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The will of Sir Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423), who was Lord Mayor of London four times, as well as being a Member of Parliament and a sheriff of London. The will was enrolled in the Court of Hustings in 1421.


Borrowed from Medieval Latin dēvastāvit (he has wasted), from dēvastāre, from dēvastō (I devastate, I lay waste), from de- + vastāre (from vastō (I devastate, I lay waste, I ravage), from vastus (deserted, wasted), from Proto-Indo-European *weh₂st- (empty; wasted)).



devastavit (plural devastavits)

  1. (property law) Waste or misapplication of the assets of a deceased person by an executor or administrator; devastation.
    • 1702, The Law of Executors and Administrators, being a Common Law Treatise. Shewing, Directions for the Management of their Office and Duty, in the Several Branches of It. [...], London: Printed by the assigns of R. and Edw. Atkins Esquires. For J. Walthoe in the Middle Temple Cloysters, and M. Wotton at the Three Daggers in Fleet-street, OCLC 15632464, page 191:
      Waſt may be committed by ſelling or confuſing the Teſtator's Goods, leaving debts unpaid. By [] not having enough to pay them by ſelling of the Teſtator's Goods at an undervalue if by Covin, but if upon a judgment the Sheriff ſell them at undervalue, this is no Devaſtavit in the Executor.
    • [1710?], A Common Law Treatise of Usury, and Usurious Contracts: Wherein is Set forth, the Nature of Usury, and what Contracts are Said Usurious in our Law. [...], London: Printed for John Wickins, and are to be sold by Robert Gosling, at the Mitre over against Chancery-Lane-End in Fleet-Street, OCLC 642298047, page 4:
      If an Executor pay an Uſurious Bond, other Creditors may make a Devaſtavit of it, Hob. p. 167. If a Man be bound in an Obligation Uſurious, the Bond is void between the Parties, yea and Strangers ſhall take the advantage of it; and therefore if ſuch an Obligor makes his Executor and die, and the Executor pay the uſurious Bond, other Creditors may ſhew it, and make a Devaſtavit of it, in Winchcomb and the Biſhop of Wincheſter’s Caſe.
    • 1832, Thomas Coventry; Samuel Hughes, An Analytical Digested Index to the Common Law Reports: From the Time of Henry III. to the Commencement of the Reign of George III. with Tables of the Titles and Names of Cases. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, 1st American edition, Philadelphia, Pa.: R. H. Small, law bookseller, 15 Minor Street, OCLC 4948301, page 490:
      An executor is guilty of a devastavit if he pays legacies before the debts. [] If an administrator pay the debts of the intestate in such order as the law appoints to the value of all the goods with his own money, he may lawfully dispose of the goods as he pleases, and it will not be a devastavit.
    • 1832, Edward Vaughan Williams, A Treatise on the Law of Executors and Administrators. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Saunders and Benning, law booksellers, (successors to J[oseph] Butterworth and Son,) 43 Fleet-Street, OCLC 60721332, page 1259:
      In the case of an executor committing a devastavit, and a decree for payment of the amount, the debt is considered as due from the time of the devastavit, and not from the date of the decree; []
    • 1861, Charles Francis Trower, The Law of Debtor and Creditor (The Law Library), Philadelphia, Pa.: T. & J. W. Johnson & Co., law booksellers and publishers, No. 535 Chestnut Street, OCLC 4078650, page 260:
      A representative may, as we have seen, be answerable personally to creditors of the deceased, even for acts done to the best of his judgment, or in the conscientious discharge of his duty. Much more is he so for wrongful acts. These acts are known in legal language as devastavits or acts whereby he has "wasted" or squandered the assets.
    • 1905, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Alabama, volume 41, Montgomery, Ala.: Brown Printing Co., OCLC 29894547, page 128:
      He was without authority, as the administrator in chief was without duty to him, for defaults or devastavits during the preceding administration.
  2. (property law) In full, writ of devastavit: a writ issued against an executor or administrator claiming compensation for such misapplication of assets.


Related terms[edit]




  1. third-person singular perfect active indicative of dēvastō