In English criminal law, attainder or attinctura was the metaphorical "stain" or "corruption of blood" which arose from being condemned for a serious capital crime (felony or treason). It entailed losing not only one's life, property and hereditary titles, but typically also the right to pass them on to one's heirs. Both men and women condemned of capital crimes could be attainted.
Attainder by confession resulted from a guilty plea at the bar before judges or before the coroner in sanctuary. Attainder by verdict resulted from conviction by jury. Attainder by process resulted from a legislative act outlawing a fugitive. The last form is obsolete in England (and prohibited in the United States), and the other forms have been abolished.
Medieval and Renaissance English monarchs used acts of attainder to deprive nobles of their lands and often their lives. Once attainted, the descendants of the noble could no longer inherit his lands or income. Attainder essentially amounted to the legal death of the attainted's family.
Monarchs typically used attainders against political enemies and those who posed potential threats to the king's position and security. The attainder eliminated any advantage the noble would have in a court of law; nobles were exempt from many of the techniques used to try commoners, including torture. Likewise, in many cases of attainder, the king could coerce the parliament into approving the attainder and there would be a lower or non-existent burden of proof (evidence) than there would be in court.
Prior to the Tudors, most rulers reversed their attainders in return for promises of loyalty. For example, Henry VI reversed all 21 attainders, Edward IV 86 of 120, and Richard III 99 of 100.However, this changed with Henry VII, as described below.
Regnants who used attainder include:
Once attainted, nobles were considered commoners, and as such, could be subjected to the same treatments, including torture and methods of execution. For example, commoners could be burned at the stake, whereas nobles could not.
Often, nobles would refer to the act of being attainted (and then executed) as the person's "destruction".
In the Westminster system, a bill of attainder is a bill passed by Parliament to attaint persons who are accused of high treason, or, in rare cases, a lesser crime. A person attainted need not have been convicted of treason in a court of law; in fact, the attainder process is a method of declaring a person a fugitive.
A rumour circulated that a bill of attainder against Thomas Jefferson occurred in 1774 because of his authorship of A Summary View of the Rights of British America .
A bill of attainder was last passed in Britain in 1798, against Lord Edward FitzGerald. Attainders by confession, verdict and process were abolished in the United Kingdom by the Forfeiture Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict., c.23).
Section 9 of Article One of the United States Constitution provides that no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed by Congress.The following section forbids states from passing them.
Corruption of blood is one of the consequences of attainder. The descendants of an attainted person could not inherit either from the attainted person (whose property had been forfeited by the attainder) or through their other relatives from him. For example, if a person executed for a crime leaves innocent children, the property of the criminal is forfeited to the crown and will not pass to the children. When the criminal's innocent father outlives his son, the property inherited by the father from the criminal cannot be inherited by the criminal's children either as it will be distributed among other family members.
The United States Constitution prohibits corruption of blood as a punishment for treason,(specifically, "no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted") and when Congress passed the first federal crime bill in 1790, it prohibited corruption of blood as a punishment for any federal crime. In England and Wales, corruption of blood was abolished by the Corruption of Blood Act 1814.
Treason is the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance. This typically includes acts such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Under Article Three, the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as lower courts created by Congress. Article Three empowers the courts to handle cases or controversies arising under federal law, as well as other enumerated areas. Article Three also defines treason.
Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury, also called Margaret Pole, as a result of her marriage to Sir Richard Pole, was the only surviving daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, a brother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III, by his wife Isabel Neville. Margaret was one of just two women in 16th-century England to be a peeress in her own right without a husband in the House of Lords. As one of the few members of the House of Plantagenet to have survived the Wars of the Roses, she was executed in 1541 at the command of King Henry VIII, the second monarch of the House of Tudor, who was the son of her first cousin Elizabeth of York. Pope Leo XIII beatified her as a martyr for the Roman Catholic Church on 29 December 1886.
A bill of attainder is an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of people, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, often without a trial. As with attainder resulting from the normal judicial process, the effect of such a bill is to nullify the targeted person's civil rights, most notably the right to own property, the right to a title of nobility, and, in at least the original usage, the right to life itself.
Under the law of the United Kingdom, high treason is the crime of disloyalty to the Crown. Offences constituting high treason include plotting the murder of the sovereign; committing adultery with the sovereign's consort, with the sovereign's eldest unmarried daughter, or with the wife of the heir to the throne; levying war against the sovereign and adhering to the sovereign's enemies, giving them aid or comfort; and attempting to undermine the lawfully established line of succession. Several other crimes have historically been categorised as high treason, including counterfeiting money and being a Catholic priest.
