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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SUBFEU, n., v. Also †-few. Sc. Law. [′sʌb ′fju:]

I. n. A right to hold land in perpetuity in return for payment of a duty, granted by one who has already received such a grant directly or by intermediate steps from the original owner, a Feu being capable of infinite transmission or divisibility, a feu granted by a vassal to a sub-vassal (Sc. 1825 Jam.). See Subaltern. Hence sub-feu-duty, the annual duty payable for a sub-feu.Sc. 1758 J. Dalrymple Essay Feudal Property 84:
As in subfeus at first, the original vassal remained still liable for the services.
Fif. 1832 Fife Herald (14 June):
None of the above Properties are subject to any public or parochial burden, or exaction whatever, except a sub-feuduty, payable out of No. 38 of the plan.
Sc. 1891 J. Craigie Conveyancing 61 , 83:
Every part of the lands remains, notwithstanding any sub-feu, burdened with the whole of the feu-duty . . . A superior can raise a personal action for the feu-duty due to him by his own vassal against sub-vassals for the amount of their subfeu-duties.
Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 137:
The grantee at once acquired a real right in the property of dominium utile, as a sub-feu holding of the vassal as his immediate superior.
Sc. 1933 Encycl. Laws Scot. XIV. 273:
The estate of an over-superior as such is called an over-superiority, and that of a sub-vassal, as such, a sub-feu.

II. v. To make a grant of (lands) in sub-feu, to subinfeudate (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Hence sub-feuar, one to whom land is granted in sub-feu, a sub-vassal.Sc. c.1700 Descr. Sheriffdom Lnk. (M.C.) 9:
Most of it is sub-fewed to small Fewars.
Sc. 1754 Erskine Principles ii. iii. § 5:
The vassal who thus subfeus, is called the subvassal's immediate superior.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 119:
The heritors of Bleakrigs, feuars and subfeuars.
Sc. 1826 G. J. Bell Commentary Laws Scot. I. 24, 29:
Property subfeud as building ground in a city. . . . In the New Town of Edinburgh, grants are generally made with a condition against subfeuing.
Sc. 1933 Encycl. Laws Scot. XIV. 273:
Every feudal proprietor may sub-feu his lands.
Sc. 1955 British Commonwealth I. (Scotland) 919:
By the Conveyancing Act, 1874, s.22, and the Conveyancing Amendment (Scotland) Act, 1938, s.8, it has been made incompetent to insert in feu rights restrictions on subfeuing.

[O.Sc. subfeu, = I., 1681, from sub- + Feu. For II. cf. Late Lat. subfeodare.]

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"Subfeu n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2022 <>



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