William III, 1695-6
An Act for the Ease of Jurors and better regulating of Juries. [Chapter XXXII. Rot. Parl. 7 & 8 Gul. III. p. 9. n. 1.]

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History of Parliament Trust

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John Raithby (editor)

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1820

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148-151

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'William III, 1695-6: An Act for the Ease of Jurors and better regulating of Juries. [Chapter XXXII. Rot. Parl. 7 & 8 Gul. III. p. 9. n. 1.]', Statutes of the Realm: volume 7: 1695-1701 (1820), pp. 148-151. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=46839 Date accessed: 01 October 2014.


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Recital of Inconveniences by Delays of Trials at the Assizes, and by the partiality of Sheriffs, &c.

Plaintiff not going to Trial at First Assises (Exception) to sue out a new Writ of Venire Facias.

Whereas for Tryals of Causes upon Writts of Nisi Prius and other Causes att Assizes the Sheriffs do returne a competent Number of Jurors for such Services But it often happens that many of the Causes which are brought downe for Tryal do not go on to be tryed att the First Assizes but are brought downe againe to be tryed att some other subsequent Assizes whereby the Jurors returned to try such Causes are compelled to attend att several Assizes for Tryal of One and the same Cause to their very great Expence and Trouble And forasmuch as by Partiality and Favour of Sheriffs the Corruption of Officers and many other Evil Practices the Service of Jurors hath been found to be very Burthensom and Grievous For Remedy whereof Be it enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Co[m]mons in this present Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That if att any time hereafter any Plaintiff or Demandant in any Cause depending in any of the Courts att Westminster which shall be att Issue shall sue forth or bring to any Sheriff any Writt of Venire facias upon which any Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi Prius shall issue in order to the Tryal of such Issue att the Assizes and that such Plaintiff or Demandant shall not proceed to the Tryal of the said Issue att the said first Assizes after the Teste of every such Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi Prius That then and in all such Cases (other than where Views by Jurors shall be directed) the Plaintiffe or Demandant whensoever hee shall think fitt to try the said Issue att any other Assizes shall sue forth and prosecute a new Writt of Venire facias directed to the Sheriff in this Forme.

Form of Writ.

Quod de novo Venire facias coram &c duodecim liberos & legales homines de vicineto de A. quor[um] quilt habeat decem libr terre tenementor[um] vel redditum per Annu[m] ad minus per quos &c Et qui nec &c.

Proceeding upon the Return and Filing of such Writ.

And the Residue of the said Writt shall be after the ancient manner which Writt being duely returned and filed a Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi Prius shall issue thereupon (for which the ancient and accustomed Fees shall be taken and no more as in the Case of the Pluries Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi Prius upon which the Plaintiff or Demandant shall and may proceed to Tryal as if no former Writt of Venire facias had been prosecuted or filed in that Cause and so toties quoties as the Case shall, require. And if any Defendant or Tenant in any Action depending in any of the said Courts shall be minded to bring to Tryal any Issue joyned against him when by the Course in any of the said Courts hee mày lawfully do the same by Proviso such Defendant or Tennant shall or may of the issuable Terme next preceeding such intended Tryal to be had att the next Assizes sue out a new Venire facias to the Sheriff in Forme aforesaid by Proviso & prosecute the same by Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi Prius as though there had not been any former Venire facias sued out or returned in that Cause and so toties quoties as the Matter shall require.

II. Ven. Fac., Hab. Corpa., &c. sued out as by this Act. directed, and Proceedings thereon good.

And be it also enacted and declared by the Authority aforesaid That every Writt of Venire facias and every Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi prius sued out and prosecuted according to the purport and direction of this Act and all Tryals Entries and Proceedings thereupon shall be good and warrantable by Law and not be erroneous or be assigned or assignable for Error Any former Law or Usage to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

III.

Sheriff, on Writ of Hab. Corpa &c. to return Freeholders or Copyholders of County, where Cause is tried, &c. as Talesmen.; Challenge.; Judge may proceed to Trial with the Jury before impanneled and returned with the Talesmen.; Judge may fine such Freeholders, &c. returned as, Talesmen, not appearing or afterwards withdrawing.

