Manorial and Lordship Title Law

Manorial Law

Listed below are the legal authorities in chronological order that have influenced how a person can prove their ownership of a LORDSHIP (also known as a seignory).  A LORDSHIP was/is a collection of rights that relate to the land of a manor.  Under current law, to prove ownership of a LORDSHIP a person needs a set of consecutive deeds dating back to before 1189 (time immemorial) or in some cases back to a later crown grant.  That is over 800 years of deeds.

The owner of a LORDSHIP could also claim the custom legal right to use the titles of “Lord and Lady”, known collectively as a LORDSHIP TITLE.

Lordship Title Law

A legal right to a LORDSHIP TITLE was created through English Custom law.  This is simple compared with Manorial Law.  A legal custom is created through the use of a right over a long term, normally decades but with LORDSHIP TITLES centuries.

Our service has been created through a senior London barrister who identified legal authorities to create new legal rights to LORDSHIP TITLES where:

  • The LORDSHIP does NOT have a provable owner
  • There are insufficient historic records to identify a possible owner of a LORDSHIP with one or more deeds
  • There are insufficient historic records to infer that someone may have a claim to a LORDSHIP.

Our barrister identified legal authorities to create an exclusive legal right to a LORDSHIP TITLE, they DO NOT create a legal right to the LORDSHIP, that is left dormant, lost to ownership and unaffected.  The barrister labels this legal right as the right of “quiet enjoyment” to a LORDSHIP TITLE.  Quiet enjoyment means exercising a right without fear of being challenged by someone with a better legal right.

The legal rights we create allow LORDSHIP TITLES that have not been used for centuries to be brought back into legal exclusive ownership. They can also be passed down through inheritance in the same way as a LORDSHIP owner would pass down their legal right.

The USE of an historic LORDSHIP TITLE is identical whether ownership is justified by ownership of the LORDSHIP (normally with 800+ years of consecutive deeds) or by the right of “quiet enjoyment”.  No third party will be able to tell the difference.

The deeds of ownership we provide contain three Statements of Truth confirming the right of quiet enjoyment to the LORDSHIP TITLE has been created in accordance with the legal authorities and advice of our barrister.  One of these Statements of Truth is signed and sealed by Manorial Counsel Limited the other two from UK registered solicitors as independent confirmation.  The processes and precise legal authorities we use are the intellectual property of Manorial Counsel Limited and are not disclosed due to commercial sensitivity.

Lordships Originate from Roman Times (Pre 383AD)

A Roman would be given responsibility for collecting taxes from surrounding smaller properties and adding it to their own taxes. The Roman would be called a signior (or Lord in English).

Saxon England (383 – 1066)

When the Saxons invaded England and the Romans left, the Saxons did not want to have to create their own taxation system, so they kept the Romans’.  They did make some adaptions. All land transactions required the authority of the King and most were recorded in a charter. This was referred to as “bookland”. King Athelstan, whom was effectively the first King of all England, made a law that all freemen must have a lord, lords must have an overlord and they in turn had the King as their lord. In certain circumstance a freeman could choose his lord, who did not have to be the local lord. The relationship between the lord and his freemen was mutual, the lord received a service and in return he provided law and protection.

Under Saxon law any man who had more than 5 hides of land had to serve in the national army.

English Custom Law

Over the centuries the Lord would exercise rights over all of the manorial land eg. Mineral.  Once these rights had been exercised for centuries English Custom law made these rights defendable against all others.

Elements of a Manor/Lordship

A manor/lordship was made up of distinct elements.  The manor was the area of land which was split up into the demesne (the land farmed by the lord), free of tenures land, tenanted land, and common or waste land (available for all to use to graze animals and small pieces of land that joined the farmed pieces of land eg roads).  The rights that had been created into English Custom law became known as the lordship.

Post Conquest England (Post 1066)

William the Conqueror introduced the first mass application of manors/lordships in England. He appointed himself as the superior lord of all land in England. He kept many manors for himself but divided up the rest of the land for barons and earls to manage. They subenfeuded (created subordinate lordships) manors to lords who would manage the land, residents and provide fighting men at time of war.


