The Statutes of Wales (1908)/Glossary

The Statutes of Wales  (1908)  edited by Ivor Bowen


Abjuration of the realm, an oath taken by a person accused of crime who had claimed sanctuary to forsake the realm for ever.

Actions mixed, suits at common law partaking of the nature of real and personal actions, by which some real property was demanded, and also personal damages for a wrong sustained.

Actions personal, brought to claim debts, goods, and chattels, and for wrongs done to the person.

Actions real, actions brought for the specific recovery of lands, tenements, and hereditaments.

Advocarii, see Avowry, men of the

Affere, to appertain, to be proper or meet.

Amerciament, or amercement, the imposition of a penalty left to the "mercy" of the lord; arbitrary fines imposed by Courts not of record, such as Courts-Leet.

Amobragium, or Amobr, the fee paid to the lord by the tenant upon the marriage of the latter's daughter; it was also a fine for incontinence. It was a similar payment to the "merchetum" in English tenures.

Arthelmen, see Avowry, men of the,

Assize of bread and water, ordinances fixing the price of bread, &c.

Attaint, the conviction of a jury for giving a false verdict; a legal process instituted for reversing a false verdict and convicting the jurors.

Aulnager, a King's officer, whose business it was to measure all woollen cloth made for sale, so that the Crown might not be defrauded of customs and duties.

Avowry, men of the, persons born out of the manor or commote, who on coming into the manor or commote put themselves under the protection of the lord, who in return for certain rents and payments undertook to defend and "avow" them.


Base court, an inferior court, not of record, as a court baron or court-leet.

Benefit of clergy, an arrest of judgment in criminal cases granted to clergy, but afterwards extended to all who had any kind of subordinate ministration in the Church. It was applied in civil as well as criminal causes. These exemptions grew so burdensome and scandalous that the legislature interfered and finally abolished benefit of clergy altogether in 1827.

Blodwyte, an amercement for bloodshed: a customary fine as an atonement for shedding or drawing of blood.

Brenning, burning.


Cantref, a division of land in Wales, comprising a number of commotes (see "The Welsh People," by Brynmor-Jones and Rhys, Appendix A.).

Capias, a writ directing the Sheriff to take the body of the defendant.

Capias ad Satisfaciendum, a writ to the Sheriff, commanding him to take the body of the defendant, to make the plaintiff satisfaction for his demand, or remain in custody until he does.

Chensers, or censers, an obsolete word signifying persons who paid taxes or tributes.

Clause of Easter (Clausum Paschiæ), the end of Easter, the Sunday after Easter Day.

Cockets, sealed labels given to the master of an outward-going ship certifying that the vessel has been duly cleared by the officers.

Common Place, common pleas.

Commorth, see Cymhortha.

Commote, a political division of land included in a cantref. Also a great seigniory or lordship and may include one or divers manors.

Conuzee, or cognizee, the person to whom the fine of lands or tenements was acknowledged.

Corse present, a mortuary present which became due on the death of a man; the best or second best beast was, according to custom, offered or presented to the priest and carried with the corpse.

Coverture, the legal condition of a woman during marriage when she is under the cover, influence, and protection of her husband.

Custos rotulorum, the keeper of the records or rolls of a county.

Cymhortha, customary contributions or payments; also used to describe a gathering of the people for neighbourly aid, by labour or otherwise.


Deforciant, the person against whom the fictitious action of fine was brought.

Deodand, the rule of law that any animate or inanimate thing which caused the death of a human being should be forfeited to the King and devoted to pious uses for the appeasing of God's wrath. Abolished in 1846.

Distringas, a writ addressed to the Sheriff issued to effect various purposes.

Dower, the right which a woman has to a part of the lands and tenements of which her husband dies possessed.

Dowry, the marriage goods which the wife brings to her husband on marriage.


Embracery, an attempt to influence a jury corruptly in favour of one party in a trial.

Englisherie. In many lordships in Wales there was a part where English customs were observed. This was called the Englisherie. Cf. Welsh Talgarth and English Talgarth in Breconshire (see George Owens treatise of the Lordships Marchers).

Escheat, a species of reversion; the Crown or lord from whom or from whose ancestor an estate was originally derived, taking it upon the failure, natural or legal, of the intestate tenant's family.

