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Of Offences presentable only, and Offences both presentable and
punishable in the Court Leet. In former ages most offences were punished by imprisonment, or by a mulct or pecuniary fine, which payment is supposed in many cases to have been a fixed sum proportionate to the magnitude of the crime, or the degree in society of the person injured (m); but even in the reign of William the Conqueror many offences were punished with death or mutilation (n). Indeed the punishment of death may be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon æra (0); for it is recorded of King Alfred that he hanged thirty unjust judges in one year, who are said to have been the judges in the tourns, ealdermen of counties, or their deputies the sheriffs (p).
The court leet never could arraign and deliver persons indicted for felony (9), nor inquire of any felonies which were not such at common law; in proportion therefore as the severity of our criminal code increased, the number of offences punishable in the court leet of necessity diminished.
The offences which the leet is to inquire of, and afterwards to certify to the king's justices, at the next assizes or gaol delivery of the county (r), are treason, (but which is inquirable as felony only,) murder, rape (s), manslaughter, arson, burglary, sacrilege, grand and petit larceny (1), rescue, accessaries, voluntary escape, and every offence which was deemed felony at common law; and also negligent escape(u).
There are, however, various offences which are not only inquirable in the court leet, but also punishable there by fine, penalty, &c., such as the refusal to accept or neglect to execute certain public offices, nuisances, disturbances, breach of assise, forestalling, the non-observance of certain acts enjoined, and the commission of others pro
(m) See Sulliv. F. L. 275.
(n) 1 Reeve's Hist. Engl. L. 16, 33, 193.
(v) Treason, murder, rape, and robbery, were punished as capital offences, but mutilation was afterwards substituted as the punishment for rape; which by 3 Edw. 1, was punished as a trespass only, but was again made felony by 13 Edw. 1, and benefit of clergy was taken away by 18 Eliz; Sulliv. 275; Bract. 3, c. 28; post, Articles inquirable in Leet, tit. “ Rape.”
(p) Sulliv. 275.
(9) Br. Franchises, 5, cites 8 Hen. 4, 18; ib. Lect, 11, cites S. C.
(7) Ante, p. 728,
(s) But see as to murder and rape, sup., n.(0); post, Articles inquirable in Leet,
Murder," " Rape."
(t) The distinction between grand and petit larceny no longer exists, see 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 29.
(u) In cases of felony, the jury are also to inquire what lands and tenements, and also what goods and chattels, the felon had at the time the felony was committed ; the former escheat to the lord, subject to the king's year and day waste, (ante, p. 632;) and the latter are forfeited to the king, and sometimes to the lord of the leet, by grant or prescription, ante, pp. 368, n. (c); 639, 11. ().
hibited by particular statutes, &c.; and the author proposes to exhibit in alphabetical order the various matters which are to be inquired of in the court leet, referring to some authorities under each title, and avoiding any animadversion on the antiquated nature of several of the articles ; conceiving that this arrangement may best assist the steward, who, under very particular circumstances, may think it desirable in his charge to the jury, to detail the various offences and other matters which are properly cognizable in the court leet.
INQUIRABLE IN THE COURT LEET(x).
Accessaries.-Kitch. 41 (receivers of felons); Jenk. P. C. 12 (acces
saries before and accessaries after the fact); Shepp. 41 (accessaries
before or after the offence). And see Pow. 76. Adultery.—3 Inst. 206 (“ in ancient times adultery and fornication
were punislied by fine and imprisonment, and inquirable in tourns and leets by the name of Letherwite ”). And see 2 Inst. 488 ; Jenk. P. C. 10 (adultery is to be inquired of as felony). [But in
dictment lies at common law for adultery; Salk. 552.] Affray.-See Assault and Battery. [Prescription in leet for every
affray or bloodshed, to pay so much, and to distrain for it, and sell the distress is good, for it is the king's court; Br. Prescrip. 106,
cites 11 Hen. 7, 13, 14.] Aleconners, or Ale-tasters.--See Vaughton v. Atwood et al., 1 Mod.
