Landlordism: Its Origin and Growth

Landlordism: Its Origin and Growth.
by John Wheelwright (1898)

The following letter, without the Addenda and Notes, was read at the General Meeting of the English Land Restoration League, held in the Large Hall of the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union, Clerkenwell-road, London, on May 20th, 1896, and is printed at the request of the Committee: —

Dear Mr. Verinder,

I regret that I can only attend your meeting in spirit. Still I may ask you to convey a message from an old student, who, for half a century, has held fast to ideas which perhaps few in your assembly have thoroughly grasped.

I told Henry George that English stupidity mistakes law for right, without duly considering what law is, and how it is made.

Now the Conqueror wisely introduced the Feudal System, and his Domesday Book informed him of the value of the land for taxation. Under that system the tenure of land meant the tenure of office. The landholder was responsible for the welfare of the people, for the national revenue and defence, and was daily liable to dismissal; he could no more sell his tenure of land than the Prime Minister, the Commander in Chief, or the First Lord of the Admiralty could sell their official residences, or the Lord Chief Justice his office.[1] The manor lord, assisted by his tenants, held his Court and dispensed justice; some had power of life and death. The Barons had their Courts, and the Supreme Court was the Coram Rege, held before the King as he travelled through the country.[2] Law and Government were inexpensive then. Landholders could not hunt or shoot over their tenure without a much coveted licence—called free warren; neither could they empark for deer, erect a dovecote, build a mansion, nor fell trees (except for repairs of hedges, etc.) without Royal permission;[3] and they were obliged to hold Courts once a fortnight.[4] If they sold land without a licence it was forfeited, unless they paid a fine and obtained a pardon. Though the fees paid on every change of tenure went to make up the revenue, it seemed expedient in time to grant tenures for life; next, that the son, knowing the management of the estate, should inherit the tenure, provided he paid the customary fees. Land was granted by Knight’s fees, not by acres; that is, the grantee had to bring into the field a quota of Knights, mounted and armed, with their attendants, to do State service; hence, one land tax was called a “scutage,” from the Latin for a Knight’s shield. Suppose now (the feudal lord having been permitted to devise his tenure by will) that a man, holding three Knight’s fees, left them among five sons: each of them could fairly plead that he held less than a Knight’s fee, and so the State would lose the services of three Knights. To remedy this, the Act, Quia Emptores, was passed, fixing the responsibility, as of old, on the eldest son however the land went. So, in fact, the law of Primogeniture is strong evidence of State proprietorship, though popularly believed to be devised for family aggrandisement. King Richard I. raised money from land to go crusading, which he resumed because he had no power to alienate State property, and he considered that the usufruct, during his absence, settled the account. On the death of every landholder, the rights of the State were guarded by an inquisition to ascertain what land he held, and of whom—the Crown or a middle lord; its value; and the relationship and age of the heir. If the heir was under age, he was placed in ward until he came of age, paid his fees, and sued out his livery of seisin in the Court of Wards and Liveries. In common language, the land was delivered for him to seize or hold. But, should the heir be the widow or female child, not being able to go to war, she was obliged to marry the man selected for her who could go to war, according to the conditions of land tenure. The marriage of these wards was sold for large sums.[5]

What we call the liberties of England were chiefly stages in the rise of landlordism.[6] Magna Charta was wrung from King John in the landlord interest, and the King retaliated by inserting a clause binding the Barons to extend to their tenants the same privileges as they obtained for themselves. Hence the farmer should pay no more rent than his landlord pays to the Exchequer for the same land. Manifestly, if landlordism could bring about the abolition of the Court of Wards and Liveries, the inquisitions aforesaid would cease, the people, losing touch with the soil, would soon be oblivious of their rights, and a closer approximation to private property in land would follow. Landlords did abolish the Court by bribing Charles II., and taxing beer and cider to make up the loss to the revenue.[7] The iniquitous Act was carried by a majority of two only, and many of the minority argued that land was the proper subject for taxation.

