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court was com

called Curia

concerning the crown by any other persons, or any pleas of lands. Insomuch as the king, for further ease, having divided this kingdom into counties, and committing the

charge of every county to a lord or earl, did direct that Sheriff's Tourn those earls, within their limits, should look to the matter of instituted upon the peace, and take charge of the constables, and reform England into public annoyances, and swear the people to the crown, and counties, the take pledges of the freemen for their allegiance, for which charge of this

purpose the county did once every year keep a court, called

the Sheriff's Tourn; at which all the county (except women, mitted to the earl of the same clergy, children under twelve, and not aged above sixty) county: this

did appear to give or renew their pledges of allegiance. was likewise

And the court was called Curia Franci Plegii, a View of Visus fra. pleg. the Pledges of Freemen; or, Turnus Comitatus. Subdivision of At which meeting or court there fell, by occasion of great the county

assemblies, much bloodshed, scarcity of victuals, mutinies, court into

and the like mischiefs which are incident to the congregahundreds.

tions of people, by which the king was moved to allow a subdivision of every county into hundreds, and every hundred to have a court, whereunto the people of every hundred should be assembled twice a year for survey of pledges, and use of that justice which was formerly executed in that grand court for the county; and the count or earl appointed a bailiff under him to keep the hundred court. But in the end, the kings of this realm found it necessary

to have all execution of justice immediately from themselves, The charge of by such as were more bound than earls to that service, the county taken from the abuse ; and therefore took to themselves the appointing of

and readily subject to correction for their negligence or committed a sheriff yearly in every county, calling them vicecomites, yearly to such and to them directed such writs and precepts for executing persons as it pleased the justice in the county as fell out needful to have been disking. patched, committing to the sheriff custodium comitatus;

by which the earls were spared of their toils and labours, The sheriff is and that was laid upon the sheriffs. So as now the sheriff judge of all

doth all the king's business in the county, and that is now hundred courts called the Sheriff's Tourn; that is to say, he is judge of not given away

this grand court for the county, and also of all hundred

courts not given away from the crown. County Court

He hath another court, called the County Court, belonging kept monthly to his office, wherein men may sue monthly for any debt by the sheriff. or damages under forty pounds, and may have writs for to

replevy their cattle distrained and impounded by others, and there try the cause of their distress; and by a writ called Justicies, a man may sue for any sum; and in this

from the crown.

law day.

court the sheriff, by a writ called an exigent, doth proclaim men sued in courts above to render their bodies, or else they be outlawed.

This sheriff doth serve the king's writs of process, be The office of they summons, attachments to compel men to answer to the sheriff. the law, and all writs of execution of the law, according to judgments of superior court, for taking of men's goods, lands, or bodies, as the cause requireth.

The hundred courts were most of them granted to reli- Hundred courts gious men, noblemen, and others of great place. And also to whom they many men of good quality have attained by charter, and were at first

granted. some by usage, within manors of their own liberty, of keeping law days, and to use there justice appertaining to a

Whosoever is lord of the hundred court is to appoint Lord of the two high constables of the hundred, and also is to appoint hundred to apin every village a petty constable, with a tithing man to point two high attend in his absence, and to be at his commandment when he is present in all services of his office for his assistance.

There have been by use and statute law (besides surveying of the pledges of freemen, and giving the oath of allegiance, and making constables) many additions of powers and authority given to the stewards of leets and law-days to be put in ure in their courts; as for example, they may punish innkeepers, victuallers, bakers, butchers, poulterers, fishmongers, and tradesmen of all sorts selling with under weights or measures, or at excessive prices, or things unwholesome, or ill made in deceit of the people. They may punish those that do stop, straiten, or annoy the highways, or do not, according to the provision enacted, repair or amend them, or divert water courses, or destroy fry of fish, of what mator use engines or nets to take deer, conies, pheasants, or

ters they in

quire of in leets partridges, or build pigeon houses, except he be lord of the and law-days. manor, or parson of the church. They may also take presentment

upon oath of the twelve sworn jury before them of all felonies; but they cannot try the malefactors, only they must by indenture deliver over those presentments of felony to the judges, when they come their circuits into that county. All those courts before mentioned are in use, and exercised as law at this day, concerning the sheriffs' law days and leets, and the offices of high constables, petty constables, and tithing men; howbeit, with some further additions by statute laws, laying charge upon them for taxation for poor, for soldiers, and the like, and dealing without corruption, and the like.

writ for term

They

Conservators of Conservators of the peace were in ancient times certain, the peace called which were assigned by the king to see the peace mainby the king's

tained, and they were called to the office by the king's of their lives

, writ, to continue for term of their lives, or at the king's or at the king's pleasure. pleasure. Conservators of

For this service, choice was made of the best men of the peace, and calling in the country, and but few in the shire. what their of- might bind any man to keep the peace, and to good beha

viour, by recognizance to the king, with sureties; and they might by warrant send for the party, directing their warrant to the sheriff or constable, as they please, to arrest the party, and bring him before them. This they used to do when complaint was made by any that he stood in fear of another, and so took his oath; or else, where the conservator himself did, without oath or complaint, see the disposition of any man inclined to quarrel and breach of the peace, or to misbehave himself in some outrageous manner of force or fraud, there, by his own discretion, he might send for such a fellow, and make him find sureties of the peace, or of his good behaviour, as he should see cause; or else

commit him to the gaol if he refused. Conservators of The judges of either bench in Westminster, barons of the the peace bey Exchequer, master of the rolls, and justices in eyre and

assizes in their circuits, were all, without writ, conservators of the peace in all shires of England, and continue to this

