Boston University School of Law

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Seipp Number:
Marginal Heading
1355.085 1355 Common Pleas Writ founded on the Statute of Labourers Brief sur l'estatut de servants
Op. Curiae
Regnal Year
King: Plea Number Folio Number
Pasch. 29 Edw. 3 [29] 27a-27b
Serjeants/ Justices Plaintiff Surname Plaintiff First Name v. Defendent Surname Defendent First Name
Gour, Nicholas Sjt Gower (for D)
Fyncheden, William de Sjt Finch (for D)
Willoughby, Richard JCP
Fyncheden, William de Sjt Finch
Willoughby, Richard JCP Wilb
Fyncheden, William de Sjt Finch
the Court (addressed)
the Court
Willoughby, Richard JCP Wilb
Gour, Nicholas Sjt Gower
Moubray, John de Sjt Momb (for P)
Fyncheden, William de Sjt Finch
Willoughby, Richard JCP Wilby
Gour, Nicholas Sjt Gower
Brewer William, of Holborne
Other Plaintiffs Other Names Places Other Defendents
Abridgements Cross-References Statutes
Fitzherbert Laborers 54    Statute of Labourers (1349), 23 Edw. 3, ch. 2 (servants forbidden to depart service of their master within the term without reasonable cause, on pain of imprisonment; persons forbidden to retain in their service servants who have departed from their master's service within the term, on pain of imprisonment)
Statute of Labourers (1351), 25 Edw. 3, stat. 2, ch. 1 (servants to serve by the whole year or other usual terms) 
Incipit (First Line) Number of Lines
Un William Brewer de Holborne port' brief fonde sur l'estatut de Laborers, devers un home & sa feme, & 36
Process and Pleading
Language Notes (Law French)
Fyncheden Sjt: Si ceo count soit maintenu, per mesme le reason point in count' d'un covenant fait a demurrer pur terme de sa vie, ou a terme de Mille ans, que passer' le vie d'un home; que ne puit estre gar' p' l'estatut.
Abstract Context
Commentary & Paraphrase
William Brewer of Holborne brought a writ founded on the Statute of Labourers against a man and his wife and against M., their daughter, and he supposed that whereas M. had made a covenant on a certain day and year to remain in his service for the seven years next following, there she had departed within the term without reasonable cause, and the husband and his wife had retained her contrary to the statute, wrongfully etc., and he showed on what day she (il) departed, so that a year was to come of her term. The defendants said that the statute provided that they would make a covenant to serve for the usual terms, which could not exceed the term of one year, and the plaintiff had counted of a covenant made for seven years, which was not warranted by the statute. Judgment of the count. The defendants also said that if this count were maintained, for the same reason he could count of a covenant made to remain for the term of his life, or for a term of a thousand years, which would exceed the life of a man, which could not be warranted by the statute. Willoughby JCP told the defendants to say over, and this would be saved to them. And then the writ was challenged because it was brought against the wife, supposing that they had retained etc. in their service, where a married woman (feme covert) could not receive anyone in her service, because all would be said to be the act of the husband; besides this, the nature of the suit provided that, if the defendants were attainted, they would be imprisoned, and thus the wife would be imprisoned where in law this would be said to be the deed of the husband. The defendants said that if a servant were removed (esloign'), the husband would have the suit against him, and against the person who retained him, and would the writ ever be maintained for the husband and for his wife against them? As meaning to say, no. Willoughby JCP said that the defendants supposed by their reasoning (reasons) that he could not be retained in service by the husband and his wife. And if he was in the service of one, of common understanding he was in the service of the one and the other. Therefore he told the defendants to answer.
Then a serjeant showed M. to the Court, and told them to see here the servant, who was only nine years of age, who could not be bound by any contract. Therefore they demanded judgment if etc. And the Court saw her and examined her, and she was found of such age. Willoughby JCP said that the infant was only nine years of age, who could not be bound to a covenant, and also by the count it was supposed that the covenant was made a long time past, at which time she was of a lesser age. Therefore he told the plaintiff to take nothing against her by his writ, and he told the others to say what they wanted. The defendants said that the main point (le gros) of the plaintiff's action depended entirely on the departure of the servant, because if she (il) had never remained with him, it was established (co'stat) that he would never have an action against the defendants for the retention. And since the servant was adjudged such that she could not be bound to a covenant, by the departure out of the plaintiff's service no wrong should be adjudged in her, and since there was no wrong in the departure, which was the principal matter, consequently neither could wrong be adjudged in the defendants in the retention of her. Therefore etc. The plaintiff said that it was no more permitted to take his servant who was within age out of his service than one who was of full age. And since the defendants did not (per) deny that she was in the plaintiff's service until she was retained by them, and it was prohibited by the statute that anyone should take the servant of another, and although she was within age, the defendants were not excused for that reason, and the wrong committed to the plaintiff was acknowledged, and he prayed his damages. The defendant said that if the plaintiff had taken an action in such a way, that is, that the defendants had taken her out of the plaintiff's service, perhaps the matter would be otherwise, and the law would give the plaintiff's recovery against them, but his action was taken of this that she (il) was retained in the plaintiff's service, and departed before the limited term without reasonable cause, and that afterwards the defendants had received her into their service, where the defendants said that the plaintiff was fully served (servy) as to the retention in his service and as to the departure from this. Because wrong should not be adjudged in them for this, because this could not be adjudged retention, because the servant was not liable, so that it seemed that when she could depart and serve where she wanted, that no wrong could be adjudged in retaining her, no more than if she had never been retained before. Willoughby JCP asked if the defendants thought that, although a covenant could not bind her by nonage, that it was permitted to them therefore to draw her out of service? It was certain that it was not. Therefore he told the defendants to answer. The defendants said that they had not retained her. Ready. (Latin begins) And the other side said the contrary. See (Latin ends) that they had demurred previously in law, and now they were at issue in fact.
Manuscripts Mss Notes Editing Notes Errors
Plea Roll Record Year Record Plaintiffs Record Defendants Last Update
0 2004-12-22
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