Monday, 6 July 2020

time out of mind

Though the phrase time immemorial may sound beyond the reach of history or record, it is a phrase coined (temps immรฉmorial) to satisfy the legal burden of proof of ownership—for both moveable and immovable property, with the First Statute of Westminster, which codified English law in 1275—including other pithy prescriptions like “No Maintainers of Quarrels shall be suffered,” that decreed that time immemorial extended back to the beginning of the reign of Richard I (see previously here and here), ascending to the throne on 6 July 1189, very much as it was a matter of record and in living memory. Lands enjoyed in an unbroken chain of custody since then required no further proof of ownership. Noting that the full expression was conditional, “time immemorial, or time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” common law was amended in 1832 to be sixty years.