Month: August 2018
By Cuming Walters.
A VERY curious and interesting phase of self-government is that which is supplied by the independent legal system established in various small islands in the United Kingdom. It is amusing to notice these little communities on rocky islets tenaciously preserving their ancient privileges, and revelling in the knowledge that they have a code of their own by no means in harmony with the statute law of the country of which they are an insignificant part. The tribunals and the legal processes in the Channel Islands, in the Scilly Islands, in the Isle of Man, and even in some of the smaller islands round the English coast, differ entirely from those established in the motherland; and any suggestion of change is warmly resented. In many cases it has not, of course, been worth while to insist on reform, inasmuch as the islands are inhabited only by a few families, who may be left in peace to settle their own differences if any occur.
There are a great many scattered islets about the sinuous line of Irish coast, very few of which are ever visited by strangers. The conditions of life in these isolated places are seldom investigated, and yet we find there are some remarkable survivals of old customs and relics of ancient laws. The people are independent, because they feel they are totally separated from the mainland, and possess neither the means nor the desire to cross over to it. They are in many respects a race by themselves, and their attachment to their little homes of rock is such that one of their severest punishments for offenders is to transport them to Ireland. Such an island is Raghlin, or Rathlin, six miles distant from the north-west of Antrim, but might be six hundred miles, judging by the slight intercourse the handful of inhabitants has with the larger world. Another such island is Tory, ten miles from the Donegal coast, where up to a few years ago the dwellers were unacquainted with any other law than that of the Brehon code. A visitor in 1834 found them choosing their own judge, and yielding ready obedience to mandates “issued from a throne of turf.” In this case, and in the case of the Cape Clear islanders, it was found that the threat of banishment to the mainland was severe enough to prevent serious crime. These feelings probably have been modified in more recent times, yet the intensity of the attachment of islanders to their native rock is one of the ineradicable characteristics which account for the sturdy independence manifested in their laws and customs. Their little homes are miniature worlds which they prefer to govern themselves in their own way. We may take the Scillies as a favourable example, where the natives cling to the system of civil government by twelve principal inhabitants forming a Court presided over by a military officer. The Court is held every month, and it has jurisdiction in civil suits and minor causes. The Sheriff for Cornwall has, or, at all events, had, no jurisdiction in the islands, though persons prosecuted for felonies (which are extremely rare) have to be relegated to the Assizes at Launceston.
The patriarchal system has always been much in evidence in the small Scotch islands, which, for the most part, are the possessions of the descendants of feudal chieftains. Dr. Johnson adverted to this fact on the occasion of his famous journey in the North:—“Many of the smaller islands have no legal officers within them.
I once asked, if a crime should be committed, by what authority the offender could be seized, and was told that the laird would exert his right; a right which he must now usurp, but which merely necessity must vindicate, and which is therefore yet exercised in lower degrees by some of the proprietors when legal process cannot be obtained.” But after observing how the system operated, Dr. Johnson freely admitted that when the lairds were men of knowledge and virtue, the convenience of a domestic judicature was great. Owing to the remoteness of some of the islands and the difficulty of gaining access to others, it was scarcely possible to bring them under the common law, and we find that in some instances the proprietors were allowed to act as magistrates by the Lord-Lieutenant’s commission. Some of the old lairds had a very effective but unjudicial method of enforcing their laws. Lord Seaforth, High Chief of Kintail, was anxious to abolish a very odious custom of woman-servitude which prevailed in the island of Lewis. The men were wont to use the women as cattle, compelling them to draw boats like horses, and, among other things, to carry men across the deep and dangerous fords on their backs. This practice greatly disgusted Lord Seaforth, who found, however, that it was one particularly hard to check. He arrived one day on horseback at a stream which a peasant was contentedly crossing, mounted on a woman’s shoulders. When the middle of the stream was reached, the laird urged his horse forward, and came up with the couple, when by vigorously laying his whip about the back of the man, he compelled him to dismount, and wade as best he could to the opposite bank. This practical indication of the laird’s wishes aided considerably in producing a change.
The Scotch islanders are a law-abiding people, and patriarchal government sufficed. It was recorded of the inhabitants of Skye that, during a period of unusual distress and semi-starvation, not a single sheep was stolen. So keen is the sense of propriety in that island that a whole family has been known to slink away, unable to bear the disgrace brought upon them by an individual delinquent. Orkney and Shetland once possessed all the characteristics of a separate kingdom, the laws of no other countries being imposed upon them. There was none to dispute the laird’s right, and legal administration was entirely in his hands, except for the period that the islands were placed under episcopal rule. It is worth noting that the most famous of the governing bishops, Robert Reid (tempus 1540), also filled the high office of President of the Court of Session at Edinburgh, and he and his successors are said to have ruled with conspicuous mildness and equity.
We may now turn to one or two English islands before devoting attention to the most important examples of all—those supplied by the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The Isle of Wight is only regarded as “separate” from Hampshire for one legal purpose, so far as I have been able to ascertain. It is part of the “county of Southampton” for all purposes except the land-tax payment: for this it has a separate liability. But the land-tax divisions are the most irregular, and the least uniform of any legal divisions in the country, and it is therefore not surprising that the Isle of Wight should in this respect be subject to peculiar usage. Purbeck is one of those “isles” in England which now depend more upon tradition for their designation, than natural accordance with the geographical definition. What is remarkable is that these “isles”—such as the Isle of Purbeck, the Isle of Ely, the Isle of Glastonbury, and the Isle of Meare—nearly all have certain well-established and recognised laws of their own for the little communities which dwell within their borders. The quarrymen of Purbeck consider themselves a race apart, and their guild is one of the closest and strictest character. Their homage is paid exclusively to the lord of the manor, and the “Marblers” claim to have received a special charter from King Edward. On Shrove Tuesday they elect their officers, and celebrate the occasion by kicking a football round the boundaries. One ancient custom observed on these occasions is to carry a pound of pepper to the lord of the manor, as an acknowledgement to him in respect to a “right of way.” Until comparatively recent times the government of the island was patriarchal in character. The Isle of Glastonbury had its “House of Twelve Hides” for the trial of petty cases in the locality, and tradition reports that unusually large dungeons were prepared for the immuring of those who offended in the renowned Avalonian isle.
The Isle of Man, when subject to the Kings of Norway, was a subordinate feudatory kingdom. It afterwards came under the dominion of the English Kings, John and Henry III., but passed afterwards to the Scotch. Henry IV. eventually claimed the little isle, and disposed of it to the Earl of Northumberland, but upon this famous nobleman’s attainder it went to Sir John de Stanley. Its government seemed destined to be unsettled, however, and though the title of king was renounced by the possessors of the land, they maintained supreme and sovereign authority as to legal process. In the Isle of Man no English writ could be served, and as a result it became infested with smugglers and outlaws. This was unsatisfactory, and, in 1765, the interest of the proprietor was purchased, in order that the island should be subject to the regulations of the British excise and customs.
According to Blackstone, than whom there could be no greater authority, the Isle of Man is “a distinct territory from England, and is not governed by our laws; neither doth an Act of Parliament extend to it unless it be particularly named therein.” It is consequently a convenient refuge for debtors and outlaws, while its own roundabout and antiquated methods of procedure have been found to favour the criminal rather than to aid prosecutors and complainants.
Perhaps this was never more vividly illustrated than in the recent case of the murderer Cooper, who profited by the cumbrous and lenient processes of Manx law to the extent of getting an atrocious crime reduced to manslaughter. The laws have often been amended. Prior to 1417 they were “locked up in the breasts of the Deemsters,” but Sir John Stanley found that so much injustice was being done under the pretence of law, that he ordered a promulgation to be made. But “breast laws” continued to be administered for another two centuries, until Lord Strange, in 1636, commanded that the Deemsters should “set down in writing, and certify what these breast laws are.” In 1777, and also in 1813, the laws of the island were again amended, and every criminal was allowed three separate and distinct trials before different bodies. First the High Bailiff hears his case, then the Deemster and six jurymen, and, thirdly, if he has been committed for trial, he is brought before the Governor and the Deemsters. By the time the case gets to the final court it has usually been “whittled down” to the smallest possible proportions, and doubts have often been raised whether justice is not marred by misplaced and unwarranted lenity. Another strange practice is that the Manx advocates combine the parts of barrister and attorney. The law is hard upon debtors, who can be lodged as prisoners in Castle Rushen, if it is suspected that they are about to leave the island; but there are no County Courts. On the other hand, there are Courts of Law of almost bewildering variety—the Chancery Court, the Admiralty, the General Gaol Delivery, the Exchequer, the Ecclesiastical, the Common Law, the two Deemsters’ Courts for the north and south of the island, the Seneschal’s Court, the Consistorial, the Licensing, and the High Bailiff’s. Each sheading, or subdivision, has its own coroner or sheriff, who can appoint a “lockman” as his deputy; and each parish (there are seventeen) has its own captain and a “sumner,” whose duty in old times was to keep order in church and “beat all the doggs.” Manx law had, and perhaps to some extent still has, a similar reputation either for allowing criminals in the island to escape easily, or for permitting English criminals to remain unpunished; hence the old ribald verse which represents the Devil singing—
“That little spot I cannot spare,
For all my choicest friends are there.”
The Deemster’s oath is a curiosity in itself:—“I do swear that I will execute the laws of the isle justly betwixt party and party as indifferently as the herring’s backbone doth lie in the midst of the fish.” Formerly the elective House of Keys possessed judicial as well as legislative functions, but this power was taken from it by the Act of 1866. Laws are initiated in the Council and the Tynwald Court, which promulgates them, consists of the members of the Council, and the House of Keys, who unite for the occasion. Tynwald Day as described by Mr. Hall Caine is an interesting, historic, but not an impressive ceremony. A thousand years ago the Norsemen established a form of government on the island, and every fifth of July the Manxman has his open-air Parliament for the promulgation of laws. But it is a gala day rather than a day of business. “Reluctantly I admit,” writes Mr. Hall Caine, “that the proceedings were, in themselves, long, tiresome, ineffectual, formless, unimpressive, and unpicturesque. The senior Deemster, the amiable and venerable Sir Wm. Drinkwater, read the titles of the new laws in English. Then the coroner of the premier sheading, Glenfaba, recited the same titles in Manx. Hardly anybody heard them; hardly anybody listened.”
The Channel Islands were part of the Duchy of Normandy, and their laws are mostly the ducal customs as set forth in an ancient book known as “Le Grand Coustumier.” Acts of the English Parliament do not apply to these Islands unless specifically mentioned, and all causes are determined by their own courts and officers. In Mr. Ansted’s standard work on the Channel Islands (revised and edited by E. Toulmin Nicolle, 1893), a long chapter is devoted to the whole subject, and it is so complete and well expressed that I venture without much alteration of phraseology to summarise its leading points. Jersey and Guernsey have diverged greatly from each other in their legal customs, and it is also curious to find that each of the smaller islands possesses its own particular constitutions and courts. The rights and customs of the “States,” which are an outcome of the mediæval Royal Court, have constantly undergone modification and have been remodelled, but they retain many of the ancient characteristics. The Bailiff (Bailli), or chief magistrate, is the first civil officer in each island, and usually retains his office for life. He presides at the Royal Court, takes the opinions of the elected Jurats, and when their voices are equal has a casting vote both in civil and criminal cases. The Bailiff is not required either in Jersey or Guernsey to have had a legal education. He is appointed by the Crown, but has usually held some position at the island bar. Formerly the advocates practising in the court of Jersey were nominated by the Bailiff, and were limited to six in number. In 1860, however, the bar was thrown open to every British subject who had been ten years resident in the island, and who was qualified by reason of being a member of the English bar, having taken a law degree at a French University, and having passed an examination in the island. In Guernsey the advocates are also notaries, and frequently hold agencies. The judicial and legislative powers in Jersey are to some extent separate, but in Guernsey they are intimately associated—a fact which accounts for much of the difference in custom in the two islands.
The ancient Norman law contained in “Le Grand Coustumier” dates back to the thirteenth century, was badly revised in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and became the Code. Trial by jury was established in 1786, and the laws on the subject have undergone considerable change. There is a committing magistrate, and the trial takes place at the Criminal Assizes of which there are six in the year. The jury numbers twenty-four; if twenty agree, the verdict is taken; if less than twenty the prisoner is set free. Minor offences are referred to a court of Correctional Police presided over by a magistrate who is independent of the Royal Court. The same magistrate presides over the court for the recovery of small debts, and there is no appeal from his decision. Then there are subsidiary courts for various police purposes, while the Court of Héritage entertains suits regarding real estate. The arbitrary operation of these Courts may have very evil results, especially for strangers who are unlearned in the peculiarities of Jersey law. I find a striking example of this in a magazine of June 15th, 1861, in which a hard experience is detailed with comments which appear to be fully justified by the circumstances. The writer says:—
“Before leaving England I had had a serious quarrel with a former friend and medical attendant, and no long time elapsed after our arrival in the island, before this gentleman sent me in a bill of monstrous proportions—a true ‘compte d’apothecaire’ as the French express it. At that time I was quite ignorant of the singular constitution of Jersey law, and how it placed me in the power of any man who chose to sue me whether I owed him money or not. I wrote to the doctor, refusing to pay the full amount of his claim, and referring him to a solicitor in London. He was, however, better acquainted with the Jersey law than myself, as the result will show. Here, before proceeding with my story, I will enter into some explanation of the law of debtor and creditor as it exists in Jersey. This law enables the creditor to enforce his demands summarily, depriving the party sued of his liberty, and leaving him in gaol till the costs of his imprisonment have swelled the amount to be paid: and further, supposing the defendant ultimately gains his suit, and proves his non-liability, no damages for false imprisonment are obtainable. The law leaves him no remedy, for the plaintiff makes no affidavit; and a simple letter from England, requesting a Jersey advocate to enforce payment of a claim, is enough to cast the defendant at once into prison, prior to any judicial investigation into the merits of his case.
