Regarding slaughter and troubling of parties in pursuit and defence of their actions

Our sovereign lord, having consideration of the manifold oppressions done within this realm and for the most part occurring between parties contending in justice by proud and disorderly braggers, boasters and oppressors, and understanding that there was an act of parliament made of long time bypast first in the days of the late Mary [of Guise], queen dowager, his highness's grandmother of worthy memory, which was only temporal for the space of three years next following, and approved by his highness in his parliament held at Edinburgh in the month of May 1584, whereby it was found and declared that if any person, either pursuer or defender, should happen to slay or wound to the effusion of blood or otherwise to invade one of them, another in any sort whereupon they might be criminally accused, after the raising of the summons or precepts and lawful execution thereof or in any time before the complete execution to be recovered thereupon, the committer of the slaughter, blood or invasion in manner foresaid, or being accessory thereto, assists or counsels thereof, if it be the defender, he shall be condemned at the instance of the pursuer, if he be alive; or in case of his death, the nearest of his kin who is slain, without any probation of the libel, except summary cognition to be taken of the slaughter, bloodshed or invasion before the justice or any other judge competent thereto. And if the pursuer slays, wounds or invades the defender as said is, or be accessory thereto, assists or counsels thereof, cognition being taken in case the defender be alive, or in case of his death, the nearest of the kin shall have absolvitor from the pursuer's libel. And if the slayer, shedder of blood or invader as said is has lands or liferents and is denounced rebel and put to the horn for not finding surety, or non-compearance to underlie the law for the said slaughter, bloodshed or invasion, in that case the slayer, shedder of blood or invader immediately after the denunciation shall lose the benefit of his liferent of whatsoever his lands, offices or commodities as in the said acts and statutes made thereupon at more length is contained, which last act was also temporal, to endure for the space of seven years. And now it being known to his highness and the said estates how necessary the same is to be always observed and kept in continual observance as a universal law in all time coming for repressing of the said invasions, therefore his highness, with advice of the said estates and whole body of this present parliament, ratifies, approves and affirms both the said first and second acts, with the whole points, articles and conditions contained therein, and ordains the same to stand as a perpetual law in all time coming.

  1. NAS, PA2/15, f.37v-38r.