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OUR LEGAL HERITAGE The first thousand years: 600 - 1600 King AEthelbert - Queen Elizabeth

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Vice-Chancellor, Doctors, Heads of Colleges, and Proctors. Then
Oxford became a hotbed of Puritanism. Cambridge already had a
strong reformed element from Erasmus' influence. Oxford
University and Cambridge University were incorporated to have a
perpetual existence for the virtuous education of youth and
maintenance of good literature. The Chancellors, masters, and
scholars had a common seal. Undergraduate students entered at age
16 and resided in rooms in colleges rather than in scattered
lodgings. Each undergraduate student had a tutor and those not
seeking a degree could devise his own course of study with his
tutor's permission. Many students who were working on the seven
year program for a Master's Degree went out of residence at
college after the four year's "bachelor" course. Students had
text books to read rather than simply listening to a teacher
read books to them. Oxford was authorized to and did acquire its
own printing press. Examination was still by disputation.
Students acted in Latin plays. If a student went to a tavern, he
could be flogged. For too elaborate clothing, he could be fined.
Fines for absence from class were imposed.

All students had to reside in a college or hall, subscribe to the
39 articles of the university, the Queen's supremacy, and the
prayer book. Meals were taken together in the college halls. The
universities were divided into three tables: a fellows' table of
earls, barons, gentlemen, and doctors; a second table of masters
of arts, bachelors, and eminent citizens, and a third table of
people of low condition. Professors, doctors, masters of arts
and students were all distinguishable by their gowns.

Undergraduate education was considered to be for the purpose of
good living as well as good learning. It was to affect the body,
mind, manners, sentiment, and business. The university
curriculum included Latin and Greek languages and was for four
years. The student spent at least one year on logic (syllogizing,
induction, deduction, the thirteen classical fallacies, and the
application of logic to other studies), at least one year on
rhetoric, and at least one year on philosophy. The latter
included physics, metaphysics, and ethics (domestic principles
of government, military history, diplomatic history, and public
principles of government), and mathematics (arithmetic, geometry,
algebra, astronomy, music, optics). There were lectures on Greek
and Latin literature, including Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero.

About 1564, the curriculum was changed to two terms of grammar,
four terms of rhetoric, five terms of dialectic (examining
ideas, opinions logically), three terms of arithmetic, and two
terms of music. There were now negative numbers, irrational
numbers, and imaginary numbers. Also available were astrology,
and alchemy, cultivation of gardens, and breeding of stock,
especially dogs and horses. Astronomy, geometry, natural and
moral philosophy, and metaphysics were necessary for a master's
degree. The university libraries of theological manuscripts in
Latin were supplemented with many non-religious books.

There were graduate studies in theology, medicine, music, and
law, which was a merging of civil and canon law together with
preparatory work for studying common law at the Inns of Court in

In London, legal training was given at the four Inns of Court.
Only young gentry were admitted there and many later became
members of Parliament or Justices of the Peace. It took about
seven years there to become a lawyer. Besides reading textbooks
in Latin, the students observed at court and did work for
practicing lawyers. They often also studied and attended
lectures on astronomy, geography, history, mathematics,
theology, music, navigation, foreign languages, and lectures on
anatomy and medicine sponsored by the College of Physicians. A
tour of the continent became a part of every gentleman's

Medical texts were Hippocrates and Galen. These viewed disease as
only part of the process of nature, without anything divine.
They stressed empiricism, experience, collections of facts,
evidences of the senses, and avoidance of philosophical
speculations. Galen's great remedies were proper diet, exercise,
massage, and bathing. He taught the importance of a good water
supply and good drainage. Greek medicinal doctrines were
assumed, such as preservations of the health of the body was
dependant on air, food, drink, movement and repose, sleeping and
waking, excretion and retention, and the passions. It was widely
known that sleep was restorative and that bad news or worry could
spoil one's digestion. An Italian book of 1507 showed that
post-mortem examinations could show cause of death by
gallstones, heart disease, thrombosis of the veins, or

Because physicians were allowed to dissect corpses, there were
anatomy textbooks and anatomy was related to surgery. The
compound microscope was invented about 1590. A visit by a doctor
cost 13s.4d. Melancholia, which made one always fearful and full
of dread, and mania, which made one think he could do
supernatural things, were considered to be different types of
madness from infirmities of the body. Barber-surgeons extracted
teeth and performed surgery. Barbers were allowed to do only
dentistry and bleeding. A College of Surgeons was founded.
Teachers of surgery used corpses of felons to teach anatomy. Even
the poor were buried in coffins.

All forms of English literature were now in print, except for
plays. In 1600 William Gelbert wrote a book on terrestrial
magnetism which founded the science of electricity. He
cultivated the method of experiment and of inductive reasoning
from observation. He expounded the idea of Nicolaus Copernicus of
Poland published in 1543 that the earth revolves around the sun
in a solar system. However, the prevailing belief was still that
the earth was at the center of the universe.

Many people kept diaries. Letter-writing was frequent at court.
Correctness of spelling was beginning to be developed. Printers
tended to standardize it. There was much reading of romances,
jest books, histories, plays, prayer collections, and
encyclopedias, as well as the Bible. In schools and gentry
households, favorite reading was Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queen"
about moral virtues and the faults and errors which beset them,
Erasmus' New Testament, "Paraphrases", "Colloquies", and
"Adages", Sir Thomas North's edition of Plutarch's "Lives of the
Noble Grecians and Romans", Elyot's "The Book Named the
Governor", and Hoby's translation of "The Courtier". At a more
popular level were Caxton's "The Golden Legend", Baldwin's
"Mirror for Magistrates", Foxe's "Book of Martyrs" about English
protestant who suffered at the stake, sensational stories and
pamphlets, printed sermons (including those of Switzerland's
Calvin), chronicles, travel books, almanacs, herbals, and
medical works. English fiction began and was read. There were
some books for children. Books were copywrited, although
non-gentlemen writers needed a patron. At the lowest level of
literacy were ballads describing recent events. Next to sermons,
the printing press was kept busiest with rhymed ballads about
current events. Printed broadsheets on political issues could be
distributed quickly. In London, news was brought to the Governor
of the News Staple, who classified it as authentic, aprocryphal,
barber's news, tailor's news, etc. and stamped it. Books were
also censored for matter against the state church. This was
carried out through the Stationers' Company. This company was
now, by charter, the official authority over the entire book
trade, with almost sole rights of printing (e.g. excluding
schools). It could burn other books and imprison their printers.

