The Court of Wards and Liveries was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also responsible for wardship and livery issues.
The court was established from 1540 by two Acts of Parliament, Court of Wards Act 1540 (32 Henry VIII c. 46) and the Wards and Liveries Act 1541 (33 Henry VIII c. 22).
As Master of the Court, from 1561, William Cecil was responsible for the upbringing and the administration of their estates during their minority of orphaned heirs to the peerage.
In 1610, James I attempted to negotiate with Parliament a regular income of £200,000 yearly in return for the abolition of the hated Court of Wards. While the negotiations failed, the episode showed Parliament that the Royal Prerogative could be up for sale.
The Court of Wards and Liveries ceased to have a function in the 17th century due to the abolition of feudal tenures by the Long Parliament in February 1646 (New Style). The Court was formally abolished by the Tenures Abolition Act 1660 (12 Charles II c. 24).
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