1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Feoffment

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FEOFFMENT, in English law during the feudal period, the usual method of granting or conveying a freehold or fee. For the derivation of the word see Fief and Fee. The essential elements were livery of seisin (delivery or possession), which consisted in formally giving to the feoffee on the land a clod or turf, or a growing twig, as a symbol of the transfer of the land, and words by the feoffor declaratory of his intent to deliver possession to the feoffee with a “limitation” of the estate intended to be transferred. This was called livery in deed. Livery in law was made not on but in sight of this land, the feoffor saying to the feoffee, “I give you that land; enter and take possession.” Livery in law, in order to pass the estate, had to be perfected by entry by the feoffee during the joint lives of himself and the feoffor. It was usual to evidence the feoffment by writing in a charter or deed of feoffement; but writing was not essential until the Statute of Frauds; now, by the Real Property Act 1845, a conveyance of real property is void unless evidenced by deed, and thus feoffments have been rendered unnecessary and superfluous. All corporeal hereditaments were by that act declared to be in grant as well as livery, i.e. they could be granted by deed without livery. A feoffment might be a tortious conveyance, i.e. if a person attempted to give to the feoffee a greater estate than he himself had in the land, he forfeited the estate of which he was seised. (See Conveyancing; Real Property.)