Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/317

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A Sixteenth Century Jury By Ezra Ripley Thayer dean of harvard law school ONE night in May, 1546, at ten o'clock, John Boldy returned to his house in Spaxton. History does not say how he had passed the evening, but it is of record that he was minded to go to bed "without any candle light or any other lyght." And when he "felt with his hand one lying uppon the same bed" it is not surprising that he was "astoned" and "abasshed," for his nocturnal visitor had seen fit to lock the house door on the inside before making himself so much at home. So Boldy "went forthe secretly out of his house ageyn for com pany" and brought back Simon Logg the tithing man and other neighbors with him. The sleeping occupant of Boldy's bed then turned out to be John Wynscott of the nearby village of Enmore, whom they forthwith awaked "and examyned hym of his comyng thether, whereunto the seid John Wynscott made little answer in effect." Presently Boldy an nounced that a purse containing 20 shillings, two silver rings, and a signet, was missing from his chest, and sus picion naturally fell on Wynscott. So he was arrested and removed to another house, and the constable of the hundred was sent for. That official had regard for his night's sleep, and made haste so deliberately that it was seven o'clock the next morning before he put in an appearance. In the meantime Wynscott had been taking thought for himself. He began by soliciting "one Anthony Frenche to convey away certen money from hym, who refused that to doo, declaryng that if he shuld convey away

any of the same money from hym that then therby he shuld be in as evyll case as the seid Wynscott was." But Frenche's scruples spent themselves in this refusal, and neither moved him to inform on Wynscott nor to decline the office of emissary to Walter Credelond, whom Wynscott next desired to see. "The said Credelond beyng then in his bedd about two of the clok of the seyd nyght dyd," unlike the constable, forth with "ryse out of his bedd and cam to the seid Wynscott and there communed with him secretly bytwene them two, but wherof their comunycacon was" the captors could not tell. In due time came the constable and began proceedings by searching Wyn scott. The search disclosed but 2s. 3d., "wheruppon they that had kept hym all the nyght before perceivyng that he had ben oftentymys that same nyght resortyng about certen peaces of tymber whiche dyd lye in the same house wher he was kept that nyght past mystrustyd and supposed that he had hyd the same purse and money with the other thynges in the same purse conteyned amonges the seid tymber and so they declared to the seid counstable, whereuppon they serched the seid peces of tymber and their found the seid purse and the seid 2 rynges and the seid sygnett therin conteyned but their was no money in the purse." The constable now had something to work on, and before long he had secured from the culprit a confession that he had hidden the purse and had handed the missing money to Credelond. But