Under common law systems, an allodial title is used for constituting the ownership of real property, including buildings, land, fixtures, etc. which are independent from a higher landlord. Similar to the concept behind land held ‘within allodium’, or the ownership of land by defense and occupancy of land. In history, due to the majority of land not being inhabited, it was possible to be held ‘in allodium’.
In jurisdictions with common law systems, the majority of ownership of property is fee simple. In the U.S., land property is subject for eminent domain from the local, state, and federal government. In addition, land property is also subject by the local or state governments for imposition of taxes, therefore allodial land does not truly exist in the United States. However, in certain states, such as Texas and Nevada, there are provisions that consider land allodial under the state laws, while the term might be utilized in different situations.
In Wales and England, land is ‘held of the Crown’, along with jurisdictions within Commonwealth regions. There are some regions, such as Canada and Australia which recognize aboriginal title, which is a type of allodial title which did not come from a Crown grant. Meanwhile, certain areas in the Shetland and Orkney Islands, referred to as udal land, are held within a manner similar to that of allodial land, in which the titles are except from ownership by the Crown.
In France, allodial titles were present prior to the French Revolution, but was limited and rare only referring to ecclesiastical property and properties which fell from feudal ownership. However, allodial title was the norm throughout France after the French Revolution, including other countries under civil law which were impacted by Napoleonic legal influence.
In October 1854, Lower Canada’s seigneurial system, being ceded from France into Britain during 1763, following the Seven Year War, had been eliminated by the 1854 Seigneurial Tenures Abolition Act, therefore, being replaced by form that was similar to that of socage.
When an individual owns property under an allodial title, it is commonly known as allodium, allodial land, or simply allod. The term alod is used within the Domesday Book. Furthermore, the term allodial title was used historically for situations where ownership over land needed to be distinguished, but without the feudal duties of feudal tenure, as it had restrictions against alienation and burdening land with the landholder’s sovereign or overlord’s tenurial rights.
Prior to 1774, the land within American colonies is able to be traced back to royal grants. These grants are either in the form of a single, massive grant that created each of the proprietary colonies (Maryland, Pennsylvania), or a smaller grant that directly targeted an area within crown colonies (Virginia). Then, an original grantee of the land would grant or sell parcels of land to legal entities or private citizens.
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