We recently had an 18th century search at the Registry of Deeds which involved land that a family held for a lease of lives. Any genealogist will rub their hands with glee when they see the words ‘lease of lives’. Put simply what it meant is that the person taking the lease, the leasee, nominated three people in the lease and the lease expired when all three people named had died. Often the leasee would nominate young family members and sometimes their ages were recorded. In a lease for lives renewable or a perpetual lease a new name could be inserted when one of the lives died on payment of a renewal fine. We came across such a lease taken out in the 1710s that remained in the family until the 1840s. This gave us invaluable genealogical information and we learnt about new alliances within the family. This same family held the land up to 1849 when the Renewable Leasehold Conversion Act was passed. This meant that the lessor had to grant the lessee a fee farm grant so that the lessee gained freehold title albeit they still paid a rent.
By Eneclann Research Expert,