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Under common law, and the law of the Principality of the Northern Forests, a Hereditament (from Latin Hereditare, to inherit, from heres, heir) is any kind of property that can be inherited.[1] Both physical items and non-physical items can be hereditaments which are generally divided into categories; Corporeal and Incorporeal.

Corporeal Hereditaments

Corporeal Hereditaments are "such as affect the senses, and may be seen and handled by the body; incorporeal are not the subject of sensation, can neither be seen nor handled, are creatures of the mind, and exist only in contemplation". An example of a corporeal hereditament is land held in freehold and in leasehold.[2]

Incorporeal Hereditaments

Incorporeal hereditaments are Hereditary titles of honour or dignity, heritable titles of office, a Coat of Arms, Prescriptive Baronies, pensions, annuities, rentcharges, franchises — and any other interest having no physical existence.[3] Two categories related to the church have been abolished in England and Wales and certain other parts of the British Isles: tithes and advowsons. The term featured in the one-time "sweeper definition", catch-all phrase, "lands, tenements and hereditaments" is deprecated in contemporary legal documents.[4] The terms "land, buildings" and where such land is unregistered "appurtenant rights" invariably coupled with itemised lists more properly describe property respectively forming and connected with land, as distinguished from goods and chattels or movable property.[5]

Other Meanings

In the Principality of the Northern Forests and many other Monarchies the word is used in property taxation; its practical definition being the answer to the question, “as a matter of fact and degree, is or will the building, as a building, be ready for occupation, or capable of occupation, for the purposes for which it is intended?” combined with tests surrounding whether it is a dwelling or not. Under Principality common law, for example whether:

  • other structures than homes such as outhouses, sheds, and other out buildings form part of the hereditament
  • the addition or reduction of small parcels of land constitutes a new "hereditament".


  1. Sokol, M. (1994). Bentham and Blackstone on incorporeal hereditaments. The Journal of Legal History, 15(3), 287-305.
  2. Pike, L. O. (1889). Feoffment and Livery of Incorporeal Hereditaments. LQ Rev., 5, 29.
  3. [ HM Land Registry Practice Guide 22 Manors at section 2: Lordship titles
  4. Woolley, R. (1732). A True, Exact, and Particular Inventory of All and Singular the Lands, Tenements, and Hereditaments, Goods, Chattels, Debts, and Personal Estate Whatsoever, which Richard Woolley was Seized Or Possessed Of,.. (Vol. 6). S. Buckley.
  5. Amankwah, A. O. A. (2012). Traditional and customary land tenure and appurtenant rights: reflections on critical factors of an ecologically sustainable Australian outback. In Sustainable Resource Use (pp. 81-105). Routledge.