Essoins and EOKA

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 08 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1357
  1. D J Blomley, retired general practitioner
  1. Farley Hill, Reading

    If you went to law in early medieval times in England both you and your adversary were obliged to appear in court in person. This often led to delays. In the words of the great legal historian F W Maitland (1909): “Justice had to be slow if it was to be just, the sick man cannot come so one must wait until he is well; one must give the crusader the chance of returning.” Excuses for non-attendance were known as essoins, and, for actions involving ownership of land brought by Writ of Right, these could take many forms. A man pleading sickness, for example, was allowed to delay an action by a year and a day if he took to his bed. If the court was suspicious, however, four …

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