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Lydford Law

is, punish first and try afterwards. Lydford, in the county of Devon, was a fortified town, in which was an ancient castle, where were held the courts of the Duchy of Cornwall. Offenders against the stannary laws were confined before trial in a dungeon so loathsome and dreary that it gave rise to the proverb referred to. The castle was destroyed by the Danes. (See Cupar Justice, Cowper Law.)

I oft have heard of Lydford law,
How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgment later.

A Devonshire Poet.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Lydford Law from Infoplease:

  • Lydford Law - Lydford Law is, punish first and try afterwards. Lydford, in the county of Devon, was a fortified ...
  • Cowper Law - Cowper Law a corruption of Cupar, etc., is trying a man after execution. Similar expressions are ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: L - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "L"

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