Travel books had maps, itineraries, and mileage between towns in
England and Wales according to a survey completed in 1579, about
which time the Queen had a postal system on the high roads for
official business. Non-government people used private post
horses. The gentry rode horses. Most people's mode of travel was
still walking. In 1564, the first canal was built with locks at

William Shakespeare, a glove-maker's son, wrote plays about
historical events and plays which portrayed various human
personalities and their interactions with each other. They were
enjoyed by all classes of people. His histories were especially
popular. The Queen and various earls each employed players and
actors, who went on tour as a troupe and performed on a round
open-air stage, with people standing around to watch. In London,
theaters such as the Globe were built specifically for the
performance of plays, which had been performed at inns. There
were costumes, but no sets. Ordinary admission was 2d. Before
being performed, a play had to be licensed by the Master of the
Revels to make sure that there was nothing detrimental to the
peace and public order. The common people still went to
morality plays, but also to plays in which historical personages
were portrayed, such as Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. Some
plays were on contemporary issues. Musicians played together as
orchestras. Music and singing was a popular pastime after
supper; everyone was expected to participate. Dancing was
popular with all classes. Gentlemen played cards, dice, chess,
billiards, tennis, and fenced and had games on horseback. Their
deer- hunting diminished as forests were cut down for agriculture
and the deer was viewed as an enemy eating crops. Falconry
diminished as hedges and enclosures displaced the broad expanses
of land. With enclosure there could be more innovation and more
efficiency. It was easier to prevent over-grazing and half-
starved animals as a result.

Country people had music, dancing, pantomime shows with masks,
riddles, wrestling, hurling, running, swimming, leap frog,
blindman's buff, shovelboard played with the hands, and football
between villages with the goal to get the ball into one's own
village. There were many tales involving fairies, witches,
devils, ghosts, evil spirits, angels, and monsters enjoyed by
adults as well as children. Many people were still
superstitious, believed in charms, curses, divination, omens,
fate, and advice from astrologers. The ghosts of the earth
walked the earth, usually because of some foul play to be
disclosed, wrong to be set right, to warn those dear to them of
peril, or to watch over hidden treasure. Fairies blessed homes,
rewarded minor virtues, and punished mild wrongdoing. When
fairies were unhappy, the weather was bad. There were parties
for children.

The merry guild-feast was no longer a feature of village life.
There were fewer holydays and festivals. The most prosperous
period of the laborer was closing. An agricultural laborer's
yearly wage was about 154s., but his cost of living, which now
included house rent, was about 160s. a year. In 1533, daily wages
in the summer for an agricultural laborer were about 4d. and for
an artisan 6d. In 1563 in the county of Rutland, daily wages for
laborers were 7d. in summer and 6d. in winter; and for artisans
were 9d. in summer and 8d. in winter.

There were endowed hospitals in London for the sick and infirm.
There were others for orphans, for derelict children, and for
the destitute. They worked at jobs in the hospital according to
their abilities. There was also a house of correction for
discipline of the idle and vicious by productive work.

In the towns, shop shutters were let down to form a counter.
Behide this the goods were made and/or stored. The towns held a
market once a week. Fairs occurred once or twice a year. At
given times in the towns, everyone was to throw buckets of water
onto the street to cleanse it. During epidemics in towns, there
was quarantine of those affected to stay in their houses unless
going out on business. Their houses were marked and they had to
carry a white rod when outside. The quarantine of a person
lasted for forty days. The straw in his house was burned and his
clothes treated. People who died had to be buried under six feet
of ground.

Communities were taxed for the upkeep and relief of the prisoners
in the jails in their communities.

Church services included a sermon and were in accordance with a
reformed prayer book and in English, as was the Bible. Communion
of participants replaced mass by priests. Elizabeth was not
doctrinaire in religious matters, but pragmatic. She always
looked for ways to accommodate all views on what religious
aspects to adopt or decline. Attendance at state church services
on Sunday mornings and evenings and Holydays was enforced by a
fine of 12d. imposed by the church wardens. People could hold
what religious beliefs they would, even atheism, as long as they
maintained an outward conformity. For instance, babies were to be
baptized before they were one month old or the parents would be

There was difficulty persuading educated and moral men to be
ministers. The Bible was read at home and familiar to everyone.
This led to the growth of the Puritan movement. The Puritans
complained that the church exerted insufficient control over the
morals of the congregation. They thought that ministers and lay
elders of each parish should regulate religious affairs and that
the bishops should be reduced to an equality with the rest of
the clergy. The office of archbishop should be eliminated and
the head of state should not necessarily be governor of the
church. Their ideas of morality were very strict and even plays
were though to be immoral. The puritan movement included William
Brewster, an assistant to a court official who was disciplined
for delivering, upon pressure from the council, the Queen's
signed execution order for Mary of Scotland after the Queen had
told him to hold it until she directed otherwise.

The debased coinage was replaced by a recoinage of newly minted
coins with a true silver weight.

Goldsmiths, who also worked silver, often acted as guardians of
clients' wealth. They began to borrow at interest at one rate in
order to lend out to traders at a higher rate. This began

Patents were begun to encourage the new merchant lords to develop
local manufactures or to expand import and export trade. Patents
were for a new manufacture or an improved older one and
determined the wages of its trades. There was chartering of
merchant companies and granting of exclusive rights to new
industries as monopolies. Some monopolies or licenses were
patents or copyrights. Others established trading companies for
trade to certain foreign lands and supporting consular
services. But there were two detrimental effects: monopoly was a
severe burden to the middle and poorer classes, and the power of
patent holder to arrest and imprison persons charged with
infringing upon their rights was extended to any disliked

There was sharing of stock of companies, usually by merchants of
the same type of goods. There were many stockholders of the East
India Company, chartered in 1600 to trade there. New
incorporated companies were associations of employers and often
included a number of trades, instead of the old guilds which were
associations of actual workers. Town government was often
controlled by a few merchant wholesalers. The entire trade of a
town might be controlled by its drapers or by a company of the
Merchant Adventurers. The charter of the latter as of 1564
allowed a common seal, perpetual existence, liberty to purchase
lands, and liberty to exercise their government in any part of
the nation. There were policies of insurance given by groups of
people for losses of ships and their goods.

