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copyhold. Rack rents, or leasehold rents, in which the tenant pays an economic rent to the landlord, only became common across the country in the later 19th cent. Until then large parts of England, particularly in the north and west, but also in Norfolk, the home of the agricultural revolution, had a variety of arrangements offering more (or less) security to the tenant. These included copyhold, customaryhold, lifeleasehold, three-life, and 99-year leases, which gave the tenant virtual rights of ownership in return for a small annual rent, and occasional ‘fines’, payable usually on the death of the owner before the property could be transferred to his family. Copyhold literally meant ‘by copy of the court roll’, in other words by an agreement entered into the court rolls of the manor, and therefore approved by both landlord and tenant. These forms of tenure relieved the landlord of the responsibility of looking after the land, but were generally held not to have improved the quality of farming. By the 19th cent. the traditional rents were so out of line with real values that landlords sought to convert them to rack rents. However, copyhold was only abolished in 1926.

John Beckett

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