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To make inquiry concerning the commiffion of public offences, and to transmit an account of them to the criminal court, was one great purpose of the appointment of coroners; a fet of officers who had place not only in England and Scotland, but in the greater part, if not in all, of the feudal king doms upon the continent.

"The office of the coroners, in England, is of fo great antiquity, that the commencement of it is entirely loft in obfcurity. It feems to have been an immemorial custom of the Anglo-Saxons, that feveral perfons of diftinction fhould be named by the freeholders in cach county, with power to fecure and imprison criminals of all forts, to the end that they might be brought to a trial. From this employment, thefe officers, as in after times the juftices of the peace, found the means of affuming a criminal jurifdiction, which, from fmall beginnings, be came gradually more and more ex renfive. Another branch of bufinefs, devolved upon the coroner, and which may be regarded as an appendage or confequence of the former, was that of afcertaining and determining the value of the fines, amerciaments, and forfeitures, or of any other emoluments, which accrued to the fovereign, either from the condemnation of public offenders, or from the right of the crown to all the goods, of which no other proprietor could be found.

When the coroner had occafion to enquire into the truth of any fact, either with a view to determine thofe matters which fell under his own jurisdiction, or in order to transmit an account of it to some other criminal court, he proceeded, in the fame manner that was cuftomary in the courts of the hundred, and of the county, by the affiftance

of an inqueft or jury; and the number of jurymen, who, in thofe cafes, were called from the neighbouring townships, was not lefs than was employed in other judicial investigations.

"After the Norman conqueft, when the auli regis drew to itself the cognizance of the greater part of crimes, it became the duty of the coroner to certify to that court his inquifition concerning those offences. which fell under its jurifdiction; and upon this information, the moff authentic that could well be procured, a trial before the grand jufticiary was commenced. Upon the establishment of the king's bench, and of the commiffions of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, the like certification, and for the fame pur pofe, was made by the coroner of these tribunals.

"But in proportion to the ad vancement of the prerogative, the authority of the coroner, an officer elected by the county, was diminifhed; his jurifdiction was daily fubjected to greater limitations; and his reports became gradually more narrow and defective: whe ther it be that, by having a fellowfeeling with the inhabitants, he endeavoured to screen them from juftice, or that, from the ruft and relaxation to which every old inftitution is liable, his operations became tardy and inaccurate; certain it is, that he came to overlook the greater part of the offences wich require the interpofition of the magiftrate, and his inquifition was at length confined to a few of thofe enormous crimes, which excite universal indignation and resentment.

"To fupply the deficiency of the coroner's inqueft, the fheriff, who had come, in a great measure, under the appointment of the crown, was directed, upon the meeting of


judges in the circuits, or of the other criminal courts, to call a jury, in order to procure information concerning the crimes committed in particular districts. Hence the origin of what is called the grand jury, by whofe inquifition the judges were authorised to proceed in the trial of public offenders.

"It is probable, that when the grand jury were first called, they made an inquiry at large concerning every fact which ought to become the fubject of a criminal trial, and of their own proper motion delated the perfons whom they found to deferve an accufation; but, by degrees, when the agent for the crown had been led to fufpect any particu. lar perfon, he was accustomed to lay before them the immediate queftion, how far that fufpicion was well founded? Hence the two methods of finding the fact; by pre fentment, and by indictment.

"It feems evident, from what has been obferved, that the original purpofe of the inquifition by the coroner, and of a prefentment by the grand jury, was to prevent of fenders from being overlooked, and from escaping a trial. When the custom of preferring indictments to the grand jury was introduced, the intention of that meafure was, probably, to avoid the trouble and expence of a fruitless profecution. But, whatever was originally in tended by this practice, the neceffity of procuring the previous ap. probation of a jury, by one or other of the forms above-mentioned, was productive of the highest advantage to the people, that of fecuring them from groundlefs or frivolous accufations, If a perfon is known to have committed a crime, ar lies under a ftrong fufpicion of guilt, the voice of the whole neighbour hood will probably call aloud for

justice, and demand an immediate trial of the offender. But if, on the contrary, an innocent man is at tacked, if he is threatened with a profecution, from apparently malicious motives, or for the purpofe of ferving a political job, it is most likely that his fellow citizens will view this proceeding with indigna, tion; that they will confider his misfortune as, in fome measure, their own; and that, from a prin ciple of humanity and justice, as as well as from a regard to their own intereft, they will be excited to stand forth as the protectors of innocence.

