Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Flotsam, or Floatsam, goods floating upon the sea, which belong to the Crown unless claimed by the true owners thereof within a year and a day.

In order to constitute a legal wreck, the goods must come to land. If they continue at sea, the law distinguishes them by the barbarous and uncouth appellations of jetsam, flotsam, and ligan. Jetsam is where goods are cast into the sea, and there sink and remain under water. Flotsam is where they continue swimming on the waves. Ligan is where they are sunk in the sea, but tied to a cork or buoy in order to be found again. Such goods are also the Crown's, except claimed as above.

For even if they be cast overboard without any mark or buoy in order to lighten the ship, the owner is not by this act of necessity considered to have renounced his property. Much less can things ligan be supposed to be abandoned, since the owner has done all in his power to assert and retain his property. These three are accounted distinct things from wrecks, so that by a royal grant to anyone of wrecks, things jetsam, flotsam, and ligan will not pass. [Jetsam, Ligan.]