The Decretum forbade their alienation to lay proprietors, denounced excommunication against those who refused to pay, and based the right of the Church upon scriptural precedents.6 The decretals contained provisions as to what was and what was not tithable property, as to those privileged from payment, as to sale or hypothecation to laymen, as to priority over state taxes, &c. 7 Various questions which arose later were settled by Boniface VIII.
The tithes of tithable cattle pasturing in any waste or common ground, whereof the parish is not certainly known, were made payable to the parson of the parish where the cattle dwell by a statute of Edward VI.
When the religious houses were dissolved by Henry VIII., in the case of the greater abbeys and priories the exemptions from payment of tithes enjoyed by them passed to the Crown or the persons to whom the Crown assigned them, and thus any lands which might have been thus exempted, whether they had been actually so or not, were presumed to be exempt; and a further exemption was created by parsonages coming into the same hands as tithable lands, which lasted so long as such union continued.
Tithes were generally recovered by a writ against the owner of the tithable property usually brought in the ecclesiastical courts (questions of title to tithes being reserved to the temporal courts), the jurisdiction of which in this respect was confirmed by the statutes Circumspecte agatis (13 Edw.
A custom also sprang up, and was common at the time of the Commutation Acts, for a tithe-owner to accept a fixed sum of money or fixed quantity of the goods tithable in place of the actual tithes, known as a modus decimandi, whether in respect of a whole parish or only of particular lands within it; and this could be sued for in the ecclesiastical courts.
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