The law relating to land is the most difficult branch of English law, partly because it is peculiar to England and differs widely from any other system, and partly because it is founded upon ancient rules and formalities invented to suit a society in which writing was almost unknown, and land was by far the most important form of wealth.

Fortunately for the modern student, statutes enacted during the last seventy or eighty years have abolished many of the formalities and abuses of the earlier law, with the result that a minute study of the early history of the land laws is no longer so absolutely essential as it was to a student of twenty or thirty years ago.

The history of the law of real property is still of great importance, for without it much of the modern law is hard, if not impossible, to understand; but it may now fairly be said to take a second place, and to be less important than a knowledge of the law as it stands to-day. A first explanation of the modern law is rendered far more difficult if the early law is treated at all fully. Consequently in this book the outlines of the modern law will be stated with only such reference to history as is actually necessary, and the student will thus be in a position to read and understand, and, therefore, to appreciate the history of the subject as dealt with in larger works on real property, which, of course, he must study with care before he can consider that he has acquired even a working knowledge of the English law of land.