In ecclesiastical law, it is contempt of the authority of an ecclesiastical court and is dealt with by the issue of a writ from the Court of Chancery at the instance of the judge of the ecclesiastical court. This writ took the place of the de excommunicato capiendo in 1813, by an act of George III; see excommunication.
The term "contumacy" is derived from the Latin word contumacia, meaning firmness or stubbornness. It refers to a stubborn refusal to obey authority, or particularly, in law, the willful contempt of the order or summons of a court (see contempt of court.) The U.S. Supreme Court recognized federal courts' inherent power to imprison a person for contumacy in United States v. Hudson & Goodwin without a reference to a definition of contumacy in common or statutory law.