Tenures Abolition Act 1660

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 several types 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.

Tenures Abolition Act 1660[1]
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn 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]
Citation12 Cha 2 c 24
Royal assent24 December 1660
Commencement25 April 1660
Other legislation
  • 32 Hen 8 c 46
  • 33 Hen 8 c 22
Status: Amended
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

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[a] faier fitz Chivalier[b] & pur file marrier,[c] Any Law Statute or reservation to the contrary thereof any wise notwithstanding.

Passed by the Convention Parliament in 1660, shortly after the English Restoration, the Act replaced various types of military and religious service that 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 made constitutional gestures to reduce feudalism and removed the monarch's right to demand participation of certain subjects in the Army. By abolishing feudal obligations of those holding those feudal tenures other than by socage, such as by a knight's fee, it standardized most feudal tenancies of the aristocracy and gentry. The Act converted more of their tenures into ones which demanded nil or negligible impositions to the Crown. While socage usually implied rent to be payable to the monarch, no rent was paid in the form of free and common socage as interpreted by the courts. Instead the Act introduced and appointed collection offices and courts to administer a new form of taxation, called excise. Excise duty imposed taxation on the general public to provide an income for the monarch, its ministers and civil servants, to replace these relatively common feudal tenures among the landed classes.

Section 3 of the Act repealed the Acts 32 Hen. 8 c 46,[d] and 33 Hen 8 c 22,[e] 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 (under its 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 any father, by last will and testament, designate a guardian for his children. The rights of this guardian superseded those of the children's mother.[5][page needed].[6] Sarah Abramowicz notes the ironic erosion of the father's parental rights after the 1660 act.[7]


  1. ^ pur means for or through as in pur autre vie, for the life[span] of another
  2. ^ the son of a knight
  3. ^ "line married" i.e. married lineage
  4. ^ An Act for the Establishment of the Court of the King's Wards
  5. ^ An Act concerning the Order of Wards and Liveries



  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. ^ Noorthouck, John (1773). "From the Restoration to the Fire". A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark. Vol. 1. London: R Baldwin. pp. 210–230. Retrieved 7 March 2007 – via British History Online.
  5. ^ Barnett, Hilaire (1 September 1998). 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. pp. 12, 24. ISBN 1-85742-290-2.
  7. ^ Abramowicz, Sarah. “English Child Custody Law, 1660-1839: The Origins of Judicial Intervention in Paternal Custody.” Columbia Law Review, vol. 99, no. 5, 1999, pp. 1344–92. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/1123459. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2023.


  • Costin, W. C.; Watson, J. Steven, eds. (1952). The Law & Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660–1914. Vol. I (1660–1783). A&C Black. pp. 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. Vol. 5: 1628–80. 1819. pp. 259–266. Retrieved 5 March 2007 – via British History Online.
  • Perrins, Bryn (1 January 2000). Understanding Land Law (1 ed.). Routledge Cavendish. ISBN 1-85941-538-5.

External linksEdit