However, every law student is taught the elementary lesson that there is no private property in land in England. One can merely hold an estate in it. just as the farmer holds an estate of his landlord, that landlord holds an estate of the Crown or people. Both are tenants of the people ultimately, and it cannot be too generally known that, by precedent, the representatives of the people can instruct the Crown to resume every acre of the land in the country without compensation.[8] Whatever value was added to the soil by the farmer, he was paid for by the consuming public. Similarly the leasehold builder on urban land has been paid. Wry then should we again pay our own tenant who contributes nothing and confiscates the improvements of his sub-tenants?

Herbert Spencer contended, in ignorance, that a man can buy lard with money honestly acquired. Not so, he can only buy the loan or tenure of it, and become a tenant at will liable to resumption at any time. As there is no private property in land, it is public property and must ever remain so, because none can convey a stronger title than they receive,[9] and when you hear a person call a landholder a landowner, it is a sure sign that he is ignorant of his country’s history.

I am, yours faithfully,


PS.—These principles, or leading features, are easy to remember. Land is public property on loan. The lawyer’s device of lending in perpetuity, means virtually giving it, which is impossible; and the loan, as such, on any scale, can always be resumed by Parliament through the Crown.


We refer generally to the Norman Conquest for the basis of our land tenure, when all England was held of the Crown,[10] or symbol of the people’s sovereignty, and the wearer was called the King, as being their representative head, who could only grant, or lend, land; but should he affect to give it, the law officer drafting the deed would correct the mistake by describing the land as remaining parcel of some royal manor, and fix a rent; thus we find colonial lands held as of the manors of Shene, Woodstock, Greenwich, &c. The grantee was said to have the land in his tenure (or holding in capite, from the Latin for head), as a loan from the King, which he acknowledged by making some return (or paying rent, corrupted from the Latin reddit—he returns). These rents were Knights’ services, or plough and labour services, from soca, a plough, or farm produce—very commonly eggs; or nominal as peppercorns, cummin seeds, roses, &c., to remind the grantee that the land still belonged to the community. “There can be no tenure without some service, because the service makes the tenure.”[11]

Land, enough to maintain a Knight and his retinue, was called a Knight’s fee, and William I, in granting a large number of such fees to one man, distributed them, say, some in York, some in Devon, and some in Warwick; otherwise, two or three neighbouring landholders united might become a danger to the State. These men, holding more than they could cultivate, were permitted to grant to sub-tenants, and so became mesne lords (mean lords or middlemen), and, by this subinfeudation, it came about that the farmer or yeoman held a loan of land of his chief, the lord of the manor; who held a loan of his chief lord, the baron; who held a loan of his chief, the King; who held as representative of the community, the true owners of the soil. These loans thus held by the several parties were called their estates, and, as it is a common-sense axiom in law that none can convey a stronger title than he received, our law writers, Blackstone, Williams, and others impress on their students the importance of the fact that “there is no private property in land, a man can only have an estate in it;” which fact was so well understood formerly, that our Norman and Plantagenet monarchs easily reduced their refractory Barons to order by threatening resumption of their lands.

No monarch can honestly give away the public property with which he is intrusted; knowing that he can only lend, unscrupulous lawyers advised the King to do so in perpetuity, which is virtually giving, and robbing the community by a delusive play upon words. So, modern landlordism, conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity, remains criminal to the core. Supposing for argument that one monarch presumes to take from A and grant to B, his successor, with equal right, can similarly take from B and give to A, and a fortiori he could resume a loan or tenure. On discovering that wrong is done to the community, the monarch, the fountain of honour, is morally bound to do justice and make restitution; but statesmen, too honourable, or too wise, to defraud an individual protected by law, will defraud a disorganized body, “mostly fools,” as Carlyle called them, in the very name of law, and without the least compunction, seeing that everybody’s business is nobody’s business. The Landlords’ Relief Bill to wit.

