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London: C. J. CLAY AND SONS, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE,
119 AND 120, CHANCERY LANE,
Cambridge: DEIGHTON, BELL AND CO.
Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS.
Court of Chancery, from the bequest of Edmund Yorke, M.A., late Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge. It is awarded annually to such graduate of the University, of not more than seven years' standing from his first degree, as shall be the author of the best essay upon some subject relative to “The Law of Property, its Principles and History in various Ages and Countries.” The subject announced for the year 1888 was “The History of Land Tenure in Ireland," and the following pages owe their existence to the conditions of the Prize which direct that the successful Essay shall be printed and published.
The immense range of an adequate history of Irish land tenure is manifest, and the present slight sketch can of necessity give but an outline of this involved subject. I may, however, briefly point out a few of the most prominent difficulties met with in tracing the troubled history of Irish land law, and explain the basis upon which the present Essay has been constructed. In the case of the Brehon Law there is undoubtedly a large opening for original work, but the initial difficulty inseparable from an entire dependence on translations, is enhanced by the complex nature of the Laws themselves. I have therefore when dealing with this branch of the subject given full references to the authorities relied on. Passing from the archaic law to English legislation I have throughout assumed that the forces of social disunion, which hindered the