1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Statute Merchant and Statute Staple

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STATUTE MERCHANT and STATUTE STAPLE, two old forms of security, long obsolete in English practice, though references to them still occur in some modern statutes. The former security was first created by the Statute of Acton Burnell (1283) and amplified by the Statute of Merchants (1285)—whence its name-and the latter by an act of 1353, which provided that in every staple (i.e. public mart) the seal of the staple should be sufficient validity for a bond of record acknowledged and witnessed before the mayor of the staple. They were originally permitted only among traders, for the benefit of commerce, but afterwards extended by an act of Henry VIII. (1532) to all subjects, whether traders or not. The creditor under either form of security was allowed to seize the goods and hold the lands of a defaulting debtor until satisfaction of his debt. While he held the lands he was termed tenant by statute merchant or by statute staple. In addition to the loss of his goods and lands the debtor was liable to be imprisoned. Statute merchant, owing to the summary method of enforcing payment, was sometimes known as “pocket judgment.” Both were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.