To every one, his house is his surest refuge ; or, every man's house is his castle.
Under this maxim a man's house is a refuge for him against a fi. fa., ca. sa., or distress-warrant, as neither sheriff nor landlord can under such process justify breaking into his house to take him or his goods. His house is not, however, a defence for him in criminal proceedings; as, under a warrant at the suit of the Queen ; and the sheriff may, in either civil or criminal proceedings, break into a house to retake after an escape ; as also may a landlord after distress made and eviction, if the re- entry be made within a reasonable time. In all such cases of breaking-in, however, demand of admission must first be made, with notice of the cause for which admission is required ; and this feature establishes the principle of this maxim.
Four points are to be considered with reference to the maxim : — First, that the house of every one is his castle as well for defence against injury as for his repose ; so that if thieves come to a man's house to rob or murder him, and he or his servants kill any of them in defence of himself or his house, this is no felony, and he shall not be damnified thereby ; and so may he assemble his friends and neighbours to protect his house against violence. Second, that where the Queen is a party to a suit or proceeding, the doors being shut and fastened, the sheriff may break open the doors, after having first made demand of admission and signified the cause of his coming, but not other- wise ; for, until demand and refusal there would be no default in the owner of the house, for he might not know of the suit or proceeding, and it is to be presumed that had he known he would have obeyed it, and there is no law to prevent a man closing the doors of his own house. Also, if a sheriff break the doors, or effect forcible entrance otherwise, when lie might enter without, he is a trespasser. A demand in ejectment, however, after judgment recovered, is not necessary ; for, by the judgment, the house is not that of the defendant, but of the plaintiff ; and in such case the sheriff may break in and deliver possession to the plaintiff, the words of the writ being, “ habere facias possessionem.” Third, that in all cases where the door is open the sheriff may enter the house and do execution at the suit of any subject, either of the body or goods ; and so may a landlord enter and distrain for rent ; but otherwise where the door is not open : for were this not so, no man's house would be safe from false pretence at the instigation of any one, and for any purpose. Fourth, that a man's house is not a castle or privilege for any one but himself, his family, and his own proper goods, and will not protect any one who has fled to his house for protection, or whose goods are found there, from lawful execution or ordinary process of law ; and that is so by common law and by statute.
There are, however, cases by statute where a man's house is not a protection against civil process. An instance of this is where a tenant clandestinely removes goods from the demised premises to avoid a distress for rent ; the landlord being in such case authorized by statute to follow the goods within thirty days after their removal, and to seize them wherever they may be found, breaking into any dwelling-house or other place where they may be, or be reasonably supposed to be.
Seinayne's Case, 5 Co. 01 ; Burdett v. Abbot, 14 East, 15G ; Delaney Fox, 1 C. B. 166 ; Ryan v. Shilcock, 7 Exeh. 72 ; Smith v. Shirley, 3 C. B, 142 ; Loyd v. Sandilands, 8 Taunt. 250 ; Duke of B. v. Slowman, 8 C. B. 317 ; Cm-lewis c. Laurie, 12 Q. B. C40 ; Pugh v. Griffith, 7 A. & E. S27 Williams v. Roberts, 7 Exch. 618-630 ; Johnson v. Leigh, 6 Taunt. 246 Cooko u. Birt, 5 Taunt. 705 ; Cook c. Clark, 10 Bing. 21 ; Slorrish v Murray, 13 M. & W. 52 ; 8 Ann, o. 14; 11 Geo. 2, u . 10.