possession is nine points of the law

possession is nine points of the law
There is no specific legal ruling which supports this proverb—though the concept is widely acknowledged—but in early use the satisfaction often (sometimes twelve) points was commonly asserted to attest full entitlement or ownership. Possession, represented by nine (or eleven) points, is therefore the closest substitute for this. Cf. 1595 Edward III E3 ’Tis you are in possession of the Crowne, And thats the surest poynt of all the Law.

1616 T. DRAXE Adages 163 Possession is nine points in the Law.

1659 J. IRETON Oration 5 This Rascally-devill..denys to pay a farthing of rent. ’Tis true, possession is nine points of the Law, Yet give Gentlemen, right’s right.

1709 O. DYKES English Proverbs 213 Possession is a mighty Matter indeed; and we commonly say, ’tis eleven Points of the Law. It goes a great Way to the giving of Security, but not any Right.

1822 T. L. PEACOCK Maid Marian v. In those days possession was considerably more than eleven points of the Law. The baron was therefore convinced that the earl’s outlawry was infallible.

1920 J. GALSWORTHY In Chancery II. xiv. We’re the backbone of the country. They [Leftists] won’t upset us easily. Possession’s nine points of the Law.

2002 Washington Times 17 Feb. B2 Mrs. Clinton told the New York Post, ‘You know, we followed every single law.’ And they did. So what if it was the law of the jungle (possession is nine-tenths of the law)..?

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