Select English Writs
From F. W. Maitland: Equity also, The forms of action
at common law: two courses of lectures, Edited by A. H. Chaytor and W. J. Whittaker, (Cambridge: Cambridge. 1910). The entire text is
Select Writs - Beginning With Those Relating to Land.
Praecipe in Capite
Rex vicecomiti salutem. Praecipe X quod juste et sine dilatione reddat A unum mesuagium
cum pertinentiis in Trumpingtone quod clamat esse jus et haereditatem suam et tenere de
nobis in capite et unde queritur quod praedictus X ei injuste deforciat ut dicit. Et nisi
fecerit, et praedictus A fecerit te securum de clamore suo prosequendo, tunc summone eum
per bonos summonitores quod sit coram justiciariis nostris apud Westmonasterium [i.e., in the Court of Common Pleas] tali die ostensurus quare non fecerit. Et habeas ibi
summonitores et hoc breve
[F.N.B. 51. Fitzherbert's Natura Brevium was published in 1534. (Fitzherbert ob.
1538.) When quoted F.N.B. without a date, the edition of 1553 is referred to. The
translations added here and there for the assistance of the student are taken from the
English edition of 1794, which preserved the paging of the edition of 1553].
The King to the sheriff greeting. Command X that justly and without delay he render to
A one messuage with the appurtenances in Trumpington which he claims to be his right and
inheritance, and to hold Of us in chief and whereof he complains that the aforesaid X
unjustly deforceth him. And unless he will do this, and (if) the aforesaid A shall give
you security to prosecute his claim, then summon by good summoners the aforesaid X that he
be before our justices at Westminster [on such a day] to show wherefore he hath not done
it. And have there the summoners and this writ.
Breve de recto
Rex K [a bishop, baron or other lord of manor] salutem. Praecipimus tibi quod
sine dilatione plenum rectum teneas A de uno mesuagio cum pertinentiis in Trumpingtone
quod clamat tenere de te per liberum servitium [unius denarii per annum] pro omni
servitio, et quod X ei deforciat. Et nisi feceris, vicecomes de Cantabrigia faciat, ne
amplius inde clamorem audiamus pro defectu recti [Bract. fo. 328a. F.N.B. 1G].
The King to K greeting. We command you that without delay you do full right to A of one
messuage with the appurtenances in Trumpington which he claims to hold of you by free
service of [so much] per annum for all service, of which X deforceth him. And unless you
will do this, let the sheriff of Cambridge do it that we may hear no more clamour
thereupon for want of right.
Assisa Novae Disseisinae
Rex vicecomiti salutem. Questus est nobis A quod X injuste et sine judicio disseisivit
eum de libero tenemento suo in Trumpingtone post ultimum reditum domini regis de
Brittannia in Angliam (or other period of limitation). Et ideo tibi praecipimus
quod, si praedictus A fecerit te securum de clamore suo prosequendo, tunc facias
tenementum illud reseisiri de catallis quae in ipso capta fuerint et ipsum tenementum cum
catallis esse in pace usque ad primam assisam cum justiciarii nostri ad partes illas
venerint. Et interim facias xii liberos et legales homines de visneto illo videre
tenementum illud et nomina illorum imbreviari. Et summoneas eos per bonos summonitores
quod sint ad primam assisam coram prefatis justiciariis nostris, parati inde facere
recognitionem. Et pone per vadium et salvos plegios praedictum X vel ballivum suum, si
ipse inventus non fuerit, quod tunc sit ibi auditurus recognitionem illam. Et habeas ibi
summonitorum nomina, plegios et hoc breve [Bract. fo. 179a. F.N.B. 1534, 69,
where the wording has become slightly different].
The King to the sheriff greeting. A hath complained unto us that X unjustly and without
judgment hath disseised him of his freehold in Trumpington after the last return of our
lord the king from Brittany into England. And therefore we command you that, if the
aforesd A shall make you secure to prosecute his claim, then cause that tenement to be
reseised and the chattels which were taken in it and the same tenement with the chattels
to be in peace until the first assize when our justices shall come into those parts. And
in the mean time you shall cause twelve free and lawful men of that venue to view that
tenement and their names to be put into the writ. And summon them by good summoners that
they be before the justices aforesd at the assize aforesd, ready to make recognizance
thereupon. And put by gages and safe pledges the aforesaid X or, if he shall not be found,
his bailiff, that he be then there to hear that recognizance. And have there the (names of
the) summoners, the pledges, and this writ [F.N.B. 177E].
