HL Deb 14 February 1856 vol 140 c705

presented a petition from copyholders of the Forest of Pendle, praying for the assimilation of the law affecting freehold with respect to Dower to Copyhold and Customary Law; and observed that the question involved was a very important one. Their Lordships would remember that among valuable law reforms effected of late years, through the exertions of the Real Property Commissioners, there was one providing for the more equitable adjustment of dowers payable out of freehold estates. There could be no doubt whatever that it was not the intention of the framers of that Act to extend its operation beyond freehold estates; but the present petition, which emanated from a large number of persons holding estates on the old customary copyhold tenure, set forth—and he had no reason to doubt, correctly—the numerous advantages which would arise from the extension of that Act to copyholds. He had, therefore, to ask the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack whether the Government would bring in a Bill on the subject?


could not undertake to say that the Government would bring in a Bill with respect to a matter which was now brought before the House for the first time. He certainly thought some reform more practically useful might be made than to extend all the anomalies attendant upon the law of dower in freeholds to copyhold estates; at the same time he would promise to give his serious attention to the subject.


said, that having assisted to frame the Act of Parliament in question, he could state that the reason why copyholds could not be introduced into the Bill was from the variety of customs respecting the apportionment of the dower in different manors, the widow having sometimes one-half, at others a third, and often smaller portions; so that there was great difficulty in framing a law that would be suitable to the two descriptions of tenure.