socage (sok-ij). Hist. A type of lay tenure in which a tenant held lands in exchange for providing the lord husbandry-related (rather than military) service. • Socage, the great residuary tenure, was any free tenure that did not fall within the definition of knight-service, serjeanty, or frankalmoin. Cf. KNIGHT-SERVICE; VILLEINAGE.

“If they [the peasant’s duties] were fixed — for instance, helping the lord with sowing or reaping at specified times — the tenure was usually called socage. This was originally the tenure of socmen; but it became … a generic term for all free services other than knight-service, serjeanty, or spiritual service.” J.H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History 260 (3d ed. 1990).

free socage. Socage in which the services were both certain and honorable. • By the statute 12 Car. 2, ch. 24 (1660), all the tenures by knight-service were, with minor exceptions, converted into free socage.

— Also termed free and common socage; liberum socagium.

villein socage (vil-[schwa]n). Socage in which the services, though certain, were of a baser nature than those provided under free socage.

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