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justice, the whole tithing and hundred should
pay & fine to the king.
In case of the default of appearance in a decenner, his nine pledges had one-and-thirty days to bring the delinquent forth to justice. If this failed, then the chief of those decenners, by the vote of that and the neighborr decennaries, was to purge himself both of the guilt of the fact, and of being parties to the flight of the delinquent. And if they could not do this, then they were, by their own oaths, to acquit themselves, and to bind themselves to bring the delinquent to justice as soon as they could ; and, in the mean time, to pay the damage out of the estate of the delinquent; and, if that were not sufficient, then out of their own estate *.
Every subject in the kingdom was registered in some tithing; only persons of the first rank had the privilege (says Mr. Rapin f) that their single family should make a tithing, for which they were responsible. “ All archbishops, bishops, earls, barons,
and all (says Bracton) who have sok and sac, tol 6 and team, and these kinds of liberties, ought to have under their FRIDBURGH, all their knights, • servants, esquires; and, if any of them prove delinquent, the lord shall bring him to justice, or
? The master of the family was answerable for all who fed at his board, and were of his livery, and for all his servants of every kind, even for those who served him for their food only, without wages. These were said to be of his manupast ; so were his guests ; and if a man abode at any house but two nights, the master of that house was answerable for him .
In a word, says Bracton, every man, as well freemen as others, ought to belong to some frankpledge
* Bacon's Histor. Disc. p. 43.
Bract. 1. iii. De Corona, cap. x. $ Bract. ubi sup. Brit. 19. b.
pay his fine
(i. e. to some decenna) unless he be a traveller, or belong to the manupast of some other; or unless he give some countervailing security to the publick, as dignity (viz. nobility) order (knighthood, or of the clergy) or estate (viz. either freehold in land, or personal effects, res immobiles) if he be a citizen.
By the laws of Edward the Confessor, every person, of the age of twelve years, ought to be sworn in a view of frankpledge, That he will neither become a thief himself, nor be any wise accessary to theft.
This court, Britton * tells us, was to be holden twice a year, which was afterwards reduced to once a year by Magna Charta ; and no man, says the Mira ror, was, by an antient ordinance, suffered to remain in the kingdom, who was not enrolled in decenna, and had freemen for his pledges of
Such was this excellent constitution, which even in Alfred's time, when it was in its infancy, wrought so admirable an effect, that Iagulphus says, a traveller might have openly left a sum of money safely in the fields and highways, and have found it safe and untouched a month afterwards 1. Nay, William of Malmesbury tells us, the king ordered bracelets of gold to be hung up in the cross ways, as a proof of the honesty of his people, none ever offering to meddle with them .
But this constitution would have been deficient, if it had only provided for the incorporating the subjects, unless it had confined them to the places where they were thus incorporated.
And therefore by the laws of Alured, or Canute, it was rendered unlawful for any of the decenners to depart from their dwelling, without the consent of their fellow-pledges; nor were they at liberty to leave the country, without the licence of the sheriff or governor of the same ll. * Brit. 36. b. # Mirr. chap. i. sect. 17. and chap. y. sect. I, Script. post. Bedam, p. 870.
$ Ib. p. 44 Il Bacon, p. 44•
And if a person, who fled from one tithing, was received in another, the tithing receiving him should answer for his deed (i. e. by amercement) if he was there found*.
* Before this order was established,' says Rapin, the meaner sort of people might shift their quarters, by reason of their obscurity, which prevented them from being taken notice of. But it was impossible for them to change their habitation,
after they were obliged to bring a testimonial from 'their tithing, to enable them to settle and be registered in another ni? . Whilst this antient constitution remained entire, such peace,' says lord Coke, 'was preserved within : : the realm, as no injuries, homicides, robberies, . thefts, riots, tumults, or other offences, were com
mitted ; so as 'a man, with a white wand, might safely have ridden, before the conquest, with much money about him, without any weapon, through
England *. Nay, even in the tumultuous times of William the Conqueror, the historians tellus, there was scarce à robber to be found in the kingdom.