Landlordism largely pursued its nefarious practices in the disorderly’ reign of Henry III., whose son, Edward I., on coming to the throne, instituted an enquiry, known as the Quo Warranto, compelling every great landholder to produce his warrant for hording land. If such a demand was renewed, nearly all England would be forfeit to the people. Our legislators, or guardians, acted illegally in prejudicing our rights, and invalid laws, legalizing robbery, are ignorantly submitted to.

(Suppose, for example, we employ an agent to transact our business, and empower him to draw on us up to £5,000 for contingencies. If he expends only £4,000, to whom does the surplus belong? To us undoubtedly, and no honest agent would dream of appropriating it. Our landed legislators similarly have a surplus from the taxes. To whom does it belong? To the taxpayers undoubtedly, and it should go to reduce the national debt or the income tax. But in 1896 our dishonest rulers seek to appropriate and divide it among themselves. Ought not their lands to be resumed in just retribution for robbing the people? We frequently hear ill-informed persons accuse Henry VIII. of robbing the Church lands. Not so; the State not receiving adequate return, or service, for the tenure, his ministers advised him to exercise his prerogative by resuming the lands “for the profytte of thys Realme,” as the act is worded.)

Lawyers, to please their patrons, used every artifice to convert public into private property, or a loan into a gift, or, speaking plainly, to rob the community legally. They tried to create a belief that land was held of the King personally, but as none could hold of a dead King, they were constrained to admit that land was held of the Crown, which never died. Grants were made, or understood to be quamdiu Regi placuerit, or quamdin se bene gesscrit, so long as it pleased the King for the time being, or so long as the grantee behaved well, and it is preposterous to suppose that King or Parliament could control the fate of generations unborn by tying up our land in perpetuity. However a King might verbally grant an estate to a man and his heirs to be held of him, the King, and his successors for ever, it was ultra vires to grant absolutely, a fact so well known that the shrewdest landholders prudently had their charters inspected and confirmed by the successive monarchs, in whom always vested the right of resumption. Entails can be cut off and family settlements broken at any time, and the farce of tenure in perpetuity is exposed by Campbell’s Statute of Limitations under which a man, by keeping the right heir out of an estate for a certain time, can bring the Crown, in effect, to resume and regrant it to himself, the conditions of land tenure involving State service which the right heir neglected and he, presumably, performed. However, no time bars the people.

In buying a sheep, the transaction is complete when the price is paid; but, in buying an estate of a few acres, before those Limitations were devised, a lawyer was called in, who, after investigating and proving the title, drew up a deed or conveyance—mark this, the land is conveyed, not sold—which was engrossed upon parchment, and stamped for a fee paid to Government. There was no difficulty about the sheep—why this difficulty about the land on which he stood? Simply because the sheep was private property, and the land is not. The would-be vendor of the estate, or loan, was nobody in the eyes of the lawyer, until he proved himself the true representative of the party to whom the land was originally lent. The original conditions are allowed to drop out of sight, as they only concern the taxpayers, who have to make up the loss, and tamely submit to be robbed. If a title could be traced to a period anterior to the abolition of the Court of Wards and Liveries, the Inquisitiones, Fines and Recoveries, traced the rest.

Those parasites of landlordism, the lawyers, have been the bale of the people.[12] They invented fines and recoveries, leases, ground rents, royalties, minimum rents, settlements, and life interests, cunningly devised to keep the land from reverting to the Crown when forfeited for treason. The holder lost his head, but the family kept the tenure. So now the creditors of a defunct landholder are defrauded, and the heir snaps his fingers at them. Si Wm. Dugdale, the antiquary, charges Littleton with misinterpreting the law for want of understanding its origin. Freeman says, “there can be no kind of doubt that lawyers’ interpretations and lawyers’ ways of looking at things have done no small mischief, not only to the true understanding of our history, but to the actual course of our history itself.”[13] For example, they deluded the people with the foolish notion that a letter or writ to attend the King’s Court or Parliament conferred a hereditary peerage on the receiver. Then creations by patent followed naturally.

