The development of the trust as a form of agricultural land ownership in England
The dissertation traces the chronological development of the agricultural trust and assesses its role as a form of landownership, from its origins in the fourteenth century up to 1980. The study combines a discussion of the relevant trust law, taxation and general legal measures imposed on landowners by governments, and management practices of agricultural land so as to give an overall view of the nature of trust ownership of agricultural land. Parts I and II of the dissertation, which cover the period 1350-1900, describe the development of the use and trust as legal devices in the context of early, including feudal, landownership practices and parliamentary policy on the land law. In particular, the relationship between the landowner, parliament and the courts is examined in detail. The discussion broadens in Parts III and IV, which cover the period 1900-1980, to give, in addition to the aspects mentioned above, an examination of other forms of land ownership and occupation which have developed in the twentieth century, in order to provide an overall assessment of the role of the trust. The fiscal regime relating to agricultural landownership, and particularly to trusts, is also discussed as this has been a vital influence on the nature and forms of agricultural landownership in the twentieth century. Parts III and IV focus upon empirical evidence obtained from a survey of agricultural landownership which was carried out by means of personal interview in 1978. This survey incorporated a detailed analysis of the present and, to some extent, the past proprietary structure of the sixty estates surveyed, together with the attitudes and objectives of their owners. The dissertation concludes with an assessment of the trust as a form of private landownership, from the economic, social and legal viewpoints, throughout its history, showing how there has been a continuous pattern of development from the fourteenth century to the present day. Consideration is also given to the probable immediate future role of the trust as a form of agricultural land ownership.