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Itinerant Courts in United Kingdom

(Source: the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) During the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, justices mainly from the central courts at Westminster, were sent to hold courts for all types of pleas in the counties of England. The counties were grouped into circuits, each of which was ridden by a small group of justices under commission to the king.

Primary among these were the justices in eyre, but the eyres were held too infrequently to enable routine criminal or civil business to be dealth with on a regular basis in the counties. The chief difficulty was that trial by assize or jury required the presence of twelve or more men from the vicinity where the matter in question occurred. As a result, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries a wide range of more limited commissions developed for hearing the pleas of the crown. Commissions of oyer and terminer were established to inquire into, hear and determine the facts of the specified offenses, while commissions of gaol delivery tried or released prisoners in specified gaols. On the civil side, justices were commissioned to officiate at petty assizes which were set up to deal with disputes between parties and required a body of men summoned from the vicinity to answer questions put to them relative to the case.

Itinerant Courts and Medieval Law

Itinerant Courts and Legal History

Legal Materials

(Compiled by the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) 1202 Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. The Publications of the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society. v. Apsley Guise: Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, 1913-.

Abstract: Vol. 1 contains The Bedford Eyre, 1202.

Fowler, George H., ed. The Bedfordshire Eyre, 1202. In Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Publications, 1 ed. London: Aspley Guise, 1913.

Abstract: English translation. essoins and civil and crown pleas.

1202 Eastern Counties

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Pleas Before the King or His Justices. 4 Vols. The Selden Society (SS), 67 for 1948, 68 for 1949, 83 for 1966, 84 for 1967. London: Quaritch, 1948-1967.

Abstract: Vol. 2, Rolls, or fragments of rolls from the years 1198, 1201 and 1202; (1198 Norfolk eyre, 1-15; 1198 Suffolk eyre, 16-29; 1201 Cornwall eyre, 30-225; 1202 Eastern Counties eyres, 226-89)

1202 Lincolnshire

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. The Earliest Lincolnshire Assize Rolls, A.D. 1202-1209. Lincoln Record Society Publications, 22. Lincoln: The Society, 1926.

Abstract: Latin text and English abstracts. Contains civil and crown pleas and also the roll of the limited sessions held for assizes, indictments, appeals and vintners’ amercements in 1206, 235-77.

1202 Northamptonshire

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. The Earliest Northamptonshire Assize Rolls, A.D. 1202 and 1203. Northamptonshire Record Society Publications, 5. London: J.W. Ruddock, 1930.

Abstract: Text in Latin with some English translation. Contains essoins, civil and crown pleas of the 1202 Northamptonshire eyre. Also contains a roll of sessions for assizes and appeals taken in the long vacation of 1203 in Northamptonshire and Suffolk, 99-163.

1203 Shropshire

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Pleas Before the King or His Justices. 4 Vols. The Selden Society (SS), 67 for 1948, 68 for 1949, 83 for 1966, 84 for 1967. London: Quaritch, 1948-1967.

Abstract: Vol. 3, Rolls, or fragments of rolls from the years 1199, 1201, and 1203-1206; (1199 Staffordshire eyre, 1-3; 1203 Shropshire eyre, 63-122 )

1203 Staffordshire

Wrottesley, George, and William Salt Archaeological Society, ed. Collections for a History of Staffordshire. William Salt Archaeological Society, 3, 4, 5 pt.1, 6 pt.1, 7, 9 – 17; n.s., 3, 4, 6. London: Harrison and Sons, 1882-1996.

Abstract: Vol. 3, Essoins, crown and civil pleas and amercements from the 1199 Staffordshire eyre, 33-65, and the 1203 Staffordshire eyre, 79-128

1208-09 Eastern Counties

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Pleas Before the King or His Justices. 4 Vols. The Selden Society (SS), 67 for 1948, 68 for 1949, 83 for 1966, 84 for 1967. London: Quaritch, 1948-1967.

Abstract: Vol. 4, Rolls, or fragments of rolls from the years 1207-1212. (Crown pleas, 1208 Yorkshire eyre, 94-117; 1208-9 Eastern Counties eyres, covering Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, 118-67; 1209 Norfolk eyre including civil foreign pleas only, 168-282) Gives the circuits and composition of the justices in eyre from 1190 to 1209 from information in final accords.

1208 Yorkshire

Stenton, Doris M. P, ed. Pleas Before the King or His Justices. 4 Vols. The Selden Society (SS), 67 for 1948, 68 for 1949, 83 for 1966, 84 for 1967. London: Quaritch, 1948-1967.

Abstract: Vol. 4, Rolls, or fragments of rolls from the years 1207-1212. (Crown pleas, 1208 Yorkshire eyre, 94-117; 1208-9 Eastern Counties eyres, covering Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, 118-67; 1209 Norfolk eyre including civil foreign pleas only, 168-282) Gives the circuits and composition of the justices in eyre from 1190 to 1209 from information in final accords.

1209 Norfolk

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Pleas Before the King or His Justices. 4 Vols. The Selden Society (SS), 67 for 1948, 68 for 1949, 83 for 1966, 84 for 1967. London: Quaritch, 1948-1967.

Abstract: Vol. 4, Rolls, or fragments of rolls from the years 1207-1212. (Crown pleas, 1208 Yorkshire eyre, 94-117; 1208-9 Eastern Counties eyres, covering Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, 118-67; 1209 Norfolk eyre including civil foreign pleas only, 168-282) Gives the circuits and composition of the justices in eyre from 1190 to 1209 from information in final accords.

1218-19 Devon

Cruwys, L. G., “1218-1219 Devon Eyre.” Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries 20 (1938-1939): 335-52, 395-416.

Abstract: Selected abstracts of civil pleas.

1218-19 Lincolnshire

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Rolls of the Justices in Eyre for Lincolnshire and Worcestershire. The Selden Society (SS), 53 for 1934. London: Quaritch, 1934.

Abstract: Transcribes and translates the records of the eyres held in Lincolshire in 1218-1219 and Worcestershire in 1221 from the series of Assize Rolls preserved at the PRO. Contents: civil pleas from the Lincolshire eyre, 1-440; civil and crown pleas, amercements, lists of deodands from the Worcestershire eyre, 441-655.

1218-1219 Yorkshire

Stenton, Doris M. P., ed. Rolls of the Justices in Eyre in Yorkshire (1218-1219). The Selden Society (SS), 56 for 1937. London: Quaritch, 1937.

Abstract: Transcribes and translates the records of this eyre from the series of Assize Rolls at the PRO. Contains essoins, civil and crown pleas. Some of the cases recorded here were used by Bracton in his Treatise.

1218 et seq.

Richardson, Henry G., and George O. Sayles , eds. Select Cases of Procedure Without Writ Under Henry III. The Selden Society (SS), 60 for 1941. London: Quaritch, 1941.

Abstract: “Extracts selected cases from the Curia Regis Rolls of Henry III and the Assize Rolls of the same reign, to show the use of plaints without writ in the King’s Bench and before the Eyres…”Appendix II reproduces the Consuetudines Diversarum Curiarum, a tract of about the year 1240 explaining judicial procedure in civil and ecclesiastical cases and criminal procedures at assizes.

Bibliographies of English Law History

  • Maxwell, William H. A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Volume 1: English Law to 1800. London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1955-
  • Beale, Joseph H. A Bibliography of Early English Law Books. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926.
  • Winfield, Percy H. The Chief Sources of English Legal History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925.

Resources

See Also

  • Canonical Legislation (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Exchequer (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Medieval Lawyer (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Tenure (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Custom in Early Britain (in this legal Encyclopedia)


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  • Article Name: Itinerant Courts
  • Author: Anthony Lincoln
  • Description: (Source: the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) During the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, justices [...]

This entry was last updated: May 17, 2017


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