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Freehold, Definition

FREEHOLD, DEFINITION, in the English law of real property, an estate in land, not being less than an estate for life. An estate for a term of years, no matter how long, was considered inferior in dignity to an estate for life, and unworthy of a freeman (see Estate). "Some time before the reign of Henry II., but apparently not so early as Domesday, the expression liberum tenementum was introduced to designate land held by a freeman by a free tenure. Thus freehold tenure is the sum of the rights and duties which constitute the relation of a free tenant to his lord." [1] In this sense freehold is distinguished from copyhold, which is a tenure having its origin in the relation of lord and villein (see Copyhold). Freehold is also distinguished from leasehold, which is an estate for a fixed number of years only. By analogy the interest of a person who holds an office for life is sometimes said to be a freehold interest. The term customary freeholds is applied to a kind of copyhold tenure in the north of England, viz. tenure by copy of court-roll, but not, as in other cases, expressed to be at the will of the lord.

[1] Digby's History of the Law of Real Property.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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