Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Quia Emptores Definition:

A 1290 English statute that held that notwithstanding the subdivision (subinfeudation) of a feeholding; the new tenant owed feudal rights and obligations not to the seller but to the Land Lord.

The statute, cited at 18 Edward 1, is one of the very first in England coming only 80 years after the Magna Carta. It reads:

"Forasmuch as purchasers of lands and tenements of the fees of great men and other lords have many times heretofore entered into their fees, to the prejudice of the lords, to whom the freeholders of such great men have sold their lands and tenements to be holden in fee of their feoffors, and not of the chief lords of the fees, whereby the same chief lords have many times lost their escheats, marriages, and wardships of lands and tenements belonging to their fees; which thing seemed very hard and extreme unto those lords and other great men, and moreover in this case manifest disheritance.

"Our lord the King, in his Parliament at Westminster after Easter, the 18th year of His Reign ..., at the instance of the great men of the Realm, granted, provided, and ordained, that from henceforth it shall be lawful to every freeman to sell at his own pleasure his lands and tenements, or part of them; so that the feoffee shall hold the same lands or tenements of the chief lord of the same fee, by such service and customs as his feoffor held before.

"And if he sell any part of such lands or tenements to any, the feoffee shall immediately hold it of the chief lord, and shall be forthwith charged with the services, for so much as pertaineth, or ought to pertain to the said chief lord for the same parcel, according to the quantity of the land or tenement so sold: and so in this case the same part of the service shall remain to the lord, to be taken by the hands of the feoffee, for the which he ought to be attendant and answerable to the same chief lord, according to the quantity of the land or tenement sold, for the parcel of the service so due."

The statute asserted that notwithstanding any "subinfeudation", the new tenants nonetheless owed duties not the selling "feeholder", but to the land lord. Feudal payments wre thus ensured to the Lord subinfeudation notwithstanding.

It demonstrated the adept ability of wealthy landowners to dominate the legislative agenda; a practice which continues to affect the common law.

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