Term of the day: ungeld

Travel obligations and internet issues are going to be interfering with daily posts for at least some of the next 10 days to two weeks. So nobody will go into withdrawal, however, The Legal Genealogist offers…

The term of the day:


“In Saxon law, an outlaw; a person whose murder required no composition to be made, or weregeld to be paid, by his slayer.”1

Oh, and just so you know… weregeld, or weregild, or wergild was “the price of homicide, or other atrocious personal offense, paid partly to the king for the loss of a subject, partly to the lord for the loss of a vassal, and partly to the next of kin of the injured person. In the Anglo-Saxon laws, the amount of compensation varied with the degree or rank of the party slain.”2



  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1200, “ungeld.”
  2. Ibid., 1239, “weregild.”
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2 Responses to Term of the day: ungeld

  1. Kate Eakman says:

    I loved seeing a legal term I actually knew! (my degrees are in medieval history) One day I hope to actually find this term applied to someone I am researching – that would make my day. I wonder if the term was ever used in the US…..

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I don’t think it was, Kate, since as far as I know we never had a law that allowed payment of a penalty to the family in lieu of paying your debt to society for the crime.

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