Statute of Marlborough

The Statute of Marlborough (52 Hen 3) is a set of laws passed by the Parliament of England during the reign of Henry III in 1267. The laws comprised twenty-nine chapters, of which four are still in force. Those four chapters constitute the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom still in force as of 2020.

Statute of Marlborough
Citation52 Hen 3
Territorial extentEngland and Wales
Other legislation
Amended byVarious, see text
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended

Nomenclature and datingEdit

The Statute is so named as it was passed at Marlborough in Wiltshire, where a Parliament was being held. The preamble dates it as "the two and fiftieth year of the reign of King Henry, son of King John, in the utas of Saint Martin", which would give a date of 19 November 1267; "utas" is an archaic term to denote the eighth day (in inclusive counting) after an event, in this case the feast day of Saint Martin. The full title was Provisions made at Marlborough in the presence of our lord King Henry, and Richard King of the Romans, and the Lord Edward eldest son of the said King Henry, and the Lord Ottobon, at that time legate in England.

BackgroundEdit

The preamble claimed that its purpose was peace, justice and the removal of dissent from the realm;[1] and by taking up and reintroducing many of the previously repudiated Provisions of Oxford, went far to meet the demands of the baronial opposition.[2]

Extant chaptersEdit

1, 4, and 15 (Distress Act 1267)Edit

Chapters 1, 4, and 15 are often referred to as the Distress Act 1267, which seek to govern the recovery of damages ("distresses") and makes it illegal to obtain such distresses outside the legal system.

Chapter 1 announces the intention of the Act, noting that a recent commotion had led to lords and several other persons refusing to submit to the King's courts and taking distresses at their own pleasure.[3] It makes it illegal to obtain distresses for damages other than through the courts regardless of class or estate.[3] It punishes extralegal attempts to obtain such distresses made after the passage of the Act with a fine.[3]

Chapter 4 makes it illegal to take a distress outside of the debtor's county, and punishes such behaviour with a fine in the case of a neighbour but with amercement in the case of a lord doing so with his tenant.[4] It also requires that distresses be reasonable, subjecting takers of excessive distresses to amercement based on the excesses of such distresses.[4]

Chapter 15 requires that distresses be made only before the King or his officers; prohibiting in particular taking distresses on one's own property, the King's highway, or common roads.[5]

Chapter 2 also covered distresses, but was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.[6] It prohibited one from taking distress outside of one's jurisdiction or area, and punished offenders based on the transgression.[7] Chapter 3 also dealt with distresses, punishing those who refused to cooperate with the justice system to be punished based on the transgression.[8] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9]

23 (Waste Act 1267)Edit

Chapter 23 is often referred to as the Waste Act 1267, which seeks to prevent tenant farmers from "making waste" to land they are in tenancy of. Whilst the bulk of the chapter remains in force, the first paragraph was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9]

Repealed chaptersEdit

Among its now repealed chapters are legislation on suits of court, Sheriff's tourns, beaupleader fines,[10] real actions, essoins, juries, guardians in socage, amercements for default of summons, pleas of false judgement, replevin, freeholders, resisting the King's officers, the confirmation of charters, wardship, redisseisin, inquest, murder, benefit of clergy, and prelates.

By regulating the use of distress of property to enforce tenurial services, and redefining other feudal obligations,[11] the statute (in the words of Frederick Maitland) "in many ways marks the end of feudalism".[12] Chapters 7, 8, 16, 22, 24, 26, 27, and 29 were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[13] Chapter 21 was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9]

5 (Confirmation of Charters)Edit

Chapter 5 confirmed Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, ordering the King's officers and courts to duly observe and enforce them.[14] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9] The Charter of the Forest was repealed in 1971.

6 (Wardships)Edit

Chapter 6 made it unlawful for tenants to enfeoff their eldest sons in order to deprive their Lords of their wardships.[15] It also subject lords who maliciously used this provision in court to amercement and paid damages to feoffees wrongly sued.[15] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[13]

9 (Standing)Edit

Chapter 9 provided that those who were not infeoffed in a given lord's deed were ineligible to sue in that lord's court, with the exception of those whose ancestors had used those courts prior to Henry's voyage to Britain in 1228.[16] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9]

10 (Tourns)Edit

Chapter 10 exempted Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Priors, Earls, Barons, people associated with religious orders, and them who had other bailiwicks from mandatory attendance of the tourns of the local sheriff.[17] It also provided that such tourns would be continued in the fashion of the reigns of Kings Richard and John.[17] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881.[9]

11 (Beaupleader)Edit

Chapter 11 abolished fines for beaupleader, although it did not do so retroactively.[18] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[13]

12 (Dower)Edit

Chapter 12 provided for at least four days a year, and up to five or six if convenient, to be set aside to hear pleas of dower.[19] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[13]

13 (Essoins)Edit

Chapter 13 dealt with essoins. It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[13]

17 (Guardians of Socage)Edit

Chapter 17 provided that those who held socage on behalf of an underage heir not lay waste of such inheritance, nor sell or destroy it.[20] It also forbade such guardians from arranging a marriage of the heir except for the heir's benefit.[20] It was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.[6]

Proposed repeal of surviving sectionsEdit

The Law Commission has suggested that two of the remaining four chapters be repealed, as they are no longer useful since the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.[21] In June 2015 the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission published a draft bill incorporating the repeal of c.4 (regulating the "taking of unreasonable distresses and the removal of distrained goods out of the debtor’s county") and c.15 (concerning the "levying of distress off the tenanted property or on a public highway") of the Statute.[22][23]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ R. Wickson, The community of the realm in 13thC England (London 1970) p. 53
  2. ^ S. H. Steinberg, A New Dictionary of British History (London 1963) p. 214
  3. ^ a b c Statute of Marlborough, c. 1
  4. ^ a b Statute of Marlborough, c. 4
  5. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 15
  6. ^ a b Statute Law Revision Act 1948, p. 1407
  7. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 2
  8. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 3
  9. ^ a b c d e f Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881, p. 3
  10. ^ J. R. Tanner ed., The Cambridge Medieval History Vol VI (Cambridge 1929) p.282
  11. ^ S. H. Sternberg, A New Dictionary of British History (London 1963) p. 214
  12. ^ J. R. Tanner ed., The Cambridge Medieval History Vol VI (Cambridge 1929) p.283
  13. ^ a b c d e Statute Law Revision Act 1863, p. 580
  14. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 5
  15. ^ a b Statute of Marlborough, c. 6
  16. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 9
  17. ^ a b Statute of Marlborough, c. 10
  18. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 11
  19. ^ Statute of Marlborough, c. 12
  20. ^ a b Statute of Marlborough, c. 17
  21. ^ "Oldest surviving law faces repeal after 747 years," BBC website, 5 December 2014
  22. ^ Statute Law Repeals: Twentieth Report, Law Commission, 2015.
  23. ^ Bowcott, Owen (3 June 2015). "Medieval laws face axe in legal pruning". theguardian.com. Retrieved 3 June 2015.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit