The subjects which have hitherto occupied our attention derive a great interest from the antiquity of their origin. We have seen that the difference between freehold and copyhold tenure has arisen from the distinction which prevailed, in ancient times, between the two classes of freemen and villeins (a); and that estates of freehold in lands and tenements owe their origin to the ancient feudal system (b). The law of real property, in which term both freehold and copyhold interests are included, is full of rules and principles to be explained only by a reference to antiquity; and many of those rules and principles were, it must be confessed, much more reasonable and useful when they were first instituted than they are at present. The subjects, however, on which we are now about to be engaged, possess little of the interest which arises from antiquity; although their present value and importance are unquestionably great. The principal interests of a personal nature, derived from landed property, are a term of years and a mortgage debt. The origin and reason of the personal nature of a term of years in land have been already attempted to be explained (c); and at the present day, leasehold interests in land, in which amongst other things all building leases are included, form a subject sufficiently important to require a separate consideration. The personal nature of a mortgage debt was not clearly established till long after a term of years was considered as a chattel (d). But it is now settled that every mortgage, whether with or without a bond or covenant for the repayment of the money, forms part of the personal estate of the lender or mortgagee (e). And when it is known that the larger proportion of the lands in this kingdom is at present in mortgage, a fact generally allowed, it is evident that a chapter devoted to mortgages cannot be superfluous.
Term of years.
(a) Ante, p. 334.
(b) Ante, p. 17.
(c) Ante, p. 8.
(d) Thomborough v. Baker, 1 Cha. Ca. 283; 3 Swanst. C28, anno 1675; Tabor v. Tabor, 3
Swanst. 636. (e) Co. Litt. 208 a, n.(l).