You brew enough beer
To buy enough lands,
They’ll make you a peer
To strengthen their hands,

Truly the House of Lords stands on a nebulous foundation.[14]

Superstitious awe of the Church affected all ranks, from the peasant to the monarch, who feared to prevent the daily acquisition of land by the clergy. Greedy landholders, to evade their obligations, would convey their estates in frankalmoigne to some ecclesiastical corporation, and then hold them again, as of the Church, freed from military service; also men, for their souls’ salvation, made death-bed conveyances of land to the Church, till England was in a fair way of becoming absorbed in the same vortex, with her exchequer depleted, no revenue, and no means of defence. To stay the mischief, the Statute of Mortmain was passed (7 Edw. I., c. 36) forbidding such gifts by the (mort) dead (main) hand. Possessing unbounded wealth, some of the clergy lived luxurious and profligate lives. Their redeeming feature was charity and almsgiving. Wycliff’s followers, called Lollards, complained to King Henry IV. against the scandal and the ever-increasing fiscal burthens on the laity, and petitioned him to resume the Church lands. Landlordism, ever sensitive, took alarm. The landholders counselled the King that as they held their land in the same way as the Church, if he resumed the one the people might, in time, call on him to resume the other, and “make all common, to the utter subversion of the Realm.” Henry favoured the Church, rejected the petition, and enacted extreme penalties against any one who should renew it.[15] Lord Cobham, the Lollard, a boon companion of King Henry V., made bold to petition again, and the King attempted to evade by answering that he had no less right to resume the goods and chattels of the petitioners on demand. He was reminded that he could not resume what he had never possessed, like the land. A forcible argument to use against modern finance ministers, who endeavour to sink the distinction between realty and personalty, and it seemed to prevail with the King, much to the terror of the prelates, who resolved, in chapter, to ward off the evil by offering the King a large sum of money. They were about to separate when Archbishop Chicheley, who had been absent, entered the Chapter House, and, hearing the resolution, objected that as soon as the money was spent the King would come for more, and recommended them to leave the case in his hands. Resorting to the common artifice of statescraft, he suggested that a very favourable opportunity presented for the King to enforce his claim to the throne of France. The idea was caught up, great preparations were made, and the landholders, finding the cost to themselves had considerably increased by reason of the withdrawal of so much Church land from military service, strongly supported Cobham’s petition for resumption, against which the clergy pleaded that if they neither fought in person, nor sent Flights into the field, they would secure victory for the King by their prayers. But Henry had faith in something more tangible, and the Archbishop at the head of the prelates, seeing that there was no escape, suggested that the King might resume the lands of the Alien Priories, on which large estates had been bestowed by the Norman Conquerors. Consequently, the Commons petitioned the King to exercise his prerogative and resume, in these words:—“Since great injury arises to your Kingdom, and your people of the same Kingdom, by the great rents and conveyance of the same out of the Country to the Alien Priories, to the great impoverishment of your said Kingdom, which God defend, may it please your noble and gracious Lordship that the aliens be for ever ousted and disinherited, and that all the possessions of the Alien Priories bring in England may remain in your hands, to you and your heirs for ever.” Response: The King wills it.[16] Agincourt was fought and won, and Archbishop Chicheley, in compunction for being instrumental to the slaughter, founded the college of All Souls, Oxford, for the welfare of the souls of all who were slain in that battle.

About 120 years later, Henry VIII., a stronger King, practised resumption on the Home Church. The lesser monasteries first, because the rents were “spoyled and wasted for increase and  mayntenance of sin,” and “should be used and converted to the honour and profytte of thys Realme” (Act 27, Henry VHI., c. 28). Within three years the lands of the greater monasteries were resumed (Act 31, Henry VIII., c. 13), and six years later, the Commons petitioned the King to resume the land revenues of the Colleges, &c., to support foreign war and State expenses (Act 37, Henry VIII., c. 4).