Escheator, an officer appointed to make inquests of titles by escheats and to receive them for the Crown.

Essoign, an excuse for him who is summoned to appear and answer to an action, or to perform suit to a court baron.

Exemplification, a writ granted for the transcript of an original record.

Exigent, judicial writ commanding the Sheriff to demand the defendant from County Court to County Court, until he be outlawed; or if he appear, there to take and have him before the Court on a day certain to answer to the plaintiff in an action of outlawry.


Feme coverte, a married woman.

Feoffment, the transfer, by word of mouth and delivery to the transferee, of some part of the freehold land, as a sod of turf.

Feoffor, one who gives possession of anything.

Fieri facias, a judicial writ of execution, the most commonly used for recovery of debts and damages.


Gages, pledges, pawns, or securities.

Gavelkind, land descending in the right line to all sons equally.

Grand cape, a judicial writ touching a plea of lands or tenements.

Gree, satisfaction for an offence committed or injury done.


Habeas corpora juratorum, a process commanding the Sheriff to summon a jury.

Haberi facias seisinam, a writ addressed to the Sheriff to give seisin of a freehold estate recovered on ejectment or any other action.

Hamsoken, the offence of violently invading a man's house.

Hue and cry, the old common law process of pursuing with horn and voice felons and offenders.


Infangthefe, the privileges of lords to judge any thief taken within their fee.


Jeofails, Statutes of, Statutes permitting amendments in records.

Jury de medietate linguæ, i.e., consisting one-half of aliens if so many could be found.


King's Silver, the money paid to the King for a license granted to a man to levy a fine of lands, tenements, and hereditaments to another person, and this must have been compounded, according to the value of the land, in the alienation office, before the fine would have been passed.


Lawday, a court leet or view of frank pledge.

Letters of Mark, commission for extraordinary reprisals granted by the Crown to merchants taken and despoiled by strangers at sea.

Ley gager, a wager of law; one who commences a lawsuit.

Ligeance, the true and faithful obedience of a subject to his Sovereign; also the dominion and territory of a liege lord.


Mainour, a thing taken away which is found in the hand of the thief who took it.

Mainprise, delivery of a person charged with an offence into the custody of a person called the mainpernor upon security for appearance.

Marchet, or merchetum, the maid's fee (see Amobr), a pecuniary fine, paid by the tenant to his lord for the marriage of one of the tenant's daughters.

Mayhem, the loss of a member proper for defence in fight, such as an arm, leg, finger, eye, or a fore-tooth.

Mises, disbursements, costs; a tax or tallage.

Misprision, neglect, negligence, or oversight. Every great misdemeanour, according to Coke, which has no certain term appointed by law, was called sometimes a misprision.

Mort d'ancester, writ of, lay where a person's father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, &c., died, seized of land and a stranger abated.

Mortuary, a customary gift claimed by the clergy on the death of a parishioner.


Nisi Prius, a phrase signifying that a trial was to be had in the Courts at Westminster only in the event of its not previously taking place in the county where the action arose before the Judges appointed to hold the Assizes.

Non compos mentis, said of a person who is not of sound mind and understanding.

Non molestando, a writ that lay for a person who was molested contrary to the King's protection granted to him.

Novel disseisin, writ of, to recover property of which a person had been dispossessed since the last circuit of the Judges.


Outfangthefe, a privilege of a lord whereby he was enabled to call any man, dwelling in his manor and taken for felony in another place out of his fee, to judgment in his own court.

Outlawry, or outlagary, the being put out of the law for contempt in wilfully avoiding the execution of the process of the King's Courts.

Oyer and terminer, the commission to the Judges to hear and determine treasons, and all manner of felonies and trespasses.


Petit cape, a judicial writ touching a plea of lands or tenements summoning the tenant to answer the default only.

Purgation, the clearing a person's self of a crime of which he was publicly accused or suspected.


Quare impedit, a real possessory action to recover a presentation, or to try a disputed title to an advowson.

Quid juris clamat, a judicial writ issued out of the record of a fine, which lay for the grantee of a reversion or a remainder, when the particular tenant would not attorn.

