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Merton, statute of

Merton, statute of, 1236. As much a discussion document as a statute, it arose from an assembly at Merton (Surrey) in January 1236 in Henry III's reign, and was an attempt to clarify a number of miscellaneous points of law. Among the many issues, including rights of widows, heirs, and pasturage, was a difference between canon law and common law: canon law held that a subsequent marriage legitimated natural children, common law did not. Despite an earnest appeal by Robert Grosseteste, the barons refused to change the laws of England. Another difference of opinion was between the barons, who wanted authority to deal with malefactors in parks and common pasture land, and the king, who was reluctant to grant it. Powicke called the statute ‘the first striking example of a changing attitude to law’. It was regarded as important, and copies were sent to all sheriffs and communicated to the king's representatives in Ireland.

J. A. Cannon

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