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A DICTIONARY of the Laws of England, undertaken with the view of arranging properly, with regard to matter, and method, and at the same time compressing into a narrow compass, the substance of the many voluminous works written on the Statute and Common Law, cannot, it is presumed, fail to be acceptable to every one, in any manner engaged in a practical department of the law.

But the author of this work, has not confined it solely to the use of the professional man; as it has been both his aim and wish, to render it equally serviceable to the merchant and trader, who, amidst the variety of business, have little leisure to consult those elaborate works, which comprehend and elucidate commercial legislation, and the almost inexpressibly diversified cases which have been determined constructive of those laws: For their use, therefore, the most eminent writers on the Bankrupt Laws, Insurance, Bills of Exchange, Promissory Notes, &c. have been carefully consulted, and the essential contents briefly given.

As there are however, subjects of the first consequence to the mercantile interest of this kingdom, namely, the Customs and Excise Laws, which on account of their great length could not be inserted in this Dictionary; the proprietors aware of their great importance, have commenced and will speedily publish, A complete Abridgment of the Customs, Excise, Import,


and Export Laws, which will form a small additional volume, or may be bound up with this work. The merchant and tradesman will easily perceive the utility of this plan, and as it has been arranged, chiefly with a view to their convenience, it is presumed that the whole will form the most complete Commercial Assistant ever published, and merit their unqualified approbation.

The country gentleman will here also find the nature of tenures fully explained under their proper heads, and the County Courts, Courts Baron, Courts Leet, Game, and Tithes, concisely but clearly treated


To the professional man, it is not meant to insist, that this production can possibly answer all the purposes of the voluminous library of the lawyer; but as the authorities recited in support of the authenticity of the respective articles, are particularly referred to, it will serve him as a most complete index, whereby he may be enabled immediately to direct his attention to any point under consideration.

As the author has selected this work, from writers of the most acknowledged authority, and has devoted it to the use of the Country Gentleman, the Merchant, and the Professional Man, he trusts it will not be found unworthy of a place, either in the Library, the Counting-house, or Office.






BACTORS, drivers away, and stealers of cattle, or beasts in herds or great numbers.

ABATE, to overthrow, demolish, destroy, or beat down. ABATEMENT, in its most general signification, relates to writs or plaints, and signifies the quashing the plaintiff's writ or plaint, but is used by our law in three different senses. 1 Inst. 134. b. 277.

The first, that of removing a public or private nuisance. If a new gate be erected across the king's high-way (which is a public nuisance), any of the king's subjects passing that way may cut it down and destroy it. Or if a house or wall be erected so near to mine that it stop my ancient lights (which is a private nuisance), I may enter my neighbours land, and peaceably pull it dowa. And the reason why the law allows this summary method of doing one's self justice, is, because injuries of this kind require an immediate remedy, and cannot wait for the slow progress of the ordinary forms of justice. 3 Black. 5.

The second, the defeating or overthrowing of an action, by some defect in the proceedings. The chief pleas in abatement are-To the jurisdiction of the court.-To the person of the plaintiff. —To the person of the defendant Outlawry Excommunication Alienage---Attaint-Privilege-Misnonier-Addition-To the writ and action---To the count, or declaration---By the demise of the king. The marriage, or death of the parties; for these and many other causes, the defendant oftentimes prays that the suit of the plaintiff, way for that time cease. And in case of abatement an these


these respects, all writs and process must begin de novo. In thè case of an indictment, or a criminal process, the defendant may plead an abatement, that his name is not as in the indictment specified, or that they have given him a wrong addition, as yeoman, instead of gentleman; and, if the jury find it so, the indictment shall abate. But he who takes advantage of a flaw, must at the same time shew how it may be amended, so as to give the plaintiff a better writ: which is the intent of all pleas in abatement. 4 Black. 355. Finch 363. 4 Durnf. and East 227.

As pleas in abatement enter not into the merits of the cause, but are dilatory, it is enacted, by the statute of 4 and 5 Ann. c. 16, that no dilatory plea be received unless upon oath, and probable cause shewn to the court: that no plea in abatement be received after a respondeas ouster; that they are to be pleaded before imparlance; that when issue is joined on them, if it be found against him who pleads such dilatory plea, it should be peremptory. 1 Lutw. 178. 2/ Lutw. 1117. 2 Show. rep. 42.

The third is, where the rightful possession or freehold of the heir, or devisee, is defeated or overthrown by the intervention of a stranger. And herein it differs from intrusion, which is the entry of a stranger, after a particular estate of freehold is determined before him in remainder, or reversion. An abatement, is always to the prejudice of the heir or immediate devisee; an intrusion is always to the prejudice of the remainder-man or reversioner. The remedy in abatement or intrusion, may be by entry, without the parties being compelled to bring their action, for as the entry of the wrong-doer was unlawful, it may be remedied by the mere entry of him who hath right. 3. Black. 175.

ABBAT, or ABBOT, a spiritual lord or governor, having the rule of a religious house. Of these in England, some were elective, some presentative, some mitred, and others not. Those who were mitred, had episcopal authority within their limits, and exempted from the jurisdiction of the diocesan, but the other abbots were subject to the diocesan, in all spiritual government.

ABBEY-LANDS, before the dissolution of the monasteries, were many of them discharged from the payment of tythes, so long as they remained in the hands of, and were cultivated by the religious societies, and not by their tenants and lessees. These exemptions were continued to the possessors of the said lands by the act of 31 Hen,

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