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THE chief alterations of moment (for the time would fail me to defcend to minutiae) in the adminiftration of private juftice during this period, are the folemn recognition of the law of nations with refpect to the rights of embaffadors: the cutting off, by the statute for the amendment of the law, a vaft number of excrefcences, that in procefs of time had fprung out of the practical part of it: the protection of corporate rights by the improvements in writs of mandamus, and informations in nature of quo warranto: the regulations of trials by jury, and the admitting witneffes for prifoners upon oath the farther restraints upon alienation of lands in mortmain: the annihilation of the terrible judgment of peine fort et dure: the extenfion of the benefit of clergy, by abolishing the pedantic criterion of reading: the counterbalance to this mercy, by the vaft increase of capital punishment: the new and effectual methods for the speedy recovery of rents: the improvements which have been made in ejectments for the trying of titles: the introduction and establishment of paper credit, by indorsements upon bills and notes, which have fhewn the legal poffibility and convenience (which our anceftors fo long doubted) of affigning a chofe in action: the tranflation of all legal proceedings into the English language: the erection of courts of confcience for recovering small debts, and (which is much the better plan) the reformation of county courts: the great fyftem of marine jurifprudence, [442] of which the foundations have been laid, by clearly deve

loping the principles on which policies of infurance are founded, and by happily applying those principles to particular cafes: and, lastly, the liberality of fentiment, which (though late) has now taken poffeffion of our courts of common law, and induced them to adopt (where facts can be clearly afcertained) the fame principles of redrefs as have prevailed in our courts of equity, from the time that lord Nottingham prefided there; and this, not only where fpecially impowered by particular ftatutes, (as in the cafe of bonds, mortgages, and fet-offs,) but by extending the remedial influence of the equitable writ of trefpafs on the cafe,


according to it's primitive inftitution by king Edward the first, to almost every instance of injuftice not remedied by any other procefs. And thefe, I think, are all the material alterations that have happened with respect to private justice, in the courfe of the prefent century.

THUS therefore, for the amusement and instruction of the student, I have endeavoured to delineate fome rude outlines of a plan for the history of our laws and liberties; from their first rife, and gradual progress, among our British and Saxon ancestors, till their total eclipse at the Norman conquest; from which they have gradually emerged, and risen to the perfection they now enjoy, at different periods of time. We have feen, in the course of our inquiries, in this and the former volumes, that the fundamental maxims and rules of the law, which regard the rights of persons, and the rights of things, the private injuries that may be offered to both, and the crimes which affect the public, have been and are every day improving, and are now fraught with the accumulated wifdom of ages: that the forms of adminiftering juftice came to perfection under Edward the first; and have not been much varied, nor always for the better, fince: that our religious. liberties were fully established at the reformation: but that the recovery of our civil and political liberties was a work of longer time; they not being thoroughly and completely regained, till after the restoration of king Charles, nor fully and explicitly acknowleged and defined, till the aera of the [ 443 1 happy revolution. Of a conftitution fo wifely contrived, fo ftrongly raised, and so highly finished, it is hard to speak with that praise, which is justly and severely it's due :—the thorough and attentive contemplation of it will furnish it's beft panegyric. It hath been the endeavour of these commentaries, however the execution may have fucceeded, to examine it's folid foundations, to mark out it's extensive plan, to exglain the use and diftribution of it's parts, and from the harmonious concurrence of those several parts to demonftrate the elegant proportion of the whole. We have taken occafion


to admire at every turn the noble monuments of antient fimplicity, and the more curious refinements of modern art. Nor have it's faults been concealed from view; for faults it has, left we should be tempted to think it of more than human ftructure: defects, chiefly arifing from the decays of time, or the rage of unskilful improvements in later ages. To fuftain, to repair, to beautify this noble pile, is a charge intrufted principally to the nobility, and fuch gentlemen of the kingdom, as are delegated by their country to parliament. The protection of THE LIBERTY of BRITAIN is a duty which they owe to themselves, who enjoy it; to their ancestors, who transmitted it down; and to their posterity, who will claim at their hands this, the best birthright, and nobleft inheritance of mankind.



