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infangthief (in-caught-thief) and outfangthief were early medieval jurisdictions. The first gave the right to deal with a thief (including hanging) caught red-handed on the lord's manor or estate, provided he was the lord's own man. Such jurisdiction was prestigious and occasionally profitable, since the thief's chattels were forfeit. Outfangthief was much rarer and more complex. It seems to have started as the right to bring one's own man back for sentencing in one's own court for a theft committed elsewhere. But Bracton interpreted it as the right to try someone else's man, caught red-handed, in one's own court. That seems unlikely since it would conflict with another lord's outfangthief rights and be bound to cause dissension. Whether the custom had changed or whether there was legal confusion is not clear. These private jurisdictions were whittled away by the growth of royal justice in the 13th cent.

J. A. Cannon

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infangthief in Anglo-Saxon law, the right of the lord of a manor to try and to punish a thief caught within the limits of his demesne. Recorded from Old English (in form infangenþēof) the word means literally ‘thief seized within’.

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