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and there, present to serve on the grand jury, and to inquire on his Majesty's behalf, for the body of the county aforesaid, for all such matters and things as shall be then and there given them in charge: and also that you summon and warn the persons underwritten, being able and sufficient freeholders of the said hundred that they be then and there present to serve on the petty jury for his Majesty's service: And that yourself be then and there present to make return thereof. And herein neither you nor them may fail, at your and their perils. Given under the seal of my office the day of in the


... year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. and in the year of our Lord

Then the sheriff makes his return of the summons to the Sessions, thus:

The execution of this precept appears in certain pannels hereto annexed. I further certify that I have given notice to all coroners, keepers of gaols and houses of correction, high-constables and bailiffs of liberties within my county, to be and appear at the time and place within mentioned, to do and perform, &c.; and have caused to be proclaimed through my county, in proper places, the Session within mentioned.

The answer of ...

Then on a piece of parchment, write the names of the jurors, coroners, keepers of gaols, &c.

County of.... {



THE General Quarter Session of the Peace holden at ... in the town of



in and for the said county on the...... .... in the .... year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and so forth, before..... ... Esquires, and others, justices of our Sovereign Lord the King, assigned to keep the peace in the said county; and also to hear and determine divers felonies, trespasses, and other misdemeanors in the said county committed, and of the quorum, and so forth.




Of the Custos Rotulorum, Justices, Sheriff, Clerk of the
Peace, Coroner, Gaolers, Constables, Jurors, Suitors,
Pleaders, &c. with their, and every of their, Duties,
Oaths, Privileges, Indemnities, Fees, &c.

Custos Rotu- THE CUSTOS ROTULORUM is the principal personage in the constitution of the Session of the Peace.


How appointed.

He is the first civil officer in the county, as the Lord Lieutenant is the highest military one: of late years, indeed, it has been usual for the same person to hold both offices, but they are entirely distinct in their appointments and duties. He has, as his title implies, the custody of the rolls, or records of the sessions of the peace, and of the commission of the peace. He is nominated by the King under his sign manual, selected, as Lambard informs us, "either for wisdom, countenance, or credit."+ He is always himself a justice of the peace and quorum, in the county wherein he has his office; but he has nevertheless been generally considered rather in the light of a minister, than a judge, on account of the special charge in the commission-" Quod ad dies, et loca predicta, brevia præcepta, processus, et indictamenía predicta coram te, et dictis sociis tuis venire facias."

"No person shall be appointed to the office of Custos Rotulorum within any shire, but such as shall have a bill signed with the King's hand for the same; which shall be a warrant to the Lord Chancellor to make a commission, assigning the same person to be Custos Rotulorum, until the King hath by another bill appointed one other person to

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have the office; and the Custos Rotulorum shall exercise the office by himself, or his deputy, learned in the laws, according to the tenor of their commission." *

But the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Ely, and all to whom the King or his progenitors, by letters patent, have granted any liberty to make any of the said officers Custos Rotulorum, shall enjoy the same liberty.†

The Custos Rotulorum, by virtue of his place, having the To attend custody of the rolls of session ought to attend the sessions the Sessions. by himself, or his deputy, who is the clerk of the peace.

He is directed by statute "to appoint a sufficient person residing within the county, to execute the office of clerk of the peace, by himself or sufficient deputy, such deputy being admitted by the Custos Rotulorum, so often as the office of clerk of the peace shall be vacant. ‡

But he shall not sell the said place, directly or indirectly, under the penalty of losing his said place of Custos Rotulorum, and forfeiting double the value of what he shall have taken for the same, to be recovered by him that will sue, to his own use, in any of the Courts of Westminster. §

THE JUSTICES, by whom the session is to be holden, The Justices. are, of course, the next persons, after the Custos Rotulorum, to be noticed.

necessary to compose a

It requires at least two Justices to compose a session, How many whereof one must be of the This quorum. appears from the very words of their commission, which are, so far as Session. they relate to the present subject of consideration, as follows. "We have also assigned you, and every two, or more, of you, of whom any one (quorum unus) of you the said A. B., C. D., &c. we will shall be one, our Justices to enquire the truth more fully, by the oath of good and lawful men of the aforesaid county, by whom

37 Hen. 8. c. 1,-1 Wm. & Ma. stat. 1. c. 21.

+37 Hen, 8. c. 1.