Assisa de Morte Antecessoris
Rex vicecomiti salutem. Si A fecerit te securum de clamore suo prose quendo tunc
summoneas per bonos summonitores xij liberos et legales homines de visneto de Trumpingtone
quod sint coram [It might be "apud
Westmonasterium" or coram dilectis et
fidelibus nostris O. et P. (special commissioners)] justiciariis nostris ad primam
assisam cum in partes illas venerint, parati sacramento recognoscere si B pater, (mater,
frater, soror, avunculus, amita) [Beyond these "degrees" writs of aiel bezaiel and cosinage introduced by William Raleigh were used. For their forms see F.N.B. 220, 221] praedicti
A fuit seisitus in dominico suo ut de feodo de uno mesuagio cum pertinentiis in
Trumpingtone die quo obiit, et si obiit post [period of limitation], et si idem A
ejus haeres propinquior sit. Et interim praedictum mesuagium videant et nomina eorum
inbreviari facias. Et summone per bonos summonitores X qui mesuagium praedictum tenet quod
tunc sit ibi auditurus illam recognitionem. Et habeas ibi summonitores et hoc breve [Bracton,
The King to the sheriff greeting. If A shall make you secure, &c. then summon,
&c. twelve free and lawful men of the neighbourhood of Trumpington that they be before
our justices at the first assize when they shall come into those parts, ready to recognise
by oath if B father [mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt,] of the aforesd A was seised in
his demesne as of fee, of one messuage with the appurtenances in Trumpington the day
whereon he died, and if he died after [the period of limitation] and if the same A be his
next heir: and in the mean time let them view the messuage, and cause their names to be
put in the writ, and summon by good summoners X who now holds the aforesaid messuage, that
he may be there to hear that recognizance; and have there the summoners and this writ
Brevia de Ingressu
Rex vicecomiti salutem. Praecipe X quod juste et sine dilatione reddat A unum mesuagium
cum pertinentiis in Trumpingtone quod clamat esse jus et haereditatem suam et in quod
praedictus X non habuit ingressum nisi---
a. per W qui illud ei dimisit qui inde injuste et sine judicio disseisivit eundem A [or B patrem ejusdem A cujus haeres ipse est] post [time of limitation].
b. per W cui V illud dimisit qui inde injuste etc., as above.
c. post disseisinam quam T inde injuste et sine judicio fecit B patri ejusdem A
cujus haeres ipse est post [time of limitation] et unde queritur.
d. per K quondam virum ipsius A qui illud ei dimisit, cui ipsa in vita sua
contradicere non potuit, ut dicit.
e. per W cui K quondam vir ipsius A qui illud ei dimisit, cui ipsa in vita sua
contradicere non potuit, ut dicit.
f. post dimissionem quam K quondam vir ipsius A, cui ipsa in vita sua contradicere
non potuit, inde fecit T ut dicit et unde queritur.
g. per W cui praedictus A illus dimisit dum non fuit compos mentis.
h. per W cui praedictus A illud dimisit dum fuit infra aetatem.
i. per W cui B pater praedicti A cujus haeres ipse est illud dimisit ad terminum qui
Et nisi fecerit summone eum per bonos summonitores quod sit coram justiciariis
nostris apud Westmonasterium tali die ostensurus quare non fecerit. Et habeas ibi nomina
summonitorum et hoc breve.
Note. The writs of entry given here are but a few out of great numbers of
writs framed to cover almost every conceivable case of a flaw in the tenant's title.
Amongst the writs recorded in Fitzherbert are (1) writs super disseisinam, or as
they are sometimes called writs de quibus; where the flaw was a disseisin (of these
a, b and c above are examples): (2) writs ad communem legem, in casu proviso and in consimili casu where the flaw was an alienation in excess of powers by a
doweress or a tenant by the curtesy, for life or in tail: (3) writs cui in vita, on
alienation by a husband (examples d, e and f above) and (4) writs cui ante divortium,
the same where thc marriage has been dissolved (a strangely modern sound this has): (5)
writs of dum non compos mentis (example g above) and (6) of dum fuit infra
aetatem (example h above) on alienation by an idiot and an infant respectively: (7)
writs of entry ad terminum cui praeteriit (example i above) where the flaw is the
holding over of a lease: (8) writs of intrusion, where the flaw is similar to the
wrong aimed at by the assize of Mort d'Ancestor and (9) the writ sine assensu capituli where the flaw is an alienation by an abbot &c. without his chapter's consent. Each of
these writs may be in either of the thre forms within the "degrees" in the per (as a), in the per and cui (as b) and, outside the "degrees",
by virtue of the statute of Marlborough, in the post (as c in the above writs).
Quare ejecit infra terminum
Rex vicecomiti salutem. Si A fecerit te securum de clamore suo prosequendo tunc
summoneas etc. X quod sit coram justiciariis etc. ostensurus quare deforciat praefato A
unum mesuagium cum pertinentiis in Trumpingtone, quod M ei dimisit ad terminum qui nondum
praeteriit, infra quem terminum idem M praefato X illud mesuagium vendidit occasione cujus
venditionis idem X praefatum A de mesuagio praedicto ejecit ut dicit. Et habeas ibi etc.