“Thus, in Jersey, every man (unless he be a landed proprietor) is at the mercy of every other man, both in the island and out of it. In short, one man can arrest another simply by drawing up an imaginary account on a common bit of paper, and handing it to the nearest lawyer, who will send his clerk with the sheriff’s man and imprison the unfortunate victim in default of immediate payment. What is worse still, an arrest can be carried into effect, by means of a simple letter sent through the post. The exception in favour of land-owners of course includes the owners of house property, an exception which mostly benefits Jersey-men, as few but natives possess property in the island. It is only a proprietor who must be sued before he can be imprisoned. If the Jersey laws confined the persons merely of strangers sued by the inhabitants of the island, in the arbitrary manner described, the justice of such a practice might still be defended on the plea of preventing them from leaving the island; but no excuse can be found when the Jersey law is made an instrument in the hands of strangers, living out of the jurisdiction of the island, and when it is used to enforce payment of debts incurred in another place, and in which no inhabitant of the island is interested, and when (as sometimes happens) it is employed as a means of extortion. In the first case it can be urged that, at least, it gives protection to the islander, which may be all proper enough, though the system is liable to abuse. In the second, the injustice and folly of the law is flagrant. By what right or reason ought the Jersey code, without previous inquiry, to deprive one man of his liberty at the demand of another, when both are strangers, and when the dispute relates to matters wholly beyond its pale, and in reference to which it has no means of obtaining information on oath? Yet such is the case, and thus the Jersey law is converted into a mere tool of iniquity and oppression. In speaking of this strange anomaly in Jersey law, I am not referring to bills of exchange, or to securities of any sort, but merely to simple debts, free from any acknowledgment or signature whatever. In any other Court, such claims would not be entertained for a moment. Surely the law is barbarous enough for the people of Jersey, without its consequences being extended beyond its circumference. But, as matters stand at present, the case stands thus: A and B fall out together. Now B is a rogue. They go to law together, and B demands of A more than he is entitled to. The courts in England are about to decide upon the merits of the case. Meanwhile B learns that A is gone to Jersey for a short time on business, perhaps connected with this very affair, such, for instance, as looking up an important witness. What does B do? He immediately sends off a letter enclosing his little account to a Jersey lawyer, instructing him to demand payment or lock up A forthwith. The lawyer obeys, of course; A storms—protests—all in vain. He is incarcerated, and is told he may explain as much as he likes afterwards; but, in the meantime, must go to prison, or pay. At last poor A, whose liberty is important to him, wearied with the delays which it is the interest of the Jersey lawyers to raise in his suit for judgment, pays the demand into court (au greffe) to be adjudicated on—costs of law, costs of imprisonment and all. The latter item includes 10s. every time the prison door is opened to let him pass on his way to court—a journey he has too often to perform without much approach to a dénoûment, and whither he is obliged to go under escort like a criminal; and this process is repeated several times, without the cause even being called on for hearing. Worst of all, when A comes out, he has to decide upon the merits of the case. Meanwhile no remedy against B, who, of course, being satisfied, withdraws his suit at home.”
Another seeming anomalous process may be cited. An appeal lies from some of the small Courts to the full Court, or Nombre Supérieur, but the jurats who sit in the Court of First Instance are not debarred from sitting in the Full Court when an appeal from their own judgment is being heard! All the proceedings are carried on in the French language, which is again extremely inconvenient for the English residents. The Bailiff comments on the evidence and on the arguments of the pleaders, collects the opinion of the jurats, and delivers judgment. In Guernsey the decisions are given in private. “Pleadings in these courts are very simple,” says Mr. Ansted. “The plaintiff must serve on the defendant a summons or declaration, setting forth the nature of his claim, and in some cases the reasons on which it is grounded are added. If not sufficiently definite the declaration is sent back by the Court for amendment. If the defendant means to plead any objections by way of demurrer or special plea, these are at once heard and disposed of. If the parties join issue on the merits of the case, the Court hears the parties, or their counsel, and decides. If the case be intricate the parties are sometimes sent before the Greffier—in Guernsey before one of the jurats,—who reports, condensing the matter in dispute, and presenting the points to the court for decision.” Trial by jury does not exist in Guernsey. The court at Alderney is subordinate to that of Guernsey. The jurisdiction in matters of correctional police is final where the offence can be punished by a month’s imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5; otherwise it is referred to Guernsey for trial. The Court of Sark, which has undergone many strange vicissitudes since its institution in 1579, consists of the seneschal, or judge, the prévôt and the greffier, all appointed by the feudal lord, or seigneur. The seneschal is an absolute authority in small cases, but his right of punishment is limited to the narrow bounds of inflicting a fine of about four shillings, and of sentencing to three days’ imprisonment. All cases demanding severer treatment are relegated to the Guernsey Courts. Enough has been said to show that Mr. Ansted was justified in declaring that though the islanders were unfitted by their habits and education for any radical change in their peculiar institutions, yet “the practice of the law courts both in Jersey and Guernsey has long been felt to be in many cases cumbrous, not to say objectionable. Indeed, where so much that is personal interferes in the administration of justice, and where personal and family influence cannot but be felt, it is not astonishing that reasonable complaints are sometimes heard.” Three times during the present century Royal Commissions have enquired into Jersey law, but their recommendations have been systematically ignored. No remedies have been carried out, and the islanders cling with extraordinary pertinacity to customs which are notoriously abused and to priveleges which are opposed to fair-dealing. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are standing evidence of the danger incurred by such independence of legal authority as they have hitherto been permitted to enjoy.
By George Neilson.
IT might be thought that a man’s death made an end of him, and that his mere body had no rights or duties except that of getting decently buried. The middle age had other ideas. The dead still had status and duties. Continental laws recognised acts of renunciation in which a widow laid the keys on her husband’s corpse, or tapped his grave with the point of a halberd. The body of a murdered person, or, it might be his hand merely, might be carried before the judge to demand vengeance. By English thirteenth century law legal possession of real estate was thought to remain in a man, not until he died, but until his body was borne forth to burial. The dead might be a very potent witness, as shewn by the ordeal of bier-right, a practice founded on the belief that the murderer’s touch would cause the victim’s wounds to bleed afresh. Thus variously qualified to act as witness or prosecutor as occasion required, it is not surprising to find the dead as defendant also.
English history remembers the strange scene enacted in the monastery of Caen in 1087, when William the Conqueror lay dead there, and the ceremonials of his interment were interrupted by a weird appeal. Ascelin, the son of Arthur, loudly claimed as his, neither sold nor given, the land on which the church stood, and, forbidding the burial, he appealed to the dead to do him justice. More than one old English poem turned its plot round the ancient canon law, by which a burial might be delayed for debt. The dead was arrestable: a law afterwards set aside, “for death dissolved all things.” But in more codes than one death did not dissolve liability for the consequences of high treason.
In Scotland, in the year 1320, at the “black parliament” of Scone, several Scotsmen were convicted of conspiracy against King Robert the
Bruce. Most of them were drawn, hanged, and beheaded. But a Scottish historian of the time tells us that Roger of Mowbray, one of the accused, having died before his trial, “his body was carried to the place, convicted of conspiracy, and condemned to be drawn by horses, hung on the gallows, and beheaded.” It is to the credit of Bruce that he did not allow the corporal part of the sentence to be carried out, although many entries in the charter rolls shew that the consequent escheats of the traitor’s lands served to reward the loyalty of others. His body convicted of conspiracy! How came this singular procedure into Scottish practice?
In England, towards the close of the fourteenth century, although escheats were not less keenly looked after than in Scotland—and that sometimes in cases where men had died unconvicted,—the purpose of attainder appears to have been effected without the expedient of calling the dead to the bar. The dead, however, was convicted. In the case of Robert Plesyngton, for instance, in 1397, the judgment of Parliament bore an express conviction of treason, “noun-obstant la mort de dit Roberd.” In 1400, John, Earl of Salisbury, challenged for treason by Lord Morley, was killed before the day appointed for the duel. The court not only adjudged him a traitor, but on grounds eked out by Roman law subjected his sureties in costs to his accuser—said costs including the handsome fee of 100s. and twelve yards of scarlet cloth to the lawyer Adam of Usk.
In all features save perhaps that of the actual presence of the body in the trial, warrant can be found for the Scottish practice in Roman law. The offence of “majesty,” or high treason, formed an exception to the great humane general rule that responsibility for crime ended with the criminal’s breath. Under the Lex Julia death was no defence to a charge of “majesty;” proceedings could be raised to stamp the dead man’s name with the brand of treason; his kinsmen might if they chose deny and defend; but if they failed to clear him his goods were confiscated and his memory damned. There is in the annals of Rome at least one instance of a death-sentence of this sort pronounced after the accused was in his grave. Nor was its scope confined absolutely to high treason. The Church had a quiet way of appropriating tit-bits of barbaric policy for pious uses. The Emperor Theodosius said that the inquisition for heresy ought to extend to death itself; and as in the crime of majesty, so in cases of heresy, it should be lawful to accuse the memory of the dead. The Popes endorsed the analogy, for heretics had goods, which sometimes were worth forfeiting. The spiritual authority however was of more moment. The Church claimed the power to bind and loose even after death, and a Welsh twelfth century bishop did not stand alone when he carried it so far as to scourge the body of a king who had died excommunicate. On the same principle dead heretics—dead before sentence of heresy—were burnt.
It was by a close following up of Roman jurisprudence, with, peradventure, some added light from the law and practice of the Church, that the French devised their procés au cadavre, by which the memory of a dead traitor was attacked. Its special application was to lesemajesty described as divine and human, the former an elastic term covering offences against God and religion. Allied to this latter category, though not exactly of it, was the mortal sin of suicide. Self-slaughter was so deeply abhorrent to mediæval thought as not only to be reckoned more culpable, but to call for more shameful punishment, than almost any other crime. So coupling the traitor and the self-slayer in the same detestation, the law assailed both by the same strange post-mortem process, and (by methods of reasoning which Voltaire was one of the first to ridicule) consigned their souls to perdition, their memories to infamy, and their bodies to the gibbet. The treatment of the suicide was peculiar in its refinements of symbolic shame. The body was, by the customary law (for example, of Beaumont), to be drawn to the gibbet as cruelly as possible, pour monstrer l’experience aux aultres. The very door-step of the house in which he lay was to be torn up, for the dead man was not worthy to pass over it. Impalement, transfixture by a stake, though well enough known on the continent as a punishment of the living, became there and in England alike, the special doom of the suicide. Yet the procés au cadavre had no footing in English law, and although it was already in 1320 received in Scotland, we shall find reason for thinking it not wholly welcome.
After the trial in 1320 before alluded to, the records in Scotland are silent for over two centuries, and it is not until 1540 that the process is heard of again. In that year the heirs of one Robert Leslie were summoned to the court of parliament to hear his name and memory “delete and extinct,” for certain points and crimes of lesemajesty, and his lands and goods forfeited to the king. Legal authorities, obviously forgetful of the fourteenth century instance, follow one another in the mistake of regarding Leslie’s as the first of its kind. The legality of the procedure was called in question at the time. Indeed, so loud was the murmur that it can still be heard in the act passed to put it to silence. “It is murmurit,” says the enactment, “that it is ane noveltie to rais summondis and move sic ane actioun aganis ane persoun that is deide, howbeit the commoun law directly providis the samin.” The three estates of parliament therefore on the motion of the lord advocate, declared unanimously “all in ane voce, but variance or discrepance,” that the cause was just and conform to common law. In another case of the following year the charge and judgment were enrolled in the Acts of Parliament. The widow and the heir of the late James Colville were summoned “to see and hear that the said deceased James, whilst he lived had committed the crime of lesemajesty.” The deliverance of parliament as tribunal was by its terms an actual sentence upon the dead—that the deceased James “hes incurrit the panis of crime of lesemajeste” for which causes the court decerned “the memoure of the said umquhile James to be deleit,” and his possessions confiscated to the crown. Parliament which had unanimously voted the procedure well based in law, found that it was dangerous. It was necessary to restrict its scope. In 1542, it is on parliamentary record that “the lordis thinkis the said act [i.e., of 1540], ower generale and prejudiciale to all the barions of this realme.” This would never do:—an act prejudicial to the barons! So it became statute law in 1542, that it should apply only to cases of grave treason, public and notorious during the offender’s life, and that prosecution for the future must be raised within five years after the traitor’s death. It was a reasonable restraint, not always observed.
During the reigns of Mary and James VI. a number of trials occurred in which this singular process was resorted to, and in some, if not all, of which the body of the dead appeared at the bar. Occasionally it was embalmed for the purpose. It had been a part of the border code, prevalent on the marches of England and Scotland, that an accused should, although dead, be brought to the place of judgment in person. In 1249, the marchmen of both realms had declared the law in that sense. They said that, in any plea touching life and limb, if the defendant died the body of him should be carried to the march on the day and to the place fixed between the parties, because—concludes this remarkable provision —“no man can excuse himself by death.” And in the end of the sixteenth century the borderers had not forgotten the tradition their forefathers had inherited in the thirteenth, for in 1597, when Scotsmen and Englishmen were in fulfilment of their treaty obligations presenting their promised pledges, the custom was scrupulously observed on the English side. All were there,—all, though all included one that was no more. “Thoughe one of the nomber were dead, yet was he brought and presented at this place.” They evidently believed on the borders, which Sir Robert Cary with some reason called an “uncristned cuntry,” that a man could best prove that he was dead by attendance in person.
