Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Attaint of Blood Definition:

The additional personal penalties imposed on the estate of an individual convicted of high treason.

Related Terms: High Treason

In his Third Institutes, Edward Coke wrote of attaint of blood as a pinishment reserved for those convicted of high treasom:

"... first, the forfeiture of all his manors, lands, tenements and hereditaments in fee simple or fee tail of whomsoever they be holden.

"Secondly, his wife to lose her dower.

"Thirdly, he shall lose his cvhildren (for they become base ignoble).

"Fourthly, he shall lose his posterity, for his blood is stained and corrupted, and they cannot inherit to him or any other ancestor.

"Fifthly, all his goods and chattels etc.

"And reason is that his body, lands, goods, posterity etc., shall be torn, pulled asunder and destroyed.... and all of these several punishments are found for treason in holy scripture (Old Testament)."

In his 1971 article published in the Utah Law Review, G. Williams noted:

"... the nature of the punishment for high treason. The convicted man was hanged, cut down while still alive, castrated, disemboweled, and in some cases, quartered and beheaded.

"In addition, the traitor suffered attaint of blood, which included loss of all manors, lands, tenements, goods, and chattels, as well as loss of claim by his children and their posterity. 6 Although felonies were also punishable by death, the punishments for high treason were considered more severe."


  • Williams, Gerald, King's Peace: Riot Law in Its Historical Perspective, 1971 ULR 240 (1971)

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