Uses in the Later Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis considers uses in the half century from the early 1480s to the passage of the Statute of Uses in 1536. Significant work, notably by Jones, has been done on the effect of the Statute of Uses in the decades following its passage, however, far more limited work has been done on the doctrinal development of uses in the years before the statute. This thesis seeks to begin the process of remedying this relative lack of scholarly consideration.
Following developments in Chancery practice with regards to the enforcement of uses in the 1460s there was a significant increase in the employment of uses which led to Frowyk CJKB in 1502 declaring that by the 1480s, ‘the greater part of the land of England was in feoffments upon confidence’. In the period with which this thesis is concerned, that is, the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, as a result of this increased employment of uses, we see a sharp increase in legislation concerning uses and a number of important doctrinal developments, particularly with regards to what cestui que use was considered to have in land that was held to his use. This thesis is in essence the story of the response to the increased protection of uses by the chancellor in the mid fifteenth century.
In Part One, we address the legislation passed in our period, with particular attention being given to the statute 1 Ric. III, c. 1 (1484), which gave cestui que use the right to convey a legal title which would be good against his feoffees, and to statutes which affected the Milsomian sub-plot, that is to say, the effect of uses on feudal revenue. In Part Two consideration is given to the development of uses more broadly, and we are particularly concerned with the apparent reception of conscience-based uses into the common law in our period. The doctrinal developments considered in both Parts of this thesis culminate with the litigation in Dacre’s Case (1533-35) and with the passage of the Statute of Uses (1536), however, the importance of uses to the broader development of English trusts beyond the sixteenth century should not be underestimated.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Cambridge
  • Jones, Neil, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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