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deemed of sufficient value to answer the "rente.” Although the owners of the “rentes" accept the purchaser as their debtor, they still retain the guarantee of the seller.
On this subject of guarantee, it may be observed that, where a "rente” has been created on a certain piece of land, the whole of the land remains a perpetual guarantee for the-"rente” originally charged upon it, even though all or part of such land may have been sold since the creation of the “rente;" also, where a "rente"
" is due upon one piece of land, every part of the real property belonging to the owner of such land, even though subsequently. alienated, is a guarantee for the “rente,” in the absence of any stipulation to the contrary. The liability of the part alienated is barred by prescription, the period of which begins to run from the tiine of the alienation. Moreover, if one already possessed of land afterwards purchases or inherits other real property, such afteracquired property becomes liable for the “rentes” or other charges due upon the property he possessed before; but under special enactments of modern date, such after-acquired property may become discharged in the hands of a subsequent purchaser.
When the owner of landed property is not able to pay the "rentes,” or other charges due thereon, legal measures are taken, the consequence of which is that the estate falls “en saisie,” as it is termed. In this case, all claims upon the estate have to be entered upon a register at the “Greffe" office, and certain proceedings are taken, the object of which is to secure the claims of encumbrancers in the order of priority. When the estate consists of one property only, the case is in its simplest form. The encumbrancers are called upon in the order of posteriority-i. e., the most recent is called on first either to accept the estate, with all its encumbrances, or to give up his own claim ; and if he refuses the offer, it is repeated to the others in succession, until at last an encumbrancer is found willing to take the estate, subject to the claims of all prior encumbrancers.
But when the estate, “en saisie," is composed of several properties inherited or purchased at different times, and severally charged with perpetual “rentes,” the proceedings assume a very
complicated aspect; and if the estate, collectively, is not worth the whole of the encumbrances due upon it, it becomes necessary to investigate the titles of each separate property; and the “rente” holders, independently of their claim upon the estate collectively, are entitled to disconnect the different properties—the one from the other—and to attach themselves each to the particular property charged with his “rente." If any questions of guarantee arise, other parties are brought into the suit with a view to their being sent before a commissioner of the court, who has to examine into their respective titles. A report is then drawn up by the commissioner, setting out the order in which, as well the claimants upon the estate, as those who are liable as garans, should be called upon to speak in the “saisie.” The claimant of most recent date would have to speak first, and three courses would be open to him :-1st, To take the whole estate, and bind himself to pay all the other charges upon it. 2ndly, To take the part charged with his “rente," and pay the other charges upon that part. 3rdly, To give up his claim.
In the event of his giving up his claim, the next claimant is called upon in like manner, and the final result of the proceedings is, that the whole estate becomes the property of one of the claimants, or the different parts become the separate property of some one or other of the owners of “rentes” upon them.
All persons liable to guarantee are called upon at their respective dates, either to take the "saisie," or to give up the property liable to guarantee.
Real property is not devisable by will, except in cases in which the possessor has no descendants in the direct line; but, on the death of a father, the eldest son takes as his "préciput,” or eldership, the most valuable buildings, standing within an area varying from fourteen to twenty-two perches, the extent of which variation is determined by the “Douzaine,” or parochial ward. The remainder of the estate, together with any “rentes” (for “rentes' are real property), is divided amongst the co-heirs (the eldest son himself included), in the proportion of two-thirds to the sons, and one-third to the daughters, subject, nevertheless, to the condition that a daughter shall inherit no more than a son, nor a son more than twice as much as a daughter. But the eldest son may, besides his "préciput,” take at a valuation to be put upon it by the “ Douzaine,” as much as he pleases of the land connected with the "préciput” as lies within the “enclos,” or ring fence of the estate, or the whole of the estate if it form but one "enclos,” which is but rarely the case in Guernsey ; and, if the whole of the land within the “enclos” is of less extent than one-third of the estate, he may take so much land outside the “enclos” as will make up onethird of the whole estate.
For the excess of land over the “préciput,” which the eldest son thus takes, he is obliged, unless a money compensation be mutually agreed upon, to compensate his co-heirs in “ rentes” for their proportion of such excess. These "rentes” may either be the "rentes," if any, forming part of the estate of the deceased, or “ rentes” specially created by the Bille de Partage. These being, as we have seen, “assignables," the eldest son may free the property from the encumbrance by substituting some other “rentes' of equal amount.
