Heydon’s case [1584] 3 Co Rep 7a




Neutral Citation Number: [1584] EWHC Exch J36
76 ER 637, Pasch 26 Eliz, plea began 20 Eliz Rot 140
Between:Heydon Appellant

1.In an information upon an intrusion in the Exchequer[1], against Heydon, for intruding into certain lands, etc. in the county of Devon: upon the general issue, the jurors gave a special verdict to this effect.

2.First, they found that parcel of the lands in the information was ancient copyholds of the manor of Ottery, whereof the warden and canons regular of the late college of Ottery were seised in the right of the said college; and that the warden and canons of the said college, 22 H. 7. at a court of the said manor, granted the same parcel by copy, to Ware the father and Ware the son, for their lives, at the will of the lord, according to the custom of the said manor; and that the rest of the land in the information was occupied by S. and G. at the will of the warden and canons of the said college for the time being, in the time of H. 8. And further that the said S. and G. so possessed, and the said Ware and Ware so seised as aforesaid, the said warden and canons by their deed indented, dated 12 January anno 30 H. 8. did lease the same to Heydon the defendant for eighty years, rendering certain rents severally for several parcels; and found that the said several rents in Heydon’s lease reserved, were the ancient and accustomed rents of the several parcels of the lands, and found, that alter the said lease they did surrender their college, and all the possessions thereof to King Hen. 8. And further found the statute of[2] 31 Hen. 8. and the branch of it, scil. by which it is enacted, “That if any abbot, etc. or other religious and ecclesiastical house or place, within one year next before the first day of this present Parliament, hath made, or hereafter shall make any lease or grant for life, or for term of years, of any manors, messuages, lands, etc. and in the which any estate or interest for life, year or years, at the time of the making of such grant or lease, then had his being or continuance, or hereafter shall have his being or continuance, and not determined at the making of such lease, etc. Or if the usual and old rents and farms accustomed to be yielden and reserved by the space of twenty years next before the first day of this present Parliament, is not, or be not, or hereafter shall not be thereupon reserved or yielded, etc. that all and every such lease, etc. shall be utterly void.” And further found, that the particular estates aforesaid were determined, and before the intrusion Heydon’s lease began; and that Heydon entered, etc. And the great doubt which was often debated at the Bar and Bench, on this verdict, was, whether the copyhold estate of Ware and Ware for their lives, at the will of the Lords, according to the custom of the said manor, should, in judgment of law be called an estate and interest for lives, within the said general words and meaning of the said Act. And after all the Barons openly argued in Court in the same term, scil. Pasch. 26 Eliz. and it was unanimously resolved by Sir Roger Manwood, Chief Baron, and the other Barons of the Exchequer, that the said lease made to Heydon of the said parcels, whereof Ware and Ware were seised for life by copy of court-roll, was void; for it was agreed by them, that the said copyhold estate was an estate for life, within the words and meaning of the said Act. And it was resolved by them, that for the sure and true[3] interpretation of all statutes in general (be they penal[4] or beneficial, restrictive or enlarging of the common law,) four things are to be discerned and considered:


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