In trials for treason this principle was pushed in some instances to strange extremes. Probably one underlying reason of this, at a date so late, was to make sure that no formality should be lacking to make the forfeiture effective. But the main reason one must believe lay in its being a traditional observance. In the trial in 1600, of the Earl of Gowrie and his brother for an alleged attempt on the king’s life, the privy council on the preamble that it was necessary to have their corpses kept and preserved unburied, issued an act to that effect, and the treasurer’s accounts contain an entry “for transporting of the corpis of Gowrie and his brother.” Their bodies were accordingly produced at the trial, and the sentence which pronounced them guilty of treason and lesemajesty during their lifetime, declared their name, memory, and dignity extinguished, and ordained that “the dead bodeis of the saidis Treatouris,” should be hanged, quartered, and gibbetted. Their “twa hedis,” a grim diarist tells, were set upon the tolbooth, “thair to stand quhill the wind blaw thame away.”
The last case in the annals, in which this revolting Scottish “practick” was put into effect, occurred in 1609. Robert Logan, of Restalrig, had been nearly three years in his grave when it was given out that he had been a party to the alleged Gowrie conspiracy against King James. A process was at once taken in hand to proscribe his memory and escheat his property. As death was no excuse, neither was burial; and the ghastly form was gone through of exhuming the bones for presentation at the trial. It was a case plainly within the exception provided for in the act of 1542, for the man was not “notourly” a traitor, he had died in repute of loyalty: but the Crown was eager for a conviction. Much incredulity had been rife with regard to the Gowrie conspiracy. The evidences now adduced were—on the surface at any rate, although, perhaps, as many critics still think, on the surface only,—circumstantial and strong. The prosecution was therefore keenly pressed, and the reluctance of some of the judges overcome. A jocular jurist-commentator on these post-mortem trials, has remarked that the bones of a traitor could neither plead defences, nor cross-question witnesses. But in the dawn of the seventeenth century they could turn the sympathy of the court against the charge, as it appears they did in Logan’s case. The proofs, however, looked overwhelming, and the forfeiture was carried without a dissenting voice from the bench—from the bench, because it was, as all Scots treason-trials then were, a trial by judges only, not by judge and jury. Logan’s memory was declared extinct and abolished, and his possessions forfeited. The judgment, however, wreaked no vengeance on the exhumed remains. Humanity was asserting itself even in the trial of the dead, and that institution itself was doomed. Although in disuse ever after, it did not disappear from the theory of law until 1708, when the act 7 Anne, chapter 21, prescribing jury-trial for treason, assimilated the Scots law on the subject to that of England, and thus brought to an unregretted end one of the most gruesome of legal traditions.
By England Howlett.
PRACTICALLY all the landed property in England is, by the policy of our laws, supposed to be granted by, dependent upon, and holden of some superior lord, in consideration of certain services to be rendered to such lord by the possessor of this property, and the terms or manner of their possession is therefore called a tenure. Thus all the land in the kingdom is supposed to be held, mediately or immediately, of the sovereign who is consequently styled the lord or lady paramount.
All tenures being thus derived, or supposed to be derived, from the sovereign, those who held directly under such sovereign, and in right of the crown and dignity, were called tenants in capite, or in chief, which was the most honourable species of tenure, although at the same time it subjected the tenants to far greater and more burthensome services than the inferior tenures did, and this distinction ran through all the different sorts of tenure. William I., and other feudal sovereigns, although they made large and numerous grants of land, always reserved a rent or certain annual payments, which were collected by the sheriffs of the counties in which the lands lay, to show that they still retained the dominium directum in themselves.
With our ancestors the most honourable and highly esteemed species of tenure was that by knight service, and this was purely and entirely a military tenure, being, in fact, the result of the feudal establishment in England. Now to make a tenure by knight service, a determinate quantity of land was necessary, which was called a knight’s fee, feodum militare; the measure of which in 3 Edward I., was estimated at twelve ploughlands, and its value (although it varied with the times) in the reigns of Edward I. and Edward II. was stated at £20 per annum. The knight who held this proportion of land was bound to attend his lord to the wars for forty days in every year, if called upon so to do, which attendance was his rent or service for the land he claimed to hold. If, however, he held only half a knight’s fee, he was only bound to attend his lord twenty days, and so on in proportion. This tenure of knight service drew with it several consequences as inseparably incident to the tenure in chivalry, and one of the most profitable, and, at the same time, arbitrary of these was marriage. This incident called marriage was the right which the lord possessed of disposing of his infant wards in matrimony, at their peril of forfeiting to him, in case of their refusing a suitable match, a sum of money equal to the value of the marriage; that is, what the suitor was willing to pay down to the lord as the price of marrying his ward; and double the market value was to be forfeited, if the ward presumed to marry without the consent of the lord.
The personal attendance rendered necessary by knight service growing troublesome and inconvenient in many respects, the tenants found means of compounding for it; first, by sending others in their stead, and then in process of time making a pecuniary satisfaction to the lord in lieu of it. This pecuniary satisfaction at last came to be levied by assessments at so much for every knight’s fee; the first time this appears to have been done was in 5 Henry II., on account of his expedition to Toulouse; but it soon became so universal that personal attendance fell quite into disuse. From this period we find, from our ancient histories, that when the kings went to war, they levied scutages on their tenants, that is, on all the landowners of the Kingdom, to defray their expenses, and to pay for the hire of troops.
These assessments, in the time of Henry II., seem to have been made in a most arbitrary manner, and entirely at the king’s will and pleasure. The prerogative became, indeed, abused to such an extent, that at last it became a matter of national clamour, and King John was obliged to consent by his Magna Carta, that no scutage should be imposed without the consent of Parliament. But this clause was omitted in the Charter of Henry III., where we only find that scutages, or escuage, should be taken as they were used to be taken in the time of Henry II.; that is, in a reasonable and moderate manner. Yet afterwards, by statute 25 Edward I., and many subsequent statutes, it was again provided, that the king should take no aids or tasks but by the common assent of the realm; hence it was held that scutage, or escuage, could not be levied except with the consent of Parliament; such scutages being indeed the groundwork of all succeeding subsidies, and the land tax of later times.
It will easily be seen that with the degenerating of knight service, or personal military duty into a pecuniary assessment, all the advantages were destroyed, and nothing in fact remained but the hardships. Instead of having a national militia, composed of barons, knights, and gentlemen, bound by their interests and their honour to defend the king and country, the whole system of military tenures tended to nothing else but a wretched means of raising money to pay an army of occasional mercenaries. At length the military tenures, with all their heavy appendages were destroyed at one blow by statute, 12 Charles II., C. 24, which enacts “that the courts of wards and liveries, and all wardships, liveries, primer seisins, and ousterlemains, values and forfeitures of marriage, by reason of any tenure of the king or others, be totally taken away. And that all fines for alienation, tenures by homage, knight service, and escuage, and also aids for marrying the daughter, or knighting the son, and all tenures of the king in capite, be likewise taken away. And that all sorts of tenures, held of the king or others, be turned into free and common socage; save only tenures in frank almoign, copyholds, and the honorary services of grand serjeanty.”
Another ancient tenure was that by Grand Serjeanty, whereby the tenant was bound, instead of serving the king generally in the wars, to do some special honorary service for the king in person; as to carry his banner, his sword, or the like; or to be his butler, champion, or other officer at his coronation. Tenure by cornage was a species of grand serjeanty, being a grant of land upon condition that the tenant was to wind a horn when the Scots or other enemies entered the land, in order to warn the king’s subjects.
The tenure of petit serjeanty bears a great resemblance to the tenure of grand serjeanty; for as the one is a personal service, so the other is a rent or render, both tending to some purpose relative to the king’s person. Petit serjeanty as defined by Littleton, consists in holding lands of the king, by service of rendering to him annually some small implement of war, as a bow, a sword, a lance, an arrow, or the like. This, of course, is but socage in effect, for it is no personal service, but a certain rent. The tenure by which the grants to the Duke of Marlborough and the Duke of Wellington, for their great military services to the country, are held, are of this kind, each rendering a small flag or ensign annually, which is deposited in Windsor Castle. Bury House (New Forest), the property of Sir Charles Mill, Bart., is held by the tenure of presenting the king whenever he enters the New Forest with a brace of milk-white greyhounds. A breed of these dogs is preserved by the family in readiness. King George III. received dogs in recognition of this tenure in 1789, and the incident is the subject of one of Lawrence’s pictures.
In Beckwith’s edition of Blount’s “Fragmenta Antiquitatis,” the following tenure is inserted from the “Black Book of Hereford.”—“The tenants at Hampton Bishop, in the county of Hereford, were to get yearly six horse loads of rods or wattels, in the Hay Wood, near Hereford, and bring them to Hereford to make booths (or hurdles to pen sheep in) at the fair when they should be required; and for every load of the said rods they were to be allowed a halfpenny at the fairs.”
This tenure would appear to relate to one particular fair only, and not to all the fairs formerly held at Hereford. The particular fair is supposed to have been the one beginning on May 19th, and commonly called the nine-days’ fair, from the circumstance of its continuing for that length of time. From time immemorial this fair was proclaimed, with certain formalities, by the Bishop of Hereford’s bailiff, or his deputy, the tolls of the fair belonging to one or both of these officers. During the continuance of the fair, the Bishop’s bailiff superseded the Mayor of Hereford as acting magistrate, the fair being held in a street opposite the Bishop’s palace.
Brienston, in Dorsetshire, was held in grand serjeanty by a curious jocular tenure, viz.:—by finding a man to go before the king’s army for forty days when he should make war in Scotland (some records say in Wales) bareheaded and bare-footed, in his shirt, and linen drawers, holding in one hand a bow, and in the other an arrow without feathers.
The Dukes of Athol hold the Blair Athol estate by the tenure of presenting a white rose to the sovereign whenever he visits them there.
Land was frequently held by the tenure of protecting the church property in times of war. Scott tells us how the Bishop of Durham gave lands to the Danish Count, Witikind, to be held by this tenure. The story is not true, but the tenure is;
Broad lands he gave him on Tyne and Wear,
To be held of the Church by bridle and spear;
Part of Monkwearmouth, of Tynedale part,
To better his will and soften his heart.
Harold the Dauntless.
Canto i., IV.
The tenure of ancient demesne exists in those manors, and in those only, which belonged to the crown in the reigns of Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror, and in Domesday Book are called Terrœ Regis Edwardi. The tenants are freeholders and possessed certain privileges, the chief of which was a right to sue and be sued only in their lord’s court.
Another kind of ancient tenure, still subsisting, is the tenure of frankalmoign, or free alms, and this is the tenure by which the lands of the church are for the most part held. This tenure is expressly excepted from the statute, 12 Charles II., by which the other ancient tenures were destroyed. It has no peculiar incidents, the tenants not being bound even to do fealty to the lords, because, as Littleton says, the prayers and other divine services of the tenants are better for the lords than any doing of fealty. As the church is a body having perpetual existence, there is, moreover, no chance of any escheat. By this tenure almost all the monasteries and religious houses held their lands. It was an old Saxon tenure; and continued under the Norman revolution, through the great respect that was shewn to religion and religious men in ancient times. This too, no doubt, is the reason that tenants in frankalmoign were discharged from all other services except the repairing of highways, building castles, and repelling invasions; just in fact as the Druids, among the Ancient Britons, had similar privileges. The tenure being purely spiritual, the lord had no remedy for neglect by distress or otherwise, but merely a complaint to the ordinary to correct it.
One of the most interesting tenures is that of Borough English. There are a great number of manors throughout the country in which this tenure prevails; they are not however confined to one county or one district. Borough English is the right of succession of the youngest son, instead of the eldest, to real estate in case of intestacy, but the custom is not always the same; it differs in different manors. In some it is confined to the sons only, and if there should be no son the estate is shared equally amongst all the daughters. In other manors, principally Sussex, the youngest daughter inherits. Again, there are cases to be found where if there be no children, the youngest brother inherits, and in others it goes according to the rules of the common law. There are, moreover, places in which the copyhold land only is Borough English, while the freehold is held by the ordinary tenure, and in others the freehold and copyhold alike follow the Borough English custom.
The area over which this Borough English tenure prevails is an exceedingly wide one. It is found in nearly every part of Europe, except perhaps Italy and Spain—in Germany, Hungary, the Ural mountains, and in Asia as far as the borders of China. Many attempts have been made to explain the custom. Littleton suggests that the youngest son, by reason of his tender age, is not so capable as the rest of his brethren to help himself. It is possible the origin may have come to us from the Tartars, amongst whom this custom of descent to the youngest son also prevails. That nation is composed almost entirely of shepherds and herdsmen, and the elder sons, as soon as they are capable of leading a pastoral life, migrate from their father with a certain allotment of cattle, and go to seek a new habitation. And thus we find that, among many other northern nations, it was the custom for all the sons, but one, to migrate from the father, which one became his heir.
The tenure of Gavelkind prevails principally in the County of Kent. It is universally known what struggles the Kentish men made to preserve their ancient liberties, and with how much success those struggles were attended. It seems fair therefore, to conclude that this custom was a part of those liberties, agreeably to the general opinion, that Gavelkind, before the Norman Conquest, was the general custom of the realm. The distinguishing properties of this tenure are various; some of the principal are these: 1. The tenant is of age sufficient to alienate his estate by feoffment at the age of fifteen. 2. There never was any escheat in case of an attainder and execution for felony; their maxim being “the father to the bough, the son to the plough.” 3. In most places, the tenant had the power of devising his lands by will, before the statute for that purpose was made. 4. The lands descend not to the eldest, youngest, or any one son only, but to all the sons together. This last incident is, of course, the most important affecting the tenure, and not only this, but also the most interesting, in that, like Borough English, it prevails to the present day. True it is that certain lands in Kent, once Gavelkind, have been made descendable according to the rules of the common law, by special statutes; however, these statutes only affect a very small portion of the county.
Gavelkind and Borough English, being customs already acknowledged by the law, need not be specially pleaded; it is sufficient to show that the lands are affected and regulated by the same; but all other private customs must be pleaded.
