|Sir Thomas de Littleton|
Sir Thomas Littleton
|Died||23 August 1481 (aged 73–74)|
Sir William Littleton
|Father||Thomas Westcote or Heuster alias Littleton|
Sir Thomas de Littleton or de Lyttleton (c.1407 – 23 August 1481) was an English judge and legal writer from the Lyttelton family.
The Lyttelton family is a British aristocratic family. Over time, several members of the Lyttelton family were made knights, baronets and peers. Hereditary titles held by the Lyttelton family include the viscountcies of Cobham and Chandos, as well as the Lyttelton barony and Lyttelton baronetcy.
Thomas de Littleton was the eldest son of Elizabeth Littleton, sole daughter and heiress of Thomas de Littleton, Lord of Frankley, Worcestershire, and Thomas Westcoteor Heuster, esquire, chief prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas. The date of Littleton's birth is uncertain; a MS. pedigree gives 1422, but it was probably earlier than this. If, as is generally accepted, he was born at Frankley Manor, it could not have been before 1407, in which year Littleton's grandfather recovered the manor from a distant branch of the family.
Frankley is a village and civil parish in the Bromsgrove district of Worcestershire, near the border with Birmingham. The modern Frankley estate is part of the New Frankley civil parish in Birmingham, and has been part of the city since 1995. The parish has a population of 122.
The word prothonotary is recorded in English since 1447, as "principal clerk of a court," from L.L. prothonotarius, from Greek protonotarios "first scribe," originally the chief of the college of recorders of the court of the Byzantine Empire, from Greek πρῶτοςprotos "first" + Latin notarius ("notary"); the -h- appeared in Medieval Latin. The title was awarded to certain high-ranking notaries.
The Court of Common Pleas, or Common Bench, was a common law court in the English legal system that covered "common pleas"; actions between subject and subject, which did not concern the king. Created in the late 12th to early 13th century after splitting from the Exchequer of Pleas, the Common Pleas served as one of the central English courts for around 600 years. Authorised by Magna Carta to sit in a fixed location, the Common Pleas sat in Westminster Hall for its entire existence, joined by the Exchequer of Pleas and Court of King's Bench.
Elizabeth Littleton and Thomas Westcote had four sons. Thomas, the eldest son and heir, took his mother's surname, likely as a condition of her marriage settlement as heir to the manor of Frankley. Two of his brothers, Nicholas and Guy, retained the surname Westcote. Nicholas Westcote married Agnes Vernon, the daughter and heiress of Edmund Vernon, and was ancestor of the Westcotes of Staffordshire, while Guy Westcote married the daughter of one Greenevill of Gloucestershire, and was ancestor of the Westcotes of Devon and Somerset.
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean.
He attended the grammar school attached to the monastery at Worcester. Thus he is cherished as an alumnus by both descendant educational institutions, today's Royal Grammar School Worcester and The King's School, Worcester. He is said by Sir Edward Coke to have "attended one of the universities", but there is no corroboration of this statement.
Sir Edward Coke was an English barrister, judge, and politician who is considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
He was probably a member of the Inner Temple, and lectured there on the statute of Westminster, i.e. Donis Conditionalibus. His name occurs in the Paston Letters (ed. J. Gairdner, p. 60) about 1445 as that of a well-known counsel and in 1481/2 he received a grant of the manor of Sheriff Hales, Shropshire, from Sir William Trussell as a reward for his services as counsel.
The Honorable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as the Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, a person must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.
Westminster is a government district and former capital of the Kingdom of England in Central London within the City of Westminster, part of the West End, on the north bank of the River Thames. Westminster's concentration of visitor attractions and historic landmarks, one of the highest in London, includes the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral.
De donis conditionalibus is the chapter of the English Statutes of Westminster (1285). It originated the law of entail – forbidding a landholder to sell his land except to his heirs.
He appears to have been Recorder of Coventry in 1450; he was made Escheator of Worcestershire, and in 1447/8 was under-sheriff of the same county; he became sergeant-at-law in 1453 and was afterwards a Justice of Assize on the northern circuit. In 1466 he was made a judge of the common pleas, and in 1475 a knight of the Bath.
A Recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.
Coventry is a city, administrative centre and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England.
Worcestershire is a county in the West Midlands of England.
He died, according to the inscription on his tomb in Worcester Cathedral, on 23 August 1481.
