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Dalton's The Country Justice, 1690
Volume 153, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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TO THE

R    E    A    D    E    R.

    IT is a  complaint, as ancient as the Reign of Henry the Seventh;
The Office of a Justice of Peace was a great burthen,
in regard they were charged with the Execution of
so many Statute Laws; whereas the Statutes touching
Riots, Forcible Entries, Laborers, and Liveries were then the
greatest part of their work and business:  More justly and reasonably
may the Complaint be made at this day, when as the
Execution of most Statutes is by express words made the duty
of the Justice of Peace, and the Conviction of Offenders against
the same put into the power and trust of one or two Justices
of Peace, and that out of Sessions.  A moderate referring
of things to their Cognizance by Statutes, is as ancient as their
Constitution, which is thought not to go higher than the time
of Edward the Third.  And things then Cognizable by them,
were for the most part determinable in their Session, and
that by that ancient and legal course of Indictment.  But their
being inabled to hear and determine, and punish upon
View, or by Witnesses, or by Discretion, was rare and unusual,
unless in case of Riots and Force, which threatned the Government,
until the time of Henry the Seventh, in whose Reign it
grew common first, and afterwards general; in the Eleventh
year of whose Reign, was a Statute made for Justices of Peace
by information to hear and determine all offences against penal
Statutes, except Treason, Murder and Felony:  and what the
effects were thereof, the very naming Empson and Dudley will
suggest to any ones Memory, who is in any measure acquainted 
with the History of that King's Reign; in the latter part of
whose Reign it grew common to intrust the Justices of Peace
with such overgreat Authority; nay, at length they shared
not only of the power, but the benefit too.  By the Statute of
the 19 H. 7. c. 11. they have not only power to Convict upon,
and by Examination, such as offend in taking Deer and Herons,
but are also to have a part of the forfeiture for their pains.
Since the Reign of which wise, but covetous Prince, that absolute
discretional, and extra-curial power hath been inlarged by
many Statutes; the growth and increase of whose Authority

B


 
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Dalton's The Country Justice, 1690
Volume 153, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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