What is Tenure?

Legal Definition
Estates. The manner in which lands or tenements are holden. 2. According to the English law, all lands are held mediately or immediately from the king, as lord paramount and supreme proprietor of all the lands in the kingdom. Co. Litt. 1 b, 65 a; 2 Bl. Com. 105.

3. The idea of tenure; pervades, to a considerable degree, the law of real property in the several states; the title to land is essentially allodial, and every tenant in fee simple has an absolute and perfect title, yet in technical language, his estate is called an estate in fee simple, and the tenure free and common socage. 3 Kent, Com. 289, 290. In the states formed out of the North Western Territory, it seems that the doctrine of tenures is not in force, and that real estate is owned by an absolute and allodial title. This is owing to the wise provisions on this subject contained in the celebrated ordinance of 1787. Am. Jur. No. 21, p. 94, 5. In New York, 1 Rev. St. 718; Pennsylvania, 5 Rawle, R. 112; Connecticut, 1 Rev. L. 348 and Michigan, Mich. L. 393, feudal tenures have been abolished, and lands are held by allodial titles. South Carolina has adopted the statute, 12 C. II., c. 24, which established in England the tenure of free and common socage. 1 Brev. Dig. 136. Vide Wright on Tenures; Bro. h. t.; Treatises of Feuds and Tenures by Knight's service; 20 Vin Ab. 201; Com. Dig. h. t.; Bac. Ab. h. Thom. Co. Litt. Index, h. t.; Sulliv. Lect. Index, h. t.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The mode or system of holding lands or tenements in subordination to some superior, which, in the feudal ages, was the leading characteristic of reui property. Tenure ls the direct result of feudalism, which separated the dominium directum, (the dominion of the soll,) which is placed mediately or immediately in the crown, from the dominion utile, (the possessory title,) the right to the use and profits in the soil, designated by the term "seisin," which ls the highest interest a subject can acquire, Wharton. Wharton gives the following list of tenures which were ultimately developed: Lay Tenures. I. Frank tenement, or freehold.

(1) The military tenures (abolished, except grand serjeanty, and, reduced to free socage tenures) were; Knight service proper, or tenure in chivalry; grand serjeanty; cornage.

(2) Free socage, or glow-service; either petit serjeanty, tenure in urgage, or gavelkind. II. Villeinage.

(1) Pure villeinage, (whence copyholds at the lord's [nominal] will, which is regulated according to custom.)

(2) Privileged villeinage, sometimes called "villein socage," (whence tenure in ancient demesne, which isan exalted species of copyhold, held according to custom, and not according to the lord's will,) and is of three kinds: Tenure in ancient demesne ; privileged copyholds, customary freeholds, or free copyholds; copyholds of base tenure. Spiritual Tenures. I. Frankalmoigne, or free alma II. Tenure by divine service. Tenure, in its general sense, ls a mode of holding or occupying. Thus, we speak of the tenure of an office, meaning the maimer in which it is held, especially with regard to time, (tenure for life, tenure during good behavior,) and of tenure of land in the sense of occupation or tenancy, especially with reference to cultivation and questions of political economy; e. g., tenure by peasant proprietors, cottiers, etc. Sweet. See Bard v. Grundy, 2 Ky. 169; People v. Waite, 9 Wend. (N. Y.) 58; Richman V. Lippincott, 29 N. J. Law, 59.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The kind or character of a tenant’s holding; the service due from the tenant to the landlord; the estate which one holds in land. See 2 Ky. 168. Term of office. See 9 Wend. (N. Y.) 58.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary