What is ANCIENT DEMESNE? Definition of ANCIENT DEMESNE in Black's Law Dictionary
Manors which in the time of William the Conqueror were in the hands of the crown, and are so recorded in the Domesday Book. Fitzh.Nat.Brev. 14, 56; Baker v. Wich, 1 Salk. 56.
Also a species of copyhold, which differs, however, from common copyholds in certain privileges, but yet must be conveyed by surrender, according to the custom of the manor.
There are three sorts : (1) Where the lands are held freely by the king's grant; (2) customary freeholds, which are held of a manor in ancient demesne, but not at the lord's will, although they are conveyed by surrender, or deed and admittance; (3) lands held by copy of court-roll at the lord's will, denominated copyholds of base tenure. Tenure in ancient demesne may be pleaded in abatement to an action of ejectment. Rust v. Roe, 2 Burr. 1046.