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MURDRUM, old Eng. law. During the times of the Danes, and afterwards till the reign of Edward III, murdrum was the killing of a man in a secret manner, and in that it differed from simple homicide.
     2. When a man was thus killed, and he was unknown, by the laws of Canute he was presumed to be a Dane, and the vill was compelled to pay forty marks for his death. After the conquest, a similar law was made in favor of Frenchmen, which was abolished by 3 Edw. III.
     3. By murdrum was also understood the fine formerly imposed in England upon a person who had committed homicide perinfortunium or se defendendo. Prin. Pen. 219, note r.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The word "murder" derives from the Norman word "murdrum," which was a fine that had to be paid to the Crown for causing the unnatural death of another.
Professor Malone, in "The Genesis of Wrongful Death," expressed confusion as to the origin of the felony-merger doctrine, due to the fact that Anglo-Saxon law at one time allowed a payment (styled a wer) to the decedent's kin alongside a penalty owed to the Crown (a wite) (103) Even as actions began to be merged into felonies, family members of the deceased were allowed to bring an appeal of murdrum, (104) a private criminal appeal which many times ended in settlement.
'Becoming hateful to their lords, they were everywhere driven from their possessions.' In return, 'the English secretly laid ambushes for the Normans whom they distrusted and hated, and far and wide, in woods and remote places, when opportunity presented itself, they slew them in secret.' The Normans reacted violently 'with various refinements of torture' and finally had recourse to that standby of brutal law everywhere, the punishment of whole neighbourhoods: for the unsolved murders of Frenchmen, they inflicted a particularly punitive version of the long-lasting murdrum fine, its size depending on circumstances but described by one who should know, the Treasurer of the Exchequer, as an 'enormous penalty' enormis iactura.