Littleton married, before Easter term 1447, Joan Burley (d. 22 March 1505), widow of Sir Philip Chetwynd (d. 10 May 1444) of Ingestre, Staffordshire, and daughter and coheiress of William Burley, esquire, Speaker of the House of Commons, of Broncroft in Corvedale, Shropshire, by his first wife, Ellen Grendon, daughter and co-heiress of John de Grendon of Gayton, by whom he had three sons and two daughters:
Through his three sons he became ancestor of the families holding the peerages of Cobham (formerly Lyttelton) and Hatherton. His eldest son and heir, Sir William Littleton, became ancestor of the Lyttelton Baronets, who later acquired the title Baron Lyttelton of Frankley. His second son, Richard Littleton, became founder of another wealthy dynasty, later to become the Littleton Baronets and later Barons Hatherton, through marriage into the Wynnesbury family of Pillaton Hall, near Penkridge, Staffordshire. His youngest son Thomas's descendants became another line of Littleton baronets, named for Stoke Milburgh, Shropshire.
His Treatise on Tenures was probably written after he had been appointed to the bench. According to tradition it is addressed to his second son, Richard, who went to the bar, and whose name occurs in the year books of the reign of Henry VII; it has however been argued that the words mon filz (my son) were simply a conventional way of addressing law students. The book, both historically and from its intrinsic merit, may be characterised as the first text-book upon the English law of property. The law of property in Littleton's time was mainly concerned with rights over land, and it was the law relating to this class of rights that Littleton set himself to digest and classify. The time was ripe for the task: ever since the Norman conquest, regular courts of justice had been at work administering a law that had grown out of an admixture of Teutonic custom and of Norman feudalism.
Under Henry II, the courts had been organised, and the practice of keeping regular records of the proceedings had been carefully observed. The centralising influence of the royal courts and of the justices of assize, working steadily through three centuries, had made the rules governing the law of property uniform throughout the land; local customs were confined within certain prescribed limits, and were only recognised as giving rise to certain well defined classes of rights, such, for instance, as the security of tenure acquired by villains by virtue of the custom of the manor, and the rights of freeholders, in some towns, to dispose of their land by will. Thus, by the time of Littleton (Henry VI and Edward IV), an immense mass of material had been acquired and preserved in the rolls of the various courts. Reports of important cases were published in the "year books". A glance at Statham's Abridgment, the earliest digest of decided cases, published nearly at the same time as Littleton's Tenures, is sufficient to show the enormous bulk that reported cases had already attained as materials for the knowledge of English law.
Littleton's treatise was written in that peculiar dialect compounded of Norman French and English phrases called law French .
Although it had been provided by a statute of Edward III, that viva voce proceedings in court should no longer be conducted in the French tongue, "which was much unknown in the realm", the practice of reporting proceedings in that language, and of using it in legal treatises, lingered till a much later period, and was, at length, prohibited by a statute passed in the time of the Commonwealth in 1650.
Unlike the preceding writers on English law, Glanville, Bracton, and the authors of the treatises known by the names of Britton and Fleta, Littleton borrows nothing from the sources of Roman law or the commentators. He deals exclusively with English law.
The first two books are stated, in a note to the table at the conclusion of the work, to have been made for the better understanding of certain chapters of the "Ancient Book of Tenures". This refers to a tract called The Old Tenures, said to have been written in the reign of Edward III. By way of distinguishing it from this work, Littleton's book is called in all the early editions "Tenores Novelli".
The book is written on a definite system, and is the first attempt at a scientific classification of rights over land. Littleton's method is to begin with a definition, usually clearly and briefly expressed, of the class of rights with which he is dealing. He then proceeds to illustrate the various characteristics and incidents of the class by stating particular instances, some of which refer to decisions that had actually occurred, but more of which are hypothetical cases put by way of illustration of his principles. He occasionally refers to reported cases. His book is thus much more than a mere digest of judicial decisions; to some extent, he pursues the method that gave to Roman law its breadth and consistency of principle. In Roman law, this result was attained through the practice of putting to jurisconsults hypothetical cases to be solved by them. Littleton, in like manner, is constantly stating and solving, by reference to principles of law, cases that may or may not have occurred in actual practice.
In dealing with freehold estates, Littleton adopts a classification that has been followed by all writers who have attempted to systematise the English law of land, especially Sir Matthew Hale and Sir William Blackstone. It is indeed the only possible approach to a scientific arrangement of the intricate "estates in land" that were known to English law. He classifies estates in land by reference to their duration, or, in other words, by reference to the differences between the persons who are entitled to succeed upon the death of the person in possession or "tenant".
First of all, he describes the characteristics of tenancy in fee simple. In Littleton's time and until the present day, it was the largest interest in land known to the law. Next in order comes tenancy in fee tail, the various classes of which are sketched by Littleton with brevity and accuracy; but he is silent as to the important practice, which first received judicial recognition shortly before his death, of "suffering a recovery", whereby, through a series of judicial fictions, a tenant in tail was enabled to convert his estate tail into a fee simple, thus acquiring full power of alienation.
