Statute of Marlborough

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Statute of Marlborough
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The Statute of Marlborough (52 Hen 3) was a set of laws passed by King Henry III of England in 1267. It is the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom that has not yet been repealed.The famous Magna Carta was originally passed in 1215, but the version currently in force only dates to a reissue in 1297 (25 Edw. I). The oldest piece of extant Scottish law is the Royal Mines Act 1424 There were twenty-nine chapters, of which four are still in force.


Origins and date

The Statute is so named as it was passed at Marlborough, 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 November 19, 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.The preamble claimed that its purpose was peace, justice and the removal of dissent from the realm;R. Wickson, The community of the realm in 13thC England (London 1970) p. 53 and by taking up and reintroducing many of the [previously repudiated] Provisions of Oxford, went far to meet the demands of the baronial opposition.S. H. Steinberg, A New Dictionary of British History (London 1963) p. 214


Among its (now repealed) chapters are legislation on suits of court, Sheriff's tourns, beaupleader fines,J. R. Tanner ed., The Cambridge Medieval History Vol VI (Cambridge 1929) p.282 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,S. H. Sternberg, A New Dictionary of British History (London 1963) p. 214 the statute (in the words of Frederick Maitland) "in many ways marks the end of feudalism".J. R. Tanner ed., The Cambridge Medieval History Vol VI (Cambridge 1929) p.283

Unrepealed elements

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."Oldest surviving law faces repeal after 747 years," BBC website, 5 December 2014 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.Statute Law Repeals: Twentieth Report, Law Commission, 2015.WEB,weblink Medieval laws face axe in legal pruning, Bowcott, Owen, 3 June 2015,, 3 June 2015, The chapters currently valid are c.1, c.4, and c.15 (often referred to as the Distress Act 1267),Chapter 2 also covered distresses, but was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948 which seek to govern the recovery of damages ("distresses") and make it illegal to obtain recompense for damages other than through the courts, and c.23 (the Waste Act 1267),Whilst the bulk of the chapter remains in force, the first paragraph was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881 which seeks to prevent tenant farmers from "making waste" to land they are in tenancy of. Chapter 15 sets out places in which "distresses" are forbidden to be taken; these include the King's Highway and the Common Street. In other words, actions to remedy a breach of some kind by one person against another may not be taken in the street etc.

See also




{{wikisource|Waste Act 1267}}

External links

  • {{UK-LEG|type=aep|path=aep/Hen3cc1415/52/1/contents|title=Statute of Marlborough 1267, cc 1, 4, 15 (the Distress Act)|norig=yes)}}
  • {{UK-LEG|type=aep|path=/aep/Hen3c23/52/23/contents|title=Statute of Marlborough 1267, c. 23 (the Waste Act)|norig=yes)}}
{{UK legislation}}{{Documents of the English Baronial Reform Movement, 1258–1267}}

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