FRANCHISE (from O. Fr. franchise, freedom, franc, free), in English law, a royal privilege or branch of the crown's prerogative subsisting in the hands of a subject. A franchise is an incorporeal hereditament, and arises either from royal grants or from prescription which presupposes a grant. Such franchises are bodies corporate, the right to hold a fair, market, ferry, free fishery, etc. The term is also applied to the right of voting at elections and the qualifications upon which that right is based (see Registration; Representation; Vote). In the United States the term is especially applied to the right or powers of partial appropriation of public property by exclusive use, or to a privilege of a public nature conferred on a corporation created for the purpose.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)