CROWN LANDS. The English sovereign was at one time not only the nominal owner, as lord paramount, of all the lands in England, but was also in his royal capacity one of the greatest landowners in the kingdom. He was. by virtue of his office, the lord of many manors, and in him were vested the wastes, forests, and common lands throughout the realm. The an cient demesne lands of the Crown are now contracted within narrow limits, having been almost entirely granted away to subjects. King William M. so impoverished the Crown in this manner that au act was passed, 1 Anne, c. 7, 5, the effect of which and of subsequent statutes is that all grants or leases from the Crown of royal manors. or other possessions con nected with land, for a period exceeding thirty one years, are void. At a much earlier period (1455, e. 41) , a Scottish statute had rendered the consent of Parliament necessary to the aliena tion of the property of the Crown: but neither it nor the subsequent statutes which were passed with a similar object succeeded in check ing the practice. Since the beginning of- the reign of George M., the English sovereign sur renders during his life the hereditary revenues derived from the Crown lands in exchange for a fixed civil list granted by Parliament. The
superintendence of such property as still belongs to the Crown is now vested in commissioners appointed for that purpose, called the com missioners of woods. forests, and land revenues. These restrictions do not apply to estates pur chased by the sovereigns out of the privy purse. or coming to the sovereign. his heirs. or succes sors, by descent or otherwise, from persoas not being kings or queens of the realm; for, although there is no marked line drawn between the pro prietary rights which the King has as King and those which he has in his private ea pacity, and there are no lands which belong to the nation or State as a personified body, yet a distinction is made between the lands of ancient demesne and those coining by modern title, by which the alienation of the former is restricted and that of the latter left free. Consult: Cox, Tnstitu lions of the English Government (London, 18631 ; )1,teplien, Sew Commentaries on the Lairs of land (13th ed., London, 1899). See FEUDA LI -c i.