Male heirs 21 and over and female heiresses 14 and over could inherit a lordship/manor.  Under these ages their wardship was owned by the Crown together with their right to marry.  The Crown would sell most of these wardships, as the custodian invariably would misappropriate a large proportion of the income.

Domesday Book (1086)

In 1086 William the Conqueror felt he was not receiving sufficient value for the grants he had made to his barons after the Conquest. He therefore ordered the compilation of a record of all land holdings as known at the death of Edward the Confessor and at that time. This became the legal basis upon which William the Conqueror received services from his barons. This legal record survives today and is one of the most famous pieces of surviving documentation from nearly 1,000 years ago.

Time Immemorial (1189)

3rd September 1189 was the date King Richard the Lionheart was crowned.

One of the most important dates for manorial law. No new customs or customary tenures cannot be created after this date.

To demonstrate ownership of a lordship/manor a consecutive set of deeds is required back to 1189.

Under the legal doctrine of lost modern grant a claimant to a lordship/manor needs to demonstrate that they have enjoyed the lordship/manor for living memory but also that the lordship/manor has existed through the centuries from 1189.

The doctrine of prescription was created to allow users of rights over land to gain a legal right they could enforce/protect. The user needs to demonstrate they have enjoyed the right for at least living memory and the law assumes the right has been enjoyed since 1189. Some claims have been made that this can be used to claim a lordship/manor however the presumption only works if there was a person capable of granting the right. No one apart from by Act of Parliament has been capable of granting a lordship since the 16th century. There is NO LEGAL AUTHORITY TO ENABLE PRESCRIPTION to be used to prove ownership of a lordship.

Both lost modern grant and prescription are known as legal fictions. They are confirming something that probably is false.

Magna Carta (1215)

Clause 34 preserved the right of a lord to hold his own court.

Magna Carta (re-issued) 1225 – Chapter 32

Lords cannot subinfeudate manors (grant freeholds in return for a service) held by the Crown.

Statute of Merton 1235 (or Commons Act 1236)

This is the first statute of limitations to be repealed and replaced many times over the centuries.   If an owner had lost their deeds, or their ownership pre-dated deeds, they could recover the land by writ if held for 70 years. There was no differentiation between land and land rights.  Land rights at this time were always enforced thus proving the right.

De Donis 1285

Introduced the use of entails.  An owner of a lordship/manor could restrict the ownership of the lordship/manor after their death.  The most common entail was male entail.  If a lord died with only daughters they could not inherit and the lordship/manor would pass to the closest male heir.

Quia Emptores 1290

  • No new manors can be created after 1189
  • No new sub-manors (common freeholds) can be created after 1290. All tenants who wished to alienate their land only have the option of substitution (they relinquished their right in favour of someone else).
  • Manors could not be divided between co-parceners (a person who shares equally with others in the inheritance of an undivided estate or in the rights to it) EXCEPT where there were co-heir daughters.
  • Manor demesne and waste could not be granted by subinfeudation (to be held of the lord). The effect being that the land that was sold left the manor
  • Any copyhold land could only be enfranchised at common law by granting the freehold and the land left the manor
  • No new freeholds could be granted in fee simple
  • No new customary holding could be created after 1189 which meant that there could thereafter be no new tenancies within the manor
  • Land leaving a lordship cannot be added to another lordship, so manors can only reduce in size
  • Land cannot be added to a lordship
  • Customs cannot be created after 1189.

1302 Testa de Nevill

The Book of Fees is the colloquial title of a modern edition, transcript, rearrangement and enhancement of the mediaeval Liber Feodorum (Latin: ‘Book of Fiefs’). This was an update of the Domesday Book. It listed the feudal landholdings or fief (Middle English fees), compiled in about 1302, but from earlier records, for the use of the English Exchequer.

1399 Duchy of Lancaster Act

When Henry Bolingbroke became King Henry IV the Duchy of Lancaster would have been dissolved, as the law stated that if a lord acquired the rights of the superior lord the lower lordship dissolved.  Parliament enacted a charter to prevent this from happening so that the Duchy could be managed separately from the other crown estates. It remains to this day.