‡ Ib.

§ Wm. & Ma. st. 1. c. 21.

the truth of the matter shall be better known, of all and all manner of felonies, poisonings, enchantments, sorceries, trespasses, forestallings, regratings, engrossings, and extortions, whatsoever; and of all, and singular, other crimes and offences of which the Justices of our Peace may or ought lawfully to enquire, &c. &c.—And to hear and determine all, and singular, the felonies, poisonings, &c. &c. aforesaid, &c. &c. according to the laws and statutes of England, &c.-And the same of fenders, and every of them for their offences, by fines, ransoms, amerciaments, forfeitures, and other means, as according to the law and custom of England, or form of the ordinances and statutes aforesaid, it has been accustomed, or ought to be done, to chastise and punish.

"And therefore we command you and every of you, that to keeping the peace, ordinances, statutes, and all and singular other the premises, you diligently apply yourselves;-and that at certain days and places, which you, or any such two or more of you as aforesaid, shall appoint for these purposes, into the premises ye make enquiries; and all and singular the premises hear and determine, and perform and fulfil them in the aforesaid form, doing therein what to justice appertains, according to the law and custom of England: saving to us the amerciaments and other things to us therefrom belonging.

"And we command by the tenor of these presents our sheriff of M. that at certain days and places, which you, or any such two or more of you, as aforesaid, shall make known to him, he cause to come before you, or such two or more of you, as aforesaid, so many and such good and lawful men of his bailiwick, (as well within liberties as without) by whom the truth of the matter in the premises shall be the better known and inquired into."

Such then is the foundation of the authority by which any two Justices of a county, division, riding, or liberty, one being of the quorum, may hold a General Quarter Session of the peace.

Formerly it was customary to appoint only a select Justices of number of Justices, eminent for their skill and discretion, the quorum. to be of the quorum; but now the practice is to advance almost all of them to that dignity, naming them all over again in the quorum clause, except perhaps only some one inconsiderable person for the sake of propriety.*

Indeed the advancement of learning in modern times, made any distinction of this kind unnecessary, long before it was removed in any instance by legislative provision, or even by the extension just noticed in the commissions.

The first statute which recognized this alteration, was in the 26th of Geo. 2.† which enacted that no act, order, adjudication, warrant, indenture of apprenticeship, or other instrument, done or executed by two or more Justices, which doth not express that one or more of them is of the quorum (although the statutes respectively require that one of the Justices shall be of the quorum) shall be impeached, set aside, or vacated for that defect only.

And by a subsequent statute, ‡ in cities, boroughs, towns corporate, franchises, and liberties, which have only one Justice of the quorum, all acts, orders, adjudications, warrants, indentures of apprenticeship, or other instruments, done or executed by two or more Justices, qualified to act therein, shall be valid, although neither of the said Justices shall be of the quorum.

It may therefore now be fairly admitted, that any two, or more, of the persons named in the commission of the peace for any county, division, riding, or liberty, are competent to hold a General Quarter Session for the same, respectively, having complied with the requisite forms prescribed by divers statutes, all of which are directed to secure three objects; viz. that the persons executing an office of so much trust and responsibility, shall be in such situations of life, as to offer a reasonable presumption that they will be above corruption; secondly, that they shall be loyal subjects of that government, the peace of which they are appointed to protect; and, thirdly, that they shall be conformists to the religion of the State.

1 Black. Com. 351. † 26 Geo. 2. c. 27.

7 Geo. 3. c. 21.

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