Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Approver Definition:

A person who confesses a felony and confesses an accomplice.

John Cowell's law dictionary with the extraordinary long name, circa 1607, included this:

"Approver comes of the French appro(u)ver.... it signifies one that confessing felony of himself, appeals or accuses another, one or more to be guilty of the same; and he is called so, because he must prove that which he has alleged in his appeal.

"And that proof is by battle or by the country, at his election that is appealed."

Similarly, in her book on Edward Coke, Catherine Bowker writes:

"Coke referred ... to the law of approvers, whereby the statements of an accomplice who, in accusing another, thereby accuses himself, (and which) carries the same weight as a grand jury indictment.

"An approver is one that, confessing a felony, accuses another to be guilty of the crime with him.

 He is called approver because he must prove his allegation, and that proof was in former ages by battle or the country.

"By the common law the approver is sworn to discover all felonies, and his confession and oath makes his accusation of another of the same crime to amount to an indictment.

"And if his partners are convicted, the King is to pardon him, as to his life, but he ought not to be suffered to continue in the kingdom."


  • Bowen, C., The Lion and the Throne (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1956), page 543-544)

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!