Page images
PDF
EPUB

In many corporate towns or boroughs, there is also a court of quarter sessions of the peace; having, in general, the same jurisdiction in the trial of offences and other matters arising within the limits of the borough, as the county quarter sessions within the county (9). Of such court, the recorder of the borough is, by 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 73, s. 105, constituted the sole judge: and he is, by that statute, directed to hold the court once in every quarter of a year ; or at such other and more frequent times as in his discretion he may think fit, or as her majesty may direct.

7. [The Sheriff's Tourn, or rotation, was a court of record, appointed to be held twice every year, within a month after Easter and Michaelmas, before the sheriff in different parts of the county (r): being indeed only the turn of the sheriff to keep a court leet, in each respective hundred (s). This therefore was the great court leet of the county, and out of it, for the ease of the sheriff, was taken,

8. The Court Leet, or View of Frank Pledge (t); which is a court of record, appointed to be held once in the year and not oftener, within a particular hundred, lordship, or manor, before the steward of the leet(u): being the king's court granted by charter to the lords of those hundreds or manors. Its original intent was to view the frank pledges, that is, the freemen within the liberty:

Vict. c. 55, s. 14, the qualification statute, with regard to the trial of for such deputy is, that he shall be certain offences at general or quarter of ten years' standing at the bar; sessions, mentioned sup. pp. 318,319, but he need not be in the commis- in reference to the quarter sessions sion of the peace, as was required for the county, equally apply to the under 7 & 8 Vict. c. 71. By 22 & borough quarter sessions. 23 Vict. c. 4, provisions are also (r) 4 Inst. 259; 2 Hale, P. C. 69; made for the appointment of a tem- Hawk. P. C. b. 2, c. 10. porary assistant judge in case of (8) Mirr. c. 1, ss. 13, 16. need.

(t) 4 Inst. 261; Hawk. P. C. b. 2, (9) 5 & 6 Will. 4, c. 76, ss. 103, 105, 118. It is to be observed, that (u) Mirr. c. 1, s. 10. all the restrictions expressed by VOL. IV.

Y

c. 11.

[who, we may remember, according to the institution of the great Alfred, were all mutually pledges for the good behaviour of each other(v). Besides this, the preservation of the peace, and the chastisement of divers minute offences against the public good, were the objects both of the court leet, and of the sheriff's tourn: which had exactly the same jurisdiction, one being only a larger species of the other: extending over more territory, but not over more causes. All freeholders within the precinct were obliged to attend them, and all persons commorant therein : which commorancy consisted in usually lying there: a regulation which owes its original to the laws of king Canute (x). But persons under twelve and above sixty years old ; peers; clergymen ; women ; and the king's tenants in antient demesne,—were always excused from attendance there: all others being bound to appear upon the jury, (if required,) and make their due presentments. It was also antiently the custom to summon all the king's subjects, as they respectively grew to years of discretion and strength, to come to the court leet, and there take the oath of allegiance to the king. The other general business of the leet and tourn, was to present by jury all crimes whatsoever that happened within their jurisdiction : and not only to present, but also to punish, all trivial misdemeanors ;—as all trivial debts were recoverable in the court baron and sheriff's county court: justice, in these minuter matters of both kinds, being brought home to the doors of every man by our antient constitution(y). The objects of their jurisdiction were therefore unavoidably very numerous; being such as in some degree, either less or more, affected the public weal, or good government of the district in which they arose; from common

(v) Vide sup. vol. I. p. 127. (a) Part 2, c. 19.

(y) Blackstone (vol. iv. p. 274) observes, that, in the Gothic constitution, the hæreda, which answered

to our court leet, de omnibus quidem cognoscit, non tamen de omnibus judicat ;” and he cites Stiern, de Jure Goth. 1. 1, c. 2.

[nuisances and other material offences against the king's peace and public trade, down to eaves-dropping, waifs, and irregularities in public commons. But both the tourn and the leet fell by degrees into a declining way (2): a circumstance owing, in part, to the discharge granted by the statute of Marlborough, (52 Hen. III. c. 10,) to all prelates, peers, and clergymen, from their attendance upon these courts; which occasioned them to grow into disrepute. And hence their business, for the most part, gradually devolved upon the quarter sessions; which indeed it was particularly directed to do, in some cases, by stat. 1 Edw. IV. c. 2. It also, in some instances, devolved upon the justices out of sessions. And now both tourn and leet have fallen, in most parts of the kingdom, into total disuetude (a).

