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in law, manner in which property in land is held. The nature of tenure has long been of great importance, both in law and in the broader economic and political context.
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Freehold,borough (1990 pop. 10,742), seat of Monmouth co., E central N.J.; settled c.1650, called Monmouth Courthouse (1715–1801), inc. as a town 1869, as a borough 1919. A former farm-trade and factory center, the borough is now a commercial hub for fast-growing surrounding Freehold Township and neighboring suburbs. St. Peter's Episcopal Church dates from c.1683. The Revolutionary War battle of Monmouth (see Monmouth, battle ofMonmouth, battle of,
in the American Revolution, fought June 28, 1778, near the village of Monmouth Courthouse (now Freehold, N.J.). Gen. George Washington chose this location to attack the British troops, who were retreating from Philadelphia to New York City. Gen.
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a term for various forms of feudal landholding in medieval England. The concept of freehold in English common law included the holdings possessed by knights on condition of military service, the rented lands held by peasants and urban dwellers, and the holdings of the church. In a narrower sense, a freehold was a free holding within a manor; it was juridically contrasted to the holding of a villein and, from the 15th century, to the copyhold.
The peasant freeholder characteristically enjoyed personal freedom and the right of defense in the royal courts. He paid a relatively low fixed rent and had the right to dispose freely of his holding through devisal, partition, or alienation. By the late 12th century, these conditions had enabled the most prosperous peasant freeholders to attain a status close to that of petty feudal landowners. At the same time, the process of class differentiation among the peasantry entailed the impoverishment of most small peasant freeholders, whose status was reduced to that of villeins, later known as copyholders. The freehold was the form of landholding that provided the most favorable conditions for the transformation of land into bourgeois property.