And forasmuch as very frequently unfitt Persons are named by Sheriffs or their Under-Sheriffs to serve as Jurors upon the Tales where a Tales may be prayed or demanded by virtue of the Statute in that Case provided Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That in every Writt of Habeas Corpora or Distringas with a Nisi prius where a full Jury shall not appeare before the Justices of Assize or Nisi prius or else after Appearance where by Challenge of either of the Parties the Jury is like to remaine untaken for Default of Jurors the Sheriff or other Minister or Ministers to whom it shall appertaine to returne the Tales-men shall upon the awarding the Tales att the Co[m]mand of such Justice or Judge of Assize returne Freeholders or Coppyholders of the County where the Cause is to be tryed who shall be returned upon some other Panel to serve att the same Assizes and shall be then attending the Court where such Tryal is to be hadd to serve upon such Tales and not any others if so many out of the other Pannels be p[re]sent in Court or can there be found And that either of the Parties Plaintiff or Defendant Demandant or Tenant shall and may have his Challenge to the Jurors so named added and annexed to the said former Panel by the Sheriff or other Minister or Ministers aforesaid in such wise as if they had been impanelled upon the Venire facias awarded to try the Issue And that the said Justices and Judge of Assize shall and may proceed to the Tryal of every such Issue with those Persons who were before impanelled and returned with these Tales-men so newly added and annexed to the said former Panel by Virtue of this Act in such Case as hee or they might and ought to have done if all the said Jurors returned upon the Writt of Venire facias awarded to try the said Issue had appeared to try the same And that all and every such Tryal had after the Foure and twentieth Day of June One thousand six hundred ninety six shall be good and effectuall in the Law to all intents constructions and purposes whatsoever And in case any such Freeholder or Copy-holder as the said Sheriff or Minister or Ministers shall returne upon the Tales as is aforesaid being present att such Returne made shall be called and not appeare or after his or their Appearance shall wilfully withdraw himselfe from the said Service then in such Case the Justices or Judge of Assize who shall award such Tales shall and may sett a Fine upon every such Person making default or wilfully withdrawing himselfe.

IV.

Constables, &c. yearly, at Michaelmas Quarter Sessions, to return Names and Places of Abode of Persons qualified to serve upon Juries.; Two Justices at Sessions to deliver Duplicate of Return by Clerk of the Peace, to Sheriffs, and cause Lists to be entered by Clerk of the Peace.; Sheriff returning Persons not named,; Penalty £5.

And that all Sheriffs of Counties may be the better informed of Persons qualifyed [who are to be returned for Tryals of Issues joyned in the Courts of Chancery Kings Bench Com[m]on Pleas or Exchequer (fn. 1) ] or to serve upon Juries att Assizes Sessions of Oyer and Terminer General Goal Delivery and Sessions of the Peace Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all Constables Tythingmen & Headboroughs of Towns in each County or their Deputies or some or one of them shall yearely att the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace to be holden for each County Riding or Division or any part thereof in the Week after the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel upon the First Day of the said Sessions or upon the First Day that the said Session shall be held by Adjournment att any other particular Division or Place returne and give a true List in Writing of the Names and Places of Abode of all Persons within the respective Places for which they serve qualifyed to serve upon such Juries with their Titles and Additions between the Age of One and twenty Yeares and the Age of Seventy Yeares to the Justices of the Peace in open Court Which said Justices or any two of them att the said Sessions in the respective Counties Ridings or Divisions shall cause to be delivered a Duplicate of the aforesaid returned List by the Clerks of the Peace of every County or Riding to the Sheriffs or their Deputies on or before the First Day of January next following and cause the said Lists to be fairely entred into a Book by the Clerk of the Peace to be by him provided and kept for that Purpose amongst the Records of the said Court of Sessions [And no Sheriff shall impanel or returne any Person or Persons to try any of the Issues joyned in any of the said Courts or to be or serve in any Jury att the Assizes Sessions of Oyer and Terminer Goal Delivery or Sessions of the Peace that shall not be named or mentioned in the said List (fn. 1) ] And any Constable Tythingman or Headborough failing att any time to make the Returne aforesaid shall forfeit and incurr the Penalty of Five Pounds to His Majesty and Successors to be recovered by Bill Plaint or Information.

