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[French, Dead hand.] A term to denote the conveyance of ownership of land or tenements to any corporation, religious or secular.

Traditionally, such transfers were made to religious corporations. Like any corporation, the religious society had unlimited, perpetual duration under the law. It could, therefore, hold land permanently unlike a natural person, whose property is redistributed upon his or her death. The holdings of religious corporations grew as contributions were received from their members. Because such holdings were immune from responsibilities for taxes and payment of feudal dues, greater burdens were placed on noncorporate secular property. Therefore, land in mort-main was said to be held in perpetuity in one dead hand, that of the corporation.


the state or condition of lands or buildings, held inalienably, as by an ecclesiastical or other corporation.

MORTMAIN. An unlawful 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. Com. 268; Co. Litt. 2 b; Ersk. Inst. B. 2, t. 4, s. 10; Barr. on the Stat. 27, 97.
     2. Mortmain is also employed to designate all prohibitory laws, which limit, restrain, or annul gifts, grants, or devises of lands and other corporeal hereditaments to charitable uses. 2 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 1137, note 1. See Shelf. on Mortm. 2, 3.

References in periodicals archive ?
La primera ley que impedia el mortmain fue la Magna Carta (Great Charter of King John) de 1215, aunque la eficacia antiamortizatoria fue pequenisima.
American mortmain differed from its English ancestor in key
Shirley Norwood Jones, The Demise of Mortmain in the United States, 12 MISS.
rent asunder by the Mortmain Bill, laid squarely at the feet of the
31) For the history of the installation of the principle of mortmain in India, and the making of the Hindu deity as legal subject see BIRLA, supra note 8, at ch.
Statute of Mortmain (1279) prohibited granting lands to churchmen without the consent of the lord from whom the grantor held the land.
For a discussion of the role of mortmain statutes and undue influence in religiously-motivated giving, see Jeffrey G.
Revisiting this period proves to be a spur to Mortmain beginning work on the follow-up to Jacob Wrestling.
Until 1972, Mahfouz was employed as a civil servant, first in the Ministry of Mortmain Endowments then as Director of Censorship in the Bureau of Art, and Director of the Foundation for the Support of the Cinema and, finally, as Consultant on cultural affairs to the Ministry of Culture.
The three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, are at the top of the Mortmain Mountains cascading down the Stricken Stream on a toboggan.
44) "Can it be thought that the Constitution intended that for a shade or two of convenience, more or less," that "Congress should be authorized to break down the most antient [sic] and fundamental laws of the several states, such as those against Mortmain, the laws of alienage, the rules of descent, the acts of distribution, the laws of escheat and forfeiture, the laws of monopoly?
Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Garai) lives in a crumbling English castle with her novelist father James (Nighy), nudist step-mother Topaz (FitzGerald) and self-obsessed older sister Rose (Byrne).