"This is a new inftance, perhaps more confpicuous than any that we have had occafion to obferve in the hiftory of the English government, of a regulation whofe confequence's were not foreseen at the time when it was introduced, The great benefit arifing to fociety from the interpofition of the grand jury is not only totally different, but even dia metrically oppofite to that which was originally intended by it. The original purpofe of that inftitution, was to affift the crown in the difco. very of crimes, and by that means to encrease the number of profecu tions, But when an accurate police had been established in the country, there was little danger that any crime of importance would be concealed from the public; and it became the chief end of the grand jury to guard against the abufes of the defcretionary power with which the officers of the crown are invested, that of profecuting public affences,

"The employment of the coroner in Scotland, was the fame as in England; and he appears to have ufed the fame forms in the exercise of his jurifdiction. With the affift ance of a jury, he enquired into the

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be directed at the difcretion of a crown officer.

"The attorney-general, in England, and the matter of the crownoffice,have acquired, in like manner, a power of profecuting by information, without any previous authority of a grand jury; but this mode of profe cution is confined to mifdemeanours tending to difturb the government, or the peace and good order of society, and is never extended to crimes of a capital nature.

commiffion of crimes; and either punished them by his own authority, or tranfmitted information concerning them to the competent court. The negligence of this officer feems, in that country, to have likewife produced the interpofition of the heriff, or chief magistrate of particular districts, by calling a jury for the fame purpofe. By a ftatute in the reign of Alexander the Second, it is enacted, that no profecution, at the inftance of the crown, fhall proceed against any perfon, "How far the nations upon the unlefs by an accufation, upon the continent were poffeffed of a timilar inquifition of a jury, confifting of provifion, to fecure the people from the chief magiftrate of the place and unjust and groundless profecutions, three refpeciable perfons in the it is not eafy to determine. That neighbourhood. This rule con- in the greater part of them the cotinued till near the end of the fix- roner's inqueft was employed for teenth century; when, in confe- bringing to light thofe diforders quence of the establiment of the which required the interpofition of court of feffion, and from other a criminal court, there is no room causes, the investigation of judicial to doubt. But when, from the matters, by a jury, came to be circumft.nces which have already much more limited than it had for been pointed out, the method of merly been. By an act of the Scot- trial by the petty jury had fallen tish parliament, in 1587, certain into difufe, it is not likely that a commiffioners, instead of the inqueft previous inqueft would still be emformerly called, were appointed in ployed to judge of the neceffity or the feveral counties, for enquiring expediency of commencing a crimi into public offences; and indict-nal accufation. From the rapid ments, framed upon the report of thefe commiflioners, were put into a lift, which got, the name of the porteous roll.

"The fame ftatute empowered the king's advocate to profecute crimes of his own proper motion and, as he was the perfon employed to raise indictments, upon the information tranfmitted by the commiffioners, he naturally affumed the privilege of determining whether the facts laid before him ought to be the ground of a profecution or not. Thus in Scotland the ancient grand jury was abolished; and criminal actions, at the inftance of the public, camre, in all cafes, to

advancement of the prerogative in thefe nations, the fovereign was freed from any restraint in this branch of administration, and an unbounded liberty of trying public offences was committed to the officers of the crown. : To whatever caufes it may be afcribed, the English grand jury is now the only inflitu tion of the kind that remains in Europe; and perhaps, as it is modelled at prefent, there cannot be found, in the annals of the world, a regulation fo well calculated for preventing abufes in that part of the executive power which relates to the profecution of crimes."

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[From the Second Volume of a Collection of Original Letters, Written during the Reigns of HENRY VI. EDWARD IV. and RICHARD III, By JOHN FENN, Efq. M. A. and F. R. S.]

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pain I endure,

And for to be dead [for my life], I dare it not dyfcur' [difcover].

