(French). A company licensed to borrow money for city and other improvements connected with estates. A board of guardians may form such a company, and their security would be the parish rates. The money borrowed is repaid by instalments with interest. The word foncier means “landed,” as impôt foncier (land-tax), bien foncier (landed property), and so on.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894