The ancient Barons of Buccleuch, both from feudal splendour and from their frontier situation, retained in their household at Branksome a number of gentlemen of their own name, who held lands from their chief for the military service of watching and guarding his castle.
Nine and twenty knights of fame
Hung their shields in Branksome Hall
Nine and twenty squires of name
Brought them their steeds from bower to stall.
Nine and twenty yeomen tall
Waited duteous on them all.
They were all knights of metal true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.
“Lay of the Last Minstrel.”—Scott.
Canto i., III.
By Sidney W. Clarke.
THAT the world has become more merciful as it has grown older, is a truism at once apparent to anyone who gives even a cursory glance at any of the numerous works dealing with the criminal laws of the olden time. Still the approach to the most excellent quality has been regretably and painfully slow, and it is surely a stain on the boasted enlightenment of the nineteenth century, that the century had run through nearly three-fourths of its existence before the terrible and vindictive punishment of drawing and quartering disappeared from our statute book. In most States the early laws have been of a blood-thirsty and fear-inspiring nature, but what excuse can be urged for the fact that until the fourth day of July, in the year of Grace 1870, the punishment ordained by law for the crime of high treason, was that the unfortunate offender should be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck till he be dead; that his head be severed from his body; that his body be divided into four quarters; and that his head and quarters be at the disposal of the Crown. In Blackstone’s time the sentence was still more savage, or, as the great Commentator puts it, “very solemn and terrible.” It was that the offender be drawn to the gallows, and not be carried or walk; “though usually,” says Blackstone, “by connivance, at length ripened by humanity into law, a sledge or hurdle was allowed to preserve the offender from the extreme torment of being dragged on the ground or pavement;” that he be hanged by the neck and then cut down alive; that his entrails be taken out, and burned before his eyes, while he was still alive; that his head be cut off, his body be divided into four parts, and his head and quarters be at the King’s disposal. What our tender-hearted monarchs did with the quivering pieces of flesh let the stones of Temple Bar, the City Gates, and the Tower bear witness. Here are a couple of extracts from that perennial fountain of information, the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Under date of October 13th, 1660, he writes, “I went out to Charing Cross to see Major-General Harrison,” one of the regicides, “hanged, drawn, and quartered, which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.” Note the grim humour of the words in italics. “He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy.” Again, on October 20th, in the same year:—“This afternoon going through London and calling at Crowe’s, the upholsterer’s, in St. Bartholomew’s, I saw the limbs of some of our new traytors set upon Aldersgate, which was a sad sight to see; and a bloody week this and the last have been, there being ten hanged, drawn, and quartered.”
It will be observed that the masculine gender is used in the foregoing sentences for high treason; for, if the offender was a woman, the law with a delicacy (!) one would hardly have expected, recognised that “the decency due to the sex forbids the exposing and publicly mutilating their bodies;” so a woman was simply to be drawn to the gallows, and there burned alive. And these punishments for treason Sir Edward Coke attempted to justify on Scriptural grounds, adding “it is punishment undoubtedly just, for our liege lord the King is lord of every one of our members, and they have severally conspired against him, and should each one suffer.” Evidently justice has not always spelt humanity.
Another of the horrible punishments decreed by English law was that of boiling to death, which in the reign of Henry VIII. was inflicted for poisoning, and recalls the most cruel tortures of China and the Orient, where slicing to death and impalement alive are or were common forms of punishment. The awful fate of being boiled alive was specially devised for the benefit of John Roose, a cook, who had been convicted of throwing poison into a pot of broth intended for the family of the Bishop of Rochester and for the poor of the Parish; in 1542, Margaret Davey suffered the same lingering death at Smithfield. So fearful were our ancestors of poison, that in Scotland, in 1601, Thomas Bellie, a burgess of Brechin, and his son were banished for life by the High Court of Justiciary, for the heinous offence of poisoning a couple of troublesome hens belonging to a neighbour. Even the laws of Draco, said on account of their severity to have been written not in ink but in blood, can scarcely compete with these examples of British barbarity. Among the Romans strangulation, precipitation from a rocky height (a mode of carrying out the death sentence still found amongst savage tribes), and lashing to death were forms of punishment. Soldiers guilty of military offences had to run the gauntlet. Upon a given signal all the soldiers of the legion to which the offender belonged fell upon him with sticks and stones, and generally killed him on the spot. If, however, he succeeded in making his escape, he was thenceforth an exile from his native country. Offending slaves were first scourged and then crucified. They were compelled to carry the cross to the place of execution, and after being suspended were left to perish by slow degrees. Crucifixion was abolished throughout the Roman Empire by Constantine, out of reverence to the sacred symbol. Other cruel punishments were burning alive, exposure to wild animals, and condemnation to fight as gladiators in the arena for the amusement of the citizens. The second of these modes of death, for death was the invariable result, was the one usually meted out to the early Christians—“If the Tiber overflows its banks; if there be a famine or plague; if there be a cold, a dry, or a scorching season; if any public calamity overtakes us; the universal cry of the people is—“To the lion with the Christians Christiani ad leonem!”
Parricide was punished in a strange manner. The criminal, after being scourged, was tied or sewed up in a leather bag, with a dog, a cock, a viper, and an ape to keep him company, and so cast into the sea. The Egyptians punished the same offence by sticking the prisoner all over with pointed reeds, and then throwing him upon a fire of burning thorns, where he lay till he was consumed.
With most nations the Lex talionis, or punishment of retaliation—an eye for an eye, a limb for a limb—has found a place in the penal system. It was not, indeed, always carried out to its logical conclusion, but rather became the subject of many subtle distinctions. Among the Athenians, Solon decreed that whoever put out the eye of a one-eyed person should for so doing lose both his own. But what, it was asked, should be done where a one-eyed man happened to put out one of his neighbour’s eyes? Should he lose his only eye by way of retaliation? If so, he would then be quite blind, and would so suffer a greater injury than he had caused. The law of the Jews and Egyptians compelled anyone, who without lawful excuse was found with a deadly poison in his possession, to himself swallow the poison. An instance of a kind of lex talionis in our own country is found in the reign of Edward I., when incendiaries were burnt to death. Another example is that, from the reign of Henry VIII. to that of George IV., to strike a blow and draw blood within the precincts of the King’s palace, entailed on the offender the loss of his right hand. Here are some of the regulations prescribed by the statute 33 Henry VIII., chapter 12, for the infliction of the punishment:—
“viii. And for the further declaration of the solemn and due circumstance of the execution appertaining and of long time used and accustomed, to and for such malicious strikings, by reason whereof blood is, hath been, or hereafter shall be shed against the King’s peace. It is therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the Sergeant or Chief Surgeon for the time being, or his deputy of the King’s household, his heirs and successors, shall be ready at the time and place of execution, as shall be appointed as is aforesaid, to sear the stump when the hand is stricken off.
“ix. And the Sergeant of the Pantry shall be also then and there ready to give bread to the party that shall have his hand so stricken off.
“x. And the Sergeant of the Cellar shall also be then and there ready with a pot of red wine to give the same party drink after his hand is so stricken off and the stump seared.
“xi. And the Sergeant of the Ewry shall also be then and there ready with cloths sufficient for the Surgeon to occupy about the same execution.
“xii. And the Yeoman of the Chandry shall also be then and there, and have in readiness seared cloths sufficient for the Surgeon to occupy about the same execution.
“xiii. And the Master Cook shall be also then and there ready, and shall bring with him a dressing-knife, and shall deliver the same knife at the place of execution to the Sergeant of the Larder, who shall be also then and there ready, and hold upright the dressing-knife till execution be done.
“xiv. And the Sergeant of the Poultry shall be also then and there ready with a cock in his hand, ready for the Surgeon to wrap about the same stump, when the hand shall be so stricken off.
“xv. And the Yeoman of the Scullery to be also then and there ready, and prepare and make at the place of execution a fire of coals, and there to make ready searing-irons against the said Surgeon or his deputy shall occupy the same.
“xvi. And the Sergeant or Chief Ferror shall be also then and there ready, and bring with him the searing-irons, and deliver the same to the same Sergeant or Chief Surgeon or to his deputy when they be hot.
“xvii. And the Groom of the Salcery shall be also then and there ready with vinegar and cold water, and give attendance upon the said Surgeon or his deputy until the same execution be done. “xviii. And the Sergeant of the Woodyard shall bring to the said place of execution a block, with a betil, a staple, and cords to bind the said hand upon the block while execution is in doing.”
In addition to losing his hand, the unfortunate offender was imprisoned for life. It was not until 1829 that this punishment was abolished, after having been in existence for a period of 287 years.
A curious mode of punishment, intended to make its victim the object of popular ridicule, was in vogue in the ancient German Empire, where persons who endeavoured to create tumults and to disturb the public tranquility were condemned to carry a dog upon their shoulders from one large town to another.
The penal laws of France were every wit as inhuman as our own—burning alive, breaking on the wheel, hanging, beheading, and quartering were common forms of punishment. Awful atrocities were committed on living victims, such as tearing off the flesh with red-hot pincers, pouring molten lead and brimstone into the wounds, and cutting out the tongue. The following is the sentence passed upon Ravaillac, the assassin of Henry IV., in 1610:—He was first to be privily tortured and then carried to the place of execution. There the flesh was to be torn with red-hot pincers from his breasts, his arms and thighs, and the calves of his legs; his right hand, holding the knife wherewith he committed his crime, was to be scorched and burned with flaming brimstone; on the places where the flesh had been torn off a mixture of melted lead, boiling oil, scalding pitch, wax, and brimstone was to be poured; after this he was to be torn in pieces by four horses, and his limbs and body burned to ashes and dispersed in the air. His goods and chattels were confiscated; the house in which he was born was pulled down; his father and mother were banished, and his other relatives commanded to change the name of Ravaillac for some other. This sentence was not, surely, a vindication of outraged justice, but rather a purile and barbarous legal revenge.
To return to the laws of our own country. Mutilation of one sort or another was long a favourite mode of punishment; pulling out the tongue for slander, cutting off the nose for adultery, emasculation for counterfeiting money, and so on. In Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” there is an account of a miracle which was worked on the person of a mutilated criminal. A Bedfordshire man was convicted of theft, and for his crime his eyes were pulled out and other abominable mutilations were inflicted on him. The sufferer repaired to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury, where after devout and steadfast prayer the parts he had lost were, so we are told, miraculously restored. Anyone who fought with weapons in a church had an ear cut off, or if he had already lost both his ears was branded in the cheek with the letter F.
By an Act passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the punishment for forgery was that the offender should stand in the pillory and have his ears cut off by the common hangman, his nostrils slit up and seared, and then suffer imprisonment for life. In 1731 Joseph Cook, aged 70 years, underwent this punishment, the mutilation taking place while he stood in the pillory at Charing Cross.
The Coventry Act (22-23 Charles II., chapter 1.) was passed in consequence of Sir John Coventry having been assaulted in the street and his nose slit, out of revenge as was supposed. It enacted that if any person should of malice, aforethought, and by lying in wait, cut out or disable the tongue, put out an eye, slit the nose, or cut off or disable any limb or member of any other person, with intent to maim or to disfigure him, such person, his councillors, aiders, and abettors, should be guilty of felony without benefit of clergy, which implied the punishment of death. This Act was not repealed until 1828, and resulted in at least one curious case. In 1772, one Coke and a labourer named Woodburn were indicted under the Act—Coke for hiring and abetting Woodburn, and Woodburn for the actual offence of slitting the nose of one Crispe, who was Coke’s brother-in-law. The intention of the accused was to murder Crispe, and they left him for dead, having terribly hacked and disfigured him with a hedge-bill, but he recovered. An attempt to murder was not then a felony, but under the Coventry Act to disfigure with an intent to disfigure was; and the accused were indicted for the latter offence. Coke, in the course of his defence, raised the point that the attack on Crispe was made with intent to murder him and not with intent to disfigure, therefore, he contended, the offence was not within the statute under which he was indicted. But the court held that if a man attacked another intending to murder him, with such an instrument as a hedge-bill, which could not but endanger a disfiguring of the victim, and in such attack happened not to kill but only to disfigure, he might be indicted for disfiguring. The jury found the prisoners guilty, and they were condemned and duly executed.
The laws for the protection of trade decreed many cruel punishments. Thus, in the reign of Elizabeth, an Act passed for the encouragement of the woollen industry prescribed that the penalty for taking live sheep out of the country should be forfeiture of goods, imprisonment for a year, and that at the end of the year the left hand of the prisoner should be cut off in a public market, and be there nailed up in the most public place. A second offence was punishable with death. By statute 21 James I. chapter 19, anyone unfortunate enough to become a bankrupt was nailed by one ear to the pillory for two hours, and then had the ear cut off. Under the Romans a bankrupt was treated still more unmercifully, for at the option of his creditors he was either cut to pieces or sold to foreigners beyond the Tiber.
A longstanding disgrace to the intelligence and humanity of our countrymen was the fact that in former times burning alive was the inevitable fate of poor wretches convicted of witchcraft, the penal laws against which were not repeated until 1736.
So late as 1712, five so called witches were hung at Northampton, and in 1716 Mrs. Hicks, and her daughter, aged nine, were condemned to death at Huntingdon for selling their souls to the devil. Even children of tender years were not spared, but with their elders alike fell victims to our law’s barbarity; there are many recorded instances of children under ten years of age being executed. In Scotland the last execution for witchcraft took place in 1722.
Space will not permit any attempt to run through the whole gamut of legal iniquities; at most we can only attempt a very incomplete catalogue of the inhumanities at one time or another incident to our penal codes, and with a final horror we must bring this article to an end. The punishment with which we are now about to deal, that of pressing to death, peine forte et dure as it was called, is perhaps the most noteable example of the former barbarity of our law, since it was inflicted before trial on innocent and guilty alike, who refused to plead “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” to an indictment for felony. What this punishment was, which was first instituted in 1406, can best be told by giving the form of the judgment of the court against the person who refused to plead:—That the prisoner shall be remanded to the place from whence he came, and put in some low, dark room, and that he shall lie without any litter or other thing under him, and without any manner of covering; that one arm shall be drawn to one quarter of the room with a cord and the other to another, and that his feet shall be used in the same manner; and that as many weights shall be laid upon him as he can bear, and more; that he shall have three morsels of barley bread a day, and that he shall have the water next the prison, so that it be not current; and that he shall not eat the same day on which he drinks, nor drink the same day on which he eats; and that he shall continue so till he die or answer.
Peine forte et dure was not abolished till 1772, and was frequently undergone by accused persons in order to preserve their estates from being forfeited to the Crown, which would have been the case if they had stood their trial and been found guilty. The year 1741 is probably the last date on which the punishment was inflicted. In 1721, two men, Thomas Cross and Thomas Spigot, were ordered to be pressed to death at the Old Bailey. Cross gave in on seeing the preparations made for his torture, but Spigot was made of sterner stuff. In the “Annals of Newgate” is a description of his sufferings:—“The chaplain found him lying in the vault upon the bare ground with 350 pounds weight upon his breast, and then prayed by him, and at several times asked him why he would hazard his soul by such obstinate kind of self-murder. But all the answer that he made was—‘Pray for me, pray for me!’ He sometimes lay silent under the pressure, as if insensible to pain, and then again would fetch his breath very quick and short. Several times he complained that they had laid a cruel weight upon his face, though it was covered with nothing but a thin cloth, which was afterwards removed and laid more light and hollow; yet he still complained of the prodigious weight upon his face, which might be caused by the blood being forced up thither, and pressing the veins as violently as if the force had been externally upon his face. When he had remained for half-an-hour under this load, and 50 pounds weight more laid on, being in all 400 pounds, he told those who attended him he would plead. The weights were at once taken off, the cords cut asunder; he was raised by two men, some brandy was put into his mouth to revive him, and he was carried to take his trial.” In 1735, a man, who pretended to be dumb at the Sussex Assizes, was sent to Horsham Gaol to be pressed to death unless he would plead. He endured in agony a weight of 350 pounds, and then the executioner, who weighed over 16 stones, laid himself upon the board upon which the weights were placed, and killed the wretched man instantly.
Devices of the Sixteenth Century Debtors.
By James C. Macdonald, f.s.a., Scot.
IN the year 1531, a certain John Scott, residenter in the good town of Edinburgh, was financially in a condition of chronic decrepitude. His household goods were rapidly going to the hammer, and one creditor, bolder than his fellows, decided to attack the impecunious personality of the common debtor. Writs from court and messengers of the law were severally set in motion; and on the earliest possible day one of those myrmidons served upon the debtor personally, a writ bearing the terrible title of “Letters of IV Forms.” The “coinless” John was therein warned that if he failed forthwith to pay or satisfy the lawful debt, for which decreet has gone out, he would (unless he went to prison in a peaceful way) be declared a rebel against the King’s Majesty.
Now John reasoned with himself that payment he could not make; outlawry he rather feared; and squalor carceris he could not endure. What was to be done? He had heard of the horns of the Hebrew altars: how that personal safety resulted from any manual attachment thereto. Was there some such boon in bonny Scotland? There was Holyrood, with its sanctified abbey. It was near; any port in such a storm. Down the Canongate, and straight to the sanctuary he ran—all to the manifest loss, injury, and damage of his creditors who followed, having got wind of this unique hegira from the red-nosed city guard. In vain the creditors pleaded; equally in vain were their threats. The canny Scot was warranted safe and skaithless against “all mortal.”
Annoyed at his debtor’s immunity from arrest, chagrined that any money John possessed had now been further dissipated in the Abbey admission dues to its protection giving portals—each creditor turned sadly to his “buiks of Compts” and superscribed over against John Scott’s name the expressive legend “bad debt.” And this John Scott became the forerunner, de facto, of a long line of “distressed” persons. Nay more, he secured an immortality as lasting as that of the sovereign whose solemnly sounding “Letters of IV Forms,” he spurned and left unanswered.
A generation later, and another new way of paying old debts is placed on record. To balance international honours it is of Anglican origin. Scoggan, the jester of the Elizabethan court, falls into financial distress. He borrows £500 from the Queen—mirabile dictu. Only a fool would have tried such a thing. It was put down as a “short loan,” but it soon became clear to the royal lender that its longevity would outlast her reign. To all demands the clownish borrower smilingly cried “long live the queen,” until at last his existence as court fool was in danger of being ended. But he would rather die than be evicted; and die he did. He became, theatrically speaking, defunct.
The late Scoggan was accordingly borne, to solemn music, past the royal garden; and the queen, seeing the mournful show—and knowing nought of its hollowness—asked whose it was. “Scoggan, Your Majesty,” was the reply. “Poor fellow,” she exclaimed, “the £500 he owed me I now freely forgive.” Whereupon the “defunct” sat up and declared that the royal generosity had given him a new lease of life.
“Thou rogue,” said the queen, “thou art more rogue than fool. Thou hast improved upon the plan of that John Scott, who, in the reign of my late cousin of Scotland, as Sir James Melvil tells me, got rid of the oldest debt and the longest loan.”
Laws Relating to the Gipsies.
By William E. A. Axon, f.r.s.l.
EARLY in the fifteenth century the gipsies made their appearance in Europe, and as strangers were not favourably regarded in those days the advent of these dark-skinned people, speaking a language of their own, dressing in a picturesque, but uncommon costume, and having their own rulers, and their own code of morals, and owning no allegiance to the laws of the land in which they sojourned, naturally attracted attention. At first some credence was given to their high-sounding pretensions, and the dukes, counts, and lords of Lesser Egypt received safe conducts and protection under the idea that they were engaged in religious pilgrimages. But the seal of the Emperor Sigismund would not protect them when the term of their pretended pilgrimage had expired, nor would the manners and customs of the gipsies substantiate any special claim to sanctity or religious fervour. Even the ages when the divorce was most marked between religion and morals would be staggered by the thefts, and worse outrages that were laid to their charge. Sigismund’s safe conducts are said to have been given not as Emperor, but as King of Hungary, and some of the gipsies were early employed as ironworkers in the realm of St. Stephen. In 1496 King Ladislaus gave a charter of protection to Thomas Polgar and his twenty five tents of gipsies because they had made musket bullets and other military stores for Bishop Sigismund at Fünfkirchen, but whatever consideration may have been shewn to them in the beginning, they speedily became objects of suspicion and dislike. There is not a country in Europe which has not legislated against them or endeavoured to exile them by administrative acts. Their expulsion from Spain was decreed in 1492, from France in 1562, and from various Italian states about the same time. Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands have also pronounced against them. The Diet of Augsburg in 1500, ordered their expulsion from Germany on the ground that they were spies of Turkey seeking to betray the Christians. This edict, though several times repeated, was non-effective.
In Hungary and Transylvania the authorities, hopeless of getting rid of the troublesome immigrants, took strong measures to bring them into line with the rest of the population. They were prohibited from using the Romany tongue, from retaining their gipsy surnames, from wandering about the country, from eating carrion, and from dealing in horses. Those fit for military service were to be taken into the army, and the rest were to live and dress and deport themselves in the same manner as the peasantry of the country. These regulations were not wholly effective, but the result of the efforts put forward by Maria Theresa, and her successors may be seen in the sedentary gipsies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At times they have been subjected to fierce persecution. In 1782, a dreadful accusation was brought against the Hungarian Romanis, when more than a hundred of them were accused of murder and cannibalism. The gang were said to have lived by highway robbery and murder, and to have cooked and eaten the bodies of their victims. At Frauenmark four women were beheaded, six men were hanged, two were broken on the wheel, and one was quartered alive. Altogether forty-five were executed and many more were imprisoned.
How much of this was suspicion substantiated by torture?
The gipsies came frequently in contact with the myrmidons of the law. “As soon as the officer seizes or forces away the culprit,” says Grellmann, “he is surrounded by a swarm of his comrades who take unspeakable pains to procure the release of the prisoner…. When it comes to the infliction of punishment, and the malefactor receives a good number of lashes well laid on, in the public market place, a universal lamentation commences among the vile crew; each stretches his throat to cry over the agony his dear associate is constrained to suffer. This is oftener the fate of the women than of the men; for as the maintenance of the family depends most upon them, they more frequently go out for plunder.” It is a noteworthy fact that Grellmann writing in 1783, has not a word of condemnation of the barbarous practice of flogging women.
In England as elsewhere the earliest of these romantic people were welcomed. In 1519, the Earl of Surrey entertained “Gypsions” at Tendring Hall, Suffolk, and gave them a safe-conduct. Still earlier in 1505, Anthony Gaginus, Earl of Little Egypt, had a letter of recommendation from James IV. of Scotland to the King of Denmark. James V. bestowed a charter upon James Faa, Lord and Earl of Little Egypt, by which he was privileged to execute justice upon his followers, much in the same way as the great barons were authorised to deal with their vassals. But they soon fell out of favour. In England, in the twenty-second year of Henry VIII. an act of parliament was passed which sets forth that there are certain outlandish people, who not profess any craft, or trade, whereby to maintain themselves, but go about in great numbers from place to place, using craft and subtlety to impose on people, making them believe that they understood the art of foretelling to men and women their good or ill fortune, by palmistry, whereby they frequently defraud people of their money, likewise are guilty of thefts and highway robberies; it is ordered that the said vagrants, commonly called Egyptians, in case they remain sixteen days in the kingdom, shall forfeit their goods and chattels to the king and be further liable to imprisonment. In 1537, Cromwell writes to the Lord President of the Marches of Wales, that the “Gipcyans” had promised to leave the kingdom in return for a general pardon for their previous offences, and exhorts the authorities to see that their deportation is effected. Many were sent to Norway, but the effort to extirpate them from the kingdom entirely failed. By an act of 1554, a penalty of £40 was to be inflicted upon any one knowingly importing them. Those gipsies, following “their old accustomed devlishe and noughty practises,” were to be treated as felons, but exception was made in favour of such as placed themselves in the service of some “honest and able inhabitant.” Many were executed, but the remnant survived and managed to hold a yearly meeting at the Peak Cavern or Kelbrook, near Blackheath. Still sterner was the law passed in 1562-3, which made it felony for any one born within the kingdom to join the fellowship of vagabonds calling themselves Egyptians. The previous acts had referred to the gipsies as an outlandish people, but now the native born were brought equally within the meshes of this sanguinary law. “Throughout the reign of Elizabeth,” as Borrow remarks, “there was a terrible persecution of the gipsy race; far less, however, on account of the crimes which were actually committed, than from a suspicion which was entertained that they harboured amidst their companies priests and emissaries of Rome.” The harrying of the missionary priests was in part dictated by the spirit of religious persecution, but in a still greater degree by the conviction that they were political emissaries, aiming at the subversion of the kingdom. The priests on the English mission had often to disguise themselves, and at times may have assumed the garb of wandering beggars, but they are not likely to have consorted with the Romans, whose language would be strange to them, and whose heathenish indifference to all dogmas, rites, and ceremonies, would be specially distasteful to zealous Catholics.
After “the spacious times” of great Elizabeth, the gipsies had a rest from special oppression, though they were of course still in jeopardy from the harsh laws as to vagrancy and those minor crimes, that are their characteristic failings. Romany girls were flogged for filching and fortune-telling, and Romany men were hanged for horse-stealing. They were looked upon with suspicion, and it was easy enough to raise prejudice against them. This was shewn in the notorious case of Elizabeth Canning. She was a girl of eighteen, employed as a domestic servant at Aldermanbury, and in 1753, disappeared for four weeks. On her return she asserted that she had been abducted and detained in a loft by gipsies, who gave her only bread and water to eat. Their aim she declared was to induce her to adopt an immoral life. Mrs. Wells, Mary Squires, George Squires, Virtue Hall, Fortune and Judith Natus, were arrested, and Wells and Squires were committed for trial. The proceedings, partly before Henry Fielding the novelist, were conducted with a laxity that seems now to be almost inconceivable. At the Old Bailey trial there was a remarkable conflict of evidence, but in the end Mrs. Wells was condemned to be burned in the hand, and Mary Squires to be hanged. Sir Christopher Gascoyne then Lord Mayor, was satisfied that there had been a miscarriage of justice and made enquiries, a respite was obtained and finally the law officers of the crown recommended the grant of a free pardon to Squires. The natural sequel was the prosecution of Canning for perjury. Fortune and Judith Natus now swore that they had slept each night in the loft where Canning declared she had been imprisoned, but it was very natural that people should ask why they had not given this important evidence at the previous trial. Mary Squires’ alibi was sworn to by thirty-eight witnesses who had seen her in Dorsetshire, and was, to some extent, invalidated by twenty-seven who swore that she was in Middlesex at the time. As she was too remarkable for her ugliness to be easily mistaken, there must have been some very “hard swearing.” Canning was convicted of perjury and transported, but the secret of her absence from New Year’s Day, 1553, until the 29th of January was never divulged. The case excited great interest, and the controversy divided the whole of the busy, idle “town,” into “Canningites” and “Gipsyites.”
The Tudor law (22 Henry VIII., c. 10) was repealed as “of excessive severity” in 1783 (23 George III., c. 51). The later legislation provides that persons wandering in the habit and form of Egyptians, and pretending to palmistry and fortune-telling, are to be deemed rogues and vagabonds (17 Geo. II., c. 5., 3 Geo. IV., c. xl.), and is liable to three months’ imprisonment (5 Geo. IV., c. lxxxiii.), and encamping on a turnpike road involved a penalty of forty shillings (3 Geo. IV., c. cxxvi., 5 and 6 William IV., c. 50). Some of the older enactments remained on the statute book, though not enforced, until the passing of the statute law Revision Act of 1863, by which many obsolete parliamentary enactments were swept away.
By the famous Poynings Act, English laws were declared applicable to Ireland. The gipsies were never common in the Isle of Saints, but by a special act they were, in 1634, declared to be rogues and vagabonds (10 and 11 Car. I., c. 4).
There are acts of the Scottish Parliament as early as 1449, directed against “sorners, overliers, and masterful beggars with horse, hounds, or other goods,” and that this would well describe the earlier gangs of gipsies is undeniable, but whether they were Romanis or Scots is a matter of controversy not easily decided in the absence of more definite evidence. A tradition of the Maclellans of Bombie says that the crest of the family was assumed on the slaying of the chief of a band of saracens or gipsies from Ireland. The conqueror received the barony of Bombie from the king as a reward. Having thus restored the fortunes of the family, the young laird of Bombie took for his crest a moor’s head with the motto “Think on.” If this legend was evidence, which it is not, there were gipsy marauders in Galloway in the middle of the fifteenth century. But in 1505, we have the entry of a gift by the King of Scotland of seven pounds to the “Egiptianis.” In the same year there is a letter already named, in which “Anthonius Gagino,” or Gawino, is recommended to the King of Denmark. In 1527, Eken Jacks, master of a band of gipsies, was made answerable for a robbery from a house at Aberdeen. In 1539, a similar charge was brought, but not proved, against certain friends and servants to “Earl George, callet of Egipt.” This chieftain was one of the celebrated Faa tribe. In 1540, George and John Faa were ordered by the bailies of Aberdeen to remove their company and goods from the town. This is the first action of a Scottish authority against the gipsies as gipsies. But, by a charter dated four days before the municipal decree, James V. confirms to “our lovit Johnne Faw, lord and erle of Little Egipt,” full power to execute justice over his tribe, some of whom had rebelled and forsaken his jurisdiction. In 1541, an act of the Lords of Council and Session decreed the banishment of the gipsies from the realm within thirty days, because of “the gret theftes and scathis” done by them. Some of them passed over the border, but not for long, and in 1553 the Faas again had a charter upholding their rights of lordship against Lalow and other rebels of their company. And in the next year their is a pardon to four Faas for the “slachter of umquhile Ninian Smaill.”
The gipsies had the favour of the Roslyn family, and it is said that Sir William Sinclair rescued “ane Egiptian” from the gibbet in the Burgh Muir, “ready to be strangled,” and that in gratitude the tribe used to go to Roslyn yearly and act several plays in May and June. In 1573, and again in 1576, the gipsies were ordered to leave the realm, but the decree was never put in force. When Lady Foulis was tried in 1590, one charge was that she had sent a servant to the gipsies for advice as to poison to be administered to “the young laird of Fowles and the young Lady Balnagoune.” When James VI. held a High Court of Justicary at Holyrood in 1587, for the reformation of enormities, the offenders to be dealt with included “the wicked and counterfeit thieves and limmers calling themselves Egyptians.”
There were several enactments of the Scottish Parliament in 1574, 1579, 1592, and 1597. These were all aimed at the nomadic habits of the race, but the settled gipsies were left unmolested. “Strong beggars and their children” were to be employed in common work for their whole life, and it is said that salt masters and coal masters thus made serfs of many. In 1603, there was a special “Act anent the Egiptians,” which declared it “lesome” for anyone to put to death any gipsy, man, woman, or child, remaining in the country after a certain date. Moses Faa appealed against it as a loyal subject, and found a security in David, Earl of Crawford. This was in 1609, but in 1611 four of the Faas were tried at Edinburgh under the acts against the gipsies, and were convicted and executed on the same day. Constables and justices of the peace were exhorted to put the law in force. Four gipsies, who could not find securities that they would leave the kingdom, were sentenced to be hanged in 1616, but were reprieved and probably released. In 1624, eight were executed on the Burgh Muir, but the women and children were simply exiled. In 1636, a number were condemned at Haddington, the men to be hanged and the women to be drowned. Women who had children were to be scourged and branded in the face. In the latter half of the seventeenth century many were sent to the plantations in Virginia, Barbadoes, and Jamaica.
Generally, however, the stringent laws were not stringently administered, and from fear or influence of some kind the gipsies often escaped.
The British gipsies in our own day find that whilst the law is dealt out to them with perfect impartiality, the social pressure is decidedly against them. At such watering-places as Brighton and Blackpool—to name two extremes—they tell fortunes as though there were no statutes in that case made and provided. But it is not easy for them to keep on the road. The time cannot be far off when they must live with the gaújos as house-dweller or perish from the land.
Commonwealth Law and Lawyers.
Edward Peacock, f.s.a.
THE great Civil War as it is called, that is the struggle between Charles the First and his parliament, is memorable in many respects. No student of modern history can dispense with some knowledge of it, and the more the better, for it was the result of many things which had happened in the far distant past, and we may safely say that the great French Revolution, which produced some good, and such an incalculable amount of evil would have run a far different course to that which it did, had not the political ideals of the men who took part in that terrible conflict been deeply influenced by what had taken place in England a century and a half before.
As to the civil wars which had occurred in England in previous days, little need be said. They were either dynastic—the struggle of one man or one family against another—or they were religious revolts against the Tudors, by those who vainly endeavoured to re-establish the old order of things in opposition to the will of the reigning monarch and the political servants who supported the throne. The struggle between Charles and the Long Parliament was far different from this. That religion in some degree entered into the conflict which was raging in men’s mind long ere the storm burst it would be childish to deny, but it was not so much, except in the case of a very few fanatics, a conflict between different forms of faith as because a great number of the English gentry, and almost the whole of the mercantile class, which had then become a great power, felt that they had the best reasons for believing that it was the deliberate intention of the King and the desperate persons who advised him, to levy taxes without the consent of parliament. This may occasionally have been done in former reigns, but it is the opinion of most of those who have studied the subject in latter days, so far as we can see, without prejudice, that in every case it was illegal. Whether this be so or not, it must be remembered that times were in the days of Charles the First, far different from what his predecessors the Plantagenets and Tudors had known. A great middle class had arisen partly by the division of property consequent on the dispersion of the monastic lands, and partly also by the break up of the vast feudal estates, some of which had fallen into the hands of the Crown by confiscation, others been sold by their owners to pay for their own personal extravagence.
Though murmurs had existed for many years, it was not until the memorable ship-money tax was proposed that affairs became really grave. Had England been threatened by an invasion such as the Spanish Armada, there can be no doubt that a mere illegality in the mode of levying taxes to meet the emergency would have been regarded as of little account, but in the present case there was no overwhelming need, and it must be borne in mind that to add to the national irritation the two first Stuarts were almost uniformally unsuccessful in their foreign wars. It is to Attorney General Noy that we owe the arbitrary ship-money tax. He was a dull, dry, legal antiquary of considerable ability, whose works, such as his Treatise concerning Tenures and Estates; The Compleat Lawyer; The Rights of the Crown, and others of a like character, are yet worth poring over by studious persons. Such a man was well fitted for historical research, no one of his time could have edited and annotated The Year Books more efficiently, but he had no conception of the times in which he lived, the narrow legal lore which filled his mind produced sheer muddle-headedness, when called upon to confront an arbitrary king face to face with an indignant people. That there was less to be said against this form of royal taxation than any other that legal ingenuity could light upon must be admitted, but as events shewed the course he advised the king to take, was little short of madness. John Hampden, who represented one of the oldest and most highly respected races of the English gentry—nobles as they would be called in any land but our own—set the example of refusing to pay this unjust levy. The trial lasted upwards of three weeks, and the men accounted most learned in the law were employed in the case. Sir John Bankes, the owner of Corfe Castle, Sir Edward Littleton, and others were for the King. Oliver Saint John and Mr. Holborn were for Hampden. Concerning Holborn little seems to be known, but Saint John made for himself a great name. His speeches are marvellously learned, shewing an amount of reading which is simply wonderful when we call to mind that in those days all our national records were unprinted, and almost all of them without calendar or index of any sort. It must, however, be remembered that in those days lawyers of both branches of the profession were well acquainted not only with the language in which our records were written, but also with the hands employed at various periods, and the elaborate system of contraction used in representing the words.
A full report of this memorable trial is to be found in Rushworth’s Historical Collections, volume ii. parts 1 and 2. Carlyle in his Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, in the emphatic diction he was accustomed to use says that Saint John was “a dark, tough man of the toughness of leather,” but he does not dwell on his great learning and general ability, as he ought to have done. That Saint John’s heart was in his work for his client we are well assured. That from a legal point of view, Hampden was his only client, we well know, but as a matter of fact, it is no exaggeration to say that he represented the people of England. The decision went in favour of the crown, which was from the first a foregone conclusion. It was a legal victory, but like many lesser victories won before and since success was the sure road to ruin. The sum contended for was absurdly small—twenty shillings only—but on that pound piece hung all our liberties; whether we were to continue a free people or whether we were to have our liberties filched away from us, as had already been the case in France and Spain. A sullen discontent brooded over the land, there was no rioting, but in hall and castle, country parsonage and bar-parlour, grave men were shaking their heads and asking what was to come next, all knew that a storm was brewing, the only question was when and where it would burst. Events changed rapidly, and Saint John though he took no very prominent part in the party struggles ere the war broke out, was undoubtedly the chief legal adviser of those who were in opposition to the faction which desired to make England a despotic monarchy. Such was the case during the war which ended in the tragic death of the king, and the establishment of a Republican form of government under the name of the Commonwealth. Saint John once again appears in a public manner which indicates that he was a brave man who had no more fear of the pistol and dagger of the assassin, than he had of the corrupt dealings of those who for a time, to their own imminent peril had misgoverned our country. This time we find him sent by the Commonwealth as ambassador to the seven United Provinces, then as now commonly called Holland, on account of the two provinces of north and south Holland, being by far the most influential states in that republic. The Dutch though republicans themselves, had during the latter part of our Civil War shewn sympathy with the cause of the Royalists. After the execution of the king, this feeling became naturally much intensified. On the other hand our newly established republic was for many reasons both of politics and religion very desirous of being on good terms with a sister commonwealth so very near at hand. To explain matters and perhaps to settle the heads of a definite treaty, the English government sent Isaac Doreslaus, or Doorslaer as their ambassador. He was by birth a Dutchman and a very learned lawyer. He had come to this country before, the war broke out in 1642. He was then made, probably through the influence of his friend Sir Henry Mildmay, “Advocate of the Army.” His great knowledge of Civil Law, which had been much neglected in England in times subsequent to the Reformation, rendered him of great service in his new position of Judge Advocate of the Army. For the same reason he soon afterwards was created one of the judges of the Admiralty Court. He became especially hateful to the Royalists from his having assisted in preparing the charges against Charles the First. In May, 1649, he sailed for Holland as Envoy of the English government to the Hague. He had only spent a short time there, when, while at supper in the Witte Zwaan (White Swan) Inn, some five or six ruffians with their faces hidden by masks, rushed into the room where he, in company with eleven other guests were sitting. Two of these wretches made a murderous attack on a Dutch gentleman of the company, mistaking him for Dorislaus. Finding out their error they set upon the Envoy and slew him with many wounds, crying out as they did so, “Thus dies one of the King’s judges.” The leader of this execrable gang was Col. Walter Whitford, son of Walter Whitford, D.D. The murderer received a pension for this “generous action” after the Restoration.
The English Parliament gave their faithful servant a magnificent funeral in Westminster Abbey, June 14, 1649, but when Charles the Second ascended the throne, his body was disturbed. His dust rests along with that of Admiral Blake and other patriots in a pit somewhere in Saint Margaret’s churchyard. Dorislaus, though a foreigner, ought to rank among our great English lawyers, for his services were devoted entirely to his adopted country. Whatever our opinions may be as to those differences which were the forerunners of so much bloodshed and crime, we must bear in mind that many of the foremost men on both sides were actuated by the highest principles of honour. The study of Canon Law had been prohibited in the preceding century, and the Civil Law with which it has so intimate a connection, though not made contraband, was so much discouraged that it is no exaggeration to say that the knowledge of it was confined to a very few. Selden, whose wide grasp of mind took in almost every branch of learning as it was known in his day, is the only English lawyer we can think of who had mastered these two vast subjects. This is the more remarkable as he was of humble parentage; the son of a wandering minstrel it is said, but from the first his passion for learning overmastered all difficulties. It must, however, be borne in mind that according to the custom of those times when his abilities became known, he met with more than one generous patron.
We must for a moment return to Saint John who was selected in 1652, to represent his country in Holland. There was not, as there is now a trained body of men devoted to the diplomatic service. The reasons why Saint John was chosen for this important office are not clear. He was a great and widely read lawyer, who we apprehend was trusted with this difficult mission, not only because the government were assured of his probity, but because the relations between Holland and this country depended on many subtile antiquarian details which a mere student of the laws as they were then, would have been unable to unravel. The basis of the sea codes by which the various nations of Christendom professed to be ruled, was the Laws of Oleron (Leges Uliarences). They were promulgated by Richard the First of England, on an island in the Bay of Acquitaine. How far they were ever suited for their purpose may be questioned, but it is certain that as centuries rolled on, they had though often quoted, ceased to have any restraining power, and as a consequence Spain, England, Holland, and other powers were guilty of constant acts of what we should now call piracy. A lasting treaty with Holland, could Saint John achieve it, would have been of immense advantage, but the Dutch were in no mood for an alliance on equal terms. It was a brave thing for Saint John to undertake so arduous a mission, for he not only run the risk of ignominous failure, but also was in no little danger from the savage desperadoes who thought they did the cause of their exiled master service by murdering the agents of the English government. When Saint John arrived at the Hague he was put off by slow and evasive answers, which soon shewed to him not only that his own time was being wasted, but what was to him of far more account, the honour of his country was being played with. He gave a proud, short, emphatic reply to the Dutch sophistries, and at once returned home again, to cause the celebrated Navigation Act to be passed, forbidding any goods to be imported into England, except in English ships, or in the ships of the country where the articles were produced. This was well-nigh ruin to the trade of the Dutch, who were then the great carriers of the world.