202. And see post, Officers. Alehouse-keeper.-Jenk. P. C. 16, 17 (selling beer or ale without li
cense:-alehouse-keeper, licensed or unlicensed, selling beer or ale in unsealed measures, or less than full measure: encouraging tiplers or suspicious persons : not furnishing accommodation to strangers); Kitch. 45 (bread and beer is inquirable in the leet, and not in the tourn of the sheriff, but see 18 Hen. 6, 13); Jenk. P.C. 17 (if any alehouse-keeper shall suffer any persons to sit tipling in his house above the space of an hour, he forfeits 10s. and the tipler ten groats apiece); ib. (if any alehouse-keeper suffer any one to be drunk in his house, the drunkard forfeits 5s., the alehousekeeper 10s.; and see Greenw. 293; Shepp. 54 (if a tipler sell not by measures allowed and sealed, he may be punished by the common law or upon the statute). And see Kitch. 21 ; post, Tiplers. Allegiance.— Jenk. P. C. 20 (if all deciners be present).--Mirr. c. 1,
(r) Vide as to articles inquirable in leet, a treatise by I. Wilkinson concerning the offices of coroner and sheriff, and on the
method of keeping a court leet, court baron, hundred court, &c., published in 1620.
s. 17; Britt. c. 29; Flet. 2, c. 52, s. 6, 17 (whether all above twelve years of age have been put in dozein (dizein,) and sworn fealty to the king; and of the receivers of others). And see Pow. 19, 23, 80;
Shepp. 42; post, Chief Pledges. Approvers.—Flet. 2, c. 53; Britt. c. 29 (those who shall have re
tained approvers). [For the signification of the term “ Approver,"
vide 3 Inst. 129, c. 56.] Arson.— Jenk. P. C. 11 (burning of a house or barn adjoining to a
house); Kitch. 48 (if one feloniously in the night burn a barn adjoining to a house, 11 Hen. 7, 1); Shepp. 40 (burning of houses or barns of corn, out-houses adjoining to dwelling-houses in the night); Greenw. 288 (if any one feloniously burn any dwellinghouse, or barns, or stacks, or mows of corn in the night season, it is felony at the common law); Pow. 74 (feloniously burning any dwelling-house, or any barn adjoining, or any stacks or mows of corn near any barn or dwelling-house in the night). And see stat.
Wallie. Artificers.-- Jenk. P. C. 19 (if any one shall use any art, mystery, or
manual occupation, having not been brought up apprentice there
unto by the space of seven years). Assault and Battery.- The Stat. for view of Frank pledge (y) 18 Edw.
2, 1325 (of bloodshed, and of frays made); Kitch. 44, 73 (assault upon a person only is not inquirable and punishable by presentment in leet, but bloodshed is, cites 8 Edw. 4, 5; 4 Hen. 6, 9; 11 Hen. 6, 29; 22 Edw. 4, 22). And see Stat. Wall.; Pow. 89; Kitch. 73 (if any affray were so that the king's people were disturbed, for that is more than particular, 1 R. 3, 1); Jenk. P. C. 21 (common disturbances of the peace, that is to be presented); Scroggs, 7 (it seems reasonable that private or particular assaults and batteries, though there be no bloodshed, should be inquirable in leet. Bacon, J. and Walter thought they might, Rolle contrà,
Pas. 24 Car. 1, B. R.)(2). Assise.-Stat. 18 Edw. 2; Stat. Wall. (of the assise of bread and ale
broken; Britt. c. 29; Flet. 2, c. 52, s. 21, 27; Kitch. 21, 42, 45; Jenk. P. C. 24; Shepp. 52; Powell, 109; Scroggs, 10; Mirr. c. 1,
(y) Vide Ritson on Courts Leet, p. 56 (n. d,) who says, “ this has been denied to be a statute ; and with some reason, as it seems to be nothing more than a sheriff or steward's charge in the tourn or leet.”
(z) A steward may fine for an assault in leet (sedente curia) in disturbance and
contempt of the court, but an indictment there of assault and battery without bloodshed is not good, for such indictment before the sheriff in his tourn was adjudged void; Dy. 233 b, ca. 14, cites Hen. 13, Ed. 4, 10; ante, pp. 702, 703, 704.
s. 17 (breach of assise). Vide also Co. Litt. s. 234; 3 Burr. 1862, 1863, 1864 (“ the setting the assise, which must fix both price and weight, is the basis of the leet jurisdiction, and it cannot take cognizance of an offence created by act of parliament, regulating the weight, &c., as in the 3 Geo. 3, c. 11”). See 51 Hen. 3, st. 1; 8 Anne, c. 18, repealing the last act; stat. 31 Geo. 2, c. 29, repealing the laws respecting the assise of bread, but confirming the principle of fixing both price and weight, and saving the right or custom of lords of leet franchises, to inquire of and punish the breach of as
sise of bread. Vide also ante, pp. 728, 729. Barretors.-See Scolds. Bows and Arrows.—[By 33 Hen. 8, c. 9, (see Appendix,) for the en
couragement of archery, and debarring unlawful games, every male subject was compellable to have a bow and arrows; and the stewards of leets and law-days were authorised to inquire of the offences mentioned in the act. See Kitch. 27, 28.] Vide also Cross Bows,
post. Brothels ; ( Disorderly Houses ).—Kitch. 20 (keeping houses of ill
fame is a cause to break the peace, and a vice which corrupteth the state). And see Jenk. P. C. 22; Scroggs, 20; ib., (you are to inquire of all unlicensed alehouses, and present the offenders; and if any inns or alehouses have a license, yet you are to inquire if they keep good order in their houses, otherwise you are to present
and punish the offenders). Burglary.—Stat. 18 Edw. 2 (of breakers of houses, and of their re
ceivers). And see Britt. c. 29; Flet. 2, c. 52; Kitch. 17; Jenk.
