.
67 Smith's App. p. 767.
* Astle's Ms. Charters, No. 12 and No. 16.
70 Ibid, p. 778.
" and to enjoy it with justice; and after the number of their CHA P. days, that it may be returned, without any
dissention or “ conflict, to the church in Worcester.” This same land Berhtwulf gave to his minister, Ecbercht, “ for the
of “ the days of five men, as before it was given to bim.”?!
Sometimes an attempt was made to possess the land beyond ,the number of lives indicated. It is mentioned in a charter, that one Cynethryth had conveyed some land for three lives, and that Ælsted had added three more lives; when it was discovered, by inspecting the hereditarios libros of the king, Kenulf, who first granted it, that the person originally receiving it had only the power of giving it for one life. Consequently the subsequent grants were set aside.”
A life estate was also a very frequent tenure. Sometimes the remainder that was to follow a life estate was expressed. This was usually to the church.
Thus Aldred, in the middle of the eighth century, gave a monastery to his relation, “ on condition that she possess it
as long as she lives, and when she goes the way of her “ fathers," it was to revert to the church of Worcester, into the jus of the episcopal seat.? An archbishop devised land to a person for life, with remainder to an abbey.7+
The land passing by these grants was called Bocland, as the land held by bishops was mentioned as Bisceopa land; the land of 'Thegns was Thegnes land, and the land of Earles was Earles land. All these occur in Domesday-book. There was also King's land, Gerefa land, and such like; but these names aitached to land seem rather to express the quality of the demesne proprietors than any other circumstance.
One grant is rather singular, in the limitations of the estate which it conveys. The king gives a manor to Edred, and permits Edred to give it to Lulla and Sigetbrythe, who are enjoined to give part of the land to Eaulfe and Herewine.
71 Heming. Chart. p. 6. 8. 72 Ibid. p. 29
73 Smith's App. Bede, p. 765. 7+ MS. Claud. C.9. p. 125.
BOOK But Eaulfe was to give half of this part to Biarnulve, and to
enjoy the other half for his own life, with the power of devising it as he pleased."
To these tenures we may add the Gafoleland, or land granted or demised on the condition of paying some contribution in money or other property. Thus archbishop Ealdulf, in 996, gave land to a miles, for his life and two lieirs, but annexed a condition, that they should provide every year fifteen salmon.76 An abbot and the monks demised twenty-seven acres to a person, that he might have them in stipendium as long as he served them well."
An ancient lease is mentioned in the year 852, by which Ceolred, abbot of Medeshamstede, and the monks, let (leot) to Wulfred the land at Sempigaham for her life, on condition that he gave (besides some other land) a yearly rent of sixty fother of wood, twelve fother of græfan (which may mean coals) six fother of turf, two tuns full of clear ale, two slain cattle, six hundred loaves, ten mittan of Welsh ale, one horse, thirty shillings, and a night's lodging.": A marsh was leased at the rent of two thousand eels." By the laws, a ceorl, who had gafol lande, was estimated at two hundred shillings.
75 Astle's MS, Charters, No. 20.
78 Sax. Chron. p. 75.
CH A P. III.
The Burdens to which Lands were liable,
and their Privileges.
HE oldest Saxon grants we have, contain reservations of CHAP.
services which the possessor of the land had to perform; and, from the language of those which have survived to our times, we perceive that certain burdens, though varying in kind and quantity, were attached to estates in every age. Some few were exempted from any; a larger proportion were freed from all but the three great necessities, which in one charter are described to be, “ what it is necessary that all
people should do, and from which work none can be “ excused.”
These three common labours, or universal necessities, as they are frequently styled, are the fyrd-færelde; the brygegeweorc; and the weal, or fæsten-geweorc.
The fyrd-færelde was the military service to which all the Saxon lands appear to have been subject, excepting those which the king, with the consent of his Witena, or sometimes the king alone, expressly exempted from the obligation. This military service consisted in providing a certain number of armed men, proportioned to the rated quantity of land, who were to attend the king or his officers on expeditions made for the public safety, or against invading enemies. What number of men a given quantity of land was to furnish, cannot now be precisely stated; though it would seem, from Domesda: -book, that five hides found one soldier in most counties. In the year 821 a grant of various lands was made, with the specified condition, that the owner should attend the public expedition with twelve vassals and as many shields. Even Heming. Chart. p. 109.
2 MS. Claud. C.9. p. 104.