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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;
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4382. LAND, Allodial and Feudal tenures.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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4382. LAND, Allodial and Feudal tenures.—

An error in the nature of our land


Page 466
holdings * * * crept in at a very early period
of our settlement. The introduction of the
Feudal tenures into the Kingdom of England,
though ancient, is well enough understood to
set this matter in a proper light. In the earlier
ages of the Saxon settlement, Feudal holdings
were certainly altogether unknown, and
very few, if any, had been introduced at the
time of the Norman Conquest. Our Saxon
ancestors held their lands, as they did their personal
property, in absolute dominion, disencumbered
with any superior, answering nearly to
the nature of those possessions which the
Feudalists term Allodial. William, the Norman,
first introduced that system generally.
The land which had belonged to those who fell
in the Battle of Hastings, and in the subsequent
insurrections of his reign, formed a considerable
proportion of the lands of the whole Kingdom.
These he granted out, subject to Feudal duties,
as did he also those of a great number of his
new subjects, who, by persuasions or threats,
were induced to surrender them for that purpose.
But still, much was left in the hands of
his Saxon subjects, held of no superior, and
not subject to Feudal conditions. These, therefore,
by express laws, enacted to render uniform
the system of military defence, were
made liable to the same military duties as if
they had been Feuds; and the Norman lawyers
soon found means to saddle them, also, with all
the other Feudal burthens. But still they had
not been surrendered to the King, they were
not derived from his grant, and therefore they
were not holden of him. A general principle
indeed, was introduced, that “all lands in England
were held either mediately or immediately
of the Crown”; but this was borrowed from
those holdings which were truly Feudal, and
only applied to others for the purposes of illustration.
Feudal holdings were therefore but exceptions
out of the Saxon laws of possession,
under which all lands were held in absolute
right. These, therefore, still form the basis, or
groundwork, of the Common law, to prevail
wheresoever the exceptions have not taken
place. America was not conquered by William,
the Norman, nor were its lands surrendered to
him or any of his successors. Possessions there
are, undoubtedly, of the Allodial nature. Our
ancestors, however, who emigrated hither, were
laborers, not lawyers. The fictitious principle,
that all lands belong originally to the King,
they were early persuaded to believe real; and
accordingly took grants of their own lands
from the Crown. And while the Crown continued
to grant for small sums, and on reasonable
rents, there was no inducement to arrest
the error, and lay it open to the public view.
But his Majesty has lately taken on him to advance
the terms of purchase, and of holding to
the double of what they were, by which means
the acquisition of lands being rendered difficult
the population of our country is likely to be
checked. It is time, therefore to lay this matter
before his Majesty, and to declare, that he
has no right to grant lands of himself.—
Rights of British America. Washington ed. i, 138. Ford ed., i, 443.