18th Century Definitions

A. Arms
B. Alienable
C. God-given Rights
D. Inalienable
E. Infringe
F. Inherent
G. Militia
H. Natural Rights
I. Nonjuror
J. Patrols
K. Public
L. Publick
M. Restriction
N. Session Laws
O. Unalienable

 

A. Arms

  1. ” … with force of arms, that is to say, with swords, staves, and knives…”
    – Appendix in book 3 of William Blackstone’s Commentaries (1765 to 1769)
  2. “Any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another”
    – Timothy Cunningham’s 1771 legal dictionary, Vol II, 2nd Edition
  3. “1. Weapons of offence, or armour of defence. 2. A state of hostility. 3. War in general. 4. Action; the act of taking arms.”
    – 1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson

B. Alienable

  1. “That of which the property may be transferred.”
    – John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language …, 1791, Archive.org, 1/26/2018

C. God-given Rights

  1. “1. LIFE is the immediate gift of God, a right inherent by nature in every individual; and it begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Book the First – Chapter the First: Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018
  2. “4. WITH regard likewise to animals ferae naturae, all mankind had by the original grant of the creator a right to pursue and take any fowl or insect of the air, any fish or inhabitant of the waters, and any beast or reptile of the field: and this natural right still continues in every individual, unless where it is restrained by the civil laws of the country.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Book the Second – Chapter the Twenty-Sixth: Of Title to Things Personal by Occupancy,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018
  3. “To shed the blood of our fellow creature is a matter that requires the greatest deliberation, and the fullest conviction of our own authority: for life is the immediate gift of God to man; which neither he can resign, nor can resign, nor can it be taken from him, unless by the command or permission of him who gave it; either expressly revealed, or collected from the laws of nature or society by clear and indisputable demonstration.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Book the Fourth – Chapter the First: Of the Nature of Crimes, And Their Punishment,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018

D. Inalienable

  1. The words inalienable, earthly or inviolable rights in the 17th and 18th centuries generally meant rights that could not be taken away by man, or any group – including our courts and legislative bodies. They were rights given by some all-powerful force, or god.
  2. “Which cannot be [al]ienated or transferred to another by Law.”
    – Nathan Bailey, An universal etymological English dictionary, comprehending the derivations of the generality of words in the English tongue … with additions, 1726, Archive.org, Accessed 1/26/2018
  3. “That cannot be alienated, or made over to another.”
    – Edward Phillips, The New World of English Words, or, a General Dictionary, 1720, Archive.org, 1/26/2018
  4. “Any thing that cannot be transferred, or made over or away to another legally.”
    – Thomas Dyche and William Pardon, A new general English dictionary, 1760, Books.Google.com, 1/26/2018

E. Infringe

  1. “IN this, and the other instances which we have lately considered, …the liberty of the press, properly understood, is by no means infringed or violated.”
    – William Blackstone’s Commentaries 1765-1769 – Book 4 – Chapter 11
  2. “To Infringe: 1. To violate; to break laws or contracts. 2. To destroy; to hinder.”
    -1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson
  3. “Infringement: Breach; violation.”
    -1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson

N.B. The word infringed, in the Second Amendment words “shall not be infringed,” probably meant the equivalent of shall not be restricted or limited.

F. Inherent

  1. “Existing in something else, inborn, innate.”
    – John Ash, The New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language …, Vol. 1, 1775, Play.Google.com, Accessed 1/25/2018
  2. “Existing in something else, so as to be inseparable from it, innate, inborn.”
    – Thomas Sheridan, A Complete Dictionary of the English Language, 1790, Books.Google.com, 1/26/2018

G. Militia

  1. “The trainbands; the standing force of a nation … None to be compelled to go out of the shire, but on necessity.”
    – Timothy Cunningham’s 1771 legal dictionary, Vol II, 2nd Edition
  2. “The trainbands; the standing force of a nation.”
    [Trainbands – “The militia; the part of a community trained to martial exercise.”]
    -1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson

H. Natural Rights

  1. “Those rights then which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Introduction: Section the First: On the Study of Law,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018
  2. “The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute 1 W. & M. ft. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Book the First – Chapter the First: Of the Absolute Rights of Individuals,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018
  3. “IN the first place then we have already shewn, and indeed it cannot be denied, that by the law of nature every man, from the prince to the peasant, has an equal right of pursuing, and taking to his own use, all such creatures as are ferae naturae, and therefore are property of nobody, but liable to be [seized] by the first occupant. And so it was held by the imperial law, even so late as Justinian’s time: “ferae igitur beftiae, et volucres, et omnia animalia quae mari, coelo, et terra nafcuntur, fimul atque ab aliquo capta fuerint, jure gentium ftatim illius effe incipiunt. Quod enim nullius eft, id naturali ratione occupanti conceditur.” But it follows from the very end and constitution of society, that this natural right, as well as many others belonging to man as an individual, may be restrained by positive laws enacted for reasons of state, or for the supposed benefit of the community.”
    – Sir William Blackstone, “Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England – Book the Second – Chapter the Twenty-Seventh: Of Title by Perogative, and Forfeiture,” First Edition Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769, Avalon.law.yale.edu, Accessed 1/24/2018

I. Nonjuror

  1. “Besides thus taking the oaths for offices, any two justices of the peace may by the same statute summon, and tender the oaths to, any person whim they shall suspect to be disaffected; and every person refusing the same, who is properly called a non-juror, shall be adjudged a popish recusant convict, and subjected to the same penalties that were mentioned in a former chapter; which in the end may amount to the alternative of abjuring the realm, or suffering death as a felon.”
    – William Blackstone’s Commentaries 1765-1769 – Book 4, Chapter 9
  2. “One who, conceiving James II. unjustly deposed, refuses to swear allegiance to those who have succeeded him.”
    – 1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson

J. Patrols

  1. Mentioned in the context of arms laws are deemed militia or military, while some could be local or community based. (Quote? William Blackstone’s Commentaries 1765-1769)

K. Public

  1. “Also a man may justify entering into an inn or public house, without the leave of the owner first specially asked ; because, when a man professes the keeping of such inn or public house, he thereby gives a general licence to any person to enter his doors.”
    – William Blackstone’s Commentaries 1765-1769 – Book 3, Chapter 12

L. Publick

  1. “1. Belonging to a state or nation; not private.”
    – 1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson

M. Restriction

  1. “Restriction: Confinement; limitation.”
    – 1792 Dictionary of the English language, by Samuel Johnson
  2. Any rule, limitation, prohibition, regulation or violation of our unfettered right to keep, bear and use arms not connected to the militia or military.
    (Although the word use is not in the Second Amendment, I believe that use is implied as the Second Amendment makes little sense if Congress could prevent the use of guns.)

N. Session Laws

  1. “A publication in bound-volume form of all enactments and resolutions of a legislature passed at a particular session, indexed, and numbered usually in chronological order – distinguished from code”
    – Merriam-Webster.com, Accessed on 4/15/2016

O. Unalienable

  1. “That cannot be sold, disposed of, or applied to another use.”
    – Thomas Dyche and William Pardon, A new general English dictionary, 1760, Books.Google.com, 1/26/2018
  2. “Not to be transferred – Heredity right should be kept sacred, not from any unalienable right in a particular family, but to avoid the consequences that usually attend the ambition of competitors.”
    – Samuel Johnson, A dictionary of the English language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, explained in their different meanings and authorized by the names of the writers in whose works they are found, Published 1766, Archive.org, Accessed 1/25/2018

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Updated 4/7/2019