Trespass quare clausum fregit
Rex vic. sal. Si A fecerit etc. tunc pone per vadium et salvos plegios X quod sit etc.
ostensurus quare vi et armis clausum ipsius A apud X Trumpingtone fregit [et blada sua
ibidem crescentia falcavit etc. etc.] et alia enormia ei intulit ad grave damnum ipsius A
et contra pacem nostram. Et habeas ibi nomina plegiorum et hoc breve.
De ejectione firmae
Rex vic. sal. Si A fecerit te securum etc. tunc pone etc. X quod sit coram etc.
ostensurus quare vi et armis unum mesuagium apud Trumpingtone, quod M praefato A dimisit
ad terminum qui nondum praeterint, intravit et ipsum a firma sua praedicta ejecit et alia
enormia ei intulit ad grave damnum ipsius A et contra pacem nostram. Et habeas ibi etc.
De Libertate Probanda
Rex vic. sal. Monstravit nobis A quod cum ipse liber homo sit et paratus libertatem
suam probare, X clamans eum nativum suum vexat eum injuste. Et ideo tibi praecipimus quod
si praedictus A fecerit te securum de libertate sua probanda, tunc ponas loquelam illam
coram justiciariis nostris ad primam assisam cum in partes illas venerint quia hujusmodi
probatio non pertinet ad te capienda. Et interim idem A pacem inde habere facias. Et dic
praedicto X quod sit ibi loquelam suam versus praedictum A inde perfecturus si voluerit.
Et habeas ibi hoc breve.
The King to the sheriff greeting. A hath showed unto us that whereas he is a free man
and ready to prove his liberty, X claiming him to be his nief [or nativus or villein]
unjustly vexes him; and therefore we command you, that if the aforesaid A shall make you
secure touching the proving of his liberty, then put that plea before our justices at the
first assizes, when they shall come into those parts, because proof of this kind belongeth
not to you to take; and in the mean time cause the said A to have peace thereupon, and
tell the aforesaid X that he may be there, if he will, to prosecute his plea thereof
against the aforesaid A. And have there this writ [F.N.B. 77F].
Debt, Detinue and Account
Rex vic. sal. Praecipe X quod juste et sine dilatione reddat A:
(Breve de Debito): centum libras quas ei debet et injuste detinet
(Breve de Catallis reddendis) catalla ad valentiam centum librarum quae ei injuste
(Breve de Compoto) rationabile compotum suum de tempore quo fuit ballivus suus in
Trumpingtone et receptorum denariorum ipsius A
ut dicit. Et nisi fecerit et praedictus A fecerit te securum de clamore suo
prosequendo, tunc summone eum per bonos summonitores quod sit coram justiciariis nostris
apud Westmonasterium [tali die] ostensurus quare non fecerit. Et habeas ibi summonitores
et hoc breve [Note that these writs are in the same terms as the writ of Praecipe
in Capite except for the words stating what the defendant is to deliver up to the
Rex vic. sal. Praecipe X quod juste et sine dilatione teneat A conventionem factam
inter ipsum A et [S patrem praedicti] X [cujus haeres ipse est,] de [uno messuagio] et
nisi fecerit &c. tunc summone &c. [F.N.B. (1534), 66, the ending is as for
Trespass vi et armis
Rex vic. sal. Si A fecerit te securum de clamore suo prosequendo tunc pone per vadium
et salvos plegios X quod sit coram justiciariis nostris [Or coram nobis tali die
ubicumque fuerimus tunc in Angliae if the writ be in the King's Bench] &c. tali
(assault and battery) quare vi et armis in ipsum A apud Trumpingtone insultum fecit
et ipsum verberavit vulneravit et male tractavit, ita quod de vita ejus desperabatur
(false imprisonment) quare vi et armis in ipsum A apud Trumpingtone insultum fecit
et ipsum vulneravit imprisonavit et male tractavit
(trespass to land) quare vi et armis clausum ipsius A apud Trumpingtone fregit.
(trespass to chattels) quare vi et armis lapidem molarem [a mill stone] ipsius A
precii xl. s. apud Trumpingtone fregit et bona et catalla sua precii tanti cepit et
(ejectment) quare vi et armis unum mesuagium apud Trumpingtone quod M praefato A
dimisit ad terminum qui nondum praeterut intravit et ipsum A a firma sua praedicta ejecit
et alia enormia ei intulit ad grave damnum ipsius A et contra pacem nostram. Et
habeas ibi nomina plegiorum et hoc breve.
