1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Compurgation

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COMPURGATION (from Lat. compurgare, to purify completely), a mode of procedure formerly employed in ecclesiastical courts, and derived from the canon law (compurgatio canonica), by which a clerk who was accused of crime was required to make answers on the oath of himself and a certain number of other clerks (compurgators) who would swear to his character or innocence. The term is more especially applied to a somewhat similar procedure, the old Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon mode of trial by oath-taking or oath-helping (see Jury).