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held them to be from year to year, so long as both parties please, especially where an annual rent is reserved. In such case, they will not suffer either party to determine the tenancy even at the end of the year, without reasonable notice to the other, which is usually understood to be six months.
Copyhold Estates. A very important species of estates at will is that of an estate held by copy of court-roll, a copyhold estate. Originally this was nothing better than an estate at will. The indulgence of successive lords of manors having permitted these estates ta be enjoyed by the tenants and their heirs, according to particular customs of their districts, the will of the lord became qualified and limited by the custom of the manor. The custom was regarded as evidence of the lord's will, which hence became no longer arbitrary and precarious, but fixed by the custom. A copyhold tenant is therefore now as fully a tenant by the custom as a tenant at will.
Copyhold Tenant. Almost every copyhold tenant was therefore thus tenant at the will of the lord, according to the custom of the manor, which customs differ as much as the humor and temper of the respective lords. Such tenant, so far as the custom warrants, may have any other of the estates, or quantities of interest, and hold them united with this customary estate at will. In many manors, a copyholder may be tenant in fee-simple, in fee-tail, for life, by the curtesy, in dower, for years, at sufferance, or on condition, subject however to be deprived of these estates, upon the concurrence of circumstances, which the will of the lord, promulgated by custom, has declared to be a forfeiture, or absolute determination of these interests. Yet none of these interests amount to a freehold, for the freehold of the entire manor abides in the lord only, who has granted out the use and occupation, but not the corporal seisin of certain parcels thereof to his customary tenants at will.
Copyhold Tenure. Its Origin. This complicated tenure, by which the same man, with regard to the same land, was at the same time tenant in fee-simple, and also tenant at the lord's will, apparently arose from the nature of villenage tenure, in which a grant of any estate of freehold, or even for years absolutely, was an immediate enfranchisement of the villein. The lords, while willing to grant estates to their villeins, which might endure for their lives, or sometimes descend to their issue, yet not caring to manumit them entirely, might scruple to grant them an absolute freehold; and hence contrived, that a power of resumption at the will of the lord should be annexed to these grants, whereby the tenants were still kept in a state of villenage, and no freehold conveyed them in their respective lands, which remained in the lord.
Modern Copyholds. Afterwards, when these villeins became modern copyholders, and by custom had acquired an indefeasible estate in their lands, in performing the usual services, but yet continued to be styled tenants at the will of the lord, the law determined, that the freehold of lands so held abides in the lord of the manor, and not in the tenant; for though he really holds to him and his heirs forever, yet he is also said to hold at another's will.
Customary Freeholders. But copyholders of free or privileged tenure, derived from the ancient tenants in villeinsocage, are not said to hold at the will of the lord, but only according to the custom of the manor. There is no absurdity in them enjoying a freehold interest, and hence the law does not suppose the freehold of such lands to rest in the lord, but in the tenants themselves, who are sometimes called customary freeholders, being allowed to have a freehold interest. but not a freehold tenure.
Present Status. In common cases, copyholds are still ranked among tenancies at will, though custom, which is the life of the common law, has established a permanent property in the copyholders, who were formerly little better than bondmen, equal to that of the lord himself, in the tenements held of the manor, nay sometimes, even superior; for we may now look upon a copyholder of inheritance, with a fine certain, to be little inferior to an absolute freeholder in point of interest, and in the clearness and security of his title, frequently in a better situation. III. ESTATES AT SUFFERANCE.
Defined. This is where one comes into possession of land by lawful title, but subsequently retains it without any title whatever. As if a man takes a lease for a year, and at its expiration continues to hold the premises, without fresh lease from the owner of the estate. Or if a man makes a lease at will, and dies, the estate at will is thereby determined, but if the tenant continue the possession, he is a tenant at sufferance. But no man can be tenant at sufferance against the king, to whom no laches or neglect in not ousting the tenant is ever imputed by law, but his tenant, so holding, is considered an intruder.
How Terminated. But in the case of a subject, this estate may be destroyed, whenever the true owner shall make an actual entry on the lands, and oust the tenant, for before entry, he cannot maintain an action of trespass against the tenant by sufferance, as against a stranger, because such tenant being once in possession under a lawful title, the law supposes him to continue under an equally lawful title, unless the owner of the land, by some public act such as entry, declares his continuance wrongful.