9. The Court of the Coroner is also a court of record, to inquire, when any one dies in prison, or comes to violent or sudden death, by what manner he came to his end (6). But of the coroner and his office, we treated at large in a former volume, among the public officers of the kingdom, and therefore shall not here repeat our inquiries; only mentioning his court, by way of regularity, among the criminal courts of the nation (c).

10. The Court of the Clerk of the Market, is properly incident to every fair and market in the kingdom, to punish misdemeanors therein (d);—as a court of pied poudre is to determine all disputes therein, relating to private or civil property. The object of this jurisdiction was principally the recognizance of weights and measures; to try whether they be according to the true standard thereof or no (e). Which standard was antiently committed to the

(3) See Colebrook v. Elliott, 3 (0) 4 Inst. 271; 2 Hale, P. C. 53; Burr, 1864.

Hawk. P. C. b. 2, c. 9. (a) In some places, however, a (c) Vide sup. vol. II. pp. 634— “court leet" is still periodically held before the steward, but only (d) 4 Inst. 273. for the transaction of the adminis- (e) See stat. 17 Car. 2, c. 19; trative business of the manor. vol. 11. pp. 516 —520.

612.

[custody of the bishop, who appointed some clerk under him to inspect the abuse of them more narrowly: and hence this officer, though usually a layman, was called the clerk of the market (f). If they were not according to the standard, then, besides the punishment of the party by fine, the weights and measures themselves were directed to be burnt.] This is the most inferior court of criminal jurisdiction in the kingdom: but its functions, as regards weights and measures seem in a great measure to be now superseded by the provisions of 5 & 6 Will, IV. c. 63; which provide for the appointment of inspectors of weights and measures, whose duty it is to attend with the stamps and copies of the imperial standard weights in their custody, at the several market towns; and examine and stamp, (if found correct,) such weights and measures as shall be brought to them for that purpose; giving, if required, a certificate of such stamping. And it is lawful, under the above Act, for any magistrate, or authorized inspector, to enter at all reasonable times any shop or other place, where goods are exposed for sale, in order to examine the weights and measures therein used; and if found incorrect, the faulty weights and measures

may be seized and forfeited; and the person in whose possession the same shall be found, or who shall obstruct such examination, is liable to a penalty of 51.(9).

Secondly. As to criminal courts of a private or special jurisdiction.

[These are of a confined and partial jurisdiction : extending only to particular places, which the royal favour, confirmed by Act of Parliament, distinguished by the privilege of having peculiar courts of their own, for the punishment of crimes and misdemeanors arising within

(f) Bac. of English Government, b. 10, c. 8.

(g) See Hutchins v. Reeves, 9

Mee. & W. 747. As to weights and measures, vide sup. vol. II. pp. 516 -520.

[the bounds of their cognizance. And we shall only here refer to two of these tribunals, which, as a class, have in modern times fallen into disrepute and oblivion.

1. The Court of the Lord Steward of the King's Household, or, in his absence, of the treasurer, comptroller, and steward of the marshalsea, was created by statute 33 Hen. VIII. c. 12, with a jurisdiction to inquire of, hear, and determine “all treasons, misprisions of treason, murders, manslaughters, bloodshed, and other malicious strikings,” whereby blood should be shed in or within the limits (that is, within two hundred feet of the gate) of any of the palaces or houses of the king, or any other house where the royal person should abide. The proceedings were by jury, both a grand and petty one, as at common law; taken out of the officers and sworn servants of the king's household : and the form and solemnity of the process, particularly with regard to the execution of the sentence for cutting off the hand, -which is part of the punishment for shedding blood in the king's court,are very minutely set forth in the said statute: where the several offices of the servants of the household in and about such execution are also described ; from the serjeant of the woodyard, who furnished the chopping-block, to the serjeant farrier, who was to bring hot irons to sear the stump.] But so much of the above Act “as relates

to the punishment of manslaughter and malicious

striking, by reason whereof blood shall be shed," was expressly repealed by 9 Geo. IV. c. 31; and the jurisdiction of the court itself has long since fallen into complete disuse.

2. The courts of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge have a criminal as well as a civil jurisdiction, and this of an extensive kind. The chancellor's court hath authority to determine all offences which are misdemeanors only, when committed by a member of the university; and even treason, felony and mayhem, if found to have been

« EelmineJätka »