There have been several distress for rent acts in the 17th and 18th centuries, which provide a right for distress. What is the nature of this right and the origin of its name?

1 Answer 1


Distress or distraint refers to a right to seize the personal property of a wrong-doer to satisfy a demand. The landlord might seize your horse for non-payment of rent, under this right. For example (1414) "Full power and autorite..the same tenantz and tenantdris til distreyn and hald, till all rerages and dettes..be assethid". This is an example of Law French, deriving from Old French destreindre "to strain, press, wring, vex extremely, straighten" and Old French destresser, destrecier, both ultimately derives from Latin distringere (distringo)..

  • What is tenantdris in this context? Feb 19, 2023 at 18:41
  • The right of distraint dates from at least before the Statute of Marlborough 1267, since that statute sought to regulate the practice more strongly. Also, the Law Commission in their 1991 review of the law in this area, note that both the remedy and the terminology is ancient and predates time immemorial.
    – Steve
    Feb 19, 2023 at 23:44
  • 1
    @Seekinganswers that exact spelling doesn't seem to be indexed anywhere outside of that one document, but I think it's "tenancies".
    – hobbs
    Feb 20, 2023 at 2:35

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