It is a popular belief that if an old family claims they own Lordship Rights they MUST DO! However, ownership of any property cannot be based on what someone says, whoever they are. This is what the LAW says.
In 2010 a land mark case Burton v Walker made it clear that the law would only support a proof of ownership using a full set of deeds dating back to Time Immemorial (3rd September 1189) or at the latest 1290 if the lordship was created later than 1189.
It is generally accepted that almost no such sets of deeds exist, so effectively there are NO OWNERS.
If an owner was to be found with deeds this causes problems in itself for the potential purchaser.
Firstly, the core chain of ownership needs to be identified however in addition to the core chain of ownership there would probably be copies of various other documents. These would be leases and other grants that had been made during the 800 year period to name but two. The first job would be to sift through all of the documents and try and find the chain of ownership. This is not as easy as it sounds.
At the start of this period English was not the language of England. There was a mixture of Norman French (Normandy was a separate country), French and Latin languages. As very few people could write in those days and they did not spell in the same way as we do now (words were phonetically spelt). So once a chain of ownership deeds has been pulled from the principle pile each of the dates of the deeds would need to be ticked back to ensure there were no gaps. This is also more complex than it sounds as we are not talking just one sort of deed but also probates where the Lord had died. There were also grants of the Lordship/Manor where the Lordship had been returned to the Crown for whatever reason.
Now we are getting close to a set of deeds. We have one hurdle to cross. The law was not static during the 800 year period. In different centuries the law stated that the Lordship had to be conveyed in a certain way to that of the physical Manor. Each deed would need to be checked to the law prevailing at the time of its creation to ensure it was completed correctly. One mistake and the deeds would not convey the Lordship rights.
So what is the point of the exercise we have detailed? The case above lasted for over two years and each party spent over £500,000 trying to prove their ownership. The point we are making is it should cost a purchaser of rights to a manorial title about £100,000 – £200,000 in legal costs to attempt to make the acquisition. This would be fine if there could be complete certainty of gaining ownership and a multi-million pound find of oil or minerals.
So whilst in theory there are owners from the past there is no way of telling who they are. All we have is the law, and just like adverse possession of land (a new owner can be created in law where an owner cannot be found) Manorial Counsel use the law to create ownership for these ‘owner-less’ rights, creating the New Legal Right to a Lordship or Barony Title, providing the legal use and ownership.