"And my lady my mother hath laboured the matter to my father full diligently, but he can no more get than ye know of, for the which God knoweth I am full forry. But if that ye love me, as I trust verily that ye do, ye will not leave me therefore; for if that ye had not half the livelihood that ye have, for to do the greatest labour that any woman alive might,. I would not forfake you.

And if ye command me to keep me true wherever I go,

I wis I will do all my might you to love,

and never no mo.

And if my friends fay, that I do amifs.
They fhall not me let fo for to do,
Mine heart me bids ever more to love you.
Truly over all earthly thing,
And if they be never fo wrath,

I truft it shall be better in time coming.

"No more to you at this time, but the holy Trinity have you in keeping; and I befecch you that this bill be not feen of none earthly creature fave only yourself, &c.

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IGHT worshipful and well. beloved Valentine, in my most humble wife, I recommend me unto you, &c. And heartily I thank you for the letter, which that ye fend me by John Beckerton, whereby I underland and know, that ye be purpofed to come to Topcroft in fhort time, and without any errand or matter, but only to have a conclufion of the matter

betwixt my father and you; I


would be moft glad of any creature alive, fo that the matter might grow to effect. And thereas [whereas] ye fay, and [if] ye come and find the matter no more towards you than did afore time, ye would no more put my father and my lady my mother to no cof nor bufinefs, for that caufe a good while after, which caufeth my heart to be full heavy; and if that ye come, and the matter take to none effect, then fhould I be much more forry, and full of heaviness.

And as for myself I have done, and understand in the matter that I can or may, as God knoweth; and I let you plainly understand, that father will no more money my part withal in that behalf, but an 100l. and 59 marks (31. 6s. 8 d.) which is right far from the acceniplifhment of your defire.

"Wherefore, if that ye could be content with that good, and my poor

poor perfon, I would be the merrieft maiden on ground; and if ye think not yourself fo fatisfied, or that ye might have much more good, as I have understood by you afore; good, true, and loving valentine, that ye take no such labour upon you, as to come more for that matter, but let (what) is, pass and

never more be spoken of, as I may be your true lover and beadwoman during my life.

"No more unto you at this time, but Almighty Jefu preserve you both body and foul, &c. by your valentine, MARGERY BREWS."

Topcroft, 1476-7,

KING RICHARD the Third's Address against HENRY TUDOR. [From the fame Work.]

The copy of a letter of king Richard
III. perfuading bis fubjects to re-
fift Henry Tydder [Tudor] after,
vards king of England, and de
claring from whom the jaid Hen-
ry was defcended,
Richard, &c. wifheth health, we
command you, &c.


ORASMUCH as the king, our fovereign lord, hath certain knowlege that Piers, bifhop of Exeter, Jafper Tydder [Tudor], fon of Owen Tydder, calling him felf earl of Pembroke, John late earl of Oxford, and fir Edward Wodevile, with others diverfe, his rebels and traitors, difabled and attainted by the authority of the high court of parliament, of whom many may be known for open murderers, advowterers [adulterers], and extortioners, contrary to the pleafure of God, and against all truth, honour and nature, have forfaken their natural country, tak ing them first to be under the obey fance of the duke of Bretagne and to him promifed certain things, which by him and his council, were thought things too greatly unnatural and abominable, for them

to grant, obferve, keep, and perform, and therefore the fame ut terly refused.

The faid traitors feeing the faid duke and his council would not aid nor fuccour them nor follow their ways, privily departed out of his country into France, and there taking them to be under the obeyfance of the king's ancient enemy, Charles calling himself king of France, and to abuse and blind the commons of this faid realm, the faid rebels and traitors have chofen to be their captain one Henry Tydder [Tudor], fon of Edmund Tydder, fon of Owen Tydder, which of his ambitious and infatiable covetife [covetousness] encroached and ufurpeth upon him, the name and title of Royal Estate of this realm of England; whereunto he hath no manner of intereft, right, title or colour, as every man well knoweth; for he is defcended of bastard blood, both of father's fide, and of mother's fide; for the faid Owen the grandfather, was baftard born; and his mother was daughter unto John, duke of Somerfet, fon unto John, earl of Somerfet, fon unto dame Kathe rine Swynford, and of their indou


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