Infangthief and outfangthief
Infangthief and outfangthief (also spelled infangtheof and outfangtheof) were privileges originally granted to landowners in Anglo-Saxon law. With the granting of these privileges by the Crown, they were able to execute summary justice on thieves within the borders of their own estates.
Infangthief (meaning literally "in-taken-thief") applied to thieves captured within a landowner's estate; outfangthief ("out-taken-thief") applied to thieves who had committed a crime on a landowner's estate but were captured elsewhere, permitting the landowner to transfer such a person to his own court for summary justice. The thief's captor was given a choice between summarily executing him – the usual fate for the poor – or ransoming him for a fine set according to his rank.
Such privileges had several advantages: they were profitable, helped to maintain discipline on the estate and identified the privilege-holder as a figure of authority. They remained in use after the Norman Conquest as a standard right given to local lords and did not finally fall into disuse until the time of Edward III, and even then it continued to be asserted for a considerable time afterwards in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
- Warren, Wilfred Lewis. The governance of Norman and Angevin England, 1086–1272, p. 45. Stanford University Press, 1987. ISBN 978-0-8047-1307-8
- The New England historical & genealogical register and antiquarian journal, vol. 16, p. 257. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1857
- Wright, Martin. Justice for victims and offenders: a restorative response to crime, p. 13. Waterside Press, 1996. ISBN 978-1-872870-35-9
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