1483 – Copyhold Sale and Purchase

A seller would take their copy of the court roll (proof of his ownership) to the manorial court and surrender it.  The lord would then issue a fresh court roll in favour of the purchaser.  The problem with this, is that the seller’s ownership might have been defective and therefore the purchaser was not getting good title.  Surrenders could not be for multiple pieces of land or rents, they had to be done separately.  Eg. Two rents of 5 pence and 3 pence could not be surrendered and the purchaser be issued with a court roll for 8 pence.

1536 – Statute of Uses

King Henry VIII removes entails (restrict the heir of a property eg. male only) and owners now liable for taxes.

1534 English Reformation

The English reformation made King Henry VIII the head of the Church of England.  Up until now England had been Catholic and churches were subject to the rule of the Pope.  King Henry used his new authority to seize church lands and grant them to his loyal subjects. The church held approximately one third of all manors in England so this was the biggest transfer of ownership of land since the Norman Conquest.

1540 – King Henry VIII Statute of Limitations

Until this point, if you have lost your title deeds, you had to prove ownership of land and rights over land back to Time Immemorial. This act introduced a requirement of 60 years to prove ownership under adverse possession.

Statute 35 Henry VIII c16 1543

Church customs can no longer come into existence. and be enforced on tenants and freeholder of manors.

Crown Lands Act 1557

Queen Mary, a staunch Roman Catholic, reverses some of the dissolution by King Henry VIII and returns lands to the church.

Religious Houses Act 1558

Queen Elizabeth reverse the Crown Lands Act 1557 and church lands once again returned to the Crown.

Hutton V Gifford 1582

A manor can only be extinguished if the tenants acquire the rights of the lord or a lord acquires the rights of a superior lord.

1585 – The Court of Common Pleas

The Court of Common Pleas stated that, “a manor cannot be created at this day, neither by a common person nor by the Queen.  A manor could not be created by a commoner from the 13th century however this also confirms the ability is no longer vested in the Crown.

Late 16th Century

It was not until late in the sixteenth century that  estate plans started to be produced.  Before this time the only way to tell from the title deeds was by description.  Most boundaries would be set by a road, river or other landmark. It is not until the nineteenth century do they become common.

Complete Copyholder published 1630

Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice probably the most influential judge in English history. Wrote the Complete Copyholder. In  Chapter 4.1 Crown Stopped Creating Manors he writes “a custom cannot be alleged generally within the kingdom of England for that is in common law”. This is still regarded as a legal authority in relation to manorial rights.

Pigg V Caley 1677

This was the last case including bondsman/villeinage (slave).  After this residents of a manor were all free.

Limitations Act 1623


The common legal justification was that under the Limitation Act 1623, just like a cause of action in contract or tort had to be used within a time limit, so did an action to recover land. This promoted the finality of litigation and the certainty of claims. Time would start running when someone took exclusive possession of land, or part of it, and intended to possess it adversely to the interests of the current owner. Provided the common law requirements of “possession” that was “adverse” were fulfilled, after 12 years, the owner would cease to be able to assert a claim.  As a lordship has no physical presence it does not provide the requirements of “possession” and thus whilst physical land falls within Adverse Possession, lordship do not.

Abolition of Tenures Act 1660

This act converted all tenures into free and common socage with the exception of frankalmoign (which became obsolete) and copyhold.  This meant the services owed no longer had to be provided. No more knight’s service.  This was long overdue as the last time there was a feudal muster of knights was in 1385.

Inclosure Act 1709

First inclosure by Act of Parliament. Inclosure meant the sharing out of the land dependant on the value each party had in the common land.

The Crown Suits Act 1769

Also known as Nullum Tempus Act. It states that 60 years of adverse possession against the Crown was sufficient to pass title to an adverse possessor.

Inclosure Act 1773

This act defines how common land of manors are to be fenced in.

Cocker v Fothergill 1819

In a High Court decision an incorporeal hereditament (an inheritable right) is incapable of being possessed as it does not have the features of a physical entity.

Prescription Act 1832

Gave right to establish an easement by prescription when a set of deeds were missing or incomplete. The petitioner had to prove they can grant the easement.

Also section 1 of the Act was used to acquire a right of common if unchallenged exercise for 30 years (in some cases 60). Not now possible due to S6 Commons Act 2006.

