DEVON-L ArchivesArchiver > DEVON > 2010-12 > 1292931789
From: "Tompkins, M L.L. (Dr.)" <>
Subject: [DEV] Leases for lives (was: Lease terms)
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 11:43:09 +0000
I accidentally sent my reply last night to Nick alone, so I'm now re-posting it to the list, partly in the hope that someone who knows more about the detailed operation of leases for lives than I will be able to add to it:
Leases for lives were the standard form of farm lease in many parts of western England. As Joy said, the idea was that the lease would last until all three of the 'lives' were dead, though this intention was commonly given effect by granting a lease for 99 years, determinable within that period when the last of the three 'lives' died. The three lives would typically be the lessee himself plus two sons, or his wife and one son - at least one of the lives would be someone very young, to maximise the chance of a long lease term.
I'm uncertain whether this particular lease is for three lives or two. Normally the three lives are described as such, but here there are stated to be just two lives, the lessee and a young boy (presumably a relative), which are 'in reversion of' a third family member, the lessee's father Richard Elston - is he a third life?. The turn of phrase is rather unusual (though a bit of googling does reveal other examples), and it seems odd to include an elderly family member as one of the three lives, when two young ones would be more likely to produce a long lease term.
I think the explanation must be something to do with the fact that the preceding entry in the DRO calendar is another lease of the same property, granted back in 1682 to Richard Elston's own father, with Richard as the second life. This lease must still have been in existence in 1744. I suppose the idea is that the 1744 lease is for two lives but is reversionary to that 1682 lease, i.e. the 1744 lease will only kick in when Richard dies and the 1682 lease ends. This is a slightly unusual way of dealing with a common eventuality - it was normal, when a lease for three lives was down to its last life, for a new lease to be negotiated with the landlord, the three lives of the new lease typically being the current last life plus two new ones. Usually this new lease just replaced the old one, taking effect immediately, but here they seem to achieving the same end by keeping the existing lease in existence and making the new lease reversionary to it, to come into effect only w!
hen Richard dies.
The 'consideration' was indeed the price paid for the lease. Leases for lives typically reserved a very low annual rent (in this case a mere 8s. 2d. p.a.), but the landlord received a large up-front payment.
A heriot was an ancient medieval payment due to the lord of the manor whenever a copyhold tenant died or transferred his tenancy. It was usually the tenant's best beast, but in the 15th and 16th centuries many landlords and tenants began to agree at the start of a tenancy that the heriot would be a fixed cash sum instead - in this case, 40s. Leases for lives developed out of copyhold tenure and often preserved aspects of the old copyhold obligations - in this case the heriot and the capon rent (a capon was a neutered chicken and was a common element in copyhold rents). I'm not sure whether heriots were usually paid every time one of the three 'lives' died, or only when the third one died, or whether the lives were irrelevant and heriots were paid only when the lessee died or sold the lease. It may have varied from manor to manor.
This raises a further question which I have always been uncertain about - to what extent were the three lives entitled to be the lessee, ie to own the lease? In theory the lives should have nothing to do with ownership, they are merely the means by which the length of the term is defined, and the lease could be owned by people quite unrelated to the individuals whose deaths will bring it to a sudden end. However the lessee named in the lease is almost always one of the lives, and the other two lives are usually people who might be expected to inherit it on his death - his wife or his sons or daughters or other close relatives (and on at least one estate in Lancashire it was common for the lessee's mortgagee to be one of the lives, presumably to reflect his interest in the ownership of the lease). So what happened when the lessee died - was it understood that the lease would pass to the next life, whether or not he or she would be the heir at law? Could the lessee leave t!
he lease to someone else, other than the next life, by will? Could he sell the lease? What if he has mortgaged it - can the mortgagee foreclose and sell the lease? Or was a lease for lives in effect an entailed estate, whose future ownership was limited to the persons named as lives?
From: [mailto:] On Behalf Of Nick Heard
Sent: 20 December 2010 11:10
To: Devon List
Subject: [DEV] Lease terms
The following is the summary of a lease from A2A.
Counterpart Lease for 99 years determinable as below.
(1) John Tuckfield of Fulford, Esq.
(2) John Elston of Morchard Bishop, sergeweaver.
Moiety of Butcombe Tenement.
Lives: the said John Elston aged 45 years and Jonas Labbet aged 3 years.
In reversion of Richard Elston, father of the said John Elston.
Consideration: £52. 8s.
Rent: 6s. 8d., and a capon or 1s. 6d.
I understand this is a lease from Tuckfield of Fulford to john Elston, for part, probably one half of Butcombe tenement.
But what does the rest signify? Lives? In reversion? Is consideration the purchase of the lease? Is that likely to be an annual rent or quarterly? What is an heriot?
Grateful for any light that can be thrown on this.
|[DEV] Leases for lives (was: Lease terms) by "Tompkins, M L.L. (Dr.)" <>|