P. C. 11; Shepp. 40; Pow. 75. Chief Pledges.-Stat. 18 Edw. 2 (and if all the chief pledges be
come, as they ought to come, and which not); Kitch. 19 (if the capital pledges appear); Pow. 80 (if the capital or chief pledges of every decennary appear: these pledges correspond with the tithing-men of the present day); Britt. c. 29; Flet. 2, c. 52, s. 5; Mirr. c. 1, s. 17 (if all the chief pledges be come to the view, and if they
have their dozeins (dizeins, ante, p. 676,] entire), Church.--Jenk. P. C. 19 (if any person of the age of sixteen years or
more shall wilfully absent himself from church or chapel, he shall forfeit for every month 201., one third to the lord protector (the crown), another third to the poor of the parish, and the other third
to the informer). Clippers, &c. of Money.-Stat. 18 Edw. 2 (of clippers and forgers of
money); Kitch. 43 (clipping of gold and silver is inquirable, cites
22 Edw. 4, 22); ib. 16. And see Jenk. P. C. 8. Clothes : Clothiers.--Stat. 18 Edw. 2 (of cloth-sellers and curriers of leather dwelling out of merchant towns); Mirr. c. 1, s. 17 (of sellers of old clothes, dwelling out of great towns.) Vide 4 Edw. 4,
c. 1, post, Appendix. Coin.-See Treason. Common.—[Vide act 32 Hen. 8, c. 13, post, Appendix ;] Kitch. 23,
32. [N. B. Inclosures of, and encroachments on, commons, are not public injuries, and therefore cannot be inquired of in leet;
Scroggs, 86; Cro. Eliz. 448; Lex Man. 141.] Conspiracies.—Kitch. 27 (if any butcher, baker, &c., conspire not to
sell but at certain prices, cites 2 Edw. 6, c. 15); ib.; Jenk. P. C. 28 (if workmen or labourers conspire not to work but at certain prices, or not to do but certain labour, &c., the latter cites 24 Hen. 8, c. 12); Mirr. c. 1, s. 17 (all manner of conspiracies). [And
see the abave stat. of 2 & 3 Edw. 6, c. 15, post, Appendix.] Constables. -See post, Officers. Cottages.—[By stat. 31 Eliz. c. 7 (said to have been passed to pre
vent the lords of great wastes from converting the whole into building purposes, ante, pt. 1, p. 88), a penalty of 101. is inflicted for erecting or converting a building into a cottage, without laying four acres of land to it of the party's own freehold; and 40s. a month for continuing such cottage; and justices of the peace and lords of leet are authorised to inquire of and hear and determine all offences against the act, as well by indictment as otherwise by presentment or information, and to award execution for the forfeitures by fieri facias, elegit, capias, or otherwise, as the cause should require. Sed vide s. 5, by which certain cottages are excepted out of the provisions of the act. And see s. 6 of the same act, against receiving inmates into such cottages. And n. to 21 Jac. 1, c. 21,
post, Appendix; Jenk. P. C. 32, 33; Pow. 152.] Crossbows & Handguns.-[See the prohibitory acts 33 Hen. 8, c. 6,
and c. 9, post, Appendix; Kitch. 28, 29, 42.] Crow-nets.-[See 24 Hen. 8, c. 10; Kitch. 30, 43.] Jenk. P. C.
29 (towns to be amerced for not providing nets for destroying crows and rooks); Com. Dig. Leet, 167 (L. 14) (occupiers of land to be amerced at the discretion of the steward, and he ought to give this act in charge.-[Note, this part of the act was repealed by the stat. 8 Eliz. c. 15, and the repeal continued by several other acts which are all expired, whereby this clause seems to be now in
force] ). Curriers.—[See Stat. 1 Jac. 1, c. 22, repealed by 48 Geo. 3, c. 60,
post, Appendix; Mirr. c. 1, s. 17; Jenk. P. C. 28; Kitch. 29.] Deciners.-See post, Suitors. Deer.—Jenk. P. C. 12; Kitch. 18, 100; Pow. 73 (taking of tame
deer and swans marked is also felony); Jenk. P. C. 29; Kitch. 31;