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TREATISE ON COURTS BARON AND COURTS LEET.
RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN HOLDING A COURT
LEET AND COURT BARON.
Calling the court. The first preparatory step is, for the steward to issue his precept to the bailiff of the manor to give the accustomed notice of the day appointed for the court. The following would appear to be the more usual form:
(Precept to summon a court leet and court baron.) The manor of
To W. Y. bailiff of the said manor, greeting. in the county of These are to require you to give notice within the said manor, that the court leet or law day and view of frankpledge, with the court baron of A. Z. esquire, lord of the said manor, will be holden at the house of at within the said manor on the
next, at the hour of in the forenoon, and to warn all the resiants and freehold tenants of the said manor personally to be and appear at the place and time aforesaid to do and perform their suit and service, and pay their quit rents, fines and other duties as of right they ought to perform and render the same at such courts respectively : And also to warn all constables, tything-men and other public officers of the aforesaid leet and manor then and there to attend and make and return their several presentments : And you are hereby required to summon twelve or more good and lawful men of the said manor to be and appear at the aforesaid place and time, to inquire as well for our sovereign lady the queen as the lord of the said leet, of all such matters as to the said court do appertain; and be you there personally with the names of the persons you shall have so summoned, bringing with you also this precept. Given under my hand and seal this
day of in the year of our Lord
J. S. steward. (L. S.) On receiving the precept, the bailiff is to affix a written notice of the day and hour appointed for the court to the door of the parish church, or cause such notice to be publicly read in church or otherwise, as the usage may be;
and it is proper to give this notice at least fifteen days before the court(a). The form of it may be thus : The manor of
Notice is hereby given, that a court leet or in the county of law day and view of frankpledge, and a court baron of A. Z. esquire, lord of the said manor, will be holden for the said the
o'clock in the forenoon, at the usual and accustomed place, being the house of — at e in the said county of when and where all the resiants and freehold tenants of the said manor, and all public officers of the said leet and manor, and others concerned in the business of such courts respectively, are required to attend. Dated this
The Court Day.
(Records of the court leet, manor rolls &c.) It behoves the steward to be prepared with the records of the court leet and the manor rolls for such references as may be necessary to his guidance as the judge of the court leet, and as assessor and register of the court baron, in which the suitors are the judges (c); and also with a minute book for the entry of the proceedings of the particular court, having the style of the court already written in it.
And should it be the first court which the steward has holden for the particular manor, he will do well to read his appointment to the stewardship to the tenants and resiants assembled, previously to his entering on the business of the day.
(Opening of the court.) The bailiff is then to open the court by an audible proclamation, which (i. e. the Oyez) is to be repeated three times (d), thus
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez; All manner of persons who owe suit and service to the court leet and law day, and the court baron of A. Z. esquire, lord of this manor, now to be holden, or who have been summoned to appear at this time and place, draw near and give your attendance, every man answering to his name when called, and thereby saving his amercement:
(a) But a shorter period is sufficient, ante, pt. 3, p. 684, n.
(6) If there is not a leet appendant to the manor, the form may be,The Manor, ? Notice is hereby given
&c. to all persons whom it may concern, that a general court baron of A. 2. esquire, lord of the said manor, will be holden at in and for the said manor on
of the said manor are required to attend, and to perform their suit and service, and pay their respective rents and reliefs due to the lord of the said manor. Dated &c.
See ante, p. 827, for forms of precept and notice of holding a customary court baron
(c) Ante, pt. 3, p. 604.
the at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when and where all persons holding freely
(d) In a court leet three proclamations are required to be made, but only one is necessary in a court baron; Kitch. 11, 12, cites 21 Ed. 4, 37.
God save the queen and the lord of this leet. [If it should be a court baron only, the words in italics are to be omitted.]
(Resiant roll, suit roll, jury list.) The bailiff is now to be called upon to make a return of the precept, which he is to do by putting the resiant roll, suit roll and jury list into the hands of the steward; who should first call over the names of the resiants, marking against such as appear, “ app.," and against such as are essoigned, « ess.” (e).
Then the suit roll is to be called over, and the mark “ app.” placed against the names of those who answer.
This being done, the steward will read the list of jurors, entering the names of those who appear in his minute book (f), and then proceed to administer the oath to them in this manner :
(Oath of the foreman.) A. B., you, as foreman of this jury, with the rest of your fellows, shall inquire and true presentment make of all such things as shall be given you in charge, and of all such other matters as shall come to your knowledge, presentable at this court: The queen’s counsel, your own and your fellows', you shall well and truly keep: You shall present nothing out of hatred or malice, nor conceal anything through fear, favour or affection, but in all things you shall true and just presentment make, according to the best of your understanding: So help you God.
Then swear the rest of the jury by three or four at a time, thus :
The like oath which A. B. your foreman hath taken on his part, you and every of you shall well and truly observe and keep on your respective parts: So help you God.
And after the bailiff shall have signified the desire of the court for all men to keep silence, the steward will deliver his-
CHARGE to the jury of the court leet, to the following purport:
THAT it is the steward's province to remind the jury that the court leet (frequently called a law day) is a court of record of great antiquity, and accounted the queen's court, to which all persons resident within the jurisdiction of it, of the age of twelve years or upwards, with the exception of peers and prelates (9), and tenants in ancient demesne (h), owe suit and service, and that it is their duty to present and amerce such as make default.
