Term of the day: fightwite

Travel obligations and internet issues are going to be interfering with daily posts for at least another day. Maybe two. Give or take. So nobody will go into withdrawal, however, The Legal Genealogist offers…

The term of the day:

FIGHTWITE.

johnny_automatic_boxing_glovesOkay, so about a week ago we covered the word “wyte.” It meant, in old English law, “an acquittance or immunity from amercement.”1

And some of you out there are sitting there thinking that, from the sound of it, there has to be some relationship between a “wyte” and a “fightwite.”

While some others of you out there are sitting there thinking that’d be too easy. Look at the spelling! A wyte and a wite can’t be related! Besides, The Legal Genealogist is sneaky!

And…

You’d be right.

About the sneaky part, that is. The word really is an easy one, and it is a kissin’ cousin to the wyte.

A fightwite, in Saxon law, was “a mulct or fine for making a quarrel to the disturbance of the peace. … The amount was one hundred and twenty shillings.”2

And (gasp!) you don’t remember what a mulct was??? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

It was a “penalty or punishment imposed on a person guilty of some offense, tort, or misdemeanor, usually a pecuniary fine or condemnation in damages.”3


SOURCES

Image: Open Clip Art, user johnny_automatic.

  1. No, actually, I’m not going to define the words in the definition. They’re in the blog post and you can read it: Judy G. Russell, “Term of the day: wyte,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 16 Oct 2013 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 24 Oct 2013).
  2. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 491, “fightwite.”
  3. Ibid., 792, “mulct.”
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