October 22, 2020

The Editor Speaks: A home used to be a castle


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The idiom “An Englishman’s home is his castle” was established in common law by English lawyer and politician Sir Edward Coke (pronounced Cook), in “The Institutes of the Laws of England”, in 1628:

“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his
safest refuge].”

This enshrined into law the popular belief at the time, which was expressed in print by several authors in the late 16th century: – Henri Estienne’s The Stage of Popish Toyes: conteining both tragicall and comicall partes, 1581, includes: [The English papists owe it to the Queen that] “youre house is youre Castell.” – Richard Mulcaster, the headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School in London, echoed this in his treatise on education – Positions, which are necessarie for the training up of children, 1581: “He [the householder] is the appointer of his owne circumstance, and his house is his castle.”

What was meant by ‘castle’ was defined in 1763 by the British Prime Minister with an admirable selection of names to choose from – William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, also known as Pitt the Elder: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”

In 2012, here in the Cayman Islands, your home, even if rented is your abode – your own little ‘castle’. It is your refuge and you spend most of your time, especially your leisure and sleeping ones, there. Only people you invite in can come in. They have to have permission. There are exceptions of course and that used to be a judicial order but now the police can break in if they are suspicious as to what is going on there. But it has to be unlawful.

Above all one should feel safe in your ‘castle.’

It is hard to imagine what an 80 year old couple must have felt yesterday (1) when three masked scum bags, one carrying what appeared to be a firearm, broke into their home in the Magellan Quay area at 2:30 in the morning. They demanded cash from this frightened and defenseless couple who were asleep.

Some years ago, with my wife asleep beside me, I was awakened by a noise and a light. I found a pair of beady eyes looking up from me from the floor. An intruder was crouched on the floor by my bed. Notwithstanding my shock I yelled out (and people who know me know I have a very loud voice!) “What the hell are you doing here!!!” He fled and even though I grabbed at him he was as slippery as an eel as he was wearing only a pair of shorts and had covered himself in grease. He got away leaving behind his ‘treasure trove’ in a pillowcase. My sense of outrage overcame any thought of fear because at that time it was unheard of for burglars to carry guns. If it had happened now I would almost certainly have been shot. The scum bags today attack the easiest of targets because they are cowardly vermin. Actually, having to be quiet and physically ‘work’ for their illegal wares was the norm for a burglar only a few years ago. Their victims woke up in the morning to find they had been robbed. Now, not one man but two or three, brandish weapons (usually a gun or two) and get their victims to actually collect and hand over their own property after waking them up. They terrorise their victims who are often women and/or elderly. Even, when they have obtained all this they pistol-whip their victim to show how superior they are. “I am king of your castle now”.

I applaud Justice Quinn who jailed an illegal Jamaican immigrant for 12 years (plus six more to run concurrently) recently after an armed robbery (the actual weapon turned out to be imitation) that netted the perpetrator only $454.  He said: “Whether the weapon is an imitation firearm or a real firearm makes very little difference to the victim because the fear and terror caused by the production of such a weapon will be the same.”

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