Trespass on the Case or Case
Rex vic. sal. &c. as in Trespass ostensurus: quare [here set out the matter
complained of e.g.:___] in aqua de Plim, per quam inter Humber et Gaunt navium
et batellorum communis est transitus, ex transverso aquae pilos defixit, per quod quaedam
navis cum triginta quarteriis brasii ipsius A submersa fuit, et viginti quarteria brasii
precii centum s. deperierunt. Et alia enormia &c. as in Trespass.
The King to the sheriff &c. as in Trespass to show: wherefore (e.g.:___) he
fixed piles across the water of Plim along which, between the Humber and Gaunt, there is a
common passage for ships and boats, whereby a certain ship, with thirty quarters of malt
of him the said A, was sunk under water, and twenty quarters of the malt of the price of
one hundred shillings perished; and other wrongs &c. as in trespass.
Trespass on the Case in Assumpsit
Rex vic. sal. &c. as in Trespass ostensurus:
quare [e.g.: for misfeasance] cum idem X ad dextrum oculum ipsius A
casualiter laesum bene et competenter curandum apud Trumpingtone pro quadam pecuniae summa
prae manibus soluta assumpsisset, idem X curam suam circa oculum praedictum tam
negligenter et improvide apposuit, quod idem A defectu ipsius X visum oculi praedicti
totaliter amisit, ad damnum ipsius A viginti librarum ut dicit. Et habeas ibi &c.
quare [e.g.: for non-feasance] cum idem X tres currus pro victualibus
ipsius A ad partes transmarinas ducendis pro certa pecuniae summa prae manibus soluta
infra certum terminum inter eos concordatum facere et fabricare apud Trumpingtone
assumpsisset, idem X currus praedictos infra terminum praedictum facere et fabricare non
curavit per quod A diversa bona et catalla sua ad valentiam centum marcarum, quae in
curribus praedictus duci debuissent, pro defectu curruum praedictorum totaliter amisit ad
grave damnum ipsius A ut dicit et habeas &c.
The King to the sheriff greeting &c. as in Trespass to show:
wherefore whereas he the Said X undertook well and competently to cure the right eye of
the Said A, which was accidentally injured, for a certain sum of money beforehand
received, he the same X so negligently and carelessly applied his cure to the said eye,
that the said A by the fault of him the said X totally lost the sight of the said eye, to
the damage of him the said A of twenty pounds, as he saith, and have there &c.
wherefore whereas he the said X undertook to make and build three carriages for
conveying victuals of him the said A to parts beyond the sea for a certain sum of money
beforehand received, within a certain term between them agreed; he the said X did not take
care to make and build the carriages aforesaid within the term aforesaid, by which he the
said A hath wholly lost divers his goods and chattels, to the value of one hundred marks,
which ought to have been conveyed in the carriages aforesaid, for want thereof to the
great damage of him the said A as it is said: and have there &c.
Case on Indebitatus Assumpsit
The King to the sheriff &c. as in Trespass to show:
for that, whereas the said X heretofore, to wit (date and place) was indebted to the
said A in the sum of for divers goods wares and merchandises by the said A before that
time sold and delivered to the said X at his special instance and request.
and being so indebted, he the said X in consideration thereof afterwards to wit (date
and place aforesi) undertook and faithfully promised the said A to pay him the said sum of
money when he the said X should be thereto afterwards requested.
Yet the said X, not regarding his said promise and undertaking but contriving and
fraudulently intending craftily and subtilly to deceive and defraud the said A in this
behalf, hath not yet paid the said sum of money or any part thereof to the said A
(although oftentimes afterwards requested). But the said X to pay the same or any part
thereof hath hitherto wholly refused and still refuses, to the damage of the said A of ___
pounds as it is said. And have you there &c.
Case for Trover
The King to the sheriff greeting &c. as in Trespass to show:
for that, whereas the said A heretofore to wit [date and place] was lawfully possessed
as of his own property, of certain goods and chattels to wit, twenty tables and twenty
chairs of great value to wit of the value of ___ pounds of lawful money of great Britain;
and, being so possessed thereof he the said A afterwards, to wit (date and place
aforesi) casually lost the said goods and chattels out of his possession:
and the same afterward, to wit (date and place aforesaid) came into the possession of
the said X by finding;
Yet the said X well knowing the said goods and chattels to be the property of the said
A and of right to belong and appertain to him, but, contriving and fraudulently intending
craftily and subtilly to deceive and defraud the said A in this behalf, hath not as yet
delivered the said goods and chattels, or any part thereof, to the said A (although often
requested so to do) but so to do hath hitherto wholly refused and still refuses; and
afterwards to wit (date and place aforesaid) converted and disposed of the said goods and
chattels to his the said X's own use, to the damage of the said A of ____ pounds as it is
said; and have you there &c.
F. W. Maitland: Equity also, The forms of action at common law: two courses of
lectures, Edited by A. H. Chaytor and W. J. Whittaker, (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1910)
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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