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Edwards v. Hammond
Court of Common Pleas
83 Eng. Rep. 614 (1683)
In seventeenth century England, lords owned land. Free men acquired rights to hold land through a kind of servitude to the lord. The court of the lord’s manor kept a roll of those with landholding rights, which worked like a land registry. Called “copyholders,” landholders had a copy of the roll that they could use as evidence of their title. The rules governing inheritance differed depending on the customs of each manor. In manors that followed “borough English” custom, the youngest son inherited, not the eldest. A copyholder in a borough English manor tried to reverse that rule by “surrendering” or transferring his copyhold to his eldest son. The steward of the manor would have recorded the transfer on the court rolls. The transfer said the copyholder surrendered the use of the land to himself for life, then to his eldest son Edwards (plaintiff) and his heirs, “if he live to the age of 21 years: provided, and upon condition that, if he die before 21, that then it shall remain to the surrenderer and his heirs.” When the copyholder died, his youngest son Hammond (defendant) entered the property and took possession in accordance with the custom. Edwards was only 17 at the time, but brought an “ejectment” action to evict Hammond.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning
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