E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Free Bench (francus bancus).
The widows right to a copyhold. It is not a dower or gift, but a free right independent of the will of the husband. Called bench because, upon acceding to the estate, she becomes a tenant of the manor, and one of the benchers, i.e. persons who sit on the bench occupied by the pars curiæ.