1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Droit

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DROIT (Fr. for “right,” from Lat. directus, straight), a legal title, claim or due; a term used in English law in the phrase droits of admiralty, certain customary rights or perquisites formerly belonging to the lord high admiral, but now to the crown for public purposes and paid into the exchequer. These droits (see also Wreck) consisted of flotsam, jetsam, ligan, treasure, deodand, derelict, within the admiral's jurisdiction; all fines, forfeitures, ransoms, recognizances and pecuniary punishments; all sturgeons, whales, porpoises, dolphins, grampuses and such large fishes; all ships and goods of the enemy coming into any creek, road or port, by durance or mistake; all ships seized at sea, salvage, &c., with the share of prizes — such shares being afterwards called “tenths,” in imitation of the French, who gave their admiral a droit de dixième. The droits of admiralty were definitely surrendered for the benefit of the public by Prince George of Denmark, when lord high admiral of England in 1702. American law does not recognize any such droits, and the disposition of captured property is regulated by various acts of Congress.

The term droit is also used in various legal connexions (for French law, see France: Law), such as the droit of angary (q.v.), the droit d'achat (right of pre-emption) in the case of contraband (q.v.), the feudal droit de bris (see Wreck), the droit de régale or ancient royal privilege of claiming the revenues and patronage of a vacant bishopric, and the feudal droits of seignory generally.