There were monopolies on cloth, tin, starch, fish, oil, vinegar,
and salt. New companies were incorporated for many trades, the
ostensible reason being the supervision of the quality of the
wares produced in that trade. (Shoemakers, haberdashers,
saddlers, and curriers exercised close supervision over these
wares.) They paid heavily for their patents or charters.

There was no sharp line between craftsman and shopkeeper or
between shopkeeper and wholesale merchant. In London, an
enterprising citizen could pass freely from one occupation to
another. Borrowing money for a new enterprise was common.
Industrial suburbs grew up around London and some towns became
known as specialists in certain industries. The building crafts
in the towns often joined together into one company, e.g.
wrights, carpenters, slaters, and sawyers, or joiners, turners,
carvers, bricklayers, tilers, wallers, plasterers, and paviors.
These companies included small contractors, independent masters,
and journeymen. The master craftsman often was a tradesman as
well, who supplied timber, bricks, or lime for the building
being constructed. The company of painters was chartered with a
provision prohibiting painting by persons not apprenticed for
seven years.

The prosperous merchants began to form a capitalistic class as
capitalism grew. Competition for renting farm land, previously
unknown, caused these rents to rise. The price of wheat rose to
an average of 14s. per quarter, thereby encouraging tillage once
more. There was steady inflation.

The breed of horses and cattle was improved. There were
specializations such as the hunting horse and the coach horse.
Dogs had been bred into various types of hounds for hunting,
water and land spaniels for falconry, and other dogs as house
dogs or toy dogs. There were no longer any wild boar or wild
cattle. The turkey joined the cocks, hens, geese, ducks,
pigeons, and peacocks in the farmyard. Manure and dressings were
used to better effect on the soil.

There are locks and canals as well as rivers. At London Bridge,
water-wheels and pumps are installed. There are now four royal
postal routes from London to various corners of the nation.
Horses are posted along the way for the mail- deliverer's use.
However, private mail still goes by packman or common carrier.
There were compasses with a bearing dial on a circular plate with
degrees up to 360 noted. The nation's inland trade developed a
lot. There were many more wayfaring traders operating from town
inns. There were new industries such as glassware, iron,
brasswares, alum and coppers, gunpowder, paper, coal, and sugar.
Coal was used for fuel as well as wood, which was becoming
scarce. Small metal goods, especially cutlery, was made, as well
as nails, bolts, hinges, locks, ploughing and harrowing
equipment, rakes, pitch forks, shovels, spades, and sickles.
Lead was used for windows and roofs. Copper and brass were used
to make pots and pans. Pewter was used for plates drinking
vessels, and candlesticks. Iron was used for fire-backs, pots,
and boilers. Also in use was canvas, lead, and rice. Competition
was the mainspring of trade and therefore of town life.

Parliament enacted laws and voted taxes. The Queen, Lords, and
Commons cooperated together. There was little dissension or
debating. There were many bills concerning personal, local, or
sectional interests, but priority for consideration was given to
public measures. The knights in the commons were almost
invariably from the county's leading families and chosen by
consensus in the county court. The commons gradually won for its
members freedom from arrest without its permission and the
right of punishing and expelling members for crimes committed.
Tax on land remained at 10% of its estimated yearly income. The
Queen deferred to the church convocation to define Christian
faith and religion, thus separating church and state functions.

The Treasury sought to keep a balanced budget by selling royal
land and keeping Crown expenditures down. The Crown carried a
slight debt incurred before the Queen's accession.

After exhausting every other alternative, the Queen agreed on the
execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, for being involved in a plot
to assassinate her and claim the throne of England.

Francis Drake sailed around the world from 1577 to 1580. Walter
Ralegh made an expedition to North America in 1584 and named
Virginia in honor of the Queen, who was a virgin. Drake and
Ralegh plundered Spanish ships for American gold and silver,
much of which was used to pay for the war with Spain, which
planned to invade England, even after the unsuccessful attempt
by the Spanish Armada in 1588. The two hundred English ships
were built to sink other ships rather than to board and capture
them. The English guns outranged the Spanish guns. So the
smaller English ships had been able to get close enough to the
big Spanish troop-transport galleons to shoot them up without
being fired upon. The direction of the wind forced the Spanish
galleons northward, where most of them were destroyed by storms.
The English seamen had been arbitrarily pressed into this

- The Law -

Although estate tails (estates descendible only to the heirs of
the body of the original feofee) by law could not be sold or
given away, this was circumvented by use of a straw man. In
collaboration with the possessor of the property, this straw man
sued the possessor asserting that the property had been
wrongfully taken from the straw man. The possessor pleaded that
the crier of the court who had warranted it should be called to
defend the action. He failed to appear until after judgment had
been given to the straw man. Then the straw man conveyed it to
the possessor or his nominee in fee simple.

Wearing of velvet or embroidery is restricted to those with an
income over 40,000s. The wearing of satin or silk is restricted
to those with an income over 20,000s.

No one shall make false linen by stretching it and adding little
pieces of wood, which is so weak that it comes apart after five

Timber shall not be felled to make logs for fires for the making
of iron.

No one may take small fish to feed to dogs and pigs. Only nets
with mesh leaving three inches spaces may be used to catch fish.

No attainder shall result in the forfeiture of dower by the
offender's wife nor disinheritance of his heirs.

The following statute of artificers regulated labor for the next
two centuries:

No master or mistress may employ a servant for a term less than
one year in the crafts of clothiers, woolen cloth weavers,
tuckers, fullers, clothworkers, sheermen, dyers, hosiers,
tailors, shoemakers, tanners pewterers, bakers, brewers,
glove-makers, cutlers, smith, farriers, curriers, saddlers,
spurriers, turners, cappers, hatmakers, feltmakers, bow-makers,
arrow-makers, arrow-head- makers, butchers, cooks, or millers, so
that agriculture will be advanced and idleness diminished.
Also, every craftsman unmarried or under age 30 who is not
working must accept employment by any person needing the craft
work. Also, any common person between 12 and 60 who is not
working must accept employment in agriculture. And, unmarried
women between 12 and 40 may be required by town officials to
work by the year, the week, or day for wages they determine.

