Tenures Abolition Act 1660

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The Tenures Abolition Act 1660[1]
Long title An Act takeing away the Court of Wards and Liveries and Tenures in Capite and by Knights Service and Purveyance, and for setling a Revenue upon His Majesty in Lieu thereof.[2]
Citation 12 Car 2 c 24
Status: Amended
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Tenures Abolition Act 1660 (12 Car 2 c 24), sometimes known as the Statute of Tenures, was an Act of the Parliament of England which changed the nature of feudal land tenure in England. The long title of the Act was An act for taking away the Court of Wards and liveries, and tenures in capite, and by knights-service, and purveyance, and for settling a revenue upon his Majesty in lieu thereof.

This Act was partly in force in Great Britain at the end of 2010.[3] though only section 4:

And that all tenures hereafter to be created by the Kings Majestie his Heires or Successors upon any gifts or grants of any Mannours Lands Tenements or Hereditaments of any Estate of Inheritance at the common Law shall be in free and common Soccage, and shall be adjudged to be in free and common Soccage onely, and not by Knight service or in Capite, and shall be discharged of all Wardship value and forfeiture of Marriage Livery Primer-Seizin Ouster le main Aide pur faier fitz Chivalier & pur file marrier, Any Law Statute or reservation to the contrary thereof any wise notwithstanding.

Passed in 1660 by the Convention Parliament shortly after the English Restoration, the Act replaced various types of military and religious service tenants owed to the Crown with socage, and compensated the monarch with an annual fixed payment of £100,000 to be raised by means of a new tax on alcohol. (Frankalmoin, copyhold, and certain aspects of grand serjeanty were excluded.) It completed a process that had begun in 1610 during the reign of James I with the proposal of the Great Contract.

The Statute is best known because of its supposed constitutional significance in shifting away from feudalism. However, by abolishing feudal obligations due from those with feudal tenure it in fact reinforced feudal tenancies of the aristocracy. The Act allowed them to retain their tenancies without the burden of feudal impositions. While socage (rent) supposedly replaced feudal obligations to the monarch, no rent was paid. Instead the Act introduced and created the machinery for the collection of a new form of taxation, called excise. The effect of the introduction of excise duty was to impose taxation on the general public to provide an income for the monarch as a monetary replacement for the abolition of feudal tenures by the aristocracy.

Section 3 of the Act repealed the Acts 32 Hen 8 c 46, and 33 Hen 8 c 22, thereby abolishing the Court of Wards and Liveries, established in 1540, which had been responsible for revenue collection under the feudal tenure system. It was also the first Act (section 14) to impose an excise duty on tea,[4] as well as on coffee, sherbet and chocolate; the duty was placed on the manufactured beverage, and not the raw tea or coffee, treating it in much the same way as beer or spirits.

The Act also let a father, by will, designate a guardian for his children. The rights of this guardian superseded those of the children's mother.[5][6]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by section 5 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  2. ^ These words are printed against this Act in the second column of Schedule 2 to the Statute Law Revision Act 1948, which is headed "Title".
  3. ^ The Chronological Table of the Statutes, 1235 - 2010. The Stationery Office. 2011. ISBN 978-0-11-840509-6. Part I. Page 63, read with pages viii and x.
  4. ^ 'Book 1, Ch. 14: From the Restoration to the Fire', A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773), pp. 210-30. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=46731. Date accessed: 07 March 2007.
  5. ^ Barnett (1998-09-01). Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence (1 ed.). Routledge Cavendish. ISBN 1-85941-237-8. 
  6. ^ O'Halloran, Kerry (December 1999). The Welfare of the Child: The Principle and the Law. Ashgate. ISBN 1-85742-290-2. 


  • The Law & Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914, ed. W. C. Costin & J. Steven Watson. A&C Black, 1952. Vol. I (1660–1783), p. 2-4
  • 'Charles II, 1660: An Act takeing away the Court of Wards and Liveries and Tenures in Capite and by Knights Service and Purveyance, and for settling a Revenue upon his Majesty in Lieu thereof.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), pp. 259–66. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47272. Date accessed: 5 March 2007.
  • Perrins, Bryn (2000-01-01). Understanding Land Law (1 ed.). Routledge Cavendish. ISBN 1-85941-538-5. 

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