Author Topic: Historic Grand Juries  (Read 175 times)

Offline BobWatsit

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Historic Grand Juries
« on: Sunday 08 November 20 14:17 GMT (UK) »
Hello

I am hoping that this is the right place to post this. My apologies if this is not correct

I am hoping that there is someone on the forum who can answer the following about Grand Jury's in the 1800 - 1900s.

I am in the process of researching different aspects of my family history. As part of that I have established a link between my family and the trial of a famous female Margaret Catchpole (from Suffolk).

This link relates to the fact that my ancestor is one of the Juror's listed at her grand jury trial.

The difficulty I am having is that I don't understand how this Grand Jury works. My understanding had been that in Historic England the Grand Jury there would have been 24 justice of peace members. However when the jury list in the History of Margaret Catchpole is reviewed there are two sets of Jury Members

For the Country - 22 Jury Members
For the Liberty - 20 Jury Members

Which I am finding very confusing now and I cannot find any reference to this on line.

I have spent a great deal of time now trying to work out how this would have fit together in the trial (It is more that I simply want to know than anything else). Part of this would be my lack of knowledge of the Grand Jury topic, although I can find a great deal on the internet about Grand Jury's from that era I cannot however find anything about the above. Unfortunately due to COVID I cannot go to the Library either currently.

Is there anyone on the Forum who would understand this?????

I would greatly appreciate knowing the answer

Thank You

p.s.
On a quite random note relating to that particular Jury it seams quite inappropriate that the victim of the crime that Margaret Catchpole was being tried for is also appears to be a jury member. Further to that there are distinct links between the victim and a large amount of other jury members as well. I definitely would not want to be in court on those circumstances.

 

Offline philipsearching

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Re: Historic Grand Juries
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 08 November 20 20:43 GMT (UK) »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_(division) may be useful for understanding the term Liberty.
County (not country) is self-evident.

https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Judges-and-juries.jsp gives an overview of criminal trials and refers to the Middlesex Grand Jury.

Hope this helps
Philip
Please help me to help you by citing sources for information.

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Offline BobWatsit

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Re: Historic Grand Juries
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 08 November 20 22:29 GMT (UK) »
Thank you,  Philipsearching that does take me a bit further forwards.  In my defence the word country was a typo,

So looking at your link on Wikipedia, liberty in that sense is an area. In this case looking at the lists of liberties it has to be Ipswitch. Not what i assumed it meant.

That does however leave the question of why there were two sets of jurors in that case, and also so many justice of the peace involved. I cannot see a reference to that type of thing.  I don't know maybe I am looking in the wrong place. 

Cheers


Offline KGarrad

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Re: Historic Grand Juries
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 08 November 20 22:56 GMT (UK) »
Found this on Wikipedia:

As well as being the seat of county assizes, Bury St Edmunds had been a site for both Piepowder Courts and court assizes, the latter since the Abbey was given a Liberty, namely the Liberty of St Edmund. For the purposes of civil government the town and the remainder (or "body") of the county were quite distinct, each providing a separate grand jury to the assizes.

(Bury in your attachment must refer to Bury St Edmunds?)
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)

Offline BobWatsit

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Re: Historic Grand Juries
« Reply #4 on: Monday 09 November 20 10:53 GMT (UK) »
So I think that this does answer the question of why there are so many justices listed as part of the jury if it is considered how a modern trial would work. A jury would only be appointed should the defendant plead not guilty (they are chosen from a pool of people present). This is likely to have been the same throughout history.

Having read the chapter again, in this case catchpole plead guilty at the hearing (following which she was sentenced to execution by hanging). So no actual trial. More of a plee hearing

I was confused by the liberty and the county thing. However now I know that liberties were specific areas that were granted and Bury St Edmonds was a seat for both assizes a couple of assumptions could be made.

When this is considered, I think that the justice of peace's identified that were present, was because both areas were sitting at the same court at that time, and that it is likely that the grand jury (24 people) would only have been chosen to hear the trial should there have been a not guilty plea.
The Jury would have been chosen from whoever was there (neither the county or the liberty have enough members on there own to form a grand jury of 24, so it seems likely they shared the duties). (That is what happens at Crown Court) As Catchpole plead guilty I think that the sitting justices are simply listed as the witnesses to the plea and also the sentence as they were in the room at the time.

Which also explains why John Cobbald could be involved as even in those days the victim could not be part of the jury (which did seam a little odd)

I also think that the justices world have interchanged between juries for as needed.
I think this is correct

My thanks to the people who have helped. 

Cheers