All artificers and laborers hired by the day or week shall work
from 5 am to 7 PM. All artificers must labor at agriculture at
haytime and harvest to avoid the loss of grain or hay. Every
householder who raises crops may receive as an apprentice a
child between 10 and 18 to serve in agriculture until he is age
21. A householder in a town may receive a child as an apprentice
for 7 years, but merchants may only take as apprentices children
of parents with 40s. freehold. (This was designed to inhibit
migration to the towns.)

No one may be a craftsman until he has served seven years as an
apprentice. These artificers may have children as apprentices:
smith, wheelmaker, ploughmaker, millmaker, miller, carpenter,
rough mason, plasterer, a timber sawer, an ore burner, a lime
burner, brickmaker, bricklayer, tilemaker, tiler, layer of slate
roofs, layer of wood shingle roofs, layer of straw roofs, cooper,
earthen potter, linen weaver, housewife who weaves wool for sale
or for household use.

Fish, but no meat, may be eaten on Wednesdays so that there will
be more fishermen and mariners and repair of ports. (This was
done because fishing had declined since the dissolution of the
monasteries. Eating fish instead of meat in Lent in the
springtime remained a tradition.)

For repairing of highways, the supervisors may take the rubbish
or smallest stones of any quarry along the road in their

Embezzlement or theft by a servant of his master's goods of 40s.
or more is a felony.

No one shall forge a deed of land, charter, sealed writing, court
roll or will.

No one shall libel or slander so as to cause a rebellion.

Cut-purses and pick-purses shall not have benefit of clergy.

A debtor may not engage in a fraudulent collusion to sell his
land and goods in order to avoid his creditors.

A person robbing a house of 5s. by day when no one is there shall
not have benefit of clergy, because too many poor persons who
cannot hire a servant to look after their house when they go to
work have been robbed.

The price of barrels shall be set by mayors of the towns where
they are sold.

No man under the degree of knight may wear a hat or cap of
velvet. Caps may not be made of felt, but only knit wool. Only
hats may be made of felt. This is to assist the craft of making
wool caps.

Every person over 6 years of age shall wear a wool knitted cap
made by the cappers on Sundays, except maidens, ladies,
gentlewomen, noble persons, and every lord, knight, and
gentlemen with 2,667s. of land, since the practice of not
wearing caps has damaged the capping industry. This employed
cappers and poor people they had employed and the decrepit and
lame as carders, spinners, knitters, parters, forses, thickers,
dressers, dyers, battelers, shearers, pressers, edgers, liners,
and bandmakers.

Rugs shall weigh 44 pounds at least and be 35 yards at least in
length and at most 3/4 yard wide.

The incorporated company of ship masters may erect beacons and
marks on the seashores and hills above, because certain steeples
and other marks used for navigation have fallen down and ships
therefore have been lost in the sea.

There shall be one sheriff per county, because now there are
enough able men to supply one per county.

Trials of noblemen for treason shall be by their peers.

A native or denizen merchant in wholesale or retail goods who
leaves the nation to defraud his creditors shall be declared a
bankrupt. The Chancellor may conduct an investigation to
ascertain his land, house, and goods, no matter who may hold
them. They shall be appraised and sold to satisfy his debts.

Loan contracts for money lent may not be for more than 200s. for
each 2000s. yearly. All loans of money or forbearing of money in
sales of goods for less than this shall be punishable by forfeit
of the interest only.

No cattle may be put in any enclosed woods that have been
growing less than five years. At the end of five years growth,
calves may be put in. At the end of six years growth, cattle may
be put in.

The mother and reputed father of any bastard who has been left to
be kept at the parish where born must pay weekly for the upkeep
and relief of such child, so that the true aged and disabled of
the parish get their relief and to punish the lewd life.

No master at a university may lease any land unless 1/3 of it is
retained for crop-raising to supply the colleges and halls for
food for their scholars.

Persons with 100s. in goods or 40s. in lands shall find two able
men in their parish community to repair the highways yearly.

Landowners of Oxford shall be taxed for the repair of the highway
and bridge there.

Woods around London shall not be felled to be converted to coals
for iron-works because London needs the wood to make buildings
and for fire-places.

Every melter and maker of wax from honeycombs shall put his mark
on every piece of his wax to be sold. Wrought wax such as in
lights, staff-torches, red wax or sealing wax, book candles, or
searing candles shall bear its maker's mark. All barrels of
honey shall bear the mark of the honeymaker.

Wool cloth, cotton cloth, flannel cloth, hose-yarn, hats, and
caps shall be dyed black only with dye from the woad plant and
not with any false black dye.

No one shall take or kill any pheasants with nets or devices at
nighttime because such have become scarce.

Lands, tenements, goods and chattels of accountants teller, or
receiver who are in debt may be obtained by court order to
satisfy the debt by garnishing the heir of the debtor after the
heir has reached 21 and for the 8 years next ensuing.

Fraudulent and secret conveyances made to retain the use of one's
land when one sells the land to a bona fide purchaser for value
in fee simple, fee tail, for life, for lives, or for years are

No new iron mills or furnaces for making or working of any iron
or iron metal shall be established in the country around London
and the owners of carriages of coals, mines and iron which have
impaired or destroyed the highways shall also carry coal ashes,
gravel, or stone to repair these highways or else make a payment
of 2s.6d. for each cart load not carried.

No one shall bribe an elector to vote for a certain person for
fellow, scholar, or officer of a college, school, or hall or
hospital so that the fittest persons will be elected, though
lacking in money or friends, and learning will therefore be

Cottage and dwelling houses for workmen or laborers in mineral
works, coal mines, or quarries of stone or slate for the making
of brick, tile, lime, or coals shall be built only within a mile
from such works. Dwelling houses beyond this must be supported
by four acres of land to be continually occupied and manured as
long as the dwelling house is inhabited or forfeit 40s. per month
to the Queen. Cottages and dwelling houses for sailors or
laborers working on ships for the sea shall be built only within
a mile of the sea. A cottage may be built in a forest or park
for a game-keeper of the deer. A cottage may be built for a
herd-man or shepherd for the keeping of cattle or sheep of the
town. A cottage may be built for a poor, lame, sick, aged, or
disabled person on waste or common land. More families than one
may not be placed in one cottage or dwelling house.

