Heriot was a feudal form of inheritance tax, granting the lord the right to seize his tenant’s best beast or other chattels on the death of that tenant. It originated in the custom under which the lord lent horses and armour to those of his tenants who served him in battle, so when such a tenant died, everything had to be returned to its owner.[1] The term derives from the Old English heregeatu, meaning the trappings and equipment of war.[2]

Because a lord’s customary rights tended to persist even in the absence of their original justification, heriot continued until its abolition under the terms of the Law of Property Act 1922,[3] which specified the terms of compensation to be paid to heriot holders at that time.[4]