Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/320

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A Sixteenth Century Jury but furthermore, because even "yf they had ben present there, as they were not" they still "toke upon them more knolege then yt was possyble that they could have" in undertaking to describe Boldy's mental state. The testimony of "Mayster Mallett" likewise they "estemyd not to be of any efficacye" because he knew nothing except by the report of the neighbors, and "the seyd neyghbors knew not the same but by Boldy's report." Wynscott's confession was thus the merest hearsay, given by Mallett from the constable's report; and the constable's conduct discredited his story. The jury "could gyve no creditt therto, for that that the seyd constable was present at the assyse and gave not the evydence hymself, and also the seyd con stable had told the seyd Segnence [one of the jury] a lyttle before the assisez that Wnyscote never confessed to hym the takyn of the seyd money, but he sayed he dyd threten to send hym to the gaole onles the money were delyveryd ageyn and also sayed yf it were restored then there schold be no ferther trouble aboute yt, and thereafter by thadvertisement of the seyd constable he sayed he wold gyve hym so moche money rather than suffer further trouble therin." The jury must have noticed, too, that this use of promises to extort a confession was acknowledged by the prosecution. What other meaning had the constable's bland intimation to Wynscott that if he confessed "their mought ensewe from thensforth the lesse trouble therin?" Two of the jury, moreover, Geffrey Segnence and William Gover, were among the neighbors whom Boldy called in at the first. They had arrived on the spot as soon as Bowe, and much sooner than Leve, and since "they knewe of theyr owne knoledge as moch as all the resydue dyd," saving only Boldy himself, they


were not disposed to credit the evidence of others, "but leyned more to their owne knowlege." These two "enformed the resydue of theyr seyd compeny of the jury of all the matterz," and they had much to tell that was interesting. On their first coming they found Wyn scott "slepyng apon the seyd Boldey's bed, and then pulled him and styred him and with that he sate up, starynge aboute the house, and he was so dronke that they could not gett a redy answer in half an houre of hym" (we begin to see why he "made little answer in effect") "and then he axed of them where he was, and then they axed hym how he cam in to the seyd house, and he sayd with the key of the church howse of Enmer," his own village. This was giving a pretty respectable character to the "countfett key" which he was charged with using so "burgularly," and one wishes he knew more about Boldy's lock and the lock of the Enmore "church house." It was not until Wynscott at last found himself willing and able to go forth that Boldy suggested a search to see if he lacked anything; and when "wythin a lyttle whyle he sayd that he lackyd his purs, then the tythyngman and the compeny serched" Wynscott "and stryppyd hym, but they could fynd nothyng apon him." "Wherapon they, consideryng the case they found hym in, and that they could not find anythyng apon hym at the seyd serche, and that the seyd Segnence and Gover knew the seyd Wynscote to be accus tomed to be dronke and yet taken contynually as a true man, and that he dyd there remayne and slepe, they could not fynde in their conscyence that the seyd Wynscote had that money." Rather they "thought in their conscyence that the matter was apon malyce, and therapon dyd acquyte the seyd Wynscote of the seyd felony."