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Discuss Lord Derby's view on 'The objects men aim at when they become possessed of land'.

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Lord Derby: 'The objects which men aim at when they become possessed of land...may I think be enumerated as follows: (1) political influence;(2) social importance, founded on territorial possession, the most visible and unmistaken form of wealth; (3) power exercised over tenantry; the pleasure of managing, directing and improving the estate itself; (4) residential enjoyment, including what is called sport; (5) the money return - the rent.' Discuss. Up to the 19th century, land in Britain was sacred. Until 1870s, four-fifths of the land in the British Isles was in the hands of a few landed families. This form of property represented status and citizenship. These few families dominated in the political, economic as well as cultural fields since they had great influence in various important institutions such as the government, parliament as well as the church. Because of its status-conferring characteristic combined with its social, political and economic advantages, land was a form of wealth which landed-families strongly sought to keep in the family. The legal instrument by which that could be achieved was known as the strict settlement. ...read more.


Its function was to ensure that the legal estate conferred upon the eldest son's heirs could not be destroyed by any unscrupulous act of the eldest son. In other words, it preserved the inheritance of the yet unborn son. Trustees were usually men who were either members of the family, for example an uncle, or neighbouring landowners. They were to stand as watchdogs ready to enter the land should the tenant for life attempt to destroy it. In cases where there was a total failure of male successors, female heirs were the possible alternatives. This reflected that the principle of primogeniture was rigidly followed by the landed classes. However, there was a price to be paid for giving so much importance to primogeniture. This gave way to the second purpose of the strict settlement which, most probably, had the greater practical effects. The other family members had to be provided for and it was usually the eldest son's responsibilities (when he was considered to be the head of the family) ...read more.


What B acquired was called a base fee which was much less attractive than a fee simple. Thus, to enable land to be freely alienable, the common law courts established the concept of barring of the entail. This enabled the grandson to have freedom to alienate land once he became in possession of the entail. The trustee's role remained to ensure that the entail descended to the grandson. Barring unfortunately affected future generations since they could not be sure to get the family land as an heir could have already alienated it. Land was decreasingly considered as a symbol of status - conferring power, political and social influence but increasingly looked upon as a form of asset which could be disposed of for money. Hence, the use of strict settlement led to two contradicting aspirations which were very difficult to reconcile - the desire for land to remain in the family and the desire to make land freely alienable for investment and commercial purposes. Until 1925, strict settlement was still in use in English land law but later on, it was subject to many law reforms which favoured the free alienability of land. ...read more.

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