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Time immemorial: Wikis


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Time immemorial is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition, indefinitely ancient, "ancient beyond memory or record" [1]. The phrase is one of the few cases in the English language where the postmodifier is an adjective - some other legal terms such as attorney general and court martial follow the pattern, largely due to the influence of Norman French. Modern historians, anthropologists, and others have often criticized the use of the term as a view of contemporary conditions as without history, i.e. as essential and unchanging in nature.

The term has been formally defined for some purposes.

  • In English law and its derivatives, time immemorial means the same as time out of mind [2] "a time before legal history and beyond legal memory." [3] By Statute Westminster the First 3 Edward I., A.D. 1276, the time of memory was limited to the reign of Richard 1st, July 6th, 1189 [4], the date of accession of King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart). Since that date, proof of unbroken possession or use of any right made it unnecessary to establish the original grant under certain circumstances. By Act 2 & 3 Will.IV, c.71, ยง1, 1831-2, Time Immemorial was defined as "Time whereof the Memory of Man runneth not to the contrary." [5] By that Act, the plan of dating legal memory from a fixed time was abandoned. Instead, it was held that rights which had been enjoyed for twenty years (or as against the Crown thirty years) should not be impeached merely by proving that they had not been enjoyed before (holding by "adverse possession").

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (1971 ed), Vol.I, p.63c
  2. ^ Blackstone (1765) Commentary I viii 281
  3. ^ The public domain Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
  4. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (1971 ed), Vol T, p40
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary (1971 ed), Vol T, p40
  6. ^ History of Heraldry
  7. ^


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