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The Accustomed Unwritten Ecclesiastical Laws, 1667

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 January 2024

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Summary

The accustomed unwritten laws until now practised continually by the church are as follows.

Rape

1. That such as are accused of rape be proceeded against in the spiritual court in manner and form as of sorcery, as is expressed in the fiftieth spiritual statute.238

Debts of the deceased

2. That when a debt appears to be due from a deceased to the lord, and the deceased's debts surmounting the inventory, the lord's debt is first to be paid; secondly, orphans’ goods, and afterwards the claimer's penny pound like by the general sumner, if none else undertake to administer after the goods are sold at the market cross to their best value.

Excommunicates

3. That an excommunicate person persisting irregular is to be imprisoned and delivered over body and goods to the lord's mercy.

4. That all fines imposed by the church are given in charge to the comptroller after that ordinary hath mitigated the same according to the spiritual statute.239

Inheritance by minors

5. That notwithstanding the eighth spiritual statute,240 it hath been accustomed that if there hath been but one child betwixt man and wife and the man died intestate, the kindred of the father, by virtue of that statute, was to have the tuition of the said child and goods until he came to fourteen years of age, yet in regard by woeful experience, it was found that such orphans were very much neglected in their good usage, and the church conceiving it unfit to commit the tuition of a child to him or her that was to have his estate of lands and goods after his decease, ordered always as appears on record, and the mother, if she be alive, or if not, the next relation on her side, should have the tuition of the said child, to whom none of the estate fell due by his death, and to be rewarded out of the profits of the said estate and goods, at the sight of four sworn men.

The same rule observed if the estate come by the mother, always provided that the court find such next relations capable of their charge. Otherwise they may decree as they think most fit for the child's safety and best usage. But all this in case there be not a will made, wherein the child and goods are otherwise disposed of.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
First published in: 2024

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