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Not what you’re thinking

You never know what you’re going to encounter when you poke around in the law dictionaries.

Heart shape tree with red leaves on red flower field. Love symboDid you know, for example, that there was something called a Love-Day?

The Legal Genealogist didn’t know either.

And, no, it’s not what you’re thinking.

This isn’t a 1960s love-in, or anything even remotely related to that train of thought.

It was, instead, a “day on which any dispute was amicably settled between neighbors; or a day on which one neighbor helps another without hire.”1

Now the history of the term isn’t quite as easy to find. It appears, however, to have been around as early as the 13th century — the 1200s or thereabouts — and to have been part of a distinction between an imposed resolution (the kind you get in a lawsuit) and an amicably-agreed-upon resolution (when people agree among themselves). The difference, in other words, between law and love.2

So these were “those days anciently so called on which arbitrations were made and controversies ended among neighbours for the mutual restoring of love and charity.”3

Presumably a better alternative to brawling in the streets … and much better than hiring a lawyer!


  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 735, “love-day.”
  2. See John H. Baker, Collected Papers on English Legal History (Cambridge, England : Cambridge University Press, 2013), c.25.
  3. Richard Paul Jodrell, Philology on the English Language (London : Cox & Baylis, 1820), 409; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 16 Aug 2015).
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