FREEBENCH, in English law, the interest which a widow has in the copyhold lands of her husband, corresponding to dower in the case of freeholds. It depends upon the custom of the manor, but as a general rule the widow takes a third for her life of the lands of which her husband dies seised, but it may be an estate greater or less than a third. If the husband surrenders his copyhold and the surrenderee is admitted, or if he contracts for a sale, it will defeat the widow's freebench. As freebench is regarded as a continuation of the husband's estate, the widow does not (except by special custom) require to be admitted.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)