Legal opinion concerning the right of a Lieutenant of the Tower, 1620, L.b.669

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This article features a transcription of a Folger Shakespeare Library manuscript, Legal opinion concerning the right of a Lieutenant of the Tower, L.b.669, (1620), featured in the Age of Lawyers Exhibition, September 13, 2015-January 3, 2016.

More manuscripts from this collection can be found in the Guide to the Loseley Collection, 1489-1682.

One of a barrister's major functions was to provide expert opinions. At the top of this manuscript, Sir George More poses a question to Sir Humphrey Davenport, the Lord Chief Baron of Exchequer: Can a former lieutenant of the Tower of London seize the goods held by a prisoner during the lieutenant's service, even if he had previously left them for the prisoner to use? Davenport's opinion, written below More's question, is that he can. Following legal usage, he begins, "In my opinion."


Below is a semi-diplomatic transcription of folio 1 recto of Folger manuscript L.b.669. The transcription below was created by the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project. To access an image of the original leaf, click on each transcription's heading.


A prisoner committed to the towre of London bringeth into

the towre for his vse there, furniture for his lodging, and plate

and howshold stuffe. Then the prisoner is attainted of treason or

fellony. The Lieutenant of the towre claymeth these goods as

belonging to hym by his Office. but doth not seaze them nor

take them away out of the possession of the prisoner, and then the

Lieutenant giveth over his place, the prisoner still continuing

in the towre, and vnder the Custodie of a newe Lieutenant

The question is, whether these goods doe

appertens to the first Lieutenant, and

whether he may take them and seaze them

so long as the prisoner continueth in

the towre and vseth them /.

In my opinion the goodes Aboue mentioned do clerlye

belong to the Lieutenant of the towre for the time

being at the time of the Attainder And not to

the successor. the not seisure of such goodes by

the sayd former Lieutenant before the departure

of him from his sayd office notwithstanding

Humfray Dauenport 29.

Iune. 1620.