gavelkind (găvˈəlkĪnd) [key] [M.E., = family tenure], custom of inheritance of lands held in socage tenure, whereby all the sons of a holder of an estate in land share equally in such lands upon the death of the father. Most of the lands in England were held in gavelkind tenure prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066, and the custom of dividing lands among the male heirs is still preserved in parts of England, notably the county of Kent. This system of inheritance of lands is to be contrasted with borough-English and primogeniture.
More on gavelkind from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Legal Terms and Concepts