1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Feu

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FEU, in Scotland, the commonest mode of land tenure. The word is the Scots variant of “fee” (q.v.). The relics of the feudal system still dominate Scots conveyancing. That system has recognized as many as seven forms of tenure—ward, socage, mortification, feu, blench, burgage, booking. Ward, the original military holding, was abolished in 1747 (20 G. II. c. 20), as an effect of the rising of 1745. Socage and mortification have long since disappeared. Booking is a conveyance peculiar to the borough of Paisley, but does not differ essentially from feu. Burgage is the system by which land is held in royal boroughs. Blench holding is by a nominal payment, as of a penny Scots, or a red rose, often only to be rendered upon demand. In feu holding there is a substantial annual payment in money or in kind in return for the enjoyment of the land. The crown is the first overlord or superior, and land is held of it by crown vassals, but they in their turn may “feu” their land, as it is called, to others who become their vassals, whilst they themselves are mediate overlords or superiors; and this process of sub-infeudation may be repeated to an indefinite extent. The Conveyancing Act of 1874 renders any clause in a disposition against sub-infeudation null and void. In England on the other hand, since 1290, when the statute Quia Emptores was passed, sub-infeudation is impossible, as the new holder simply effaces the grantor, holding by the same title as the grantor himself. Casualties, which are a feature of land held in feu, are certain payments made to the superior, contingent on the happening of certain events. The most important was the payment of an amount equal to one year’s feu-duty by a new holder, whether heir or purchaser of the feu. The Conveyancing Act of 1874 abolished casualties in all feus after that date, and power was given to redeem this burden on feus already existing. If the vassal does not pay the feu-duty for two years, the superior, among other remedies, may obtain by legal process a decree of irritancy, whereupon tinsel or forfeiture of the feu follows. Previously to 1832 only the vassals of the crown had votes in parliamentary elections for the Scots counties, and this made in favour of sub-infeudation as against sale outright. In Orkney and Shetland land is still largely possessed as udal property, a holding derived or handed down from the time when these islands belonged to Norway. Such lands may be converted into feus at the will of the proprietor and held from the crown or Lord Dundas. At one time the system of conveyancing by which the transfer of feus was effected was curious and complicated, requiring the presence of parties on the land itself and the symbolical handing over of the property, together with the registration of various documents. But legislation since the middle of the 19th century has changed all that. The system of feuing in Scotland, as contrasted with that of long leaseholds in England, has tended to secure greater solidity and firmness in the average buildings of the northern country.

See Erskine’s Principles; Bell’s Principles; Rankine, Law of Landownership in Scotland.