V. In what manner Summons of Persons qualified to be made by Sheriff.

And that the Su[m]mons of Persons qualified for the Services aforesaid may not be so uncertaine as hath been practised by Officers therein to the great Injury and Grievance of Persons lyable to the aforesaid Services Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That every Su[m]mons of any Person qualified to any of the aforesaid Services shall be made by the Sheriff his Officer or lawfull Deputy Six Days before att the least shewing to every Person so su[m]moned the Warrant under the Seale of the Office wherein they are nominated & appointed to serve. And in case any Juror so to be sum[m]oned be absent from the usual Place of his habitation att the time of such Su[m]mons in such case Notice of such Su[m]mons shall be given by leaving a Note in Writing under the hand of such Officer cotaineing the Contents thereof att the Dwelling House of such Juror with some Person there inhabiting in the same.

VI.

The said Returns a good Bar in Law for Sheriff, and in Action thereon he may plead the General Issue.; Treble Costs.; Sheriff unduly returning or neglecting Duty, or unduly excusing Persons from serving, &c.; Penalty £20.

And to the end that Sheriffs may not incurr any Penalty to suffer any Damage by su[m]moning or returning any Person named in the Lists or Books of Jurors transmitted to them from the respective Quarter Sessions as aforesaid for not having such Estates as Qualifies such Persons to be Jurors Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That the said Returne to the said Justices shall be a good Excuse & Bar in Law for the said Sheriff for such Su[m]mons and Returnes And if any Action or Information shall be brought or prosecuted against any Sheriff for such Returne the said Sheriff may plead the General Issue and give this Act in Evidence And if the Plaintiff be nonsuited discontinue his Action or if a Verdict be given for the Defendant or a Noli prosequi be entred in any Information or a Verdict passe for the Defendant thereupon the Plaintiffe or Informer shall pay Treble Costs to be awarded by the Court in which such Action or Information was prosecuted & levied by usual Processe And if the said Sheriff his Deputy or Deputies Bayliffe or Bayliffs shall su[m]mons & returne any Free-holder or Coppyholder to any of the aforesaid Services otherwise then as aforesaid or in any ways neglect his or their Duty or Duties in the Service or Services of them required respectively by this Act or excuse any Person or Persons for Favour or Reward or allow of any Writt of Non ponendis in Assizis et Juratis or other Writt to excuse or exempt any Person or Persons from the Service of any Jurie or Juries under the Age of Seventy Yeares such Sheriff [Bayliff or Deputy (fn. 2) ] shall for every Transgression co[m]mitted against this Act forfeit the Su[m]m of Twenty Pounds to be recovered by such Party or Parties grieved or injured or whom else shall sue for the same in any of the Courts of Record att Westm[inster] by Action of Debt Bill Plaint or Information wherein no Essoigne Priveledge Protection or Wager of Law shall be allowed nor any more than one Imparlance.

VII.

No Person returned to serve upon Jury, &c. for the County of York.; (Exception); above once in Four Years.; Sheriff of Yorkshire to keep a Register of Persons who have served as Jurors, to be delivered over to succeeding Sheriffs.; Certificates of Attendance to Jurors gratis.

And whereas the County of York (being a very large County) hath many Persons therein qualified to serve upon Juries att Assizes General Goal-Delivery and Sessions of the Peace yett by the corruption of Sheriffs and their Under Officers the burthen of that Service is forced upon a very few to their Oppression and Grievance Be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That from and after the Foure and twentieth day of June One thousand six hundred ninety six no Person shall be returned or su[m]moned to serve upon any Jury att the Assizes or General Goal-Delivery to be holden for the said County of York or att any Sessions of the Peace to be holden for any part thereof (the City of York and County of the said City and Towne and County of Kingston upon Hull excepted) above once in foure Years And to the end it may appeare what Persons have been su[m]moned and have served as Jurors att any former Assize or Goal Delivery to be holden for the said County of York or att any Sessions of the Peace holden for any part of the said County of York every Sheriff of the said County for the time being shall prepare and keep a Book or Register wherein the Names of all such Persons who have served as Jurors with their Additions and Places of Abode and the Times and Places of such their Services shall be alphabetically entred and registred which Books and Registers shall from time to time be delivered over to the succeeding Sheriff of the said County within Ten Days after hee shall be sworne into his Office And every Juror who shall be su[m]moned and shall serve att any the said Assizes General Goal-Delivery or Sessions aforesaid shall and may att the end of every such Assize & General Goal-Delivery or Sessions aforesaid repaire to the Sheriff or Under-Sheriff of the said County for the time being to have his and their Names entred in the said Book or Register kept for the purpose aforesaid of which hee shall have a Certificate upon his imediate Request gratis from the Sheriff or Under-Sheriff for the time being testifying such his Attendance and Service done.