A vagabond or mighty strong beggar [able to work] shall be

Any person with land in fee-simple may establish a hospital,
abiding place, or house of correction to have continuance
forever as a corporation for the sustenance and relief of the
maimed, poor, or disabled people as to set the poor to work. The
net income shall not exceed 40,000s. yearly.

Troops of vagabonds with weapons in the highways who pretend to
be soldiers or mariners have committed robberies and murders. So
all vagabonds shall settle down in some service or labor or

Pontage [toll for upkeep and repair of bridges] shall be taken at
certain bridges: carts 2d., horse and pack 1d., a flock of sheep

Crown officials such as treasurers, receivers, accountants, and
revenue collectors shall not embezzle Crown funds and shall be
personally liable for arrears.

Churchwardens of every parish shall oversee the poor in their
parish. They shall, with consent of the Justices of the Peace,
set to work children whose parents cannot maintain them and also
set to work married or unmarried persons who have no trade and
no means to maintain themselves. Churchwardens shall tax every
inhabitant, including parson and vicar and every occupier of land
and houses as they shall think fit. There will be a convenient
stock of flax, hemp, wool, thread, iron and other necessary ware
and stuff to set the poor on work. There will be competent sums
of money for the relief of the lame, impotent, old, blind, and
others not able to work, and also for the putting out of children
to be apprentices. Child apprentices may be bound until 21 years
of age or until time of marriage. They shall account to the
Justices of the Peace for all money received and paid. The
penalty for absence or neglect is 20s. If any parish cannot
raise sufficient funds, the Justices of the Peace may tax other
nearby parishes to pay, and then the hundred, and then the
county. Grandparents, parents, and children of every poor, old,
blind, lame, or impotent person not able to work, being of
sufficient ability, shall at their own charge, relieve and
maintain every such poor person in that manner and according to
that rate as Justices of the Peace of that county determine, or
forfeit 20s. per month. Two Justices of the Peace may commit to
jail or house of correction persons refusing to work and
disobedient churchwardens and overseers. The overseers may, with
the consent of the lord of the manor, build houses on common or
waste land for the poor at the expense of the parish, in which
they may place more than one family in each houses.

Every parish shall pay weekly 2-10d. toward the relief of sick,
hurt, and maimed soldiers and mariners. Counties with more than
fifty parishes need pay only 2- 6d. The county treasurer shall
keep registers and accounts. Soldiers begging shall lose their
pension and shall be adjudged a common rogue or vagabond subject
to imprisonment and punishment.

Defendants may not petition to remove a case to the Westminster
courts after a jury is selected because such has resulted in
unnecessary expense to plaintiffs and delay for defendants in
which they suborn perjury by obtaining witnesses to perjure

Sheriffs summoning defendants without a writ shall pay 200s. and
damages to the defendant, and 400s. to the King.

Persons stealing crops from lands or fruit from trees shall be

Since administrators of goods of people dying intestate who fail
to pay the creditors of the deceased often can't pay the debts
from their own money, the people (who are not creditors)
receiving the goods shall pay the creditors.

Persons forcibly taking others across county lines to hold them
for ransom and those taking or giving blackmail money and those
who burn barns or stacks of grain shall be declared felons and
shall suffer death, without any benefit of clergy or sanctuary.

A proclamation in 1601 reformed the hated monopolies.

No bishop may lease land for more than twenty-one years in or
three lives.

No bishop may alienate any possession of their sees to the crown.
Such are void.

Stewards of leet and baron courts may no longer receive, in their
own names, profits of the court over 12d. since they have vexed
subjects with grievous fines and amercements so that profits of
justice have grown much.

Incorrigible and dangerous rogues shall be branded with an "R"
mark on the left shoulder and be put to labor, because
banishment did not work as they came back undetected. If one is
caught again begging, he shall be deemed a felon.

Benefit of clergy may not be had for stabbing a person who has no
weapon drawn, if he dies within six months.

Any innkeeper, victualler, or alehouse keeper who allows drinking
by persons other than those invited by a traveler who
accompanies him during his necessary abode there and other than
laborers and handicraftsmen in towns upon the usual working days
for one hour at dinner time to take their diet in an alehouse and
other than laborers and workmen following their work to any given
town to sojourn, lodge, or victual in any inn, alehouse or
victuallinge house shall forfeit 10s. for each offense. This is
because the use of inns, alehouses, and victuallinge houses was
intended for relief and lodgings of travelling people and people
not able to provide their own victuals, but not for entertainment
and harboring of lewd and idle people who become drunk.

If a person marries a second time while the first spouse is still
living, it shall be a felony and thus punishable by death.

Watermen transporting people on the Thames River shall have
served as apprentice to a waterman for five years or have been
the son of a waterman. This is to prevent the loss of lives and
goods by inexperienced watermen.

No one may make any hat unless he has served as apprentice for at
least seven years. This is to prevent false and deceitful
hat-making by unskillful persons.

Spices and drugs, including pepper, cloves, mace, nutmeg,
cinnamon, ginger, almonds, and dates, which have usually been
garbled shall be garbled, cleaned, sorted, and sealed by the
Garbler before sale. This is to prevent mingled, corrupt, and
unclean spices and drugs from being sold.

Plasterers shall cease painting because it has intruded upon the
livelihoods of painters who have been apprenticed as such.

Pawn brokers accepting stolen goods shall forfeit twice their
value to the owner from whom stolen.

No butcher may cut any hide or any ox, bull, steer, or cow so
that it is impaired or may kill any calf under five weeks old.
No butcher may be a tanner. No one may be a tanner unless
apprenticed as such for seven years or the son or wife of a
tanner who has tanned for four years or a son or daughter of a
tanner who inherits his tanhouse. Tanners may not be shoemakers,
curriers, butchers, or leatherworkers. Only tanners may buy raw
hides. Only leatherworkers may buy leather. Only sufficiently
strong and substantial leather may be used for sole- leather.
Curriers may not be tanners. Curriers may not refuse to curry
leather. London searchers shall inspect leather, seal and mark
that which is sufficient, and seize any that is insufficiently
tanned, curried, wrought, or used.

