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 Outlaws 1760-1816
This dataset consists of Outlawry writs - Kings Bench Plea Side covering November 1760 - March 1816

Introductory notes

The basics of outlawry

Outlawry in civil cases is simply a punishment for a contempt of court e.g. the defendant has put himself beyond the reach of the law. As an example, James Child of Begelly House in Pembrokeshire was staying with relatives in Carmarthenshire when he was outlawed. It is not clear if he was deliberately evading the Pembrokeshire sheriff and/or his many creditors by hiding outside the county or he was there for legitimate reasons.

In civil actions, outlawry puts a man out of the protection of the law so that

• He is incapable of suing for redress of injuries and
• May be imprisoned and forfeits all his goods and chattels and the profits of his lands, his personal chattels immediately on outlawry and his real chattels and land profits upon inquisition.

If a woman was the defendant then the proceeding is called “waiver”. This is due to fact that women historically did not swear to the law at the leet so could not properly be outlawed. So said to be “derelicta”, i.e. left out, waived.

The county sheriff has the right on a capias ultygatum to break open premises where the outlaw is and take him into custody. This makes sense as he has no rights under the law.

There are some outlaws with Welsh addresses. Many more Welsh outlaws will be found in the records of the Court of Great Sessions (held at the National Library of Wales).

Who could not be outlawed in Kings Bench Plea Side actions?

1. Peers
2. Infant above 14 years

What was the process leading to outlawry?

A writ of exigit facias is a judicial writ made out by the filazer as clerk to the exigents and directed to the sheriff of the county where the action is laid commanding him to cause the defendant to be found. The defendant was given 5 consecutive County Court sessions to give himself up.

Three proclamations were to be made as follows by the sheriff upon whom the writ of exigent has been delivered:

1. In the Quarter Sessions of the county where the defendant supposedly lived at time of award of exigent
2. In open county court
3. A copy of the writ exigent to be pinned on the door of church/chapel in the parish where defendant lived

Was there an appeal process?

Yes, outlawry could be "reversed" - see the separate column marked as "Reversal?"

Is there any more information in the records not included in the database?

Yes, attorneys' details for each case and what appears to be the reason for the outlawry although there is some doubt about this. The original source material is one book held at the National Archives at Kew (ref KB 139/114)

Jon Mein
July 2009
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Outlaws 1760-1816: Outlaws names
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