from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Possessing full legal rights.
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And I make known to you that I will that ye be law-worthy, as ye were in the days of King Edward.
In a charter of four and a half lines addressed to the bishop, the portreeve, and the burgesses, he declared that: "I grant them all to be law-worthy as they were in the days of King Edward, and I grant that every child shall be his father's heir after his father's days and I will not suffer any man do you wrong."
He thus hoped, having ever been a peaceable and law-worthy gentleman, to preserve his lands from peril, and himself and family from prosecution; and it is a great error to suppose that many honest gentlemen did not so succeed in the very fiercest frenzy of the civil wars in keeping their houses over their heads, and their heads upon their shoulders.
Norman Bishop of London; but it probably only confirmed the previous municipal constitution, since it says briefly, "I grant you all to be as law-worthy as ye were in the days of King Edward."
If any one holding of us a lay fief shall die, and our sheriff or bailiff shall exhibit our letters patent of summons for a debt which the deceased owed to us, it shall be lawful for our sheriff or bailiff to attach and catalogue chattels of the deceased, found upon the lay fief, to the value of that debt, at the sight of law-worthy men, provided always that nothing whatever be then be removed until the debt which is evident shall be fully paid to us; and the residue shall be left to the executors to fulfil the will of the deceased; and if there be nothing due from him to us, all the chattels shall go to the deceased, saving to his wife and children their reasonable shares.
"law-worthy" is equivalent to a declaration that they were freemen, for in the feudal ages none other were entitled to the forms of law; while the right of heirship apparently exempted them from the rule of primogeniture which prevailed among the Norman conquerors; -- it is probable, however, that this exemption did not long hold good.