19th November 1267. Law Casts Long Shadows.

The reign of Henry III (1216-72) saw the greater part of Common Law (judge-made law), begin to take shape, particularly land law. ‘Trial by Jury’ was introduced in the King’s Courts which were superseding the local manorial courts.

The Statute of Marlbridge alias Marlberge or Marlborough, was legislation passed by King Henry III Today in 1267, contained in 29 chapters with four, though about to be reduced to two, still in force.(1)

Marlborough Castle as it might have looked in 1267.

Marlborough Castle as it might have looked in 1267.

The Statute of Marlborough is England’s oldest extant legislation, as Magna Carta though drawn up in 1215, was not copied into Statute Rolls until 1297.

The Statute which included the Confirmation of Charter Act, was concerned among other things with grievances of smaller landowners, in a reign which saw the introduction of monarchical initiated Statute Law.

It was enacted two years after the rebel de Montforth had been defeated and his Parliament disbanded by Henry III, after a struggle which saw the seizure and destruction of much land.

Henry III

Henry III c1272 effigy at Westminster Abbey.

The remaining Acts from the Marlborough Statute are the Distress and Waste Acts: the former which made recovery of debt only possible through a court, and the second which stopped tenants from leaving part of their land ‘waste’ and unproductive.

In June 2015, the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission have been looking into repealing two of the provisions of the 1267 Act.

After the proposed reforms the two provisions remaining, you will be pleased to know, will be Chapter 1: It will continue to be, ‘An offence to take revenge or distress (seize) against, without a court order’, and Chapter 23 which, ‘prohibits tenants making (laying waste) or alienating or selling land’.

It’s good to know that obsolete provisions of 1267 have been discarded in the past including: redissein, beapleader and guardians in socage-don’t ask!

(1) 52 Hen III Anno Domini 1267.

The full title was: ‘The 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.

The preamble said in: ‘the two and fiftieth year of the reign of King then son of King John in the utas of St. Martin which calculates as November 19th. Utas was an archaic term to denote the 8th day after an event in this case the feast day of St. Martin: Dating then related to saints’ days.

Ref: wikipedia.org/treaty_of_marlborough.

Ref: bbc.co.uk/politics/5.12.2014/old-surviving-laws-face-chop/Tom Moseley/Pic Image.

Ref: guardian.com/medieval-laws-to face-axe.

Ref: maldencapell.wordpress.com/Pic of castle.

Ref: marlboroughnewsonline.co.uk.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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