became a source of revenue for the Crown before its
Before 1846 the law of deodands
had acted as an insurer of traffic safety for many centuries in England.
eventually died out and were formally abolished in Britain in the mid-l9th century.
19) Although the "guilty property" fiction is reminiscent of the justification for forfeiture under the law of deodand
, the use of the fiction in admiralty proceedings may have developed out of necessity and practicality, rather than as a genuine belief that the property itself was guilty of wrongdoing.
Finkelstein, The Goring Ox: Some Historical Perspectives on Deodands
, Forfeitures, Wrongful Death and the Western Notion of Sovereignty, 46 TEMP.
237, 241 (2005) (discussing the still mysterious transition from the practice of noxal surrender to deodand
after the Norman conquest).
Alschuler, Introduction Comment, Ancient Law and the Punishment of Corporations: Of Frankpledge and Deodand
, 71 B.
30) The deodand
was tainted by the death it had caused,(31) so with its value, the Crown purportedly paid the church to say masses for the dead person's soul.
Levy concludes, as others have,(6) that the deodand
never truly became a part of the American common law (p.
derives from the Latin Deo dandum, to be given to God.
23) As a result, the colonists did not carry the concept of the deodand
with them across the Atlantic.
10) Although it originated as a form of religious expiation for causing the death of another, the deodand
continued after it lost religious significance, justified as a form of punishment for negligence.