An anecdote given us by Selden, in his Table Talk, (a) may serve very well to illustrate the influence this mode of punishment may have over a man who is out of the reach of every other. In the reign of James 1st, an English merchant had a demand upon the King of Spain, which he could not get the King to satisfy. The merchant had already brought his action, and Selden, who was his Counsel, advised him to proceed to Outlawry. Writ after writ was sent to the Sheriff to take his Majesty, and have his body before the Justices at Westminster. His Majesty was not to be found. Great outcry, as is usual, was made after him upon this in sundry ale-houses. His Majesty did not happen to be at any of the ale-houses. He was accordingly proclaimed an outlaw; and a wolf's head, in due form of law, was clapt upon his shoulders, (b) so that anybody might lay hold of him, and put him into jail, that had a mind for it. (c) The case was, his Majesty happened at that time to have demands upon several merchants in England, for which demands, so long as he continued under judgment of outlawry, he could not have his remedy. Upon this consideration, his Ambassador, Gondamar, submitted and paid the money; upon which, the wolf's head was taken off, and the King's head put in its place.
(a) Title Law.
(b) Caput Lupinum,---C.Litt. 128.b. Lamb. Leg. Tax, ch.128. Fleta, L. 1. c.27. Bracton. L.5. fol.421. Britt. fol.20. Mirror, c.4. Defaults Punishable.
(c) Antiently, when a man had a wolf's head upon his shoulders, he might be killed by anybody. But this was altered in Edward III.'s time. See C. Litt.RP Book 5 Chapter 6