In English law, a form of landholding defined as a “holding at the will of the lord according to the custom of the manor.” Its origin is found in the occupation by villeins, or nonfreemen, of portions of land belonging to the manor of the feudal lord. It was occupation at the pleasure of the lord, but in time it grew into an occupation by right, called villenagium, which was recognized first by custom and then by law. In 1926 all copyhold land became freehold land, though lords of manors retained mineral and sporting rights.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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