Dispelling the Myth… Manorial Lordship Titles and their origins.



One of the most common misunderstandings about manorial lordship titles is their origins.   

Their origins date back to Roman times when the Roman Empire set up a taxation system to pay for central Roman administration.  It was remarkably simple and efficient.  Instead of taxing people they taxed land.  As there were so many land owners they would make one land owner responsible for collecting the taxes from all of his neighbours.  These tax collectors had great power and became the first lords, seigniors in Latin.  Their appointment was not conferred with this title it grew over time through custom.  As English law recognised Custom Law the titles became embedded into English Law.

The myth that titles were bestowed comes from the Norman Conquest.  William the Conqueror did a unique thing for England that has never been repeated, he claimed all land as his own.  He also never gave away any of this land but merely granted continuous leases to people to manage the land.  As these grants were called seigniories and made to the seignior many assume this is the granting of the title as well as the actual lordship, land and land rights.  This is not the case and merely a conveyance of the rights that had already existed for hundreds of years prior to the Conquest.  This is supported by the fact that the Domesday Books which record both lords after the Conquest and lords prior to the Conquest. Many of these Lords owned their lands by holding them in possession instead of any paperwork.

So how does this knowledge influence what happens today?

The titles as created by custom law once established continue forever.  Where deeds to lordships have been lost the lordship ownership assigned by the Crown has been lost.  As we have a more sophisticated taxation system and the Crown is not interested in lordship title rights the legal right sits there unused.

What we do is not try to justify an ownership back to when the Crown granted it we refer back to the Custom Law right that was merely the use of the title.  Whereas the Crown confirmed its legal use by granting the lordship we create a new legal right confirming that the original Crown grants have been lost and therefore we legally bring it back to use.

It is not possible to do this by any other method than by intellectual property.  As with most legal scenarios it is not that simple to say a piece of intellectual property is created and the title is back in use.  Manorial Counsel took advice from a leading London Barrister who provided us with guidance how this could be done.  A combination of research and a complex mathematical database used to assess the lack of proof of any legal ownership was the solution.

According to what has been said here the Crown owns all the rights to a lordship title, in fact the Crown still owns all physical land that is ownerless.  So should we be putting back into use, by any method, property that is owned by the Crown?  There is very simple reasoning to justify what we do.  The Crown only exerts its ownership over physical land where it is worth their while.  All other land is left unclaimed.  So that this land is not a wasted resource to the country law exists whereby an individual can take possession and if they can prove they are using the land they can gain ownership after a period in time.  Lordship titles are just not important enough to justify legislation and therefore would remain wasted.

Manorial Counsel believe they are a significant part of English history and wish to see them used and valued, keeping our history and heritage alive, we are custodians for future generations. Manorial Lordship