Fishermen and their guides may continue to use the coastland for
their fishing activities despite the trespass to landowners.

Since sails for ships in recent years have been made in the realm
instead of imported, none shall make such cloth unless he has
been apprenticed in such or brought up in the trade for seven
years. This is to stop the badness of such cloth.

Any person killing any pheasant, partridge, dove, pigeon, duck or
the like with any gun, crossbow, stonebow, or longbow, or with
dogs and nets or snares, or taking the eggs of such from their
nests, or tracing or taking hares in the snow shall be
imprisoned for three months unless he pays 20s. per head or,
after one month's imprisonment, have two sureties bound for
400s. This is because the past penalty of payment hasn't
deterred offenders, who frequently cannot pay.

Persons affected by the plague may not leave their houses or be
deemed felons and suffer death. This is to avoid further
infection. The towns may tax their inhabitants for the relief of
infected persons.

Tonnage [tax per ton] and poundage [tax per pound] on goods
exported and imported shall be taken to provide safeguard of the
seas for such goods.

Judicial Procedure

Jurors shall be selected from those people who have at least 80s.
annual income instead of 40s. because sheriffs have been taking
bribes by the most able and sufficient freeholders to be spared
at home and the poorer and simpler people, who are least able to
discern the causes in question, and most unable to bear the
charges of appearance and attendance in such cases have been the

Defendants sued or informed against upon penal statutes may
appear by attorney so that they may avoid the inconvenience of
traveling a long distance to attend and put to bail.

No only sheriffs, but their employees who impanel juries or
execute process in the courts shall take an oath of office.

A hundred shall answer for any robbery therein only if there has
been negligence or fault in pursuit of the robber after a hue
and cry is made because the past law has been too harsh and
required payment for offenses from people unable to pay who have
done everything reasonable to catch the robber.

The Star Chamber became the central criminal court after 1560,
and punished perjury, corruption, malfeasance throughout the
legal system such as jury corruption and judicial bribery,
rioting, slander, and libel. Punishments were imprisonment,
fines, the pillory, ear-cropping, whipping, but not death. This
court interrogated the accused, with torture is necessary, and
heard witnesses in camera [not in the presence of the accused].

The court of High Commission took over criminal cases formerly
heard by the church courts.

Suits on titles to land were restricted to the common law courts
and no longer to be heard in the Star Chamber, Chancery Court,
or in the Court of Requests (equity for poor people).

The Queen's Privy Council frequently issued orders to Justices of
the Peace, for instance to investigate riots and crimes, to
enforce the statutes against vagrancy and illegal games, to
regulate alehouses, to ensure that butchers, innkeepers, and
victuallers did not sell meat on fish days, and to gather
information needed from the counties.

The Judges of Assize rode on circuit twice a year to enforce the
criminal law and reported their assessment of the work of the
Justices of the Peace back to the Privy Council. Accused people
could wait for years in jail before their case was heard.

The Privy Council investigated sedition and treason, security of
the regime, major economic offenses, international problems,
civil commotion, officials abusing their positions, and persons
perverting the course of justice. The formal trials of these
offenses would be held elsewhere.

The duty to hear and determine felonies was taken from Justices
of the Peace by 1590. The Judges of Assize did this work.
Felonies included breach of prison, hunting by night with
painted faces, taking horses to Scotland, stealing of hawks'
eggs, stealing cattle, highway robbery, robbing on the sea,
robbing houses, letting out of ponds, cutting of purses,
deer-stealing at night, conjuring and witchcraft, diminution of
coin, counterfeiting of coins, and impenitent roguery and
idleness. The penalty was beheading.

The Justices of the Peace decided misdemeanors such as abduction
of heiresses, illegal entry, petty thievery, damage to crops,
fence-breaking, brawling, personal feuds, drunken pranks,
swearing, profanation of the Sabbath, alehouse nuisances,
drunkenness, perjury, and malfeasance by officials. They held
petty and quarter sessions. Many people were hanged for the
felony of theft over 12d. Some bold men accused of felony
refused to plead so that they could not be tried and found
guilty. They died of heavy weights being placed on their bodies.
But then their property could go to their heirs.

The Justices of the Peace had administrative duties in control of
vagrancy, upkeep of roads and bridges, and arbitration of
lawsuits referred to them by courts. They listed the poor in
each parish community, assessed rates for their maintenance, and
appointed overseers to administer the welfare system, deploying
surplus funds to provide houses of correction for vagrants. Raw
materials such as wool, flax, hemp, and iron were bought upon
which the able-bodied unemployed could be set to work at the
parochial level. They determined wages in their districts, with
no statutory ceiling on them, for all laborers, weavers,
spinsters, workmen and workwomen working by the day, week,
month, or year, or taking any work at any person's hand,. There
were about 50 Justices of the Peace per county. All were unpaid.
They performed these duties for the next 200 years.

The Court of Queen's Bench and Exchequer indirectly expanded
their jurisdiction to include suits between citizens, formerly
heard only the Court of Common Pleas or Chancery. Chancery
interrogated defendants. Chancery often issued injunctions
against suits in the common law courts. Trial by battle was very

Pleadings had to be in writing and oral testimony was given by
sworn witnesses. Case decisions are in books compiled by various
reporters who sit in on court hearings rather than in year

In the common law courts, the action of assumpsit for enforcing
certain promises is used more than the action of debt in those
cases where there is a debt based on an agreement. The essential
nature of "consideration" in contract is evolving from the
procedural requirements for the action of assumpsit.
Consideration may consist in mutual promises, a precedent debt,
or a detriment incurred by one who has simultaneously received a
promise related to the detrimental action. Consideration must be
something, an act, or forbearance of an act that is of value.
For instance, forbearance to sue a worthless claim is not

The abstract concept of contract as an agreement between two
parties which is supported by consideration is developing as the
number of various agreements that are court enforceable expands.
For instance the word "consideration" is used in Hayward's Case
in 1595 in the Court of Wards on the construction of a deed. Sir
Rowland Hayward was seised in fee of the Doddington manor and
other lands and tenements, whereof part was in demesne, part in
lease for years with rents reserved, and part in copyhold, by
indenture, "in consideration of a certain sum of money" paid to
him by Richard Warren and others, to whom he demised, granted,
bargained and sold the said manor, lands and tenements, and the
reversions and remainders of them, with all the rents reserved
upon any demise, to have and to hold to them and their assigns,
presently after the decease of Sir Rowland, for the term of 17
years. It was held that the grantees could elect to take by
bargain and sale or by demise, each of which had different

In another case, A delivered 400s. to B to the use of C, a woman,
to be delivered to her on the day of her marriage. Before this
day, A countermanded it, and called home the money. It was held
in the Chancery Court that C could not recover because "there is
no consideration why she should have it".