In collateral succession, real property is divided between brothers and sisters in the same proportion as above stated. The eldest brother, however, has no advantage over his co-heirs ; and if nephews or nieces represent their deceased father or mother in the succession, they subdivide among themselves the portion thus coming to them in thesame proportions as if it had come to thern directly from their deceased parent.
Heirs are "garans" to each other for the "rentes," and other real property inherited and divided between them, until this liability is barred by prescription.
It may be worth while to observe that a similar system of “rentes" (except that a "rente constituée" was always redeemable) formerly prevailed in France, but in that country great alterations in the law bave from time to time been made. The first of these was in the year 1441 A.D., during the reign of Charles VII., when all “ rentes” due on houses in the town or fauxbourgs of Paris were made redeemable. The reason given being,
that a great number of houses, being charged with “rentes” above their value, were allowed to fall to ruin ; and, by a law passed in the reign of Henry II., this privilege was extended to all the towns in the kingdom. At last, at the time of the French revolution all perpetual “rentes” were made redeemable.
The system of “ rentes,” which the people of Guernsey inherited from their Norman ancestors, is one to which they are much attached. Their tenure of land and their family arrangements are based upon it; and so jealous are they of any interference with it, that when the states, last year, adopted a Projet de Loi, which was sent up for the consideration of the Privy Council, for the redemption of small “rentes” under the yearly value of one quarter of wheat, and of money “rentes" under the value of twenty shillings, a large party among the inhabitants, many of them members and ex-members of the states, not only stoutly opposed the Projet de Loi before the states and the Royal Court, but afterwards petitioned to be heard by counsel before the Privy Council in opposition to it; stating in their petition, that the proposed redemption would be a flagrant outrage on the feelings of the petitioners, as these small “rentes” had been in their possession, and in that of their ancestors, from time immemorial, and constituted their real property ; that the existence of such "rentes” stimulated the purchasers of land to industry, and enabled the vendors to retain for themselves, and their heirs for ever, a permanent interest in the land disposed of by them; the
1 results whereof were the wide-spread prosperity and harmony which subsisted amongst all classes of the inhabitants of the island. The petitioners ended by saying that the public in general, instead of being benefited by the redemption of small "rentes,” would experience all the effects which a social revolution never fails to produce, and which would be highly detrimental to the best interests of the island. Notwithstanding this opposition, however, the Privy Council confirmed the law, on the ground that such small “rentes" were a burden upon the real property far beyond their actual value, and that their existence, as a perpetual charge upon the land, acted as an impediment to its beneficial sale and transfer.
Tenure of Land in Guernsey.
This system of “rentes," which gives the faculty of acquiring land in perpetuity without paying any purchase-money, though perhaps not worthy the praise given to it by the petitioners against the law for the redemption of small “rentes,” has probably been of great benefit to the inhabitants of the island. Under its protection the original owners have parted with their land for an annual “rente ” of as many quarters of corn as the purchasers judged they could afford to pay, after a sufficient remuneration to themselves for their labour. “Thus,” says the Royal Court, in a letter addressed to the Privy Council in the year 1820, “ without the necessity of cultivating the soil, the one party enjoyed the neat income of his estate secured on the estate itself, which he could resume in case of non-payment; while the other, on the due payment of the rente' charged, became real and perpetual owner, having an interest in the soil far above that of farmers under any other kind of tenure. Experience has proved that a spirit of industry and economy was thus generated, that proluced content, ease, and even wealth, from estates which, in other countries, would hardly be thought capable of affording sustenance to their occupants. And thus arose two classes mutually advantageous to each other, the one living on its income, or free to exercise trade and professions; the other composed of farmers raised to the rank of proprietors, dependent only on their good conduct.”
On the 17th March, Mr. Hadfield moved, in the House of Commons, for an address, praying the Crown to issue a royal commission for the following purposes, viz.—1. To inquire into and report on the civil, municipal, and ecclesiastical laws and customs now in force in Jersey—including the laws relating to the tenure of land, trust, and uses ; and also the rights of the feudal lords in the said island. 2. To inquire into and report on the constitution of the tribunals by which those laws, customs, and rights are administered ; and as to the practice and forms of procedure used by them respectively. 3. To inquire into, and report on, and suggest remedies for all defects in, and abuses of the laws, tribunals, and procedure, in force in Jersey. 4. To inquire into the state of pri