Definition for PURG-A'TION

PURG-A'TION, n. [Fr. from L. purgatio. See Purge.]

  1. The act or operation of clearing, cleansing or purifying by separating and carrying off impurities or whatever is superfluous; applied to the body; as, the intestines are cleared by purgation. So also in pharmacy and in chimistry, medicines, metals and minerals are purified by purgation. – Encyc.
  2. In law, the act of cleansing from a crime, accusation or suspicion of guilt. This was canonical or vulgar. Canonical purgation, prescribed by the canon law, was performed before the bishop or his deputy, and by a jury of twelve clerks. The party accused first made oath to his own innocence, and then the twelve clerks or compurgators swore that they believed he spoke the truth; after which, other witnesses were examined upon oath, on behalf of the prisoner only. Vulgar purgation was performed by the ordeal of fire or water, or by combat. [See Ordeal.] – Blackstone.

Return to page 242 of the letter “P”.