Manuscripts and Special Collections


Copyhold land could be converted into freehold land by the Lord or Lady of the Manor. This was done either by including an enfranchisement clause into a deed of conveyance, or by a separate deed of enfranchisement. Enfranchisement transferred the land from the Lord or Lady to the new owner. The new owner paid a consideration for the transaction.

Many enfranchisements date from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, as the Copyhold Act of 1852 allowed tenants to demand enfranchisement. The Act stated that if the fee simple of the land was conveyed to the tenant, then the copyhold nature of the land was permanently extinguished.

All copyhold tenure was extinguished and turned into freehold by the Law of Property Act of 1922, which came into force on 1st January 1926.


Conversion of copyhold land into freehold land.

Features of enfranchisements

  • 19th-20th centuries
  • various sizes
  • written on parchment
  • written in English
  • indenture (wavy top edge) until the end of the nineteenth century, then deed poll (straight top edge)
  • seal

Important words and phrases

Typical phrases appearing in deeds of enfranchisement are as follows:

Hath granted bargained sold aliened released and enfranchised ...


exonerated enfranchised acquitted released and discharged ... from all ... yearly and other payments ... rent fines heriots ... [etc]

The word 'enfranchised' will always appear.


Ne 6 D 13/4/13 - Deed of enfranchisement of a close of land in the parish of Dorking and within the manor of Littleburgh alias Mickleham; 3 Jun. 1859

Deed Ne 6 D 13/4/13

View this deed

This enfranchisement has the following typical characteristics:

  • It is in the form of a deed of grant or conveyance
  • It is an indenture, that is, the top of the deed is cut in a wavy line. This indicates that the deed was made between two or more parties. Some pairs of indentures were cut from the same sheet of parchment, and could be verified by checking that the top parts of each fitted together correctly
  • It begins with the words 'This Indenture...'
  • It includes the phrase 'granted enfranchised remised released and confirmed', and it is stated that the land is 'freely clearly and absolutely enfranchised' from all manorial rents, payments and services
  • The consideration is stated in full
  • The land is transferred to Henry Thomas Hope and his heirs and assigns (i.e. in fee simple) for ever. In this particular instance it is also stated that the land will not pass to his widow for dower, and a trustee is appointed to ensure this
  • It has been signed and sealed by each of the principal parties

This transcription of the important parts of the enfranchisement has been broken down into the standard sections common to most deeds from the early modern period onwards.


This Indenture made the Third day of June one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine


Between Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot both of Grosvenor Square in the County of Middlesex Spinsters Ladies of the Manor of Littleburgh otherwise Mickleham in the County of Surrey of the first part; Henry Thomas Hope of Deepdene in the Parish of Dorking in the said County of Surrey Esquire of the second part and John Hart of Dorking aforesaid Gentleman of the third part

Operative Parts or 'Testatum'

[recitals, followed by:]

Now this Indenture witnesseth that in pursuance of the said Contract and agreement and in consideration of the sum of Sixty six pounds fifteen shillings of lawful money of Great Britain to the said Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot in hand well and truly paid by the said Henry Thomas Hope at or before the execution hereof (the receipt whereof they the said Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot do hereby acknowledge and of and from the same and every part thereof do hereby acquit release and discharge the said Henry Thomas Hope his heirs executors administrators appointees and assigns) They the said Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot Have and each of them Hath granted enfranchised remised released and confirmed unto the said Henry Thomas Hope his heirs and assigns


All that Close field or parcel or Customary land commonly called or known by the name of Hussey's Mead containing by estimation three acres (be the same more or less) lying and being in the Parish of Dorking aforesaid within and parcel of the said manor sometime since in the occupation of James Rudge then of John Rudge and now of the said Henry Thomas Hope To which said described close or parcel of land the said Henry Thomas Hope was admitted Tenant at a General Court Baron held for the said Manor on the Twelfth day of October one thousand eight hundred and thirty six on the surrender of the said John Rudge And also all Timber and other Trees ways paths passages ... [the deed goes on to detail a formulaic list of things which may or may not in reality have formed part of the property, and the common rights to which Hope was entitled as a copyhold tenant] ... And all the estate right title inheritance use trust possession property benefit claim and demand whatsoever at law or in equity of them the said Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot and each of them of in and to the same


To have and To hold all and singular the hereditaments and premises hereinbefore particularly mentioned and described and granted released and enfranchised with their rights members and appurtenances freely clearly and absolutely enfranchised acquitted and discharged by these presents from henceforth for ever of and from all maner of yearly and other payments rents quit rents chief rents customary or copyhold rents fines heriots fealty suit of Court and all other usual or customary or copyhold payments duties services or customs whatsoever which by or according to the custom of the said Manor of Littleburgh otherwise Mickleham the said hereditaments and premises hereby granted released and enfranchised or any part thereof as copyhold holden of or as parcel of the said Manor unto the said Henry Thomas Hope and his heirs To the use of the said Henry Thomas Hope and his assigns for and during the term of his natural life without impeachment of waste and from and after the determination of that estate by any means whatsoever in his lifetime To the use of the said John Hart his executors and administrators during the natural life of the said Henry Thomas Hope In trust nevertheless to and for the only use and benefit of the said Henry Thomas Hope and his assigns and to prevent dower and subject to the uses aforesaid To the only proper use and behoof of the said Henry Thomas Hope his heirs and assigns for ever

Covenants, Conditions and Provisos

[There are various covenants, summarised as follows:]

  • Warranty clause - Mary Anne Talbot and Georgina Charlotte Talbot 'are lawfully and rightfully and absolutely seized of and to the said Manor with the appurtenances...' and have 'good right full power and lawful and absolute authority by these presents to release enfranchise and assure the said hereditaments...'
  • Clause for quiet possession - that the premises may be 'peaceably and quietly had held and enjoyed' by Henry Thomas Hope and his heirs, appointees and assigns 'without any lawful let suit trouble denial eviction ejection interruption or disturbance molestation claim or demand whatsoever'; and that Hope shall be 'saved harmless' by Mary Anne and Georgina Charlotte Talbot [protected from any claims which might arise from former owners or claimants]
  • Clause for further assurance of title - Mary Anne and Georgina Charlotte Talbot will execute 'all and every such further and other lawful and reasonable acts deeds things devices conveyances and assurances in the Law whatsoever for the further better or more satisfactorily releasing enfranchising assuring and confirming the said hereditaments', if requested by Hope


In witness whereof the said Parties to these Presents have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written

[Signatures and seals of Mary Anne Talbot, Georgina Charlotte Talbot and Henry T. Hope]


Receipt for the purchase money, signed by Mary Anne and Georgina Charlotte Talbot; and the signatures of two witnesses, Charles Hart of Dorking and Alexander Hart of Dorking, solicitor.


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