Ejectment, or Notice to Quit. Landlords are obliged in these cases to make formal entries upon their lands, and recover possession by ejectment, and at the utmost by the common law, the tenant was bound to account for the profits of the land detained. By statute of George II, after written notice to deliver possession, and refusal or neglect on the part of the tenant, the latter shall pay double the yearly value. Tenancy at sufferance is now almost in disuse, except by consent of the owner.
CHAPTER X.-ESTATES UPON CONDITION.
Defined. The existence of an estate upon condition depends upon the happening or not happening of some uncertain event, whereby the estate may be either originally created or enlarged, or finally defeated. These conditional estates are more properly qualifications of other estates, than a distinct species; as any quantity of interest, a fee, a freehold or a term of years, may depend upon these provisional restrictions. .
Kinds. They are of two sorts:
2. Estates upon condition expressed, under which may be included:
3. Estates held in vadro, gage or pledge.
I. ESTATES UPON CONDITION IMPLIED IN LAW.
Defined. This is where a grant of an estate has a condition annexed to it inseparably, from its essence and constitution, although no condition be expressed in words. As if a grant of an office be made to a man, without other words; the law tacitly annexes a condition, that the grantee shall duly execute his office, on breach of which condition, the grantor or his heirs may oust him.
Offices—Mis-user and Non-user. An office, either public or private, may be forfeited by mis-user or non-user, both of which are breaches of this implied condition. By mis-user, or abuse, as where a judge accepts a bribe. By non-user, or neglect, which in public offices that concern the administration of justice or the commonwealth, is of itself a direct cause of forfeiture; but non-user of a private office is no cause of forfeiture, unless some special damage is occasioned thereby. Public offices require constant attention, but private offices not demanding so unremitting a service, the temporary neglect of them is not necessarily productive of mischief, upon which account some special loss must be proven, in order to vacate these. Franchises, being regal privileges in the hands of a subject, are held to be granted on the same condition of making a proper use of them, and may be forfeited, either by abuse or neglect.
Forfeiture of Estates. All forfeitures of estates for any acts of the tenant, that are incompatible with the estate, which he holds, comes under this principle. As if tenants for life or years enfeoff a stranger in fee-simple; that is, by common law, a forfeiture of their estates, being a breach of the implied condition, that they shall not attempt to create a greater estate than they possess themselves. So if a tenant for life, for years or in fee commit a felony, the king or other lord of the fee is entitled to the tenements, because there is a condition, that the tenants shall not commit felony, which the law tacitly annexes to every feudal donation.
II. ESTATES UPON CONDITION EXPRESSED IN THE GRANT.
Defined. This is where an estate is granted, either in feesimple or otherwise, with an express qualification annexed, whereby the estate granted shall either commence, be enlarged or defeated, upon performance or breach of such qualification or condition.
Conditions Precedent. These conditions are either precedent or subsequent. Precedent conditions are those that must happen or be performed, before the estate can vest or be enlarged; subsequent are such, by the failure or non-performance of which, an estate already vested may be defeated. Thus if an estate for life be limited to A, upon his marriage with B, the marriage is a precedent condition, and till that happens, no estate is vested in A. So a grant to a man of an estate, upon condition he pays a certain sum within a limited time, is also a condition precedent.
Conditions Subsequent. But if a man grants an estate in fee-simple, reserving to himself and his heirs a certain rent, and that if such rent be not paid at the time limited, it shall be lawful for him and his heirs to re-enter and avoid the estate; this is an estate upon condition subsequent, which is defeasible, if the condition be not strictly performed. To this class may also be referred all base fees and fee-simples conditional at the common law. Thus an estate to a man and his heirs, tenants of a certain manor, is an estate, on condition that he and his heirs continue tenants of such manor.
Dependence of Other Estates. Upon the same principle depend the determinable estates of freehold, heretofore mentioned, as durante viduitate, estates upon condition that the widow do not marry, and the like. On the breach of these subsequent conditions, the estates are determined.
Limitation of Estate. A distinction is made between a condition in deed and a limitation, which Littleton terms also a condition in law. When an estate is so limited by the words of its creation, that it cannot endure longer than till the contingency happens, upon which it is to fail, this is denominated a limitation, as when land is granted to man, so long as he is the parson of X, or while he continues unmarried. The next subsequent estate, which depends upon such determination, becomes immediately vested, as soon as the contingency happens, without
any act done by him, who is next in expectancy.
Condition in Deed. But when an estate is upon condition in deed, as if granted expressly upon condition to be void upon
the payment of a certain sum by the grantor, or so that the grantee remains unmarried, the law permits it to endure beyond the time, when such contingency happens, unless the grantor or