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LIBRARY OF THE
Entered according to the Acts of Congress, in the year 1887, by the BLACKSTONE PUBLISHING COMPANY, in the office of the Librarian of
Congress, at Washington, D. C.
Conspiracies and Agreements.
GENERAL HISTORY OF THE LAW OF CRIMINAL
[1. REFERENCES to the cases on conspiracy are made in the text by date and name, without the addition of the books in which the cases are reported. A chronological list of cases will be found in Appendix III.; and also an alphabetical list with the references. Some important cases are set out in full or in part in Appendix II.
2. The word “ ruled," as applied to a proposition of law for which a case is cited, is used to signify that the proposition was laid down by a judge acting on assize, or under a special commission, or at nisi prius, or at the Central Criminal Court, or at sessions. The word “held " is used to signify that the proposition was laid down by a judge or judges acting in banc or in a court of appeal.]
§ 1. General History of Criminal Combinations. The history of the law of criminal conspiracies and combinations may be conveniently divided into three periods, of which the first ends with the sixteenth, and the second with the eighteenth century.
[1200-1600,] There appears to be no evidence that, during the first of these periods, any other crime of conspiracy or combination was known to the common law than that wbich was authoritatively and “finally” defined in A. D. 1305 by the Ordinance of Conspirators, 33 Edw. 1., as consisting in oonfederacy or alliance for the false and malicious promotion of indictments and pleas, or for embracery or maintenance of various kinds. During the reigns from that of Edward III. to the end of that of Elizabeth, various statutes were directed against combinations for treasonable purposes or for breaches of the peace, against combinations by merchants to disturb the markets or prices, and against combinations by masons and carpenters, by victuallers to raise prices, and by labourers to raise wages or alter hours; but no mention has been found in any of the writers, reports or abridgments of the period before the 17th cen. tury of any kind of conspiracy, confederation or combination, as being criminal at common law, except the crime of conspiracy as defined by the ordinance of 1305. The process by which this specific offence has been expanded into the comprehensive title of conspiracy or combination in the modern criminal law is now to be traced.
[1600-1800.] The modern law of conspiracy has grown out of the application to cases of conspiracy, properly so called and as defined by the 33 Edw. 1, of the early doctrine that since the gist of crime was in the intent, a criminal intent manifested by any act done in furtherance of it might be punishable, although the act did not amount in law to an actual attempt. · (Cp. by Mr. Greaves, in Cox's C. L. Cons. Acts, p. lxxxiv.) In accordance with this view it was determined in 1354 (Anon.), and again in 1574 (Sydenham), and finally settled on the authority of the former of those cases by the Star Chamber in 1611 (Poulterers' Case), that although the crime of conspiracy, properly so called, was not complete unless in a case of conspiracy for maintenance some suit had been actually maintained, or in a case of conspiracy for false and malicious indictment the party against whom the conspiracy was directed had been actually indicted and acquitted, yet the agreement for such a conspiracy was indictable as a substantive offence, since there was a criminal intent manifested by an act done in furtherance of it, viz., by the agreement: and from this time, by an easy transition, the agreement or confederacy itself for the commission of conspiracy came to be regarded as a complete act of conspiracy, although traces of the original distinction between a completed conspiracy and the mere agreement or confederacy to commit it long continue to be found. (1699. Savile v. Roberts: 1705. Best: 1811. Turner.) Moreover, since in the Poulterers' Case nothing had been done which amounted to a complete crime under the statute, it followed that the criminality of the agreement must be in some sense a criminality by common law; and Lord Coke's observations on this point in his report of that case soon received an extended application, and grew into a rule that a combination to commit or to procure the commission of any crime was criminal and might be prosecuted as a conspiracy, although the crime might have nothing to do with the crime of conspiracy properly so called. The first indication of this doctrine in a text book is to be found in the insertion in those editions of the “ Termes