Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Natural Fool Definition:

A human being in form but destitute of reason from birth.

Related Terms: Mentally Ill

Often referred to simply as a fool, and used in another era of the common law to refer to an idiot or a lunatic.

A 1324 English statute:

"The King shall have the custody of the lands of natural fools taking the profits of them without waste or destruction, and shall find them their necessaries, of whose fee forever the lands be holden. And after death of such idiots, he shall render it to the right heirs, so that such idiots shall not aliene nor their heirs shall be disinherited."

In Sandefur, Justice Carroll of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky wrote:

"The trial court in the case before us defined an idiot as a natural fool; a fool from birth; a human being in form but destitute of reason from birth and of the ordinary intellectual power of man.

"We think the words a natural fool, a fool from birth, might well have been omitted from the instruction, although their addition to it was not at all prejudicial to appellant. Taken as a whole, the instruction fairly expressed the definition of an idiot, although we think an idiot might more aptly be defined as a person who has been from birth or infancy deficient in mental capacity, and destitute of the ordinary intellectual powers."

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