Legal oddities

This page demonstrates some legal oddities that I've found in the past. There's no particular relationship between the various items. Furthermore, the law is full of oddities and there's no way that I consider this to be complete.

The oldest law is 52 Hen. 3 c.1 (the Distress Act, 1267), which effectively says that a person cannot recover damages from someone else except by order of a court. It was part of the "Statute of Marlborough".

The oldest piece of constitutional law is 3 Edw. 1 c.5 (part of the first Statute of Westminster, 1275) which reads:


Pur ceo µ elections deivent estre fraunches, le Rey defent sour sa greve forfeture µ nul, haut home ne autre, par poer de armes ne par malice ne desturbe de fere fraûche Election.

And because Elections ought to be free, the King commandeth upon great Forfeiture that no Man, great Man or other, by Force of Arms, nor by Malice, or menacing, shall disturb any to make free Election.


The symbol shown as µ is a q with a tilde above, and means "que", while û is u with a bar above and means "um" or "un". Another symbol found in old Acts looks like a P with a curved (to the right) stem. It was found in the usage "LordP" (= Lords) and "ScottP" (= Scottis), and may well indicate the genitive case in Middle English. It is also written Þ (like a capital thorn) or like a yogh (the character that looks like a lower-case z or a digit 3).

Read the Act of Supremacy 1534, creating the Church of England.

All Acts of Mary 1 and of Philip and Mary have been repealed except for a few private ones. Every Act of James 1 has been repealed.

The Chronological Index to the Statutes states that there were no laws passed between 16 Cha. 1 (1640) and 12 Cha. 2 (1660); in other words, the parliaments of the Commonwealth are not recognised. No laws are extant between 3 Cha. 1 c.1 (the Petition of Right, 1627), and 12 Cha. 2 c.24 (the Tenures Abolition Act, 1660).

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