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Inheritance - Intail

Example of the gift of lands intail

In medieval England, landed estates were sometimes passed on by deed to a successor with the tag 'intail' (also 'in tail', 'entail'). This was done to prevent the heir giving or selling the estate to any individual other than the person(s) specified, often the next lineal or family descendant, thus keeping the estate 'in the family'. The restriction might continue through several generations.

Over time, methods developed to break an intail. One such method was known as a 'Common Recovery', which was a quasi-legal process that took place through the Court of Common Pleas - often in Westminster. Watford's lands were among those sometimes becoming subject to such an intail - including both the de Burneby and de Parles manors - on different occasions. Sir Richard Burneby, for example, was obliged to break the intail hanging over Burneby's Watford manor before he was able to finally alienate the manor to George Clerke.

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