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The deodand and responsibility for death

The deodand and responsibility for death TERESA SUTTON THE CONCEPT OF THE DEODAND The deodand is often regarded as one of the oddities of English legal history. Justifications for the deodand are extremely obscure and its definite origins are unlikely ever to be discovered. The basic idea of the deodand was that if an animal or inanimate object caused or occasioned the accidental death of a human being, often by moving to the death, it would be confiscated. Such confiscation was irrespective of fault on the part of the owner. Technically the deodand was the actual animal or object itself. However, from at least the early medieval period onwards, it appears that the deodand was normally commuted to a money payment representing the value of the item. In the first instance this payment usually went to the crown or the appropriate franchise owner.1 Over the centuries there were some standard types of fatal accidents which frequently resulted in deodands, such as incidents involving boats, horses, houses, trees and carts. Other cases were more dramatic, with people being torn to pieces by mills, crushed by maypoles, eaten by pigs, falling into vats of boiling ale and hit on the head by casks full of wine.2 One http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Legal History Taylor & Francis

The deodand and responsibility for death

Journal of Legal History , Volume 18 (3): 12 – Dec 1, 1997
12 pages

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References (15)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1744-0564
eISSN
0144-0365
DOI
10.1080/01440369708531186
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

TERESA SUTTON THE CONCEPT OF THE DEODAND The deodand is often regarded as one of the oddities of English legal history. Justifications for the deodand are extremely obscure and its definite origins are unlikely ever to be discovered. The basic idea of the deodand was that if an animal or inanimate object caused or occasioned the accidental death of a human being, often by moving to the death, it would be confiscated. Such confiscation was irrespective of fault on the part of the owner. Technically the deodand was the actual animal or object itself. However, from at least the early medieval period onwards, it appears that the deodand was normally commuted to a money payment representing the value of the item. In the first instance this payment usually went to the crown or the appropriate franchise owner.1 Over the centuries there were some standard types of fatal accidents which frequently resulted in deodands, such as incidents involving boats, horses, houses, trees and carts. Other cases were more dramatic, with people being torn to pieces by mills, crushed by maypoles, eaten by pigs, falling into vats of boiling ale and hit on the head by casks full of wine.2 One

Journal

Journal of Legal HistoryTaylor & Francis

Published: Dec 1, 1997

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