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. There were twenty-nine chapters, of which four are still in force. 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.

It 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 after an event, in this case the feast day of Saint Martin.

It is the oldest piece of statute law in the United Kingdom that has not yet been repealed.[1] The Law Commission has suggested that two of the remaining four chapters be repealed, as they are no longer useful since the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act.[2]

The chapters currently valid are c.1, c.4, & c.15 (often referred to as the Distress Act 1267),[3] 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),[4] 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.

Repealed chapters include legislation on resisting the King's officers, the confirmation of charters, wardship, redisseisin, suits of court, Sheriff's turns, beaupleader, real actions, essoins, juries, guardians in socage, amercements for default of summons, pleas of false judgement, replevin, freeholders, inquest, murder, benefit of clergy, and prelates.

In the United Kingdom, chapter 1 of this statute may be cited as "the Distress Act 1267".[5] In the Republic of Ireland, chapters 1 and 4 and 15 may be cited together as the Distress Act 1267.[6]

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  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Chapter 2 also covered distresses, but was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948
  4. ^ Whilst the bulk of the chapter remains in force, the first paragraph was repealed by the Statute Law Revision and Civil Procedure Act 1881
  5. ^ The citation of this chapter by this short title was authorised by section 5 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  6. ^ The citation of these chapters by this short title is authorised by section 1(1) of, and Part I of Schedule 2 to, the Short Titles Act 1962. The comma is omitted on the authority of section 14(3)(a) of the Interpretation Act 2005.


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