Quietus, freed or acquitted.

Quorum, Justices of the, Justices named in the Commission of the Peace.


Reddit se, or reddidit se, applied to a person who renders himself to prison in discharge of his bail.

Redubbers, persons who bought stolen cloth and turned it into some other colour or fashion so that it might not be known again.

Replegiare, to redeem a thing detained or taken by another, by giving sureties.

Reprizes, deductions and payments out of a manor or lands as rent-charges, annuities, &c.


Scire facias, a judicial writ, founded upon some record, requiring the person against whom it is brought to show cause why the record should not be annulled and vacated.

Seigniory, a manor or lordship.

Sessed, taxed.

Sine cura, an office which has revenue without employment.

Spadones, Eunuchs, impotent men.

Special bail, bail given by persons who undertook generally, after the appearance of a defendant, that if he should lose the action, the debts, costs, and damages should be paid.

Straif, or estrays, tame animals of value, whose owners were unknown, found wandering.

Stuffing and Ward, stores and garrison.

Subpoena ab testificandum, a writ commanding attendance in court under a penalty to give evidence.

Subpoena duces tecum, a writ served upon a person to produce written documents, &c.


Tales de circumstantibus, jurors summoned to act as such from amongst the bystanders in Court.

Testatum, the witnessing part of a deed or agreement.

Teste, the witnessing part of a writ, warrant, or other proceeding which expresses the date of its issue.

Thefbote, compounding a felony.

Tourn, The Sheriff's Tourn was a Court of Record held twice every year, within a month after easter and Michaelmas, before the Sheriff.

Treasure Trove, money or coin, gold, silver, plate or bullion, found hidden in the earth or other private place, the owner being unknown or not found, in which case it belongs to the Crown.

Tributors, see Chensers.


Venire facias, a judical writ to the Sheriff to summon a jury for trial of a cause (abolished in 1852). It was the first process in outlawry, when a person charged with misdemeanour absconded.

Vetitium namium, a second distress, in lieu of the first distress.

Villain, a man of base or servile condition; a bondsman or servant; one who held by a base service.

Vouch to warranty, to call one to warrant.

Vouchee, the person vouched in a writ of right.


Wager of battle, a form of trial, where the question was decided by the result of a personal combat between the parties, or in the case of a writ of right between their champions. Abolished 59 Geo. 3, c. 46.

Wager of Law, a proceeding which consisted in defendant's discharging himself from the claims on his own oath, bringing with him at the same time into Court eleven of his neighbors (compurgatores) to swear that they believed his denial to be true.

Waif. (1) Goods found but claimed by nobody. (2) Goods stolen and waived, or thrown away by the thief in his flight for fear of being apprehended. These are given to the Crown.

Walkers, foresters who have the care of a certain space of ground.

Warrant of Attorney, a written authority to an attorney to act for the principal.

Welsherie. In many lordships in Wales there was a part where Welsh laws and customs were observed. This was termed the Welsherie.

Westva, or gwestva, food-rents payable to the King, originally paid in kind for the entertainment of the King and his retinue on his progress.

Wharfage, money paid for landing goods at a wharf, or for shipping and taking goods into a boat or barge thence.

Withernam, reprisals.

Writ of Dedimus potestatem, a writ or commission to persons to speed some act appertaining to a Judge or the Court; also used, on renewing the commission of the Peace, by justices to take the oath of the new Justice.

Writ of Elegit, a judicial writ of execution, by which it became in the election of a party having recovered judgment, either to have a writ of fieri facias on lands and goods, or else one-half of the land of the judgment debtor in specie until judgment satisfied.

Writ of Entry in the Post, an abolished writ; given by the Statute of Marlbridge 52 Hen. 3, c. 30, which provided that when the number of alienations or descents exceeded the usual degrees a new writ should be allowed.

Writ of Error, a judicial process for correcting errors made by inferior tribunals.

Writ of Good Abearing, a writ to ensure good behaviour.

Writ of Pone, an obsolete writ, removing the plaint in a County Court into the King's Bench or Common Pleas.

Writ of Supersedeas, a writ issued in many cases, on good cause shown, to stay some ordinary proceedings which ought otherwise to proceed.