What is Avowry?

Legal Definition
In law, avowry is where one takes a distress for rent or other thing, and the other sues replevin. In which case the taker shall justify, in his plea, for what cause he took it, and if he took it in his own right, is to show it, and so avow the taking—which is called his avowry. If he took it in the right of another, when he has shown the cause, he is to make conusance of the taking, as being a bailiff or servant to him in whose right he did it.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Pleading. An avowry is where the defendant in an action of replevin, avows the taking of the distress in his own right, or in right of his wife, and sets forth the cause of it, as for arrears of rent, damage done, or the like. Lawes on PI. 35 Hamm. N. P. 464; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3571.

2. An avowry is sometimes said to be in the nature of an action or of. a declaration, and privity of estate is necessary. Co. Lit. 320 a; 1 Serg. & R. 170-1. There is no general issue upon an avowry and it cannot be traversed cumulatively. 5 Serg. & R. 377. Alienation cannot be replied to it without notice; for the tenure is deemed to exist for the purposes of an avowry till notice be given of the alienation. Ham. Parties, 131-2; Ham. N. P. 398, 426.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A pleading in the action of replevin, by which the defendant avows, that is, acknowledges, the taking of the distress or property complained of, where he took It in his own right, and sets forth the reason of it; as for rent In arrear, damage done, etc. 3 Bl. Comm. 149; 1 Tidd. Pr. 645. Brown v. Bissett, 21 N. J. Law, 274; Hill v. Miller, 5 Serg. & R. (Pat) 357.

Avowry is the setting forth, as in a declaration, the nature and merits of the defendant's case, showing that the distress taken by him was lawful, which must be done with such sufficient authority as will entitle him to a retorno habendo. Hill v. Stocking, 6 Hill (N. Y.) 284.

An avowry must be distinguished from a justification. The former species of plea admits the plaintiff's ownership of the property, but alleges a right in the defendant sufficient to warrant him in taking the property and which still subsists. A justification, on the other hand, denies that the plaintiff had the right of property or possession in the subject-matter, alleging it to bave been in the defendant or a third person, or avers a right sufficient to warrant the defendant in taking it, although such right has not continued in 'force to the time of making answer.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A plea of justification in replevin.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary