W.H. of Gray’s Inn, Esq.,


Jura publica certissima sunt vitś humanś solatia, infirmorum auxilia,

impiorum frśna.—CASSIODOR.













Abusions of the Common Law.


107 It is abuse that judges assigned shew not the parties pleading their warrants, or of his power, when they demand it.

108 It is abuse that justices and their officers, who kill people by false judgment, be not destroyed as other murderers, which king Alfred caused to be done, who caused forty-four justices in one year to be hanged as murderers for their false judgment.

  1. He hanged Darling because he had judged Sidulf to death, for the retreat of Edulf his son, who afterwards acquitted him of the fact.

  1. He hanged Segnor who judged Ulfe to death after sufficient acquittal.


  1. He hanged Cadwine, because that he judged Hackwy to death without the consent of all the jurors, and whereas he stood upon the jury of twelve men, and because three would have saved him against the nine, Cadwine removed the three, and put others upon the jury, upon whom Hackwy put not himslef.

  1. He hanged Cole, because he judged Ive to death when he was a mad-man.

  1. He hanged Malme, because he judged Prat to death upon a false suggestion that he committed the felony.
  2. He hanged Athulf because he caused Copping to be hanged before the age of one and twenty years.
  3. He hanged Markes because he judged During to death by twelve men who were not sworn.
  4. He hanged Ostline because he judged Seaman to death by a false warrant, grounded upon false suggestion, which supposed Seaman to be a person in the warrant, which he was not.
  5. He hanged Billing, because he judged Leston to death by fraud, in this manner he said to the people, Sir, all ye here but he who assisted to kill the man, and because that Leston did not sit with the other he him commanded to be hanged, and said that he did assist, where he knew he did not assist to kill him.
  6. He hanged Seafaule because he judged Olding to death for not answering.
  7. He hanged Thurston because he judged Thurguer [247] to death by verdict of enquest, taken ex officio without issue joined.
  8. He hanged Athelston, because he judged Herbert to death for an offence not mortal.
  9. He hanged Rombold because he judged Lischild, in a case not notorious, without appeal, and without indictment.
  10. He hanged Rolfe, because he judged Dunstan to die for an escape out of prison.
  11. He hanged Freburne because he judged Harpin to die, whereas the jury were in doubt of their verdict, for in doubtful causes one ought rather to save than to condemn.
  12. He hanged Seabright who judged Aihebbrus to death, because he condemned one by a false judgment mortal.
  13. He hanged Hale because he saved Tristram the sheriff from death, who took to the king’s use from another’s goods against his will, for as much as any such taking from another against his will, and robbery hath no difference.
  14. He hanged Arnold because he saved Boyliffe, who robbed the people by colour of distresses, whereof some were by selling distresses, some by extortion of fines, as if betwixt extortion of fines, releasing of tortious distresses, and robbery there were difference.
  15. He hanged Erkinwald because he hanged Franklin, for naught else but because he taught to him who [248] vanquished by battle mortal to say the word of cravant.
  16. He hanged Bermond because he caused Garbolt to be beheaded by his judgment in England, for that for which he was outlawed in Ireland.
  17. He hanged Alkman because he saved Cateman by colour of disseisin, who was attainted of burglary.
  18. He hanged Saxmond because he hanged Barrold in England, where the king’s writ runneth for a fact which he did in the same land where the king’s writ did not run.
  19. He hanged Alflet because he judged a clerk to death, over whom he had not cognizance.
  20. He hanged Piron because he judged Hanting to death because he gave judgment in appeal before the forty days pendant the appeal, by a writ of false judgment before the king.
  21. He hanged Diling because he caused Eldon to be hanged, who killed a man by misfortune.
  22. He hanged Oswin because he judged Fulcher to death out of court.
  23. He hanged Muclin, because he hanged Helgrave by warrant of indictment not special.
  24. He hanged Horne because he hanged Simin at days forbidden.
  25. He hanged Wolmer because he judged Graunt to death by colour of a larceny of a thing, which he had received by title of bailment.
  26. He hanged Therberne because he judged Osgot [249] to death for a fact, whereof he was acquitted before, against the same plaintiff, which acquittance he tendred to aver by oath, and because he would not aver it by record, Therberne would not allow of the acquittal which he tendred him.
  27. He hanged Wolstor because he adjudged Haubert to death at the suit of the king, for a fact which Haubert confessed, and of which the king gave him his pardon, but he had no charter thereof, nevertheless he vouched the king to warrant it, and further tendred to aver it by inrolment of the chancery.
  28. He hanged Oskitell because he judged Catling to death, by the record of the coroner, whereby replication allowable the plea did not hold. And the case was such, Catling was taken and punished so much, as he confest he had mortally offended, and that to be quitted of the pain; and Oskitell adjudged him to death upon his confession which he had made to the coroner, without trial of the truth of the pain, or the fact. And further, he caused the coroners and officers accessaries to be apprehended, who hanged the people, and all those who might have hindred the false judgment, and did not hinder the same in all case; for he hanged all the judges who had falsly saved a man guilty of death, or had falsly hanged any man against the law, or any reasonable exception.
  29. He hanged the suitors of Calevot, because they had adjudged a man to death in a case not notorious, [250] although he were guilty thereof; for no man can judge within the realm but the king, or his commissaries, except those lords in whose lordships the king’s writ doth not run.
  30. He hanged the suitors of Dorcester, because they judged a man to death by jurors in their liberty, for a felony which he did out of the liberty, and whereof they had not the conusance by reason of foreignty.
  31. He hanged the suitors of Cirencester, because they kept a man so long in prison, that he died in prison, who would have acquitted himself by foreigners, that he offended not feloniously.
  32. In his time the suitors of Doncaster lost their jurisdiction, besides other punishments, because they held pleas forbidden by the customs of the realm to judges, ordinaries, and suitors to hold.
  33. In his time Colgrin lost his franchise of enfangthief, because he would not send a thief to the common gaol of the county, who was taken within his liberty for a felony done out of the liberty in guildable.
  34. In his time Buttolphe lost his view of frank-pledges, because he charged the jurors with other articles than those which belonged to the view, and amerced people in personal actions where one was not to be amerced by a pecuniary punishment. And accordingly he caused mortal rewards to criminal judges for wrongful mortal judgments, and so he did for wrongful judgments venials. Imprisonment for [251] wrongful imprisonments, and like for like, with the other punishments; for he delivered Thelweld to prison, because he judged men to prison for an offence not mortal.
  35. He judged Litbing to prison, because he imprisoned Herbote for the offence of his wife.

