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Literally, "something for you to keep." Obviously it refers to something of value rather than something of lasting value. Retainder is basically synonymous with "loot" in the sense of there being something to gain. For example, if a man receives attainder in the form of a sack of money that is his to keep, as was often the practice for doing someone a favor or task, it doesn't mean that he has a right to the individual pieces if he should trade them for other articles of value but only that he has received a gift that can be used up as any other. The same basic fact goes for bills of retainder.

Sometimes "retainder" were granted under explicit auspices, such as bill of retainder or patent of retainder. A patent of retainder appears to be associated with a monarch offering the guarantee, and sometimes these were traded for, as well, but by verbal agreement.

A bill of retainder would be defined much as a law that would grant contractual rights or legal privilege to keep something for a specific or unspecific length of time. For example, a bill of retainder may bestow a certain privilege that may not be taken away without substantial cause. For example, "The city management passed a bill of retainder to promise the bounty hunter five pounds of gold in exchange for bringing Frankie the Kid in to the county jailhouse alive. The bill was signed into law by the mayor."

Bills of retainder should not be mistaken for bills of attainder. A "bill of attainder" refers to any attempt to taint someone with charges of felony or treason, such as by an act of legislature, as if to justify execution by suspension of a person's equal right to legal trial by jury.

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Q: What are bills of retainder?
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