This view of frank pledge remained long after the conquest : for we find it twice repeated in one chapter of Magna Charla ş; and there particularly it is said, Fiat autem visus de frankpleg? sic videlicet QUOD PAX NOSTRA TENEATUR. Nay Bracton, who wrote after that time, and Fleta after him, speak of frank pledge as then subsisting.
The statute of Marlborough likewise, which was made the 52d of Henry III. mentions the same court; as doth Britton, who wrote still later, in many places. And in the 17th of Edward II. an act was made, called The statute for the view of Frankpledge ||.
* Brit. ubi supra.
2 Instit. 73
+ Rapin, ubi sup. poxxxiji. ll But this matter was before that transferred from the des cennary court to the leets and sherift's tourn.
Nay, in the reign of Henry IV. we find an amercement for not coming to a view of frankpledge ; and there the whole court of king's bench were of opinion, that every man, as well masters as servants, were obliged to repair to this court *; and though then possibly it was degenerated, and become little more than form.
But in process of time, this institution dwindled to nothing ; so that lord Coke might truly say, Quod vera institutio illius curiæ evanuit, et velut umbra ejusdem adhuc remanet ; and a little after, speaking of the frankpledge, the Decennarii, and the Decenna, he says, They are names continued only as shadows
of antiquity t' Nay, this great man himself (if, after a most careful and painful perusal of all he hath writ, as well here as in his 4th Institute, and other places on the subject, I may be allowed to say so) seems to have no very clear idea concerning them; and might have fairly owned, of the original of the leet and frankpledge, what one of the sages doth of an hundred, in the book of Henry VII. That a hun• dred had existed above a hundred years; and there
fore, as to the true definition of a hundred, and whether it was composed of a hundred towns, or • a hundred lordships, and whether it had antiently
more or less jurisdiction, he frankly owned that he knew nothing of the matter 1.
The statute of Marlborough ģ had perhaps given a fatal blow to the true and antient use of the view of frankpledge; of which, as lord Coke says || the sheriffs had made an ill use ; for, in the 3d year of the succeeding 'king (, we find the legislature providing against notorious felons, and such as be openly of evil fame, that they shall not be admitted to bail; and, in the 13th, the statute of Winchester entirely altered the law, and gave us a new constitution on this head.
* Hill. 3 H. IV. Pl. 19.
+ 2 Inst. 72, 73. | 8 H. VII. 3 b.
Ś Chap. xxiv. By which justices in eyre are forbidden to amerce townships, because all of twelve years old were not sworn. # 2 Instit. 147.
Westminster, I chap. xv.
1. By this act the whole hundred is made answerable in case of robberies.
2. In order to prevent the concealment of robbers in towns, it is enacted, 1. That the gates of all walled towns shall be shut from sun-setting to sun-rising. 2. A watch is appointed, who are to arrest all strapgers. 3. No person is to lodge in the suburbs, nor in any place out of the town, unless his host will answer for him. 4. The bailiffs of towns shall make enquiry once within fifteen days at the farı hest, of all persons lodged in the suburbs, &c. and of those who have received any suspicious persons.
3. To prevent the concealment of robbers with out the towns, it is enacted, that the highways leading from one market-town to another, shall be enlarged, and no bushes, woods, or dykes, in which felons may be concealed, shall be suffered therein.
4. Felons are to be pursued by hue and cry.
This statute, says lord Coke, was made against a gang of rogues then called Roberdsmen, that took their denomination of one Robin Hood, who lived in Yorkshire in the reign of Richard I. and who, with his companions, harbouring in woods and deserts, committed a great number of robberies and other outrages on the subject. From this arch-thief a great number of idle and dissolute fellows, who were called Drawlatches, Ribauds, and Roberdsmen, took their rise, and infested this kingdon for above a century, notwithstanding the many endeavours of the legislature from time to time to suppress them.
In all these laws, the principal aim visibly was, to prevent idle persons wandering from place to place, which, as we have before seen, was one great point of the decennary constitution.