Inclosure Act 1836

Permitted inclosure of common land without the need for a specific act if enough persons agreed.

Copyhold Acts 1840 and 1894

If copyhold land was enfranchised by statute, it could remain within the manor.

Veley V Burden 1841

Such a custom existing beyond the time of legal memory, and extending over the whole realm , is no other than common law of England.

Inclosure Act 1852

The 1836 act reversed and stated Parliamentary authority was required for any inclosure. Inclosure is the fencing off of common land of the manor.

Crown Suits Act 1862

This repealed the1769 Act and reduced the number of years required for adverse possession of physical land from 30 years to 21 years.

Commons Act 1876

A Lord is only permitted to enclose common land if for the benefit of the neighbourhood.

Conveyancing Act 1881

A lordship must have been specifically quoted to be included in a conveyance of the manor (physical land) for it to be conveyed. This also affects the inclusion of any manorial waste land.

Conveyancing Act 1881

Before 1st January 1882 the conveyance of a reputed manor did not pass unless there were specific words to that effect.

Halliday V Phillips & Others 1891

Prescription – A right must be exercised “without force, without secrecy and without permission”.

Law of Property Act 1922

Preserved lordship rights and converted them into “Statutory rights”.

Perpetually renewable leases are converted to 2,000 years.

Heriots and quitrent are abolished.

Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925

It is a criminal offence to use a peerage title without a letter patent from the Crown.  Lordship and Barony Titles are property so have no such restriction.

Law of Property Act 1925

  • Rights are no longer attached to land, they have to be conveyed separately.
  • It became unlawful to enclose any land that was subject to rights of common. Inclosed land is estimated at 7 million acres.
  • Defines land as including inter alia both corporeal and incorporeal hereditaments. Land includes a manor and a reputed manor and a manor includes a lordship or reputed lordship. A lordship is not physical land but a notional interest in land – an incorporeal hereditament. This is only for the purposes of the Act not to be used elsewhere.
  • A conveyance of a manor carries the waste
  • Defines a manor includes a reputed manor
  • Converted all types of fee into fee simple.
  • Copyhold converted to freehold. Copyhold was land held by the copy of a court roll. All surviving court rolls must be logged with the National Archives so up to this date most surviving documents proving owners of manors are known
  • Leases for life converted to leases for 90 years

Limitations Act 1939

Incorporeal hereditaments (inheritable rights) are now excluded from adverse possession.

Administration of Justice Act 1977 – Section 23

Abolition of the legal criminal jurisdiction within manors by  (one exemption Laxton in Nottinghamshire). Also the end of English Custom law, being replaced with Prescription.

Limitations Act 1980

ADVERSE POSSESSION.  Section S17 The recovery of un-registered real physical land is reduced to 12 years.  The period is extended to 30 years for property action against the Crown. Section 38(1) defines land does not apply to incorporeal hereditaments (Lordships and their Titles).

The Highways Act 1980 s49

Where a lord is liable to maintain the approaches to a bridge by reason of the fact that he is liable to maintain the bridge by reason of tenure or prescription, his liability to maintain the approaches extends to 100 yards from each end of the bridge.

Statute Law Repeals Act 1986

Repeals Limitation Act 1623. There is now no limitation period for lordships (incorporeal hereditaments), one has to produce deeds back to 1189.

Land Registration Act 2002

Closed the HM Land Registry to new registrations of lordship from 13th October 2003. Paragraph 5(a) of Schedule 4 of the Act enables the Registry to de-register a lordship if it receives prove that it has made a mistake with a registration.

Land Registration Act 2002

Under section 117 after 12th October 2013 manorial rights cannot be exercised over registered land unless they were registered before this date.

Land Registry Case No 2007/1124 Burton & Banford v Walker & others – Adjudicator (Stephen Jourdan QC)

Incorporeal hereditaments are incapable of being adversely possessed.  Prescription not possible, “This is a fictional lawful grant”.  Grants of lordships has not been possible since 1290. Crown could continue to create lordships until 1585. Presumption of history confirmed by Court Order is the only way to confirm ownership of a lordship.