After discussing, in their logical order, other freehold interests in land, he passes to interests in land that were called by later writers interests less than freehold – namely, tenancies for terms of years and tenancies at will. With the exception of tenancy from year to year, now so familiar to us, but which was a judicial creation of a date later than the time of Littleton, the first book is a complete statement of the principles of the common law, as they, for the most part, existed until 1925, governing and regulating interests in lands. The first book concludes with a very interesting chapter on copyhold tenures, which marks the exact point at which the tenant—by-copy-of-court-roll, the successor of the villein, who, in his turn, represented the freeman reduced to villeinage by the growth of the manorial system, acquired security of tenure.
The second book relates to the reciprocal rights and duties of lord and tenant, and is mainly of historical interest to the modern lawyer. It contains a complete statement of the law as it stood in Littleton's time relating to homage, fealty, and escuage, the money compensation to be paid to the lord in lieu of military service to be rendered to the king, a peculiar characteristic of English as distinguished from Continental feudalism.
Littleton then proceeds to notice the important features of tenure by knight's service with its distinguishing incidents of the right of wardship of the lands and person of the infant heir or heiress, and the right of disposing of the ward in marriage. The non-military freehold tenures are next dealt with: we have an account of "socage tenure", into which all military tenures were subsequently commuted by a now unrecognised act of the Long Parliament in 1650, afterwards reënacted by the well known statute of Charles II (1660), and of "frankalmoign", or the spiritual tenure by which churchmen held.
In the description of burgage tenure and tenure in villeinage, the life of which consists in the validity of ancient customs recognised by law, we recognise survivals of a time before the iron rule of feudalism had moulded the law of land in the interests of the king and the great lords. Finally he deals with the law of rents, discussing the various kinds of rents that may be reserved to the grantor upon a grant of lands and the remedies for recovery of rent, especially the remedy by distress.
The third and concluding book of Littleton's treatise deals mainly with the various ways in which rights over land can be acquired and terminated in the case of a single possessor or several possessors. This leads him to discuss the various modes in which several persons may simultaneously have rights over the same land, such as parceners (daughters who are co-heiresses, or sons in gavelkind), joint tenants and tenants in common.
Next follows an elaborate discussion upon what are called estates upon condition – a class of interests that occupied a large space in the early common law, giving rise, on one side, to estates tail, and, on another, to mortgages. In Littleton's time, a mortgage, which he carefully describes, was merely a conveyance of land by the tenant to the mortgagee, with a condition that, if the tenant paid to the mortgagee a certain sum on a certain day, he might reënter and have the land again. If the condition was not fulfilled, the interest of the mortgagee became absolute, and Littleton gives no indication of any modification of this strict rule, such as was introduced by courts of equity, permitting the debtor to redeem his land by payment of all that was due to the mortgagee although the day of payment had passed, and his interest had become, at law, indefeasible. The remainder of the work is occupied with an exposition of a miscellaneous class of modes of acquiring rights of property, the analysis of which would occupy too large a space.
The work is thus a complete summary of the common law as it stood at the time. It is nearly silent as to the remarkable class of rights that had already assumed vast practical importance – equitable interests in lands. These are only noticed incidentally in the chapter on "Releases". But it was already clear, in Littleton's time, that this class of rights would become the most important of all. Littleton's own will, which has been preserved, may be adduced in proof of this assertion.
The first edition of The Tenures appeared in 1481 or 1482, being one of the earliest books printed in London and the earliest treatise on English law printed anywhere. The second edition was printed about 1483 in London, and the third about 1490 in Rouen. These editions and many others were in the original Law French. In 1766 (second edition 1779) David Hoüard, a Norman advocate, published the Tenures under the title of Anciennes Loix des François conservées dans les coutumes angloises, arguing that they were derived from, and thus the best evidence for, early French customary law. There have also been many editions in English. In 1628 Edward Coke published The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England. Or, a Commentarie upon Littleton, Not the Name of a Lawyer Onely, but of the Law it selfe, commonly called "Coke [up]on Littleton". There have been about 25 editions of Coke upon Littleton and about 90 editions of The Tenures without the commentary. With or without commentary, The Tenures formed an important part of legal education for almost three centuries and a half and is still cited in the courts of England and the United States as an authority on the feudal law of real estate. Eugene Wambaugh wrote a learned introduction to the 1903 edition of The Tenures (Washington).
Copyhold tenure was a form of customary tenure of land common in England from the Middle Ages. The land was held according to the custom of the manor, and the mode of landholding took its name from the fact that the "title deed" received by the tenant was a copy of the relevant entry in the manorial court roll. A tenant – or mesne lord – who held land in this way was legally known as a copyholder.