As Freeman says:—

“The life and soul of English law has ever been precedent; we have always held that whatever our fathers once did their sons have a right to do again” (Growth English Constit. p. 58), and “in all our great political struggles, the voice of Englishmen has never called for the assertion of new principles, for the enactment of new laws; the cry has always been for the better observance of the laws which were already in force for the redress of grievances” (Ibid, p, 57). We should bear in mind, “The power which our gradual development has given us of retracing our steps, of falling back whenever need calls for falling back, on the principles of earlier, often of the earliest times” {Ibid. p. no). As to interruptions to hereditary succession, “These interruptions, which, in the eye of history, are simply exercises of an ancient right, are, in the eyes of lawyers, revolutions or usurpations” (Ibid. p. 147).

I quote the words of Dr. Freeman, because, coming from an authority well known, they will have more weight than mine. Still every thoughtful man must perceive, without being told, that the land question is supreme; land being the source of all wealth, evil must attend the maladministration of it. If the foundation is rotten the social edifice must fall, and every Englishman ought to understand that the soil belongs to the community and that it is in the power of the Crown, on the call of the Commons, to resume every acre in the country without compensation.

The habit of calling land-holders land-owners has grafted a delusion on the popular mind which is hard to be uprooted, and, marvellously, the people—the owners of the soil—have forgotten that the landholders are their tenants at will, as the very word “tenure” implies, and that freeholders hold freely against all comers save the people, who, by constitutional precedent, can resume the land on any emergency. They virtually do so under Campbell’s Statute of Limitations. They did so in transferring the Crown lands from the Stuarts to the Guelphs.

Those who prefer going to the fountain-head to listening to lawyers or writers no better informed than themselves, should go to that popular resort for literary men, the Reading Room of the British Museum, where they will receive the most polite attention and assistance from the officials. Around the central desk will be found a set of folios, issued by the Record Office Commission, and containing all that is requisite. The student should first inspect the four volumes of Inquisitiones post mortem. He will find the estates held by most of the defunct landholders enumerated, from 3 Hen. HI. (1218) to 20 Chas. I. (1645). Many are missing. But he will not find the names and ages of the heirs. Why were they omitted from the originals? Sir Harris Nicolas, the eminent lawyer and antiquar, passed severe strictures on the Record Commission, and took pains to supply the omission in MS. for his private use. Had the names of the heirs been given, the object of the Inquisitions would have been too apparent—that the State was looking after its property and taking the names of its responsible trustees. The road to landlordism led through “bye paths and crooked ways,” therefore landlordism is nervous about the “rights of property” and their discussion.

In the Hundred Rolls the student will find land rent recorded at 2d. an acre, and can reflect on the loss to the public exchequer and landlord gains. Turning to Stowe’s Annals he will find that Wat Tyler petitioned that no rent should exceed 4d. an acre. We all know about the indignity to Wat’s daughter, and that Wat was slain by Walworth the Mayor. Bray and Manning’s Survey tells us that Wat harried the Stews in Southwark, which belonged to Walworth, who struck a vindictive blow for landlordism.

In brief, let the student ask for Walter Rye’s Records and Record Searching, Stacey Grimaldi’s Origines Genealogica, and Sir Martin Right’s Land Tenures, for further instruction. Jacob’s or Tomlin’s Law Dictionaries, and Dugdale’s Origines Juridiciales will also aid him.

[1] No holder could convey an estate (in capite), to another without a royal licence (licencia ‘alvenare’) and, to avoid difficulty, lawyers invented Fines and Recoveries, or fictitious suits at law. If A wished to sell to B, B claimed the land as his in Court, A appeared to defend and then agreed that B’s was a just claim and so put an end or finis to the suit and received the money. In Ricoveries, A and his witness would fail to appear on the appointed day for hearing, and judgment went by default.

[2] To remedy the inconvenience of suitors following the Court from great distances the De Banco, or fixed Court of King’s Bench, was substituted for the Curia Regis by Edward I.

