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Glossary of terms

a priori reasoning from causes to effects; deductive; logically independent of experience; not derived from experience; assumed without investigation. From the Latin, "from what is before"; hence, "as far as one knows".
Ad hoc Designed for that purpose; specially.
ad valorem "in proportion to value". An import duty fixed ad valorem is one established on the basis of the commercial value of the imported item.
adscripti glebae being tied to the soil; a serf
agent provocateur person employed to detect suspected offenders by tempting them into open action.
benefice a Church office, typically that of a rector or vicar, for which property and income are provided in respect of pastoral duties.
bona fide in good faith; honestly; sincerely; without deception
de facto in fact; in reality; often also, in all but name
draconian [of laws] - excessively harsh and severe. The word origin is from Draco, the name of an ancient Athenian legislator
et seq. (sequitur) literally, "and the following";
ex officio by virtue of one's office
Fait accompli Literally, "an accomplished fact".
Habeas Corpus literally, "you may have the body". A Habeas Corpus is a legal writ that protects an individual against arbitrary imprisonment by requiring that any person arrested be brought before a court for formal charge. If the charge is considered to be valid, the person must submit to trial; if not, the person goes free. When the law is suspended, then individuals can be imprisoned indefinitely and without charge.
Incumbent (in Church language), the holder of an official position or post, usually a parish.
Laissez faire Literally, "leave things alone". This phrase is used to describe a variety of government policies but at this time was used to mean that the government should not interfere in the economy of the country.
Latitudinarian broad-based: a term applied to the Church of England's attempt to frame a set of beliefs that would allow a wide range of denominations to subscribe to the Anglican faith
Libel published statement damaging to a person's reputation; accuse falsely and maliciously.
Literae humaniores The name of the final Honours School in classical studies and philosophy at Oxford University. The literal translation is "the more humane studies".
living in church usage, a position as a vicar or rector with an income or property.
mandamus "I command". This term was used in the American colonies when the king made appointments without the consent of the people.
I am grateful to Chris Mason, who mailed me with the following information.

Literally, 'mandamus' means "we command" but the word is used legally for a "Crown writ" and the monarch uses the "Royal 'we' ". Logically it translates as "I command".

It seems that in 2003, Lord Falconer tried to rid English law of this Latin word, among others. Mandamus still appears to be in use in American law despite there being no "crown". Perhaps the power of the crown was transferred to the executive arm of government in the USA.

quinquennial Every five years
nolentes aut volentes whether willing or not (willy-nilly)
oligarchy a state or country ruled by a very few people
parish in the Christian Church a small administrative district with its own church and clergy.
per capita literally "by the head"; for each person; individually
per saltum effectively "in one fell swoop"; all at once.
Per se By, or in, itself; intrinsically; as such.
philanthropist A "lover of mankind"; one who exerts himself for the well-being of his fellow man.
pluralism the practice of holding more than one office or Church benefice at a time.
Pocket borough Like a rotten borough, one person or family often owned this type of constituency and the MP was nominated by the owner.
Prelate A Bishop, Archbishop or other high eccelsiastical dignitary
Prima facie (arising) at first sight, based on the first impression
primogeniture The law of the first-born. Under this law, the eldest son inherits everything on the death of his father.
quid pro quo something for something - nothing in life is free.
Rotten borough Rotten boroughs had few, if any voters and the constituency was owned by one person or family. Elections rarely took place, with the owner choosing the MP.
sedition conduct or language directed unlawfully against State authority; public commotion or riot, not amounting to insurrection or rebellion and therefore not treason.
See the place in which a cathedral church stands, identified as the seat of authority of a bishop or archbishop.
sic "thus" - roughly translated "I know that the spelling is wrong, but that was how it appeared in the source".
sinecure any job or post that carries a salary but has either very little, or no work attached to it.
Sine qua non Indispensable condition or qualification; a pre-condition
Status quo The previous situation of affairs; an unchanged position.
Status quo ante bellum the situation as it was before the war (usually meaning the French Wars, in this web site)
transportation once a person had been sentenced to transportation, s/he was never allowed to return to Britain even at the end of the sentence. The sentence given (7, 14 years or life) was for that number of years "hard labour". Once the sentence had been served, the convict would be given a plot of land and enough supplies on which to survive until the farm was productive. Effectively, transportation was for the rest of the convict's life. If a convict did return to Britain and was caught, the penalty was death.
treason violation by subject of his allegiance to sovereign e.g. compassing or intending sovereign's death, levying war against him or adhering to his enemies.
Verbatim et liberatim word-for-word and freely (extensively)
via media literally "the middle way", usually applied to the Church of England [Anglican Church] which sought to be so broad-based (latitudinarian) that it encompassed almost all Christian beliefs other than those of the Catholic Church and the extreme Protestants such as Anabaptists and Unitarians
videlicit namely; "it is permitted to see"; "to wit". Commonly abbreviated to viz.
viz namely; like this.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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