Baron Stafford, referring to the town of Stafford, is a title that has been created several times in the Peerage of England. In the 14th century, the barons of the first creation were made earls. Those of the fifth creation, in the 17th century, became first viscounts and then earls. Since 1913, the title has been held by the Fitzherbert family.
Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, gender, legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England". Spouses of Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.
Sir Richard Empson, minister of Henry VII, was a son of Peter Empson. Educated as a lawyer, he soon attained considerable success in his profession, and in 1491 was a Knight of the shire for Northamptonshire in Parliament, and Speaker of the House of Commons.
The Exeter Conspiracy in 1538 was a supposed attempt to overthrow Henry VIII, who had taken control of the Church of England away from the Pope, and replace him with Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, who was a first cousin of the King.
Henry Courtenay, 1st Marquess of Exeter, 2nd Earl of Devon, KG, PC, feudal baron of Okehampton, feudal baron of Plympton, of Tiverton Castle, Okehampton Castle and Colcombe Castle all in Devon, was a grandson of King Edward IV, nephew of the queen consort, Elizabeth of York and a first cousin of King Henry VIII. Henry Courtenay was a close friend of Henry VIII's, having "been brought up of a child with his grace in his chamber."
Lieutenant-General Charles Butler, 1st Earl of Arran, de jure3rd Duke of Ormonde (1671–1758) was an Anglo-Irish peer. His uncle Richard was the 1st Earl of Arran of the first creation. The titles were re-created for Charles in 1693. His elder brother, the 2nd Duke of Ormonde, was attainted during the Jacobite rising of 1715, but in 1721 Arran was allowed to buy the estate back. At the death of the 2nd Duke, he succeeded as de jure 3rd Duke of Ormonde in the Peerage of Ireland but did not claim the title.
The Correspondence with James the Pretender Act 1701 was an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of England passed in 1701. The Act—the long title of which was "An Act for the Attainder of the pretended Prince of Wales of High Treason"— was a response to the Jacobite claim to the English and Scottish thrones of James Francis Edward Stuart, who declared himself King James III of England and Ireland and VIII of Scotland upon the death of his father, the exiled James II of England, in September 1701.
The Third Succession Act of King Henry VIII's reign, passed by the Parliament of England in July 1543, returned his daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the line of the succession behind their half-brother Edward. Born in 1537, Edward was the son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, and heir apparent to the throne.
Article One of the Georgia State Constitution describes the Georgia Bill of Rights, a set of forty paragraphs which enumerate the Rights of Persons, the Origin and Structure of Government and other General Provisions. The Georgia Bill of Rights was written by Thomas R.R. Cobb under the title Declaration of Fundamental Principals, as part of the Georgia Constitution of 1861 when the State of Georgia seceded from the United States of America and joined the Confederate States of America.
In early 1531, Richard Roose was accused of poisoning members of the household of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester for which he was subsequently boiled alive. Although nothing is known of Roose or his life outside of the case, he is believed to have been Fisher's household cook—or, less likely, a friend of the cook—at Fisher's residence in Lambeth. He was accused of adding a white powder to some porridge, which was eaten by Fisher's dining guests, as well as two beggars to whom the food was given as charity. The guests survived, but the beggars died. Roose claimed that he had been given the powder to add to the food by a stranger, and claimed it was intended to be a joke—he thought he was incapacitating his fellow servants rather than killing anyone, he said. Fisher survived the poisoning as, for an unknown reason, he ate nothing that day. Roose was arrested immediately and tortured for information. King Henry VIII—who already had a morbid fear of poisoning—personally addressed the House of Lords on the case and was probably responsible for an act of parliament which attainted Roose and retroactively made murder by poison a treasonous offence mandating execution by boiling. Roose was boiled at London's Smithfield in April, 1532.
The Crimes Act of 1790, formally titled An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes Against the United States, defined some of the first federal crimes in the United States and expanded on the criminal procedure provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789. The Crimes Act was a "comprehensive statute defining an impressive variety of federal crimes".
The Corruption of Blood Act 1814 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland which abolished corruption of blood for all crimes except high treason, petty treason and murder. Corruption of blood had until then been an automatic consequence of attainder for treason and felony. The Act was the result of the efforts of the law reformer Sir Samuel Romilly MP, who had failed to pass a similar bill in 1813.
The Criminal Law Act 1827 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, applicable only to England and Wales. It abolished many obsolete procedural devices in English criminal law, particularly the benefit of clergy. It was repealed by the Criminal Law Act 1967.
The Attainder of Earl of Kellie and Others Act 1745 was a parliamentary response to the failed Jacobite rising of 1745.