What Does the Word “Bailiwick” For Private Property Mean and How Did the Term “Bailiff” Originate?

Bailiwick is an old English legal term and is a compound of baile, which is now bailiff, and wic, meaning a farm or dwelling.

From the mid-fifteenth century the word meant “under a bailiff’s jurisdiction”, which leads us to the sheriff.

During monarchial rule, each English shire had a reeve who acted as chief magistrate for the district.

When the title “shire reeve” crossed the Atlantic it became “sheriff.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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