Baron Lyttelton is a title that has been created twice in Peerage of Great Britain, both times for members of the Lyttelton family. Since 1889 the title has been a subsidiary title of the viscountcy of Cobham.
Viscount Cobham is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain that was created in 1718. Owing to its special remainder, the title has passed through several families. Since 1889, it has been held by members of the Lyttelton family.
Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Baronet, often Thomas de Littleton,, of North Ockenden, Essex and Stoke St Milborough, Shropshire, was an English lawyer and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1689 and 1710. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons of England from 1698 to 1700, and as Treasurer of the Navy until his death.
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to hold land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. Although a tenant does hold rights to real property, a leasehold estate is typically considered personal property.
Three baronetcies have been created in the Baronetage of England for members of the Littleton or Lyttelton family. All three lines are descended from Thomas de Littleton, a noted 15th-century jurist. Despite differences in spelling of the title, the names of all three lines were spelt in many varied ways in the early modern period, without distinction between the different branches of the family. This can be confusing, as the range of forenames in use was very limited.
John Lyttelton MP JP (1561–1601) was an English politician and member of the Lyttelton family who served as Member of Parliament for Worcestershire during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Sir Henry Lyttelton, 2nd Baronet was an English politician and member of the Lyttelton family. He was a Royalist officer during the English Civil War. After the Restoration, from 1678 to 1679 he sat in the House of Commons.
Sir Charles Lyttelton, 3rd Baronet, of Frankley, in the County of Worcester, MP was an English Governor of Jamaica, an army officer and Member of Parliament from the Lyttelton family.
Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 4th Baronet, of Frankley, in the County of Worcester, was an English landowner and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1721 to 1741. He held office as one of the Lords of the Admiralty from 1727 to 1741.
William Henry Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton MP was a British peer, politician, and colonial administrator from the Lyttelton family. He was the youngest son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, 4th Baronet.
Sir John Lyttelton was an English nobleman, politician, knight, and landowner from the Lyttelton family during the Tudor period.
Humphrey Littleton, or Humphrey Lyttelton, died on 7 April 1606 at Red Hill outside Worcester. A member of the Lyttelton family, he was executed for his involvement in the Gunpowder plot. Robert Wintour and Stephen Littleton who had escaped from the fight at Holbeche House were captured at Hagley Park on 9 January 1606 despite Littleton's protests that he was not harbouring anyone. It was Littleton who told the authorities that Edward Oldcorne was hiding at Hindlip Hall after he had given him mass. Wintour, Oldcorne, and both Littletons were all executed.
The history of English land law can be traced into Roman times, and through the Dark Ages under Saxon monarchs where, as for most of human history, land was the dominant source of personal wealth. English land law transformed from the industrial revolution and over the 19th century, as the political power of the landed aristocracy diminished, and modern legislation increasingly made land a social form of wealth, subject to extensive social regulation, such as for housing, national parks, and agriculture.
Even before the Norman Conquest, there was a strong tradition of landholding in Anglo-Saxon law. When William the Conqueror asserted sovereignty over England in 1066, he confiscated the property of the recalcitrant English landowners. Over the next dozen years, he granted land to his lords and to the dispossessed Englishmen, or affirmed their existing land holdings, in exchange for fealty and promises of military and other services. At the time of the Domesday Book, all land in England was held by someone, and from that time there has been no allodial land in England. In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown's paramount lordship, a legal fiction - that all land titles were held by the King's subjects as a result of a royal grant - was adopted.
Sir Hugh Pollard lord of the manor of King's Nympton in Devon, was Sheriff of Devon in 1535/6 and in 1545 was appointed Recorder of Barnstaple in Devon.
Whiteway House in the parish of Chudleigh in Devon is a Grade II* listed Georgian house set in parkland. It was built in the 1770s by John Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon (1735–1788) of Saltram House, Plympton, and has early 19th-century alterations. It is situated 2½ miles north of Chudleigh, at the foot of the Haldon Hills. The house had formerly a 5-bay north-east wing, a service range and a separate 19th-century service block to the rear, all demolished since 1962.
Sir Sigismund ZinzanaliasSir Sigismund Alexander was an equerry to Queen Elizabeth I and a champion in the tiltyard who participated in tournaments during the latter years of Queen Elizabeth's reign and throughout the reign of King James. He was the stepfather of Sir Matthew Brend, owner of the Globe Theatre, and during the years 1624-7 was himself the effective owner of the Globe.
Sir Edward Aston built and resided at Tixall House, Staffordshire. He served four terms as Sheriff of Staffordshire.