He judged Rutwood to prison, because he imprisoned Olde for the king’s debt.

On the other side he cut off the hand of Haulf, because he saved Armock’s hand, who was attainted before him that he had feloniously wounded Richbold.

He judged Edulfe to be wounded, because he judged not Arnold to be wounded, who feloniously had wounded Aldens.

In lesser offences he did not meddle with the judgments, but disinherited the justices, and removed them according to the points of those statutes in all points where he could understand that they had passed their jurisdiction, or the bounds of their delegacy, or of their commission; or had concealed fines, or amercements, or other thing which belonged to the king; or had released or increased any punishment contrary to law, or procured the exercising or pleading without warrant, either by the property, by warrant of writ, or of a plaint of the possession, or e contra; or in the venial actions by words of felony, or e contra, or had sent to no party a transcript of his plea at the journey, or any of the parties wrongfully grieved, or done any other wrong in [252] disallowance of a reasonable exception of the parties, or to the judgment.

In his time every plaintiff might have a commission and a writ to his sheriff, to the lord of the fee, or to certain justices assigned upon every wrong which was done.

In his time law was hastened from day to day, so that above fifteen days there was no default nor essoin adjournable.

In his time the parties might carry away the parts of their pleas under the seal of the judges, or the adverse parties.

In his time there was no stay of writs, all remedial writs were grantable, as of debt by virtue of an oath.

In his time the judges used to take twelve pence of every plaintiff at the journey.

In his time plaintiffs recovered not only damages of the issues of the possessions, and of the fees, but recovered costs as to the hurts, and as much as on might lawfully tax, by the occasion of such a fact.

109 It is abuse that such a multitude of clerks are suffered to be made, whereby the king’s jurisdiction is overthrown.

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This page was updated on January 10, 2007