(8) See as to exceptions, ante, pt. 3,
(e) Ante, pt. 3, p. 686.
(1) There must be twelve jurors; and if a sufficient number do not attend, the steward may compel any strangers to be
Ante, pt. 3, p. 702, 703.
(h) Ante, pt. 2, p. 582, 583 ; pt. 3, p. 685, n. (a).
That they are to present the names of such proper officers as either by the common law, or by the particular usage of the manor &c. for which the court is held, are generally chosen and sworn at the leet, such as constables (i), tithingmen, aleconners &c.; and to inquire of and present any neglect in the duties of the several public officers within the precincts of the leet.
That if any offence was presented at the last court by way of admonition, and the party has not obeyed the terms which were enjoined, it is their duty to certify the default to the court, in order that the amercement set for it may be levied; but that the jurisdiction of the leet jury, like that of the grand jury, is confined to things done or neglected to be done since the last court, and to things happening immediately before their being sworn, and during their sitting (j).
That it is their province to inquire of and present all acts of petty treason, and the crimes of murder and manslaughter, (as felony,) rape, arson, burglary, larceny, accessaries, voluntary escape, and every other description of felony (k), and also negligent escape; in order that such offences (though not punishable in leet) may be certified to the queen's justices according to the rules prescribed by law: and that they are likewise to inquire what lands and tenements, goods and chattels, any felon had at the time the felony was committed.
That it is also their province to inquire of and present all assaults and batteries with bloodshed; all railers, common scolds, eves-droppers and sowers of discord; all conspiracies and combinations of victuallers, labourers and artificers; the several offences of exacting excessive tolls; neglecting to pursue hue and cry lawfully raised; of vagrancy and noctigavancy, and the receivers of any such evil characters; of buying and selling by false weights and measures, and violating any assize; of forestallers, ingrossers and regraters; and of all offences directed to be inquired of in leets by particular acts of parliament, as for instance the act of 1 Eliz. c. 17, intituled “ An Act for Preservation of Spawn and Fry of Fish ” (1).
AND LASTLY, that it is the duty of the jury to inquire of and present all obstructions of public bridges, ways and paths; the stoppage or diversion of all public watercourses; the removal or destruction of landmarks, and any pound breaches; the neglect of cleansing pools, or of enclosing stone, marl and other the like pits, or of the reparation of bridges and causeways; the laying of dung, soil or other offensive thing in any public highway; and also every other act which may tend to the injury or nuisance of any of the queen’s liege subjects (m).
(1) Vide 2 & 3 Vict. c. 93, and 3 & 4 (k) Ante, pt. 3, p. 730 et seq. Vict. c. 88, for the establishment of (l) See this statute towards the end of county and district constables by the au- the appendix; and also the extract from thority of justices of the peace.
it, ante, pt. 3, pp. 692, 693. (j) Ante, pt. 3, pp. 722, 726. And (m) The author has not enumerated dea note that by custom an adjournment of a dands, estrays, waifs, treasure trove and the court leet is good. Ante, pt. 3, pp. 724, like, among the presentments to be made by 726; post, p. 1147.
the jury of a court leet, as those franchises
When the jury are so sworn and charged, the bailiff is to make further proclamation thus :
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez;
If any person or persons can inform this court or inquest of any treason, felonies, bloodshed, or any other offence, matter or thing now given in charge, let them come in, and they shall be heard.
If any appear, the steward is to administer the following oath, and then the evidence is to go to the jury.
(The oath of a person offering to give evidence of treason, fc.) The evidence you shall give to the inquest now sworn shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: So help you God. .
The steward will then administer the following oath to the several freehold tenants, constituting the homage of the court baron.
(Oath of the foreman.) You, as foreman of this homage, with the rest of your fellows, shall inquire and true presentment make of all such things as shall be given to you in charge, and of all such other matters as shall come to your knowledge, presentable at this court: you shall present nothing out of hatred or malice, nor conceal any thing through fear, favour or affection, but in all things shall true and just presentment make, according to the best of your understanding: So help you God.
Then swear the rest of the homage, by three or four at a time, thus:
The like oath which A. B., your foreman, hath taken on his part, you and each of you shall well and truly observe and keep on your respective parts: So help you God.
And then the steward will deliver his
CHARGE to the homage to the following purport :-
THAT the court baron is not a court of record, and is altogether diffferent in its character from the court leet.
That in the latter (which is deemed the queen's court) the steward presides as judge, but that in the court baron, which is the lord's court, the homage are the judges; and that the steward (though a constituent part of the court (n)) sits there as register and assessor only.
That it is their duty, as the homage of the court baron, and possessing judicial authority, to inquire of the general rights of the lord of the manor,
are not necessarily incident to a leet, even when it is appended to a hundred or manor, though they may, it should seem, be claimed by the lord of a leet by prescription, and then of course they should
be inquired of as in the court baron. See Br. Estray, pl. 15; Ib. Incidents 38; Ib. Leet 43.
(n) Ante, pt. 3, p. 605.