In no sketch however brief of the lawyers of this disturbed time, can the name of William Prynne be entirely passed over, and yet it is not as a lawyer that his name has become memorable. Had he been a mere barrister at law he would long since have been forgotten, but he was an enthusiastic puritan of the presbyterian order, and a no less enthusiastic antiquary. He had probably read as many old records as Saint John or Selden, but had by no means their faculty of turning them to good account. He first comes prominently before us as attacking the amusements of the court, especially theatrical entertainments. For this he was proceeded against in the Star Chamber, sentenced to pay five thousand pounds and have his ears cut off; for an attack on episcopacy he was fined another five thousand pounds and sentenced once more to have his ears cut off. He afterwards bore a prominent part in the trial of Archbishop Laud. All along he continued to pour forth a deluge of pamphlets. He attacked Cromwell with such boldness, that the Protector felt called upon to imprison him in Dunster Castle, where however, his confinement was of a most easy character. He is said while there to have amused himself by arranging the Lutterell Charters, for which that noble home is famous. He took the side of Charles the Second at the Restoration, and as a reward was made keeper of the records in the Tower, a post for which he was peculiarly well fitted.
There is probably nothing which distinguishes the periods of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate more markedly from other times of successful insurrection, than the very slight alteration which the new powers introduced into the laws of England. The monarchy, it is true, was swept away, but the judges went on circuit; the courts of Chancery and common-law sat as usual, the Lords of Manors held their courts, and the justices of peace discharged their various functions as if they had been the times of profoundest peace. No confiscations took place, as had been the case in the reign of Henry the Eighth and his successor, except in cases where the owners had been engaged in what the state regarded as rebellion, and even with regard to those who had fought in what is known as the first war, almost everyone was let off by a heavy fine. A list of these sufferers may be seen in A Catalogue of the lords Knights and Gentlemen that have compounded for their Estates (London Printed for Thomas Dring at the Signe of the George in Fleet Street, neare Clifford’s Inne, 1655.) The book is imperfect and very inaccurate. This is not of much consequence however, as the documents from which it is compiled known as The Royalist Composition Papers, are preserved in the record office, and are open to all enquirers. Those who madly engaged in what is known as the second war, had their estates confiscated by three acts of parliament of the years 1651 and 1652. These were reprinted and indexed for the Index Society in 1879. These latter had their estates given back to themselves or their heirs on the Restoration. It does not seem that those who were fined, except in a very few cases had any return made to them. There have been few civil wars ancient or modern wherein the unsuccessful have been so tenderly treated. Yet sufferings of the poorer classes among the Royalists must have been very great. Next to the arbitrary conduct of the King and those immediately about his person, was the provocation which the Parliamentarians thought that the established church had given, firstly because many of the bishops and clergy maintained an extreme theory of the Divine Right of Kings, which is said first to have been taught in this country by Archbishop Cranmer. If this opinion were really accepted as more than a mere figure of flattering oratory, it made those who complied with it mere slaves to the sovereign, however tyrannical or wicked he might prove himself. The second ground of resentment was that they thought Archbishop Laud and many of the bishops and clergy, concealed Roman Catholics, “disguised Papists,” as the common expression ran. We do not believe this charge with regard to Laud or most of the others so rashly accused. We are quite sure it was not so if their writings are to be taken as a test of their feelings. Whatever may have been the truth, there is no doubt that even the more tolerant of what may be called the low-church party feared the worst. As early as 11th February, 1629, Oliver Cromwell, who was then member for Huntingdon, made a speech in which he said, “He had heard by relation from one Dr. Beard … that Dr. Alablaster had preached flat Popery at Paul’s Cross, and that the Bishop of Winchester (Dr. Neale), had commanded him as his Diocesan, he should preach nothing to the contrary.” So inflamed, however, were men’s minds that as soon as the Parliamentary party was strong enough, Laud was indicted for high treason and beheaded.
One of the first works of the Parliament when strong enough, was to abolish the Book of Common Prayer, and put a new compilation called the Directory in its place. The use of the Prayer Book was forbidden not only in public offices of religion, but in private houses also. For the first offence five pounds was to be levied, for the second ten, and for the third the delinquent was to suffer one year’s imprisonment. Whether this stringent law was rigorously inforced we cannot tell. Probably in many cases the local justices would be far more lenient to the clergy who were their neighbours, that would be the legislators at Westminster, whose passions were fanned by listening to the popular preachers. Not content with interfering with the service-book, various acts were passed relating to “Scandalous, Ignorant, and Insufficient ministers.” That the commissioners who put these acts in force removed some evil persons we do not doubt, but if John Walker’s attempt towards recovering an account of the number and sufferings of the Clergy of the Church of England, who were sequestered … in the Grand Rebellion, be not very grossly exaggerated, which we see no reason, to believe, many innocent persons must have had very hard treatment.
The marriage laws of England were in a vague and unsatisfactory state from the reign of Edward the Sixth, until the Commonwealth time. An attempt was made in 1653 to alter them. Banns were to be published either at Church or in the nearest market town on three market days, after this the marriage was to take place before a justice of peace. Many entries of marriages of this kind are to be found in our parochial registers. English was made the language of the law in 1650, but Latin was restored to the place of honour it had so long held, when the Restoration took place.
You are not running a business. You are copying a grandma's hobby of making pies.
Like any grandma, she had the hobby of making pies and we use to receive lots and lots of pies to make her happy.
Like or not, grand kids are told to always thank grandma for the pie and tell her how wonderful is the pie, how they can not resist the last pie which was the best. It ends up of having more pies, although they never liked the pies till today.
Grandma is a very senior, (and I hate to say old) with very limited mobility and very bad or no eyesight will challenge her ability to make more pies and send them to her grand kids as she believes she makes them happier.
I was invited to an introduction to a new product with the business owner and I was told that is better for my health and my life. I was given a bottle to try and I just curious. I was told that it is a new product that is better than anything else for my health. I was intrigued and as I start to ask simple questions to find a reason to try the sample.
I found a very strong resistance to answer simple questions. I was framed as a consultant or to be in the business of helping others. I was told to not impose my service. I am not consult and I am not in the business find other businesses to offer them service. I think they should simply search my name on google “Wael Badawy” and they will know who I and what I am not doing.
The product was introduced as a mix of some ingredient that I know and others that I do not know and I may not heard about it. – It triggers a flag to me because I am not in a position to eat or drink what I do not know in the absence of a strong motive. I am also framed that there are fruits and vegetable that I should be taken but I do not them, I am not sure what I am missing !!!
I predict that the consumer of these products are the type of individuals who are using organic products because they like to know everything about their food and they do not like the chemical that they do not know and may impact their health. I saw the second flag, because I was judged again.
I want to say that “organic” is good to justify its high price, but “organic” or natural ingredient that I do not know is better, is not true. Pure marijuana or marijuana’ s leaves are danger plant and even though we need to know more details to understand its medicinal effect. If I consume it, I will be addicted and I may end up in Jail because I am using an organic natural plant !!!
Then the presentation went to explain that principle of consume the whole fruit/vegetable as a juice, against extracts. In mind, it is questionable with many diverse arguments. As a matter of fact, having a full lime as a juice will change its flavour and texture with time because of oxidation, and it can turn to be poisoning or has higher toxic. I can not consume the orange or the banana as a whole, I have to peal it first !!! – Anyway, I will pass on this argument because I am not the expert but I know when i eat.
Then I started to ask questions to better understand who is the owner, what is the business value and what is the quality of the product in order to give me a level of confidence to try the product.
I asked about the size of the business, to feel comfort that there are others trust and use this product. I was looking to understand their WHY, or what are the reasons to buy this over priced product.
I asked about the growth plan in the next three or five years. I asked about the vision of the owner to simple get a confirmation and make sense of the quality of the product and there is someone stands behind it. All what I received is “3 and 5 years are very long time”. In the absence of an answer, it demonstrates that there is no continuity no guarantee to a quality control or that the same product at different time will have the same ingredient and taste the same.
I asked about the value of the product is to try to find my WHY, to tryout the sample. The articulated value is “You drink good natural stuff, so your body will perform better”. I asked, does it help with a diet plan, or release weight, or having high energy, etc. The value was articulated well, you eat better ingredient, you be healthier and you feel good. First of all, I do not eat pizza and burger all days and I eat apple and banana every day. “One apple a day, keeps the doctor away!!!” The articulated value is very general and I can have a strong blinder and I use organic mix of fruits and vegetables. AND, WOW, the mix will have similar value. The answers continues to be “the ingredients used are planted by the owner in business owner garden!!!”
I asked about the science or the research behind this drink. The answer that the business owner has researched each one of these ingredient. The business owner has two degrees (none related to food, or health or technology or medicine) and everyone is impressed of these two degrees with no relation to the business. Moreover, the business owner has no passion to either degree and do not work in these areas and offers this product to serve and help others.
The product looks very professional with an expiry date of two days!!! The product comes in a quantity of 1, 4 and 8. I also noted that the bottle has an expiry date within two days. I do not know the reason that of the expiry date given that there is no research or science behind the product. I wondered If someone want to order a pack of eight bottles, will he/her use them all in two days. what about the logistics of producing, distributing and consuming, a product that has to be kept cold (I assume) within two days. It mean that a very limited number of customers with limited quantity orders, within a very small geographical area. So the production, distribution and consumption in two days !!!.
This is not a business, this is a grandma hobby to make pies, it is:
1- The pies are initially FREE till she as for a favour in return, which will be fairly pricy.
2- The ingredient is from grandma apply tree in the back yard – Oh, by the way, it is natural and very organic because grandma is not in heath conditions to take care of the tree or even fertilize the tree.
3- Grandma believes she makes her grand kids happier by offering more pie and she consumes her effort, while the grandkids do not prefer to eat the pies, or do not eat them at all.
4- Grandma pies have to be eaten hot, and within one or two days.
5- No one knows grandma secret ingredient, even grandmas
6- Grandma pies differ from time to time, based on the mood and the time in the oven, grandma can not read the time.
7- Grandma serves only her family and friends which has a very limited consumer base.
The whole time, I was simply looking for a reason to try a sample of a new product. I may feel lucky to put my hand on a free sample of this product and I was trying to find the reason for myself. BUT, I know grandma but I do not know you. So please stop copying grandma hobby to make pies and focus on building a business.
Note from the author:
This is a true story and I held the name of the product and business because I have the care and passion to every small business and entrepreneur in our community. I strongly believe that the message will help everyone in their business, So please let me know you thought below.
I also say that I owe the business owner the price of the sample because I did not feel comfort to drink it which is my fault and the sample passed the expiry date!!!
The Little Inns of Court.
THE origin of the decadent institutions located in certain grim and dreary-looking piles of building dotting the district of the Inns of Court proper, and known as the little Inns of Court, is involved in considerable obscurity. They appear to have originally held a similar position to the great seats of legal education as the halls of Oxford and Cambridge do to the Universities. But at the present time their relation to the Inns of Court proper is not very clear, and the uses they serve, otherwise than as residential chambers, are just as hard to discover. This state of mistiness concerning them has existed so long that no one now seems to know anything about them, and the evidence taken more than forty years ago by a Royal Commission did so little to clear away the dust and cobwebs hanging about them that they still remain, in the words of Lord Dundreary, “things that no fellow can understand.”
Lyon’s Inn has since that time been swept
away to make room for the new Courts of Law, without any person evincing the smallest interest in its fate. Concerning this institution all that could be learned by the Royal Commission was contained in the evidence of Timothy Tyrrell, who “believed” that it consisted of members or “ancients,” he could not say which; he believed the terms were synonymous. There were then only himself and one other, and within his recollection there had never been more than five, and they had nothing to do beyond receiving the rents of the chambers. There were no students, and the only payment made on account of legal instruction was a sum of £7 13s. 4d. paid to the society of the Inner Temple for a reader; but there had been no reader since 1832. He had heard his father say that the reader “burlesqued the things so greatly” that the ancients were disgusted, and would not have another. There was a hall, but it was used only by a debating society; and there was a kitchen attached to it, but he had never heard of a library.
New Inn appears to have been somewhat more alive than Lyon’s, though it does not seem to have done any more to advance the cause of legal education. The property is held under the
by a lease of three hundred years from 1744, at a rent of four pounds a year. Among the stipulations of the lease is one allowing the lessors to hold lectures in the hall, but none had been held since 1846, in consequence, it was believed, of the Middle Temple ceasing to send a reader. The lectures never numbered more than five or six in a year; and there is now no provision of any kind for legal education. Samuel Brown Jackson, who represented the inn before the Royal Commission, said he knew nothing concerning any ancient deeds or documents that would throw any light on the original constitution and functions of the body. If any there were, he “supposed” they were in the custody of the treasurer. The only source of income was the rents of chambers, which then amounted to between eighteen and nineteen hundred pounds a year; and the ancients have no duties beyond the administration of the funds.
