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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/828

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ancing makes it necessary to reserve that interesting chain of events for future consideration.

That the early law took no cognizance of ownership apart from possession was strikingly exhibited in the view which it took of inheritances. The estate of a possessor in lands was palpably terminated by his death. Yet his heir acquired no estate in the lands except by entering into the possession. If the heir died before entry, the lands went, not to his heir, but to the next heir of the ancestor who died in possession. In like manner, though one had received a deed of lands, yet if he died before entering into possession, he was deemed not to have acquired any estate, and consequently left nothing which his heirs could inherit, or of which his widow could have dower. And so it was, although he had actually entered into the possession under a deed, unless he had been publicly invested by the ceremony of livery of seisin.

It was among the miscellaneous corollaries of the livery of seisin that it was impossible for a landlord to sell his interest in the land without the concurrence of his tenant. The tenant being in possession, the landlord could only make livery of seisin to the purchaser by arranging with the tenant to temporarily retire, so that he, the landlord, could take the possession and deliver it, after which the tenant would resume possession under the new owner. In this and a variety of other ways the livery of seisin entered into the law of attornment.

We have remaining space only for casual reference to some of the processes, in addition to those already mentioned, by which the old notions and customs, which have been our theme, were gradually displaced or assimilated by modern legal conceptions. The idea of possession was gradually enlarged, so that one who had been in the actual possession was deemed to continue in it until it was seized by another, even though the property were in fact vacant.

Delivery, which at first must be made on the land, was afterward permitted to be made in presence of the neighbors at any place in sight of the land, and later at public places even more remote; and delivery of one tract might be made for several tracts in the same county; but in none of these cases did the estate pass until, in pursuance of such constructive deliveries, possession had been actually taken. So it became the custom to substitute a symbolic for an actual delivery, as by delivering a turf from the land or a key of the house. And so there came a time when, if one had bought and paid for land from another, who then refused to make livery of seisin, courts of equity would specifically enforce the agreement by compelling the delivery.

The celebrated statute of uses, 27 Henry VIII, opened up the way for conveyances without delivery. Into these newly opened