|n.||1.||(Law) Possession of lands or tenements in, or conveyance to, dead hands, or hands that cannot alienate.|
|Noun||1.||mortmain - real property held inalienably (as by an ecclesiastical corporation)|
Synonyms: dead hand
|2.||mortmain - the oppressive influence of past events of decisions|
MORTMAIN. An unlawful alienation of lands, or tenements to any corporation,
sole or aggregate, ecclesiastical or temporal. These purchases having been
chiefly made by religious houses, in consequence of which lands became
perpetually inherent in one dead hand, this has occasioned the general
appellation of mortmain to be applied to such alienations. 2 Bl. Com. 268;
Co. Litt. 2 b; Ersk. Inst. B. 2, t. 4, s. 10; Barr. on the Stat. 27, 97.
2. Mortmain is also employed to designate all prohibitory laws, which limit, restrain, or annul gifts, grants, or devises of lands and other corporeal hereditaments to charitable uses. 2 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 1137, note 1. See Shelf. on Mortm. 2, 3.