murdrum

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English[edit]

English Wikipedia has an article on:
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Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from Medieval Latin murdrum, ultimately of Germanic origin. More at English murder.

Noun[edit]

murdrum (uncountable)

  1. (Britain, historical) A secret killing, distinguished from simple homicide in that the victim and the killer are unknown.
    • 1873, Luke Owen Pike, A History of Crime in England:
      Death by misadventure or starvation might be a 'murdrum' if there was no presentment of Englishry.
    • 1895, ‎William Joseph Whittaker, The Publications of the Selden Society - Volume 7, page 35:
      If the person slain be unknown, then in such case it belongs to the coroners to enter a murdrum on their rolls, according to the statute of King Knut, made on setting out for Denmark, who, for the preservation of his Danes whom he left in England, ordained that whenever an unknown man was slain all the hundred should be in the mercy of the king under a judgment of murdrum. Four things relieve from the judgment of murdrum: the first if the felon be known or the person killed; for if the felon be known then he can be attainted for the felony. The second, if the felon be taken or has fled to a church. The third, if the killing were not felonious but by misadventure. The fourth, where a man is felo de se. Since of a man who is known no murdrum can be committed, it is the duty of the coroner in these felonies to inquire into the lineage of such persons who are killed, so that one may know from their kinsmen whether they were of English birth.
    • 1897, The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine:
      In 1160 ten marks were paid for a "murdrum" and the pardon given to the Bishop of Winchester. A "murdrum" was in all cases a secret murder, and if the town was too poor to pay the fine, it was assessed, as in this case, on the whole hundred.
    • 1918, G.G. Coulton, Social Life in Britain, page 26:
      Wherefore, in these days, almost every secret manslaughter is punished as murdrum, except those of whom (as I have said) it is certain that they are of servile condition.
    • 2013, J. W. Cecil Turner, Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law, →ISBN, page 141:
      Under the law of William the Conqueror if a Norman was slain and the slayer was not produced, the district (the hundred) had to pay a fine, and the name murdrum was given both to the homicide and to the fine in such a case.
  2. (Britain, historical) A fine imposed by the Crown on a manor or district in which such a secret killing had been committed.
    • 1910, John Franklin Jameson, ‎Henry Eldridge Bourne, ‎& Robert Livingston Schuyler, The American Historical Review, page 39:
      In the case of the murdrum, to which chapter IX. relates, it is customary to consider that because this fine was originally intended to hold communities responsible for order within their boundaries, therefore its enforcement harmed the feudal lords only in so far as it lessened the paying power of their tenants.
    • 1960, J. D. J. Havard, The detection of secret homicide: a study of the medico-legal system of investigation of sudden and unexplained deaths, page 12:
      By the beginning of the thirteenth century the murdrum was being imposed for all cases of sudden or unexpected death, irrespective of whether it was caused by violence or not, unless the complex proof of Englishry could be given.
    • 2006, Susan Stewart, The 1263 Surrey Eyre, →ISBN Invalid ISBN:
      By the thirteenth century the collection of murdrum was primarily for the benefit of the Exchequer and significantly added to the burden of the eyre on the localities.
    • 2013, J. W. Cecil Turner, Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law, →ISBN, page 141:
      Under the law of William the Conqueror if a Norman was slain and the slayer was not produced, the district (the hundred) had to pay a fine, and the name murdrum was given both to the homicide and to the fine in such a case.