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a principal form of feudal land tenure by peas-ants in late medieval and early Renaissance England.

Copyhold arose out of villein tenure about 1400 and became widespread in the 15th century. A copy of an excerpt from the manor’s court roll was given to the peasant, attesting to his right to own a plot. Copyhold reflected the emancipation of villeins from serfdom, the actual and legal strengthening of the peasant economy, and the replacement of the lord’s arbitrary power with customary law. However, copyholders did not have legal protection under common law and were burdened with many obligations. In most cases copyhold tenure was for life, but it was not hereditary. During the agrarian revolution that began in the 16th century, an enormous number of copyholders were deprived of their land.

The English bourgeois revolution in the 17th century kept the copyholders in the position of landholders whose rights were not recognized by common law. Copyhold tenure became obsolete as a result of parliamentary enclosures, but it was not legally abolished until 1925.


References in periodicals archive ?
The local community was bound together by the parish and its church, the poor-law system and the two local manors and their administration of the free- and copyhold of Earls Colne.
when he was mentioned in the manorial court rolls, serving on the inquisicio magna of the view of frankpledge, as constable, and standing regularly as a pledge for transactions in copyhold land.
My reply was: 'I would give every tenant of ours the freehold or copyhold of his or her house free of charge if they would sign an undertaking to (a) vest that ownership into a self-governing co-operative and (b), if they wanted to sell it, they could only sell it back to the co-operative.
A map dated 1654 shows Elswick Park, surrounded by 10 privately owned copyhold farms, owned by; Anderson, Bell, Wallis, Bartram, Riddell, Errington, Newton, Swinburn, Hodgson and my ancestor Henry Turnbull.
In 1858 Leonard Shelford explains in his Laws of Copyhold that the practice of holding title by custom still applies to copyhold tenants, who can defend their title by proving the practice's "existence at a distant time .