Droits of Admiralty – the Lord High Admiral’s rights to goods which have been abandoned or captured at sea in time of war by a non-commissioned ship, to be redistributed to the public


1. A right.  Opel v Shoup, 100 Iowa 407, 69 NW 560.

droit of admiralty:
n. (18c)

1. The rights of the admiralty, — goods which have been abandoned found at sea; goods captured in time fo war by a non-commissioned ship. [1]

1. The Lord High Admiral’s rights in connection with the sea, such as the right to recover proceeds from shipwrecks, enemy goods confiscated at the beginning of hostilities, jetsam, flotsam, treasure, deodand, fines, forfeitures, sturgeons, whales, and other large fishes.  *  The droit proceeds are paid to the Exchequer’s office for the public’s use.  See PRIZE (2).

     Excerpt from William Holdsworth’s A History of English Law (7th ed. 1956):

     “The crown had originally certain rights to property found upon the sea, or stranded upon the shore.  The chief kinds of property to which the crown was thus entitled were, great fish (such as whales or porpoises), deodands, wreck of the sea, flotsam, jetsam, and lagan, ships or goods of the enemy found in English ports or captured by uncommissioned vessels, and goods taken or retaken from pirates . . . . After the rise of the court of Admiralty the Lord High Admiral became entitled to these droits by royal grant . . . . The right to droits carried with it a certain jurisdiction.  Inquisitions were held into these droits at the ports, or the Vice Admirals or droit gatherers reported them to the Admiral.  The large terms of the Admiral’s Patents incited them, or their grantees, to frequent litigation with private persons or other grantees of the crown . . . . The Admiralty droits . . . are now transferred to the consolidated fund. [3]


1. Goods an debris, especially those from a shipwreck, that float on the surface of a body of water. — aka floatageflotage.

     Excerpt from Edward Bullingbrooke’s The Duty and Authority of Justices of the P{eace and Parish Officers for Ireland (rev. ed. 1788):

      “None of those goods which are called jetsam (from being cast into the sea while the ship is in danger, and after perisheth) or those called flotsam (from floating upon the sea after shipwreck) or those called lagan, or ligan (goods thrown overboard before the shipwreck, which sink to the bottom of the sea) are to be esteemed wreck, so long as they remain upon the sea, and are not cast upon the land by the sea; but if any of them are cast upon the land by the sea, they are wreck. [4]


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[1]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]: 1 William Holdsworth, A History of English Law 559-61 (7th ed. 1956).

[4]: Edward Bullingbrooke’s The Duty and Authority of Justices of the P{eace and Parish Officers for Ireland 897 (rev. ed. 1788)


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Legal Precepts Adopted (from Europe) into The U.S. Constitution

§ § of Law Embedded into the Constitution Pursuant to the American Revolution

Indian Country Law

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