[3] King Stephen won the goodwill of the Barons by allowing them to hunt deer and build castles on their estates.

[4] After 18 Henry III. once in three weeks (Dugdale, Origin. Juridic p. 26). Manors were Baronies and are still Lordships, having their law courts for the benefit of the tenants who should be exempted from many law costs. Lords by alienating parcels of their manors created so many new manors and thus evaded their obligations, to the loss of the State. Hence the statute Quia Emptores (18 Edw. I., c. I), which fixed the responsibility on the chief lord or original owner; and primogeniture was the logical outcome. It follows that all existing manors date from a period anterior to 18 Edw. I. (a.d. 1289-90.)

[5] To guard the public rights, another inquisition called an Inquisitio ad quod damnum was held to enquire whether the community would suffer by permitting a man to enclose, or to make new roads or close old ones, or to alienate, or exchange, lands on a large scale.

[6] “The state of landed property, in general, must be considered literally, as the ground upon which the real history of nations is founded. … All worldly wealth is derived from the fulness of the earth; and it is by the weal or woe of the peasant, that the prosperity of nations is principally defined.” — Sir Fran. Palgrave, History of England p. 251.

[7] “Stat. 12 Chas. II., c. 24, is one of those acts of national injustice which has still to be redressed. The shamelessness of that procedure was aggravated by the revenue thereby lost being principally made up by the substitution of a hereditary excise on beer and ale brewed for sale, while that brewed in families for their own consumption was exempt Thus the national beverage of the commonalty was made hereditarily subject to taxation, that the nobility and gentry might be freed from the obligations on which they hold their estates, (Scott & Farr, Hist. Engl., 376) When feudal tenures were abolished in continental states an equivalent land tax was levied. Our esteemed landholders, who recalled Charles II, settled £100,000 a year on him, in lieu of the fees, besides the excise. He sold Dunkirk to Louis XIV. for £208,441, and reaped the full fruits, disgrace included. He accepted an annual pension of £200,000 a year from Louis to restore the Roman Catholic religion, and, with Lord Danby, treated for the sale of the nation to the French king [Ibid., p. 393). Now, what did our patriotic king with the money? Out of 2.500,000 granted by Parliament for warlike purposes, he paid his private debts, the nature of which is explained in the “secret services,” Camden Soc. 1851. His mistress the Duchess of Portsmouth had £12,000 a year pension, and more in gifts. The Duchess of Cleveland, Nell Gwynne, and other mistresses, were also liberally endowed from the taxes, and after establishing modern landlordism, Charles earned the nation’s gratitude for blessing it with some ducal landlords and hereditary legislators by his personal exertions.

[8] Antiguissimo tempore, sic erat in Dominorum potestate connexum, ut quando vellent, potent auf ere Rem in feudum a se datam. From the most ancient times it was in the power of the King to resume the land he had granted to any one.—Sir Martin Wright, Tenures, p. 14.

[9] “The earth, therefore, and all things therein (minerals) are the general property of all mankind, from the immediate gift of the Creator.” This is invulnerable. “There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property, or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe. And yet there are very few that will give themselves the trouble to consider the original and foundation of this right.“ Pleased as we are with the possession, we seem afraid to look back to the means by which it was acquired, as if fearful of some defect in our title; or at best we rest satisfied with the decision of the laws in our favour, without examining the reason or authority, upon which those laws have been built. We think it enough that our title is derived by the grant of the former proprietor, by descent from our ancestors, or by the last will and testament of the dying owner; not caring to reflect that (accurately and strictly speaking) there is no foundation in nature or in natural law, why a set of words upon parchment should convey the dominion of land; why the son should have a right to exclude his fellow creatures from a determinate spot of ground, because his father had done so before him; or why the occupier of a particular held or of a jewel, when lying on his death bed and no longer able to maintain possession, should be entitled to tell the rest of the world which of them should enjoy it after him. … … It is well if the mass of mankind will obey the laws when made, without scrutinizing too nicely into the reasons of making them. But, when law is to be considered, not only as a matter of practice, but also as a rational science, it cannot be improper or useless to examine more deeply the rudiments and grounds of these positive constitutions of society.”—Blackstone, Com, B. ii., c. i.