§. 1. RECORD of an Indictment and Conviction of MURDER,

at the Affifes.


rwickfire, & it remembered, that at the general Seffion of feffion of the lord the king of oyer oyer and terterminer holden at Warwick in and for the faid county of War- miner. wick, on Friday the twelfth day of March in the fecond year of the reign of the lord George the third, now king of Great Britain, before fir Michael Fofter, knight, one of the juftices of the faid lord the king affigned to hold pleas before the king himself, fir Edward Clive, knight, one of the juftices of the faid lord the king, of his court of common bench, and others their fellows, juftices of the faid lord the king, affigned by letters patent of the faid lord the king, under his great feal of Great Britain, made to them the aforefaid juftices and others, of and any two or more of them, (whereof one of them the faid fir Michael Fofter and fir Edward Clive, the faid lord the king would have to be one,) to inquire (by the oath of good and lawful men of the county aforefaid, by whom the truth of the matter might be the better known, and by other ways, methods, and means, whereby they could or might the better know, as well within liberties as without) more fully the truth of all treafons, mifprifions of treafons, infurrections, rebellions, counterfeitings, clippings, washings, falfe coinings, and other falfities of the monies of Great Britain, and of other kingdoms or dominions whatsoever; and of all murders, felonies, manflaughters, killings, burglaries, rapes of women, unlawful meetings and conventicles, unlawful uttering of words, unlawful affemblies, mifprifions, confederacies, falfe allegations, trefpaffes, riots, routs, retentions, escapes, contempts, falfities, negligences, concealments, maintenances, oppreffions, champarties, VOL. IV. deceits,

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deceits, and all other misdeeds, offences, and injuries whatsoever, and also the acceffories of the fame, within the county aforefaid, as well within liberties as without, by whomsoever and howsoever done, had, perpetrated, and committed, and by whom, to whom, when, how, and in what manner; and of all other articles and circumftances in the faid letters patent of the faid lord the king fpecified; the premifes and every or any of eyer and ter- them howsoever concerning, and for this time to hear and deminer, termine the faid treafons and other the premifes, according to and of the the law and cuftom of the realm of England; and alfo keepers of the peace, and juftices of the faid lord the king, affigned to hear and determine divers felonies, trefpaffes, and other mifdeGrand jury. mefnors committed within the county aforefaid, by the oath of fir James Thomfon, baronet, Charles Roper, Henry Dawes, Peter Wilson, Samuel Rogers, John Dawfon, James Philips, John Mayo, Richard Savage, William Bell, James Morris, Laurence Hall, and Charles Carter, efquires, good and lawful men of the county aforefaid, then and there impanelled, fworn, and charged to inquire for the faid lord the king and for the Indictment. body of the faid county, it is prefented, that Peter Hunt, late of the parish of Lighthorne in the faid county, gentleman, not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and feduced by the instigation of the devil, on the fifth day of March in the faid fecond year of the reign of the faid lord the king, at the parish of Lighthorne aforefaid, with force and arms, in and upon one Samuel Collins, in the peace of God and of the faid lord the king then and there being, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an affault; and that the faid Peter Hunt with a certain drawn fword, made of iron and steel, of the value of five fhillings, which he the faid Peter Hunt in his right hand then and there had and held, him the faid Sa muel Collins, in and upon the left fide of the belly of him the faid Samuel Collins then and there felonioufly, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did ftrike, thruft, ftab, and penetrate; giving unto the faid Samuel Collins, then and there, with the fword drawn as aforefaid, in and upon the left fide of the belly of him the faid Samuel Collins, one mortal wound of the breadth of one inch, and the depth of nine inches; of which faid mor tal wound he the faid Samuel Collins, at the parish of Lighthorne aforefaid in the faid county of Warwick, from the faid fifth day of March in the year aforefaid until the feventh day of the fame month in the fame year, did languish, and languishing did live; on which faid feventh day of March in the year aforefaid, the faid Samuel Collins, at the parish of Lighthorne aforefaid, in the county aforefaid, of the faid mortal wound did die: and fo the jurors aforefaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do fay, that the faid Peter Hunt him the faid Samuel Collins, in manner and form aforefaid, felonioufly, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought,


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