In a case concerning a deed, A sold land to B for 400s., with
confidence, that it would be to the use of A. This bargain "hath
a consideration in itself ... and such a consideration is an
indenture of bargain and sale". It was held that the transaction
was not examinable except for fraud and that A was therefore

A court reporter at the King's Bench formulated two principles on
consideration of the case of Wilkes against Leuson as: "The heir
is estopped from falsifying the consideration acknowledged in
the deed of feoffment of his ancestor. Where a tenant in capite
made a feoffment without consideration, but falsely alleged one
in the deed on an office finding his dying seised, the master of
the wards cannot remove the feoffees on examining into the
consideration, and retain the land until &c. and though the heir
tended, still if he do not prosecute his livery, the Queen must
admit the feoffees to their traverse, and to have the farm, &c."
The court reporter summarized this case as follows: Wilkes, who
was merchant of the staple, who died in February last past, made
a feoffment in the August before his death to one Leuson, a
knight, and his brother, and another, of the manor of Hodnel in
the county of Warwick; and the deed,(seen) for seven thousand
pounds [140,000s.] to him paid by the feoffees, of which sum he
made acquittance in the same deed (although in fact and in truth
not a half-penny was paid), gave, granted, and confirmed &c
"habendum eir et hoeredibus suis in perpetuum, ad proprium opus
et usum ipsorum A. B. et C. in perpetuum," and not "hoeredum
suorum," together with a clause of warranty to them, their heirs
and assigns, in forma proedicta: and notwithstanding this
feoffment he occupied the land with sheep, and took other
profits during his life; and afterwards his death was found on a
diem clausit extremum by office, that he died seised of the said
manor in fee, and one I. Wilkes his brother of full age found his
next heir, and a tenure in capite found, and now within the
three months the said feoffees sued in the court of wards to be
admitted to their traverse, and also to have the amnor in farm
until &c. And although the said I. Wilkes the brother had
tendered a livery, yet he had not hitherto prosecuted it, but for
cause had discontinued. And whether now the master of the
wards at his discretion could remove the feoffees by injunction
out of possession upon examination of the said consideration of
the said feoffment which was false, and none such in truth, and
retain it in the hands of the Queen donec et quousque &c. was a
great question. And by the opinion of the learned counsel of
that court he cannot do it, but the Queen is bound in justice to
give livery to him who is found heir by the office, or if he
will not proceed with that, to grant to the tenderers the
traverse, and to have the farm, &c. the request above mentioned.
And this by the statutes ... And note, that no averment can be
allowed to the heir, that the said consideration was false
against the deed and acknowledgment of his ancestor, for that
would be to admit an inconvenience. And note the limitation of
the use above, for divers doubted whether the feoffees shall
have a fee-simple in the sue, because the use is not expressed,
except only "to themselves (by their names) for ever;" but if
those words had been wanting, it would have been clear enough
that the consideration of seven thousand pounds had been
sufficient, &c. for the law intends a sufficient consideration
by reason of the said sum; but when the use is expressed
otherwise by the party himself, it is otherwise. And also the
warranty in the deed was "to them, their heirs, and assigns, in
form aforesaid," which is a declaration of the intent of Wilkes,
that the feoffees shall not have the use in fee simple; and it
may be that the use, during their three lives, is worth seven
thousand pounds, and more &c. And suppose that the feoffment had
been "to have to them and their heirs to the proper use and
behoof of them the feoffees for the term of their lives for
ever for seven thousand pounds," would they have any other
estate than for the term of their lives in the use? I believe
not; and so in the other case.

A last example of a case concerning consideration is that of
Assaby and Others against Lady Anne Manners and Others. The
court reporter characterized the principle of the case as: "A.
in consideration of his daughter's marriage covenants to stand
seised to his own use for life, and that at his death she and
her husband shall have the land in tail, and that all persons
should stand seised to those uses, and also for further
assurance. After the marriage he bargains and sell with fine and
recovery to one with full notice of the covenants and use; this
is of no avail, but on the death of A. the daughter and her
husband may enter." The court reporter summarized this case as
follows: A. was seised of land in fee, and in consideration of a
marriage to be had between his daughter and heir apparent, and
B. son and heir apparent of C. he covenanted and agreed by
indenture with C. that he himself would have, hold, and retain
the land to himself, and the profits of during his life, and
that after his decease the said son and daughter should have the
land to them and to the heirs of their two bodies lawfully
begotten, and that all persons then or afterwards seised of the
land should stand and be seised immediately after the marriage
solemnized to the use of the said A. for the term of his life,
and after his death to the use of the said son and daughter in
tail as above, and covenanted further to make an assurance of
the land before a certain day accordingly &c. and then the
marriage took effect; and afterwards A. bargained and sold the
land for two hundred marks [2,667s.](of which not a penny is
paid) to a stranger, who had notice of the first agreements,
covenants, and use, and enfeoffed divers persons to this last
use, against whom a common recovery was had to his last use; and
also A. levied a fine to the recoverers before any execution
had, and notwithstanding all these things A. continued
possession in taking the profits during his life; and afterwards
died; and the son and daughter entered, and made a feoffment to
their first use. And all this matter was found in assize by
Assaby and others against Lady Anne Manners and others. And
judgment was given that the entry and feoffment were good and
lawful, and the use changed by the first indenture and agreement.
Yet error was alleged. The judgment in the assize is

The famous Shelley's Case stands for the principle that where in
any instrument an estate for life is given to the ancestor, and
afterwards by the same instrument, the inheritance is limited
whether mediately, or immediately, to his heirs, or heirs of his
body, as a class to take in succession as heirs to him, the word
"heirs" is a word of limitation, and the ancestor takes the whole
estate. For example, where property goes to A for life and the
remainder goes to A's heirs, A's life estate and the remainder
merge into a fee in A.