[10] The ancient folcland, folkland, land of the people, became the terra Regis, the land of their representative, the King, so called from kynyng or cynyng, the chief of the kyn or cyn, a tribe or kin. Sir Francis Palgrave derives from the Celtic cen or cean, signifying head or chief.

[11] Wood, Laws of England, p. 190, ed. 1754.

[12] Why may it not be made as easy, almost, to transfer the possession of a piece of land as of a purse of money? Why should real property involve so much more complication than personal property? Why need we poor uninstructed laymen be so terribly perplexed and bewildered in endeavouring to understand all those seemingly subtle and incomprehensible distinctions with which the law of real property at present abounds? Lands, tenements, and hereditaments, corporeal and incorporeal, chattels, easements, equitable and legal, affirmative and negative, by prescription and otherwise, extinguishment by release or by merger, estates freehold, and less than freehold, estates of inheritance, and not of inheritance, fees simple and qualified, estates tail and no tail, estates to A and his heirs, to the use of B and his heirs, to the use of C and his heirs, and so on,—as if we were going through the alphabet,—estates for life and for years, legal and conventional, feoffment, seisin and livery, primogeniture and gavelkind, rights of curtesy, dower and jointure, feoffor and feoffee, grantor and grantee, vendor and vendee, mortgagor and mortgagee, “purchasers,” protectors of settlements, remainder-men, wastes and incumbrances, estates at will, at sufferance, or upon conditions, estates in severalty, in joint tenancy, in coparcenary, and in common, unities four and not one, estates in possession or expectancy, uses and trusts, trust upon uses, executed and unexecuted, springing, shifting, and resulting, remainders, vested and contingent, estates particular and otherwise, executory devises, perpetuities, reversions, powers, collateral and appurtenant, bargain and sale, lease and release, conversion and reconversion, frauds, torts, and innumerable other distinctions which make up a mountain of jargon, unintelligible, and surely to a large extent unnecessary.

Why could not lawyers be well advised, and trouble their heads no more in future about ownership of land? That question was settled once and for all when the foundation of the world was laid, and it is futile for them to try to wrest it from the Absolute Owner who created it. All such efforts must inevitably be predestined to ultimate failure. When once it has been decreed that the State will collect for the community the full rental value from those whom it permits to enjoy the usufruct of the land there will be no more questions regarding the ownership of the land, but only of the improvements standing upon it, and the State will regard he who owns the improvements as the one who is responsible for the payment of that rental value. — The Land and the Community, by the Rev. S. W, Thackeray, M.A,, LL.D., Trin. Coll., Cat tab (pp. 106-7).

[13] Growth of the English Constitution, p. 127

[14] Since the voice of the majority in the House of Commons can be overruled by the House of Lords, England is really governed by a landed oligarchy; therefore Cromwell abolished the Lords as “useless and dangerous.” If men of Cromwellian fibre are extinct, still our juris-consults could devise means for annulling their patents as easily as resuming their estates. Montesquieu says: “The extremity of corruption is when the power of the nobles becomes hereditary, for then they can hardly have any moderation. When the nobles assume the privilege of paying no taxes [death duties of old, taxes on ground rents, no 4s. in the pound, etc.]; when they commit frauds to exempt themselves, as in some aristocracies in our time—nothing is more prejudicial to the Government; when they engross the public money, under pretence of rewards or appointments for their respective employments; in fine, when they render the common people tributary, and divide among their own body the [surplus] profits arising from the several subsidies—this last case is very rare [Query]—an aristocracy so instituted would be the most molerable of all Governments.”

[15] See Lingaid, Hist. Eng., sub. Henry IV.

[16] Rolls of Parliament, Vol. IV., p. 29, No, ix