VIII.

Only One Panel of the Number of Persons, qualified as herein mentioned to serve on Grand Inquest returned, and only Ten Panels on Civil Causes, &c. for the County of York.

And whereas Two several Panels of Jurors have been usually returned to serve on the Grand Inquests and that many more Panels have been sometimes returned for Tryals in Civil Causes att the Assizes held for the said County of York which was found to be more then necessary & Burthensome to the Persons there qualifyed for the said Service Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That from henceforth onely One Panel consisting of Forty eight Free-holders and Copy-holders and no more (each Person having Fourescore Pounds Land per Annum) shall be returned to serve on the Grand Inquest and no more than Ten Panels consisting of Twenty foure Jurors in each Panel shall be returned to serve upon Tryals in Civil Causes att any Assizes to be holden for the said County of York (except onely where Special Juries are directed to be returned by Rule of Court) And that att no one Quarter Sessions of the Peace to be holden for the said County or within any of the Ridings within the same or in any place where such Sessions of the Peace shall be holden by Adjournment or otherwise within the same County shall be returned above the Number of Forty Persons to serve either upon the Grand Inquest or other Service there Any Law or Usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

IX. Inhabitants of Westminster exempt from serving at the Middlesex Sessions.

And whereas the Inhabitants of the City and Liberty of Westminster serve in all Juries in the Courts of Kings-Bench Co[m]mon-Pleas and Excheq[uer] & likewise att the Sessions of the Peace (which by virtue of His Majesties Co[m]mission) is Quarterly held for the said City and Liberty Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That from henceforth the said Inhabitants of the City and Liberty of Westminster shall be and are hereby exempted from serving in any Jury att the Sessions before the Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex.

X. 4W. &M. c.24. & 16–23.

continued for 7 Years, &c. from 1st May 1696.

And whereas by an Act made in the Fourth and Fifth Yeares of the Reigne of King William and Queen Mary intituled An Act for reviving continuing and explaining several Laws therein mentioned which are expired and [neare (fn. 3) ] expiring amongst other things there were several good Clauses and Provisions made and enacted for returning able and sufficient Jurors for Tryals of Issues joyned in any of the Courts of Kings-Bench Co[m]monPleas or Excheq[uer] or before Justices of Assize or Nisi prius Oyer and Terminer Gaol-Delivery or General QuarterSessions of the Peace which Act as to so much thereof as did relate to the returning of Jurors was to be in force for the Space of Three yeares from the First day of May One thousand six hundred ninety three and from thence to the end of the next Session of Parliament which by Experience hath been found beneficial and useful Be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That the said Act as to so much thereof as doth relate to the returning of Jurors shall be and is hereby continued and shall be in force together with this Act for the space of Seven yeares from the First day of May One thousand six hundred ninety six and from thence to the end of the next Session of Parliament and no longer.

XI. Longer Time for summoning Juries for London or Middlesex not given or required, nor for returning Writs for the summoning, &c. of Juries, &c.

( (fn. 4) ) Provided always and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid That this Act or the said Act or any thing therein contained shall not extend to give or require any longer time for the su[m]moning of any Juries that are to try any Issues joyned in any of the said Courts that are tryable by Jurors of the City of London or County of Middlesex than was by Law required before the making of the said Act nor shall extend or be construed to give any longer time or other day for the returne of any Writt Precept or Processe of Venire facias Habeas Corpora or Distringas for the su[m]moning attaching or distreining of any Jury to appeare than was by Law required before the making the said Act But that where there shall not be six days between the awarding of such Writt Precept or Processe and returne thereof every Juror may be su[m]moned attached or distreyned to appeare att the day and time therein mentioned or appointed as hee might have been before the making of ( (fn. 5) ) the said Act Any thing herein or therein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

XII. Proviso for London, and Places having Charter to hold Gaol Delivery, &c.

Provided That this Act or any thing therein contained shall not extend to the City of London nor to any other County of any City or Towne within this Realme nor to any Towne Corporate that have Power by Charter to hold Sessions of Gaol Delivery or Sessions of the Peace for such Towne.

Footnotes

1 annexed to the Original Act in a separate Schedule.
2 Deputy or Bailiffe O.
3 were O.
4 The following Provisoes are annexed to the Original Act in Two separate Schedules.
5 this or O.