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[001] issue by him. And since we wish to prevent such premeditated fraud we order you
[002] to go in your own person to such woman, taking with you discreet and lawful
[003] knights and discreet and lawful women of your county, and before the aforesaid
[004] knights cause her to be seen by the aforesaid women and carefully examined as to
[005] breasts and abdomen [and] in every way whereby they may better and more surely
[006] be informed. If they find her pregnant,1 let them inquire diligently as to the time of
[007] conception, how, when, and where, and at what time she believes she is to give birth.
[008] And cause the inquest you make thereof to be known to our justices at Westminster
[009] on such a day, clearly, distinctly and openly, by your sealed letters and by [two]2
[010] discreet knights from among those present at the inquest so that,3 the truth having
[011] been ascertained, that shall be done which is justly to be done. And in the meantime
[012] let the aforesaid woman be kept safely in such a castle (or elsewhere in a safe place)
[013] until she is delivered, to remove all suspicion of the perpetration of fraud. And
[014] have there this writ together with the names of the knights and women by whose
[015] oath you make this inquest. Witness etc.’4 [If the woman ought to appear before
[016] the justices at Westminster, then let the writ be in this form, ‘that the sheriff have
[017] her body:’

Writ that the sheriff cause her to come before the justices at Westminster.

[019] ‘The king to the sheriff, greeting. We order you, setting aside all other business, to
[020] have before our justices at Westminster on such a day the body of A., who was the
[021] wife of B., who claims to be pregnant5 though she is not, to reply to C. as to why she
[022] fraudulently feigns to be pregnant though she is not, to the disherison of the said C.
[023] Witness etc.’] After the woman has in this way been carefully guarded and
[024] through such custody all suspicion has been allayed, if she is indeed pregnant and
[025] does bring forth a child, it may easily be determined whether the child is, in fact or
[026] by presumption, that of the deceased husband or of another, by computing the time,
[027] from the time at which she alleged that she conceived, [and also from the date of
[028] her husband's death,]6 to the day of birth. Some say, though others are of a
[029] contrary opinion, that the woman cannot exceed the gestation period by a single
[030] day, even where7 the issue dies in utero or turns into a monster, the risk falling
[031] on the mother, but may anticipate the time of birth and deliver prematurely. If
[032] such monster or prodigy is born it will not be reckoned as a child nor


1. ‘impraegnatam,’ as roll

2. ‘duos,’ as roll

3. ‘ut,’ as roll

4. ‘Teste M. de Pateshull’

5. ‘impraegnatam’

6. Infra iv, 298, 299, 304

7. ‘ubi’ for ‘nisi’

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