The Doctor and Student (1518)

Christopher St. Germain

Whether the parliament may enact, that no lands shall come hereafter into mortmain by license nor without license

Stud. I suppose it maybe enacted by the parliament, that no lands, nor other inheritance, shall hereafter be given into mortmain by licence, nor without licence, but that all feoffments, fines, leases, and recoveries by covin, or by assent of the parties hereafter made, or had for mortmain, shall be void and that the house shall take no interest by it; but that it shall remain still with the feoffors or givers, or to such other use as the parliament shall appoint. For like as the parliament may ordain, that all feofments and fines, made to any manner of person, shall be void, and that every man shall stand still seised of his land without making of any alteration of posession thereof to any other, more stronger it may ordain, that no alteration of possession shall be made into mortmain. And that a statute may be made that there shall be no alteration of possession made of lands to no man, it may appear by the words of John Gerson, in his treatise of Contracts, the 6th consideration, where he says thus: “Contracts be not therefore precisely to be said unlawful and void, because they may be redeemed by the law made for such redemption. For he sayeth, ‘That they that would say so, would condemn the high maker of laws, that is God himself:’ which in the judicial law given by Moses to the Jews (as the text is open) Levit. xxv, willeth, ‘That he that selleth his inheritance may redeem it: and if lie redeem it not, yet it should return again in the year of jubilee:’ for it is there said to the Jews thus ‘All the region of your possession shall be sold under the condition of redemption.’ And though that law bindeth not now christian people, yet a like law thereto might be made by christian princes, which then by that new institution ought to be obseryed and kept, as divers of the said judicials have been in many countries.” Thus far be the words of John Gerson. And methinketh, that if a law might be made, that if a man sell his land, that he may nevertheless redeem it within certain years, whether the buyer will or no, though no such condition were spoken of at the making of the bargain: that like reason is that a law may be made, that there shall be no sales, but that every man shall continually stand still seised ,of his lands, as I have said before. And I suppose verily that such a statute should be good and profitable, as well for them that have such lands in mortmain as for many other. And Basdus de Perusio saith, that such a statute should be good to prohibit that no lands should come into mortmain, but not to prohibit that no goods should come into mortmain. And methinketh his saying is good and reasonable.