Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    An established usage; a tax or duty.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    A usage or practice of the people, which, by common adoption and acquiescence, and by long and unvarying habit, has become compulsory, and has acquired the force of a law with respect to the place or subject-matter to which it relates. Adams v. Insurance Co., 95 Pa. 355, 40 Am. Rep. 662; Lindsay v. Cusimano (C. C.) 12 Fed. 504; Strother v. Lucas, 12 Pet. 445, 9 In Ed. 1137; Minis v. Nelson (C. Ct) 43 Fed. 779; Panaud v. Jones, 1 Cal. 498; Hursh v. North, 40 Pa. 241. A law not written, established by long usage, and the consent of our ancestors. Termes de la Ley; Cowell; Bract fol. 2. If it be universal, it is common law; if particular to this or that place, it is then properly custom. 3 Salk. 112. Customs result from a long series of actions constantly repeated, which have, by such repetition, and by uninterrupted acqui-escence, acquired the force of a tacit and common consent. Civll Code La. art. 3. It differs from prescription, which is persona] and is annexed to the person of the owner of a particular estate; while the other is local, and relates to a particular district. An instance of the latter occurs where the question is upon the manner of conducting a particular branch of trade at a certain place; of the former, where a certain person and his ancestors, or those whose estates he has, have been entitled to a certain advantage or privilege, as to have common of pasture in a certain close, or the like. The distinction has been thus expressed: "While prescription is the making of a right, custom is the making of a law." Lawson, Usages & Oust. 15, note 2. Classification. Customs are general, local or particular. General customs are such as prevail throughout a country and become the law of that country, and their existence is to be determined by the court. Bodfish v. Fox, 23 Me. 95; 39 Am. Dec. 61L Or as applied to usages of trade and business, a general custom is one that is followed in all cases by all persons in the same business in the same territory, and which has been so long established that persons sought to be charged thereby, and all others living in the vicinity, may be presumed to have known of it and to have acted upon it as they had occasion. Sturges v. Buckley, 32 Co.nn. 267; Railroad Co. v. Harrington, 192 111. 9, 6i N. Bl 622 ; Bonham v. Railroad Co.., 13 S. O. 267. Local customs are such as prevnil only in some particular district or locality, or in, some city, county, or town. Bodfish v. Fox, 23 Me. 95, 39 Am. Dec. 611; Clough v. Wing, 2 Ariz. 371, 17 Pac. 457. Particular customs are nearly the same, being such as affect only the inhabitants of some particular district. 1 Bl. Comm. 74.
    —Customs of London. Certain particular customs, peculiar to that city, with regard to trade, apprentices, widows, orphans and a variety of other matters ; contrary to the general law of the land, but confirmed by act of parliament. 1 Bl. Comm. 75.
    —Custom of merchants. A system of customs or rules relative to bills of exchange, partnership, and other mercantile matters, and which, under the name of the "lex mercatona," or "law-merchant," has been ingrafted into and made a part of, the common law. 1 Bl. Comm. 75 ; 1 Steph. Comm. 54; 2 Burrows, 1226, 1228.
    —Custom of York. A custom of intestacy in the province of York similar to that of London. Abolished by 19 & 20 Viet. c. 94.—Customs and services annexed to the tenure of lands are those which the tenants thereof owe unto their lords, and which, if withheld, the lord might anciently have resorted to "a. writ of customs and services" to compel them. Cowell. But at the present day he would merelv proceed to eject the tenant as upon a forfeiture, or claim damages for the subtraction. Brown.—Special custom. A particular or local custom; one which, in respect to the sphere of its observance, does not extend throughout the entire state or country, but is Confined to some particular district or locality. 1 Bl. Comm. 67; Bodfish v. Fox, 23 Me. 95, 39 Am. Dec. 6il.