Catalogue description Chancery: Records Upon Outlawries (Tower and Rolls Chapel Series)

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Details of C 88
Reference: C 88
Title: Chancery: Records Upon Outlawries (Tower and Rolls Chapel Series)

Writs certiorari super recordum et processum utlagarie, returned into Chancery as the first step to obtaining a pardon for outlawry.

Until about 1312, roughly half the cases surviving in this series were of criminal outlawry, mostly for homicide. Thereafter, minor or procedural outlawry, designed to secure the appearance of common law defendants in court, dominate the records.

Until the sixteenth century, cases of debt, detinue and replevin are predominant. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, outlawry for non-payment of damages in suits of debt becomes common.

Most of these records were formerly included in C 47 and C 202

Date: 1277-1628
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 227 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

Outlawry of felons dates from before the Norman Conquest, and cases of criminal outlawry are common until about 1312. However, such cases declined thereafter and had almost disappeared by the beginning of the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), when the administration of criminal outlawry was made more difficult by statute.

Outlawry in cases of trespass appeared in the first half of the thirteenth century, and thereafter the use of procedural outlawry was steadily extended by statute.

In 1285 it was allowed in actions of account, by the Statute of Westminster II, although such cases do not appear frequently until the early years of the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). In 1344 procedural outlawry was allowed for coining, confederating and non-cocketing. The Statute of Labourers of 1351 also included outlawry amongst its penalties.

For most of the period covered by this series, the procedure for obtaining a pardon was dictated by a statute of 1331. Before this, the certiorari had been addressed to the sheriff, the date of the outlaw's surrender had not been required, and pardons had been made conditional upon his surrender. After 1331, it was the justices either of King's Bench or Common Pleas who were required to produce the record and process, together with the fact (later the date) of the outlaw's surrender to them, and his subsequent committal to the Marshalsea or the Fleet prison.

Some months usually elapsed between the pronouncement of outlawry and the outlaw's surrender, probably because many defendants were outlawed without knowing it at the time. Several statues attempted to remedy this injustice, such as 'An Acte for the avoydinge of privie and secrete outlawries of her Majesties subjects' (1588).

After committal to prison, the outlaw usually spent only a day or two in prison before his pardon was granted. Such pardons were normally enrolled on the patent rolls: C 66

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