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or by information in the court of king's bench, (according to the rank of the offenders) it is fure to be feverely punished with forfeiture of their offices, fines, imprisonment, or other difcretionary cenfures, regulated by the nature and aggravations of the offence committed.

22. LASTLY, extortion is an abuse of public justice, which confists in any officer's unlawfully taking, by colour of his office, from any man, any money or thing of value, that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due ". The punishment is fine and imprisonment, and sometimes a forfeiture of the office.

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E are next to confider offences against the public peace; the conservation of which is intrusted to the king and his officers, in the manner and for the reasons which were formerly mentioned at large. These offences are either fuch as are an actual breach of the peace; or conftructively fo, by tending to make others break it. Both of these species are also either felonious, or not felonious. The felonious breaches of the peace are strained up to that degree of malignity by virtue of several modern statutes: and, particularly,

I. THE riotous affembling of twelve perfons, or more, and not difperfing upon proclamation. This was first made high treason by statute 3 & 4 Edw.VI. c. 5. when the king was a minor, and a change in religion to be effected: but that ftatute was repealed by statute 1 Mar. c. I. among the other treasons created fince the 25 Edw. III; though the prohibition was in substance re-enacted, with an inferior degree of punishment, by ftatute 1 Mar. ft. 2. c. 12. which made the fame offence a fingle felony. These statutes specified and particularized the nature of the riots they were meant to fupprefs; as, for example, such as were set on foot with intention to offer violence to the privy council, or to change the laws of the kingdom, or for certain other specific purposes: in which cafes, if the persons were a Vol. I. pag. 117. 268.350.




commanded by proclamation to disperse, and they did not, it was by the statute of Mary made felony, but within the benefit of clergy; and alfo the act indemnified the peace officers and their affiftants, if they killed any of the mob in endeavouring to fuppress such riot. This was thought a necessary security in that fanguinary reign, when popery was intended to be re-established, which was like to produce great discontents: but at first it was made only for a year, and was afterwards continued for that queen's life. And, by statute 1 Eliz. c. 16. when a reformation in religion was to be once more attempted, it was revived and continued duting her life alfo; and then expired. From the acceffion of James the first to the death of queen Anne, it was never once thought expedient to revive it: but, in the first year of George the first, it was judged neceffary, in order to support the execution of the act of fettlement, to renew it, and at one ftroke to make it perpetual, with large additions. For, whereas the former acts exprefly defined and fpecified what should be accounted a riot, the ftatute 1 Geo. I. c. 5. enacts, generally, that if any twelve perfons are unlawfully assembled to the difturbance of the peace, and any one juftice of the peace, sheriff, under-fheriff, or mayor of a town, fhall think proper to command them by proclamation to disperse, if they contemn his orders and continue together for one hour afterwards, fuch contempt fhall be felony without benefit of clergy. And farther, if the reading of the proclamation be by force opposed, or the reader be in any manner wilfully hindered from the reading of it, fuch oppofers and hinderers are felons, without benefit of clergy and all perfons to whom fuch proclamation ought to have been made, and knowing of fuch hindrance, and not difperfing, are felons, without benefit of clergy. There is the like indemnifying clause, in case any of the mob be unfortunately killed in the endeavour to disperse them; being copied from the act of queen Mary. And, by a fubfequent claufe of the new act, if any perfons, fo riotously affembled, begin even before proclamation to pull down any church, chapel, meeting-house, dwelling-house, or out-houses, they shall be felons without benefit of clergy.


2. By

2. By ftatute 1 Hen. VII. c. 7. unlawful hunting in any legal forest, park, or warren, not being the king's property, by night, or with painted faces, was declared to be fingle felony. But now by the statute 9 Geo. I. c. 22. to appear Geo. I. c. 22. to appear armed in any open place by day, or night, with faces blacked or otherwise disguised, or (being so disguised) to hunt, wound, kill, or steal any deer, to rob a warren, or to steal fish, is felony without benefit of clergy. I mention this offence in this place, not on account of the damage thereby done to private property, but of the manner in which that damage is committed; namely, with the face blacked or with other disguise, to the breach of the public peace and the terror of his majesty's fubjects.

3. ALSO by the fame statute 9 Geo. I. c. 22. amended by ftatute 27 Geo. II. c. 15. knowingly to send any letter without a name, or with a fictitious name, demanding money, venison, or any other valuable thing, or threatening (without any demand) to kill, or fire the house of, any perfon, is made felony, without benefit of clergy. This offence was formerly high treafon, by the statute 8 Hen. V. c. 6.


4. To pull down or deftroy any turnpike-gate, or fence thereunto belonging, by the ftatute 1 Geo. II. c. 19. is punished with public whipping, and three months imprisonment; and to destroy the toll-houses, or any fluice or lock on a navigable river, is made felony to be punished with transportation for feven years. By the ftatute 5 Geo. II. c. 33. the offence of destroying turnpike-gates or fences, is made felony also, with transportation for feven years. And, laftly, by ftatute 8 Geo. II. c. 20. the offences of destroying both turnpikes upon roads, and fluices upon rivers, are made felony, without benefit of clergy; and may be tried as well in an adjacent county, as that wherein the fact is committed. The remaining offences against the public peace are merely misdemefnors, and no felonies: as,

5. AFFRAYS (from affraier, to terrify) are the fighting of two or more persons in fome public place, to the terror of his majesty's fubjects: for, if the fighting be in private, it is no affray but an affault. Affrays may be fuppreffed by any private perfon present, who is justifiable in endeavouring to part the combatants, whatever confequence may enfue. But more efpecially the conftable, or other fimilar officer, however denominated, is bound to keep the peace; and to that purpose may break open doors to fupprefs an affray, or apprehend the affrayers; and may either carry them before a juftice, or imprifon them by his own authority for a convenient space till the heat is over; and may then perhaps alfo make them find sureties for the peace. The punishment of common affrays is by fine and imprifonment; the measure of which must be regulated by the circumstances of the case:` for, where there is any material aggravation, the punishment proportionably increases. As where two persons coolly and deliberately engage in a duel: this being attended with an apparent intention and danger of murder, and being a high contempt of the justice of the nation, is a ftrong aggravation of the affray, though no mischief has actually enfued. Another aggravation is, when thereby the officers of justice are disturbed in the due execution of their office': or where a respect to the particular place ought to restrain and regulate men's behaviour, more than in common ones; as în the king's court, and the like. And upon the fame account also all affrays in a church or church-yard are esteemed very heinous offences, as being indignities to him to whofe fervice those places are confecrated. Therefore mere quarrelfome words, which are neither an affray nor an offence in any other place, are penal here. For it is enacted by ftatute 5 & 6 Edw.VI. c.4. that if any person fhall, by words only, quarrel, chide, or brawl, in a church or church-yard, the ordinary fhall fufpend him, if a layman, ab ingreffu ecclefiae; and, if a clerk in orders,

b 1 Hawk. P. C. 134.

• Ibid. 136.

VOL. IV. 4

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& Ibid. 137. e Ibid. 138. T

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