Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/318

This page needs to be proofread.

A Sixteenth Century Jury Credelond was of less pliant material, and his persistent denial remained an obstacle to official progress. So the con stable, firm in his purpose "to fynd some mean that the seid Boldey mought be restored to his money ageyn," turned his attention once more to Wynscott, and intimated that the latter would do well to help him "to that entent that their mought ensewe from thensforth the less trouble." This hint, upon the sincerity of which Wynscott soon had occasion to reflect, did its work; for presently "one of the seid Walter Credelond is frendes" produced the required sum and Boldy was paid. The whole matter was then laid before Mighell Mallett, Esquire, the local Justice of the Peace. This func tionary summoned into his presence the constable, Frenche, and Credelond. The two former confirmed all that had been told of them; but Credelond re mained obdurate and the Justice, re ceiving no confession from him, in lieu thereof took a recognizance with sure ties for his appearance before the next Assizes. This was the story which was told a few months later to the two justices of assize for the county of Somerset and a jury, upon Wynscott's trial for burglary. It came from the lips of Boldy, John Bowe and John Leve, two of the neigh bors, and "Mayster Mallett," the Jus tice of the Peace, who repeated to the jury all that had been told to him. No other witnesses seem to have been called for the Crown, and there were probably none at all for Wynscott. He was incompetent to testify him self, as he would have been in Eng land at any time down to 1898; and had he sought to call other witnesses on his behalf, his request might have been denied as summarily as was Sir Nicholas Throckmorton's request for a like favor


a year or two later on his trial for high treason.1 Of course at this time he could have no counsel. In the face of this uncontradicted testimony the verdict was Not Guilty. This so disturbed the justices of assize, as an "evyll example" to others, that they forthwith brought the matter before the Court of Star Chamber for the punishment of the jurors — then a fam iliar head of that court's jurisdiction.2 1 This was what took place at Throckmorton's trial : — "Throckmorton. I did see John Fitzwilliams here even now who can testify ... I pray you, my lords, let him be called to depose in this matter what he can. "Attorney [General]. I pray you, my lords, suffer him not to be sworn, neither to speak; we have nothing to do with him. "Throckmorton. Why should he not be suffered to tell truth? And why be ye not so well contented to hear truth for me, as untruth against me? "Hare [Master of the Rolls]. Who called you hither, Fitzwilliams, or commanded you to speak? You are a very busy officer. "Throckmorton. I called him, and do humbly desire that he may speak and be heard as well as Vaughan. or else I am not indifferently used; espe cially seeing master Attorney doth so press this matter against me. "Southwell [Privy Councillor]. Go your ways, Fitz williams, the court hath nothing to do with you; peradventure you would not be so ready in a good cause. "Then John Fitzwilliams departed the court, and was not suffered to speak." 3 The Star Chamber assumed jurisdiction where the peace was threatened; and sometimes the theory was stretched a good way to sustain the jurisdiction. It is invoked, for example, in a mere controversy over a piece of land because of the "ragious and riotous demeanour" of the defendant. On finding his stepmother "at dyner within an honest man is house" he "sodenly plucked out his sworde havyng these wordes to her 'ah thow stepdame by goddcs blodde y care not though y thrust my swerde thorowe the.' " And he commented thus on the absence of his clerical half brother, who on seeing the defendant and his friends had "avoydid from ther presens before ther seid comyng yn at a backe syde of the seid house & so departid owte of ther daunger": "Where is that hore is sonne the prest, yf y hadde hym y wolde hew hym yn smale gobettes to sell hym at the market." By reason of this conduct the oratrix suffered "suche drede & agonye that she was & hath byn syns yn perell of her body & lyeff and euer shall be the wors whyle she lyveth." But if jurors were to be punished at all for wrong verdicts it was not much of a stretch for the court to claim jurisdiction