day. Justices of But now at this day conservators of the peace are out of

use,

and in lieu of them there are ordained justices of peace, in lieu of conservators. Power assigned by the king's commissions in every county, which of placing and are moveable at the king's pleasure ; but the power of displacing just. placing and displacing justices of the peace is by use deledelegated from gated from the king to the chancellor. the king to the That there should be justices of peace by commissions,

it was first enacted by a statute made 1 Edward III. and their authority augmented by many statutes made since in

every king's reign. The power of

They are appointed to keep four sessions every year; the justices of that is, every quarter one. These sessions are a sitting of

the justices to dispatch the affairs of their commissions. the crown, and They have power to hear and determine in their sessions not to recom- all felonies, breaches of the

peace, contempts, and trespense the party

passes, so far as to fine the offender to the crown, but not grieved. Parl. Stat. 17. to award recompense to the party grieved. R.2.cap. 10.& v. Dier, 69. b. lls. ount poiar d'inquier de murder car, ce felon.

office.

peace ordained

chancellor.

peace, to fine

the offenders to

crown.

ments for

They are to suppress riots and tumults, to restore pos- Authority of sessions forcibly taken away, to examine all felons appre- the justices of hended and brought before them; to see impotent poor whom run all people, or maimed soldiers provided for according to the the county serlaws, and rogues, vagabonds, and beggars punished. They vices unto the are both to license and suppress alehouses, badgers of corn and victuals, and to punish forestallers, regrators, and engrossers.

Through these in effect run all the county services to the crown, as taxations of subsidies, mustering men, arming them, and levying forces, that is done by a special commission or precept from the king. Any of these justices, by oath taken by a man that he standeth in fear that another man will beat him, or kill him, or burn his house, are to Beating, killsend for the party by warrant of attachment, directed to ing, burning of the sheriff or constable, and then to bind the party with sureties by recognizance to the king to keep the peace, and surety of the also to

appear at the next sessions of the peace; at which peace. next sessions, when every justice of peace hath therein delivered all their recognizances so taken, then the parties Recognizance are called, and the cause of binding to the peace examined, of the peace

delivered by and both parties being heard, the whole bench is to deter

the justices at mine as they see cause, either to continue the party so their sessions. bound, or else to discharge him.

The justices of peace in their sessions are attended by Quarter sesthe constables and bailiffs of all hundreds and liberties sions held by within the county, and by the sheriff or his deputy, to be the peace. employed as occasion shall serve in executing the precepts and directions of the court. They proceed in this sort: the sheriff doth summon twenty-four freeholders, discreet men of the said county, whereof some sixteen are selected and sworn, and have their charge to serve as the grand jury, the party indicted is to traverse the indictment, or else to confess it, and so submit himself to be fined as the court shall think meet (regard had to the offence), except the punishment be certainly appointed, as often it is, by special statutes.

The justices of peace are many in every county, and to them are brought all traitors, felons, and other malefactors of any sort upon their first apprehension, and that justice to whom they are brought examineth them, and heareth their accusations, but judgeth not upon it; only if he find the suspicion but light, then he taketh bond, with sureties of the accused, to appear either at the next assizes, if it be a matter of treason or felony, or else at the quarter sessions,

if it be concerning riot or misbehaviour, or some other small offence. And he also then bindeth to appear those that give testimony and prosecute the accusation, all the accu

sers and witnesses, and so setteth the party at large. And The authority at the assizes or sessions (as the case falleth out) he certiof justices of

fieth the recognizances taken of the accused, accusers, and the peace out of their sessions. witnesses, who being there are called, and appearing, the

cause of the accused is debated according to law for his clearing or condemning.

But if the party accused seem upon pregnant matter in the accusation, and to the justice to be guilty, and the offence heinous, or the offender taken with the manner, then the justice is to commit the party by his warrant called a mittimus to the gaoler of the common gaol of the county, there to remain until the assizes. And then the justice is to certify his accusation, examination, and recognizance taken for the appearances and prosecution of the witnesses, so as the judges may, when they come, readily proceed

with him as the law requireth. Judges of assize The judges of the assizes, as they be now become into come in place the place of the ancient justices in eyre, called justiciarii of the ancient itinerantes, which, in the prime kings after the conquest, about the time until Henry the Third's time especially, and after, in lesser

measure, even to Richard the Second's time, did execute the justice of the realm; they began in this sort.

The king, not able to dispatch business in his own person, erected the Court of King's Bench ;* that not able to

receive all, nor meet to draw the people all to one place, The authority of there were ordained counties and the sheriff's tourns, huntourns, leets, dred courts, and particular leets, and law-days, as before law-days, as it mentioned, which dealt only with crown matters for the was confirmed public; but not the private titles of lands or goods, nor the to some special trial of grand offences, of treasons, and felonies, but all the

the realm were divided into six circuits. And good. two learned men well read in the laws of the realm were

assigned by the king's commission to every circuit, and to ride twice a year through those shires allotted to that circuit, making proclamation beforehand, a convenient time in

of R.2.

ing the public counties

* 1. King's Bench. 2. Marshal's Court. 3. County Court. 4. Sheriff's Tourns. 5. Hundred Leets and Law-days. All which dealt only in crown matters; but the Justice in eyre dealt in private titles of lands or goods, and in all treasons and felonies, of whom there were twelve in number, the whole realm being divided into six circuits. England divided into six circuits, and two learned men in the laws, assigned by the king's commission to ride twice a year through those shires allotted to that circuit, for their trial of private titles to lands and goods, and all treasons and felonies, which the county courts meddle not in.

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