Frank-almoign - Encyclopedia

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FRANK - ALMOIGN (libera eleemosyna, free alms), in the English law of real property, a species of spiritual tenure, whereby a religious corporation, aggregate or sole, holds lands of the donor to them and their successors for ever. It was a tenure dating from Saxon times, held not on the ordinary feudal conditions, but discharged of all services except the trinoda necessitas. But "they which hold in frank-almoign are bound of right before God to make orisons, prayers, masses and other divine services for the souls of their grantor or feoffor, and for the souls of their heirs which are dead, and for the prosperity and good life and good health of their heirs which are alive. And therefore they shall do no fealty to their lord, because that this divine service is better for them before God than any doing of fealty" (Litt. s. 135). It was the tenure by which the greater number of the monasteries and religious houses held their lands; it was expressly exempted from the statute 1 2 Car.II. c.24 (1660), by which the other ancient tenures were abolished, and it is the tenure by which the parochial clergy and many ecclesiastical and eleemosynary foundations hold their lands at the present day. As a form of donation, however, it came to an end by the passing of the statute Quia Emptores, for by that statute no new tenure of frank-almoign could be created, except by the crown.

See Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, where the history of frank-almoign is given at length.

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