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Horning, Letters Of

HORNING, LETTERS OF, a term in Scots law. Originally in Scotland imprisonment for debt was enforceable only in certain cases, but a custom gradually grew up of taking the debtor's oath to pay. If the debtor broke his oath, he became liable to the discipline of the Church. The civil power, further, stepped in to aid the ecclesiastical, and denounced him as a rebel, imprisoning his person and confiscating his goods. The method declaring a person a rebel was by giving three blasts on a horn and publicly proclaiming the fact; hence the expression, "put to the horn." The subsequent process, the warrant directing a messenger-at-arms to charge the debtor to pay or perform in terms of the letters, was called " letters of horning." This system of execution was simplified by an act of 1837 (Personal Diligence Act), and execution is now usually by diligence (see EXECUTION).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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