AskDefine | Define purlieu

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Originally, the ground near a royal forest, which, having been unlawfully added to the forest, was afterwards severed from it, and disafforested so as to remit to the former owners their rights.
  2. Hence, the outer portion of any place; an adjacent district; environs; neighborhood.

Extensive Definition

Purlieu is a term used of the outlying parts of a place or district. It was a term of the old Forest law, and meant, as defined by John Manwood, Treatise of the Lawes of the Forest (1598, 4th ed. 1717), "a certain territory of ground adjoining unto the forest [which] was once forest-land and afterwards disafforested by the perambulations made for the severing of the new forests from the old." The owner of freelands in the purlieu to the yearly value of forty shillings was known as a purlieu-man or purley-man. the benefits of disafforestation accrued only to the owner of the lands. There seems no doubt that purlieu or purley represents the Anglo-French pourallé lieu (0ld French pouraler, puraler, to go through Latin perambulare), a legal term meaning properly a perambulation to determine the boundaries of a manor, parish, &c. For example, Dibden Purlieu in Hampshire, on the border of the New Forest.



  • Rackham, Oliver (1976) Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape. (London:J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd.) ISBN 0-460-04183-5.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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