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Lawsuits initiated in order, among other things, to recover damages for some injury to a plaintiff's personal right or property, for breach of contract, for money owed on a debt, or for the recovery of a specific item of personal property.
Under the old common law, personal actions were one of the three categories of forms of action, the other two being real actions and mixed actions. The right to bring personal actions was an innovation in a day when the only useful property was land. There were few consumer goods and little money in ancient England. From the accession of the Norman kings in 1066, the royal right to super-vise ownership and possession of land was seldom questioned. Only when the security of land ownership was seen to depend on the peace of individual persons were personal actions like debt, detinue, and trespass permitted.