Edward Shelley was a tenant in tail general. He had two sons. The
older son predeceased his father, leaving a daughter and his
wife pregnant with a son. Edward had a common recovery (the
premises being in lease for years) to the use of himself for
term of his life, after his decease to the use of the male heirs
of his body, and of the male heirs of the body of such heirs,
remainder over. After judgment and the awarding of the writ of
seisin, but before its execution, Edward died. After his death,
and before the birth of his older son's son, the writ of seisin
was executed. The younger son entered the land and leased it to a
third party. Afterwards, the son of the older son was born. He
entered the land and ejected the third party. It was held that
the younger son had taken quasi by descent until the birth of
the older son's son. The entry by the older son's son was
lawful. The third party was lawfully ejected. (Shelley's Case,
King's Bench, 1581, English Reports - Full Reprint, Vol. 76,
Page 206.)

Chapter 14: Epilogue

William Brewster and William Bradford and other puritans and
pilgrims sailed on ships such as the Mayflower to found a colony
in North America in 1607. England developed a commonwealth of
countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, and India.

In the time period after 1600, there developed free trade,
democracy, political parties, secret ballots, policemen, Francis
Bacon's advocating of induction in science, Periodic Chart of
chemical elements, calculus and differential equations, college
degrees in biology, chemistry, and physics, Isaac Newton's
theory of gravity, Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, the
experimental method, computers, decoding of the DNA sequence,
Charles Darwin's evolution, Louis Pasteur's germ theory of
disease, Galileo's telescope, Hubble telescope, Big Bang Theory,
antibiotics to cure and surgery to replace body parts, quantum
theory, cold water in pipes to homes, central heating, apartment
high rises, business skyscrapers, electricity, electric lights,
electric sewing machines, industrial revolution factories, labor
strikes, cars, tractors, ice boxes and refrigerators,
telephones, central heating with radiators, heated water in taps,
hot water heaters by gas, gas ovens, humidifiers, upholstered
couches and chairs, canned food, zippers, velcro, trains, ships
by steam and then motors, wall-to-wall carpeting, microscope,
microwave ovens, umbrellas, contraceptive pill, popular
elections, airplanes, photography, record players, potatoes,
corn, chocolate, frozen food, radio, television, plastics, ready
to wear clothes, political parties, submarines, statistics,
economics, multinational corporations, weather forecasting,
braille, airplanes, space ship to moon, banks, annuities,
factory assembly lines, washing machines, dishwashers, sewing
machine, microwave ovens, copier machines, DNA evidence, daily
newspapers, nuclear bomb and nuclear energy, guided missiles,
stock market, quartz watches, museums, bicycles, popular
election, frozen sperm for artificial insemination, investment
advice, retirement planning, pensions, amusement parks, catelogue
buying, labor contracts, dictionaries, childrens' summer camps,
stocks and bonds, teenage culture, concrete, synthetic
materials, typewriters, cardboard boxes, advertising, invitro
fertilization, factory assembly line, gene-mapping, animal
cloning, internet, hiking and camping trips, world travel
vacations, telegraph, word processing, gas, oil, couches,
research, television, radio, credit cards, toothbrushes, dental
floss, buses, subways, chinaware, telephones, camcorders, mass
production, nursing homes, cameras, copy machines, wheelchairs,
hospital operations, artificial limbs, organ transplants,
pharmacies, public libraries, children's playgrounds, cosmetic
surgery, wrist watches, physical exercising equipment, vitamin
pills, sports clubs, condominiums, anesthetics, physical exams,
microscopes, observatories, radar, sonar, opera, nutrition,
psychiatry, supermarkets, disability and life insurance,
magazines, daily newspapers, liability insurance, chemical
fertilizers, DDT, trash pick-up, electronic mail, record
players, video tape recorders, retirement homes, movies;,
planned obsolence, boxspring mattresses, brain scans, xrays,
innoculations, vaccines, penicillin, organized professional
sports, dry cleaners, railroads, foreign embassies,
veterinarians, drug abuse, wage garnishment, fire engines,
tractors, lawnmowers, breeding zoos, museums, world wars,
nuclear deterrence, fingerprinting, forensic evidence, toxic
waste, acid rain, archeology, zippers,

In this time period the development of law includes abolition of
feudal wardships, married women's property act, mandamus,
statute of frauds, rule against perpetuities, mandatory
secondary education, the tort of negligence, the concept of duty
of due care, kidnapping, false impersonation, liens, obscenity,
partnership, pensions, trademarks and unfair competition,
privacy, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the
press, copyrights and patents, bankruptcy, civil rights, union
organizing laws, laws on discrimination due to race, sex, ethnic
or national origin, disability, age, and sexual preference,
sexual harassment and staulking laws, product liability,
international law, no- fault divorce, best interest of child in
custody disputes, child labor laws, environmental laws
protecting air and water quality, workers compensation,
unemployment compensation, controlled substances, intellectual
property law, Coke's treatise on law, and Blackstone's treatise
on law.

Judicial procedure includes grand juries, which hear evidence,
court transcript by court stenographers, discovery, and



Sovereigns of England

Name Accession

Egbert 802
AEthelwulf 839
AEthelbald 858
AEthelbert 860
AEthelred 865
Alfred the Great 871
Edward the Elder 899
AEthelstan 924
Edmund 939
Eadred 946
Eadwig 955
Edgar 959
Edward the Martyr 975
AEthelred the Unready 978
Edmund Ironside 1016
Canute 1016
Harold I Harefoot 1035
Hardicanute 1040
Edward the Confessor 1042
Harold II 1066
William I of Normandy 1066
William II 1087
Henry I (and Matilda) 1100
Stephen 1135
Henry II (and Eleanor) 1154
Richard I 1189
John 1199
Henry III 1216
Edward I (and Eleanor) 1272
Edward II 1307
Edward III 1327
Richard II 1377
Henry IV 1399
Henry V 1413
Henry VI 1422
Edward IV 1461
Edward V 1483
Richard III 1483
Henry VII (and Elizabeth) 1485
Henry VIII 1509
Mary 1553
Elizabeth I 1558
James I 1603


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