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Depiction of socage on the royal demesne[a]A demesne is a lord’s home farm. (miniature from the Queen Mary Psalter, c. 1310). British Library, London.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Socage is a form of tenure under English feudal property law in which a tenant, known as a socager, is permitted to live on part of his lord’s land in return for agricultural services or money rent, as opposed to the military service required by knight tenure.[1]

The modern concept of freehold originates with these feudal services “of a free and honourable kind rendered to a superior in return for an inheritable property.” By 1400 most men had become free as opposed to being serfs, and the freedom became attached to the land, which if it was worth at least 40 shillings a year allowed its tenant a vote in parliamentary elections after 1432.[2]




Arnold-Baker, C. (2001). Land Tenure – England. In The Companion to British History (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Staff writer. (2006). socage. In E. Knowles (Ed.), Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (online). Oxford University Press.