The Statutes of Marlborough 1267, Henry III: an Act of Parliament passed in the Great Hall of Marlborough Castle near this place.
"He made many statutes for the betterment of his realm and the manifestation of Common Justice"
The Statutes of Marlborough (52 Hen 3) was a set of laws passed by King Henry III of England in 1267 at a Parliament held in Marlborough Castle. The Castle was situated in what is now the grounds of Marlborough College where what is known as the Mound was the motte on which the keep of Marlborough Castle was built fifty years after the Norman Conquest.
The Blue Plaque commemorating the passing of the Act is mounted on a brick pillar by the College Gates on the Bath Road (A4).
The full title of the Act was Provisions made at Marlborough in the presence of our lord King Henry, and Richard King of the Romans, and the Lord Edward eldest son of the said King Henry, and the Lord Ottobon, at that time legate in England.
The Statute was signed just 32 years after the first ever Act of Parliament and originally applied to England only but was later extended to Wales and, for a time, to Ireland, although never to Scotland. It predates the incorporation of Magna Carta into English law because, although the original version of Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215, it was not copied into the statute rolls to become law until 1297.
The preamble dates it as "...the two and fiftieth year of the reign of King Henry, son of King John, in the utas of Saint Martin...", which would give a date of November 19, 1267; "utas" is an archaic term to denote the eighth day after an event, in this case the feast day of Saint Martin.
This seven-hundred-year-old law gave rights and privileges to small land owners and limited the right of the King to take possession of land, and states that no-one shall seize his neighbour's goods for alleged wrong without permission of the Court.
Apart from Charters, it is the oldest statute in English law which has not yet been repealed. Originally there were twenty-nine chapters of the law, of which four as of June 2015 were still in force.
However the Law Commission has suggested that two of the remaining four chapters be repealed, as they are no longer useful since the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act. In June 2015 the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission published a draft bill incorporating the repeal of c.4 (regulating the "taking of unreasonable distresses and the removal of distrained goods out of the debtor’s county") and c.15 (concerning the "levying of distress off the tenanted property or on a public highway") of the Statute.
Blue Plaque Location:
Click here for details of a circular walk linking all the Blue Plaques