What is a Feoffee?

(Pronounced fɛˈfiː)

Definition of the word Feoffees:  A feoffee is a trustee who holds a fief (or “fee”), that is to say an estate in land for the use of the beneficial owner and is a “Trustee invested with a freehold estate in land, now chiefly applied in pl. to certain boards of elected or nominated trustees holding land for charitable or other public purposes”.  The use of such trustees developed towards the end of the feudal era in the Middle Ages and became obsolete with the formal ending of that social and economic system in 1660.

Modern usage:  The term is still in occasional use today to mean a trustee invested with a freehold estate held in possession for a purpose, typically a charitable one.  Some examples include  the trustees of  the Chetham’s Hospital charity in Manchester and charities in the towns of Colyton, Devon and Bungay in Suffolk, and the trustees of the Sponne and Bickerstaffe charity in Towcester, Northamptonshire. The Feoffees of St Michael’s Spurriergate are the trustees of a charity that helps with the restoration of churches in York. In Ipswich, Massachusetts, the Feoffees of the Grammar School have been trustees of a piece of land donated for the use of the town since the 1600s.