What is MORTMAIN?

A term applied to denote the alienation of lands or tenements to any corporation, sole or aggregate, ecclesiastical or temporal. These purchases having been chiefly made by religious houses, in consequence of which lands became perpetually inherent in one dead hand, this has occasioned the general appellation of “mortmain” to be applied to such alienations. 2 BL Comm. 268; Co. Litt. 26; Perin v. Carey, 24 How. 495, 16 L. Ed. 701.

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