Concerning the origin of Clement’s Inn, Thomas Gregory, the steward of the society, was unable to afford full information, but he had seen papers dating back to 1677, when there was a conveyance by Lord Clare to one Killett, followed by a Chancery suit between the latter and the principal and ancients of the society, which resulted in a decree under which the property so conveyed became vested in the inn. Some of the papers relating to the inn had been lost by fire, and “some of them,” said the witness, “we can’t read.” The inn, he believed, was formerly a monastery, and took its name from St. Clement. It had once been in connection with the Inner Temple, but he could find no papers showing what were the relations between the two societies, “except,” he added, “that a reader comes once a term, but that was dropped for twenty years—I think till about two or three years ago, and then we applied to them ourselves, and they knew nothing at all about it; the under-treasurer said he did not know anything about the reader, and had forgotten all about it.” It was the custom for the Inner Temple to submit three names to the ancients; and, said the witness, “we chose one; but then they said that the gentleman was out of town, or away, and that there was no time to appoint another.” But no great loss seems to have resulted thereby to the cause of legal education, for it appears that all a reader had ever done was to explain some recent Act of Parliament to the ancients and commoners, there being no students. The inn had no library and no chapel, but as a substitute for the latter had three pews in the neighbouring church of St. Clement, and also a vault, in which, said the witness, “the principals or ancients may be buried if they wish it.”
Some remarkable evidence was given concerning Staples Inn, and the more remarkable for being given by Edward Rowland Pickering, the author of a book on the subject, which publication one of the Commissioners had before him while the witness was under examination. “You state here,” said the Commissioner, “that in the reign of Henry V., or before, the society probably became an Inn of Chancery, and that it is a society still possessing the manuscripts of its orders and constitutions.” “I am afraid,” replied the witness, “that the manuscript is lost. The principal has a set of chambers which were burnt down, and his servant and two children were burnt to death, seventy years ago; and I rather think that these manuscripts might be lost.” Where the learned historian of the inn had obtained the materials for that work is a question which he does not appear to have been in a position to answer; for when asked whether he knew of any trace of a connection between the society and an Inn of Court, he replied, “Certainly, I should say not. It is sixty years since I was there, boy and all.” A very strange answer considering the statement in his book. During the sixty years he had been connected or acquainted with the society, he had never heard of the existence of a reader, or of any association of the inn with legal education or legal pursuits. The only connection claimed for the inn by the principal, Andrew Snape Thorndike, was that, when a serjeant was called from Gray’s Inn, that society invited the members of Staples Inn to breakfast. There is a singular provision respecting the tenure of chambers in this inn by the ancients. “A person,” said this witness, “holds them for his own life, and though he may be seventy years of age, if he can come into the hall, he may surrender them to a very young man, and if that young man should live he may surrender them again at the same age.” If a surrender is not made, the chambers revert to the society.
Barnard’s Inn is a very old one, and the property has been held on lease from the dean and chapter of Lincoln for more than three hundred years. The society consists of a principal, nine ancients, and five companions, which latter are chosen by the ancients; but we fail to gather from the evidence of Charles Edward Hunt, treasurer and secretary of the inn, by what principles the ancients are guided in the selection. We learn, however, that applications for admission by solicitors are not allowed. Such a thing had occurred once, but it was as long ago as 1827, and “of course,” said the witness, “we refused him, and he applied to the court, and after some difficulty he got a rule nisi for a mandamus. It came on to be tried before Lord Tenterden, and Lord Tenterden said it could not be granted; that we were a voluntary association, and the court had no jurisdiction.” The applicant seems to have based his claim on the ground that Barnard’s was an Inn of Chancery, and that, as a solicitor, he had a right to be admitted. The matter was scarcely worth contention, as the privileges of the companions are confined to dining in hall and the chance of being made an ancient, that favoured grade being entitled to “their dinners and some little fees.” The books of the society showed no trace of there ever having been any students of law connected with the inn. “The oldest thing I find,” said the witness, “is that a reader came occasionally from Gray’s Inn to read; but what he read about, or who paid him, there is no minute whatever.” He did not know when a reader last came from Gray’s Inn; he thought it was about two hundred years ago. It only remains to be told of Barnard’s Inn that it has not even a library; there had been a few books at one time, the witness told the Commission, but they were sold as useless!
Concerning the remaining little inns—Clifford’s, Symond’s, and Furnival’s—no evidence was taken. They appear to be merely residential chambers, much the same as some of those concerning which we have information in the report of the Royal Commission and the evidence given before it, and the chambers are far from being used exclusively by members of the legal profession. Nearly sixty years ago the present writer found a retired army officer occupying chambers in Clifford’s, and on a later occasion made at Symond’s Inn, the acquaintance of a curate who resided there with his wife and a young family! Concerning Furnival’s Inn, it was incidentally stated by Michael Doyle, who represented Lincoln’s Inn before the Royal Commission, that the latter society received £576 a year under a lease of the former property granted to the late Henry Peto for ninety-nine years, £500 being for rent, and the remainder in lieu of land tax. The witness was, however, unable to give any information as to the manner in which, or the date when, the property was acquired by Lincoln’s Inn.
The inquiry by the Royal Commission resulted in the recommendation of some very important changes in the constitution of the little Inns of Court and the administration of the several properties; but these, we learn, have been modified so much in their adoption as to have been of very little value. The societies have long outlived the purposes for which they were instituted, though their principals and officials seem to attach considerable importance to their continued existence. It is probable, however, that their raison d’étre being gone, they will all sooner or later go the way of Lyon’s Inn, and become things of the past.
Trial by Jury in Old Times.
By Thomas Frost.
WHEN we congratulate ourselves, as we are so apt to do, on the length of time the system of trial by jury has been established in England, and the safeguard it affords against attempts to strain the law to the prejudice of the accused, we are often unmindful of the fact that the institution has not always proved a safeguard when the court, acting under the influence of the Crown, endeavoured to obtain a conviction. It was only in the latter half of the sixteenth century that juries began to evince that determination not to yield their own judgment to the wishes of those in high authority, which became further developed in the course of the seventeenth. An interesting illustration of the old spirit of judges, and the new spirit of juries, is afforded by the trial of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, in 1554, on a charge of high treason, in conspiring the death or deposition of the Queen, and the seizure by force of arms of the Tower of London. The prosecution was conducted by Serjeant Stanford and the Attorney-General, Griffin, the former leading; and it is noteworthy that both they and Chief Justice Bromley questioned the prisoner in much the same manner as is still customary in France and Belgium, striving to procure evidence that would convict him out of his own mouth. The endeavour failed, and the only criminating evidence against the prisoner was contained in the alleged confessions of Winter and Crofts, who, however, were not called as witnesses.
The jury, after several hours’ deliberation, returned a verdict of not guilty, upon which the Lord Chief Justice addressed them in threatening tones, saying, “Remember yourselves better. Have you considered substantially the whole evidence as it was declared and recited? The matter doth touch the Queen’s highness and yourselves also. Take good heed what you do.” The jury were firm, however, and the foreman replied to the remonstrance of the bench, “We have found him not guilty, agreeable to all our consciences.” Then the Attorney-General rose, and addressing the court, said, “An it please you, my lords, forasmuch as it seemeth these men of the jury, which have strangely acquitted the prisoner of his treasons whereof he was indicted, will forthwith depart the court, I pray you for the Queen that they and every one of them may be bound in a recognizance of £500 a-piece, to answer to such matters as they shall be charged with in the Queen’s behalf, whensoever they shall be charged or called.” The court went beyond even this audacious request, for they actually committed the jury to prison! Four of them were discharged shortly afterwards, having so little moral stamina left as to make a humble confession that they had done wrong; but the remaining eight were brought before the Star Chamber and severely dealt with, three being ordered to pay a fine of £2,000 each, and the others £200 each.
In the following reign, in a case in which three persons were indicted for murder, and the jury found them guilty of manslaughter only, contrary to the direction of the court, the jurors were both fined and bound in recognizances for their future “good behaviour.” A decision of the Lord Chancellor, the two Chief Justices, and the Chief Baron, in the reign of James I., sets forth that when a person is found guilty on indictment, the jury should not be questioned; but when a jury has acquitted a prisoner against what the court holds to be proof of guilt, they may be charged in the Star Chamber, “for their partiality in finding a manifest offender not guilty.” In 1667, we find this view extended to the case of grand juries ignoring a bill on grounds which the court did not consider sufficient. Chief Justice Kelying in that year having fined a grand jury of the County of Somerset, for not finding a true bill against a man accused of murder; but, says the report, “because they were gentlemen of repute in the county, the court spared the fine.” This case, and several others in which the same judge had acted in a similar manner, were brought under the notice of the House of Commons, however, and that assembly resolved “that the precedents and practice of fining or imprisoning jurors for verdicts is illegal.”
Notwithstanding this resolution of the House of Commons, William Penn, and another member of the Society of Friends, named Mead, being indicted at the Old Bailey for having, with other persons unknown, unlawfully and tumultuously assembled in Gracechurch Street, in the City of London, the Recorder dealt with the jury in a manner which caused the illegality of fining jurors for their verdicts to be again brought into question. The indictment set forth that Penn, by agreement with and abetment of Mead, did in the open street speak and preach to the persons there assembled, by reason whereof a great concourse of people gathered and remained a long time, in contempt of the King and the law, and to the great terror and disturbance of many of His Majesty’s liege subjects. The trial took place before the Recorder, the Lord Mayor, and the Aldermen; and when witnesses had deposed that Penn had preached, and that Mead was there with him, the Recorder summed up the evidence, and the jury retired to consider their verdict. They were absent a considerable time, at length returning with the verdict that Penn was “guilty of speaking in Gracechurch Street.”
“Is that all?” the Recorder asked.
“That is all I have in commission,” replied the foreman.
“You had as good say nothing,” observed the Recorder, and the Lord Mayor added, “Was it not an unlawful assembly? You mean he was speaking to a tumult of people there.”
“My lord,” returned the foreman, “that is all I have in commission.”
“The law of England,” said the Recorder “will not allow you to part until you have given in your verdict.”
“We have given in our verdict,” returned the jury, “and we can give in no other.”
“Gentlemen,” said the Recorder, “you have not given in your verdict, and you had as good say nothing; therefore go and consider it once more, that we may make an end of this troublesome business.”
The jury then asked for pen, ink, and paper, and the request being complied with, they again retired, returning after a brief interval with their verdict in writing. They found Penn “guilty of speaking or preaching to an assembly met together in Gracechurch Street,” and Mead not guilty.
“Gentlemen,” said the Recorder, regarding the jury angrily, “you shall not be dismissed till we have a verdict that the court will accept; and you shall be locked up, without meat, drink, fire, and tobacco. You shall not think thus to abuse the court. We will have a verdict, or you shall starve for it.”
Penn protested against this course, upon which the Recorder ordered the officers of the court to stop his mouth or remove him. The jury not leaving their box, the Recorder again directed them to retire and re-consider their verdict. Penn made a spirited remonstrance. “The agreement of twelve men,” said he, “is a verdict in law, and such a one having been given by the jury, I require the clerk of the peace to record it, as he will answer at his peril. And if the jury bring in another verdict contradictory to this, I affirm they are perjured men in law. You are Englishmen,” he added, turning to the jury, “mind your privilege; give not away your right.” The court then adjourned to the following morning, when the prisoners were brought to the bar, and the jury, who had been locked up all night, were sent for. They were firm of purpose, and through their foreman persisted in their verdict.
“What is this to the purpose?” demanded the Recorder, “I will have a verdict.” Then addressing a juror, named Bushel, whom he had threatened on the previous day, he said, “you are a factious fellow; I will set a mark on you, and whilst I have anything to do in the city, I will have an eye on you.”
Penn again protested against the jury being threatened in this manner, upon which the Lord Mayor ordered that his mouth should be stopped, and that the gaoler should bring fetters and chain him to the floor; but it does not appear that this was done. The jury were again directed to retire and bring in a different verdict, and they withdrew under protest, the foreman saying, “We have given in our verdict, and all agreed to it; and if we give in another, it will be a force upon us to save our lives.”
According to the narrative written by Penn and Mead, and quoted in Forsyth’s “History of Trial by Jury,” this scene took place on Sunday morning, and the court adjourned again to the following day, when, unless they were supplied with food surreptitiously, they must have fasted since Saturday. The foreman gave in their verdict in writing, as before, to which they had severally subscribed their names. The clerk received it, but was prevented from reading it by the Recorder, who desired him to ask for a “positive verdict.”
“That is our verdict,” said the foreman. “We have subscribed to it.”
“Then hearken to your verdict,” said the clerk. “You say that William Penn is not guilty in manner and form as he stands indicted; you say that William Mead is not guilty in manner and form as he stands indicted; and so say you all.”
The jury responded affirmatively, and their names were then called over, and each juror was commanded to give his separate verdict, which they did unanimously.
“I am sorry, gentlemen,” the Recorder then said, “you have followed your own judgments and opinions, rather than the good and wholesome advice which was given you. God keep my life out of your hands! But for this the court fines you forty marks a man, and imprisonment till paid.”
Penn was about to leave the dock, but was prevented from doing so, upon which he said, “I demand my liberty, being freed by the jury.”
“You are in for your fines,” the Lord Mayor told the prisoners.
“Fines, for what?” demanded Penn.
“For contempt of court,” replied the Lord Mayor.
“I ask,” exclaimed Penn, “if it be according to the fundamental laws of England, that any Englishman should be fined or amerced but by the judgment of his peers or jury; since it expressly contradicts the fourteenth and twenty-ninth chapters of the Great Charter of England, which say, ‘No freeman ought to be amerced but by the oath of good and lawful men of the vicinage.’”
“Take him away,” cried the Recorder.
“They then,” continues the narrative, “hauled the prisoners into the bail-dock, and from thence sent them to Newgate, for non-payment of their fines; and so were their jury. But the jury were afterwards discharged upon an habeas corpus, returnable in the Common Pleas, where their commitment was adjudged illegal.” Even then, judges appear to have remained unconvinced of the illegality of the practice, or stubborn in their desire to enforce their own views or wishes upon juries; for the question was not regarded as finally settled until the decision in the Court of Common Pleas was clinched, in the same year, by a similar judgment of the Court of King’s Bench.