from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. An object forfeited by the state (and supposedly given to God) because it had caused the death of a person
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A personal chattel which had caused the death of a person, and for that reason was given to God, that is, forfeited to the crown, to be applied to pious uses, and distributed in alms by the high almoner. Thus, if a cart ran over a man and killed him, it was forfeited as a deodand.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Formerly, in Eng. law. from the earliest times, a personal chattel which had been the immediate occasion of the death of a rational creature, and for that reason given to God—that is, forfeited to the king to be applied to pious uses and distributed in alms by his high almoner.
There is some justification for the use of the Latin prefix in this manner - e.g. 'deodand', which occurs in 12th century English.
Fake wizard Lixal Laqavee, having tired of his life as a conjurer in a circus, decides to learn some real magic, with troublesome results that force him into a highly hazardous alliance with a deodand of dubious reliability and a ravenous hunger for human flesh.
Punishing or forfeiting the thing or animal that had done wrong was an old English institution, called deodand.
The bound volume was forfeited as a deodand, but not claimed.
Bracton,/1/in case a man was slain, the coroner was to value the object causing the death, and that was to be forfeited sa deodand "pro rege."
"Where a man killeth another with the sword of John at Stile, the sword shall be forfeit as deodand, and yet no default is in the owner."
Henry Spigurnel, a judge in the time of Edward I., is reported, that "where a man is killed by a cart, or by the fall of a house, or in other like manner, and the thing in motion is the cause of the death, it shall be deodand."
It has been a rule of criminal pleading in England down into the present century, that an indictment for homicide must set forth the value of the instrument causing the death, in order that the king or his grantee might claim forfeiture of the deodand, "as an accursed thing," in the language of Blackstone.
The encounter fortunately took place upon a Friday, so that the combatants had both Saturday and Sunday, with the deodand of a slight fine for being absent from chapel, to recover appearances.
Newstead Abbey or Priory was founded by Henry II., by way of deodand or expiation for the murder of Thomas Becket.
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