Source: Tomlins, Thomas Edyline. A Popular Law Dictionary. "Reversion" (pg. xix). London: Longman, Orme, et al, 1838. Transcribed by Alison Kilpatrick.


  REVERSION, [Reversio, from Revertor,] A returning again. 1 Inst. 142.

  A Reversion hath two significations; the one is an estate left, which continues during a particular estate in being; and the other is the returning of the land after the particular estate is ended: It is said to be an interest in the land, when the possession shall fall, and so it is commonly taken; or it is when the estate, which was parted with for a time, ceaseth, and is determined in the persons of the alienees or grantees, &c. and returns to the grantor or donor, or their heirs, from whence derived. Plowd. 160; 1 Inst. 142.

  But the usual definition of a Reversion is, that it is the residue of an estate left in the grantor after a particular estate granted away, continuing in him who granted the particular estate; and where the particular estate is derived out of his estate. Also a Reversion takes place after a remainder, where a person makes a disposition of a less estate, than that whereof he was seised at the time of making thereof. 1 Inst. 22. 142: Wood's Inst. 151.

  The difference between a Reversion and a remainder is, that a remainder is general, and may be to any man, except to him who granteth the land, for term of life, or otherwise; and a Reversion is to himself from whom the conveyances of the land proceeded and is commonly perpetual, &c. Remainder is an estate, appointed over at the same time; but the Reversion is not always at the same time appointed over. See title Remainder.

  Blackstone, with his usual accuracy and perspicuity, shortly defines a Reversion thus: "The residue of an estate left in the grantor, to commence in possession after the determination of some particular estate granted out by him." Coke describes a Reversion to be the returning of land to the grantor, or his heirs, after the grant is over: as, if there be a gift in tail, the Reversion of the fee is, without any special reservation vested in the donor by act of law; and so also the Reversion, after an estate for life, years, or at will, continues in the lessor: for the fee-simple of all lands must abide somewhere; and if he, who was before possessed of the whole, carves out of it any smaller estate, and grants it away, whatever is not so granted remains in him. A Reversion is never therefore created by deed or writing, but arises from construction of law; a remainder can never be limited, unless by either deed or devise. But both are equally transferable, when actually vested, being both estates in præsenti, though taking effect in futuro. 2 Comm. c. 11. cites 1 Inst. 22. 142.

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"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

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