Picture of Celia Fiennes

Celia Fiennes

places mentioned

London, part 5

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Next will proceed to give some short account of tryalls on our Laws which is thus. Every free man of England being oppress'd Comes in due form of Law to demand his right, which being heard by the judges and a jury of his own fellow subjects-his Country men-they give their verdict in the matter as they thinke most just according to the statutes and Laws, and so the right between man and man which does vary from ye different Customs of Each County or precinct. This jury are twelve men all sworne on the Bible solemnly to do Justice, not out of feare, fraud or malice, favour or affection to jnjure any man, and ye first man is their foreman and speakes for the rest, Either acquit or Condemns the person, wch is in Life or Death, so determining other Causes the same manner, and these twelve men must all be agreed in their verdict, which is after they have heard all Can be witness'd or alleadged on all sides, wch verdict the Judges also must pronounce on ye Causes as they have brought it in. Now those suites of Law as well as Causes of Life and death are brought in by bill to ye Grand-jury, which are twenty four and these all of the best Gentry and many of them justices of peace, they examine the matter and if they find it (that is by any Act of Parliament) is pleadable or to be enquired into, they draw it up into an jndictmt and so its sent into the Court to be tryed by the Petty Jury, after whose Verdict and the Judges pronouncing it, the matter must be at an End and taken out of that Court. Sometymes indeed if the Subject is oppress'd he may appeale to another Court yts higher, as from the sessions to the assizes, thence to the Kings Bench, thence to ye Chancery, or the Parliament House which when a matter has there been Debated and decided there Can be noe more done in it because they are the makers of the Laws so best able to Interpret. Sometymes in these other Courts a Jury brings in a matter speciall, that is, Leaves it on the Judges to determine being a matter of Law, then ye Judges must Consult and do it all of them together.

All persons are tryed by those of their own ranke a Commoner of England is tryed by a Jury of Commoners in all Cases and of Life and death, a peer of England is tryed by his Peers, and in case it is not the tyme of ye Parliament sitting, then by a bill of oyer and terminer issued out, there is 12 Peers are jmpannell'd as a jury. But I must mention one thing as to the petty Juryes of Commoners, a person which is tryed for his Life may Challenge some of those wch are brought to be sworne for his Jury, that is except against them to such a number without giving reason, but if he exceeds that number he must give reason for such exception, either to be a man he had injured or one wch had former malice or one related to ye persons who Either is dead or injured; for our Laws Condemn to Death murther, fellony, treasons. By this order you see its Justice and Care. Then in matters of Life and Death the witness for the King are sworne, but ye witness for the prisoners are not sworne but only Examined to declare the truth. But to returne to the tryals of a peer which by such a jury is tryed, in Case the house of Lords ye parliament is sitting, then they prepare Westminster hall for the tryal, the House of Commons manage the Evidence and prosecute them, and the House of Lords are the Judges and Jury in this manner if it be for Life or death, wch is grounded on a statute either against murther, treason or fellony, and so ye arraignment is read and ye Councill for both sides. Ye house of Commons produces their Evidence and witness and the King Constitutes a Lord High Steward for that day or in case the tryal be long he must be Continued till the tryall finishes. He beares a white staff as badge of his great office which Indeed is ye greatest officer in England and for the tyme can act for the King, so above him. He is usually the person that is Lord Chancellor if he be a peer which allwayes is. There he sitts as Judge to whome the other peeres of the whole House of Lords are Joyn'd and after a full Examination on both sides, and the Criminall haveing had full Leave to Cleer himself, then the Lord High Steward askes ye Lords one by one beginning with the puny Lord, so to the highest " in honour my Lord such a one do you thinke my Lord that the prisoner at the Barre is guilty or not Guilty ? ',-to which Each Lord stands up and answeres for himself Either, so as he Judges, " guilty upon my honour,'' or Else " not guilty upon my honour '' and so it goes from one to all, in this manner the Lord High Steward marks down to Each Lords name his answere, and at the Last reckons them up so many Guiltyes, so many not Guiltyes, then he adds his own thoughts to the side he thinks best, but usualy he is so Crafty as to add to the side of the Majority, which being done he pronounces the verdict as ye majority said, Either Guilty or not. Now this verdict the Lords give thus on their honour is Equivalent to the oath the Commoners take that serve in Juryes, for ye peeres take no oath in these matters, otherwise than so. Now in Case ye matter against a peer be only a Law matter of nuise-prise, then the matter being debated and the answere by ye Lord made in his deffence read, and Councell pleading, then ye Lord High Steward askes Each Lord in same order as before, but in this forme " in ye matter which
" has been debated before yr Lord -- Concern-
" ing the Lord at the Barre wth his deffence whether his
" deffence be sufficient to Cleer him or not what sayes yr
" Lordships Content or not content on yr honour ? ''
they all answer as they are affected or understand ye matter " content,'' or else " not content '' which are fixed to each name and so reckon'd up, and ye majority Carry's it Either to quitt or not to quitt him, to which the Lord High Steward adds his as he pleases also, after which they shew the High Steward a respect as a king. He is serv'd on the knee and drinkes some wine and when that is done he breakes his white staff and so pulls off his hatt. When he was the High Steward he had all the maces Carry'd before him all ye officers attending. But in case there be no Chancellour, only a Lord Keeper as at present is, which is no peer of ye realme then he has no vote with ye Lords only Count up ye votes and declares them wch has the Majority, without the addition of his, haveing none, and he is only substituted the deputy steward for the day and so sitts, but on a wool sack as he does in the House of Lords and is only their speaker and officer and must aske Leave for himself and the Judges to put on their Caps before they might do it, now the High Steward sitts in the throne of justice under a Cannopy but I see this Lord Keeper only sate on a wool sack at the foote of the throne which stood Empty behind him. He had noe Compliment paid him more than at another tyme, being only as the Speaker to ye House of Lords and so their officer.

There are severall great officers of ye Court as Lord Treasurer which takes account of all the kings revenues -this sometymes is in Commision between 3 or more. There is also the High Admirall of England that has the Command of all the shipps and stores. This sometymes is in Commision also of 3 or more under whome are ye Vice Admirall and Rear Admirall, also undr the Treasurer are severall officers. There is also two principal Secretaryes of State which write all things, the Kings Lettrs &, and relateing to the government, maintain all Inteligences in ye kingdom and abroad. There is also a Master of the Generall Post Office that has all the under masters and officers of ye posts both for forreign Letters and inland Lettrs .

There are also governours as Lord Lieutenant of Jreland -that sometymes is held in Commission. There is also Lords Justices there, all which have their Salleryes ariseing out of the same kingdom. There is also to all our forreign plantations governrs sent from England and their salleryes arise from the plantation. The Kings revenues arise from ye Customs of goods v exported and jmported, from the Excise on all Liquors that are made in England and sold, besides which there is a Considerable revenue from Lands belonging to ye Crown, tho' that is much Lessen'd by the severall donations of our kings for many yeares to their favourites. Out of those revenues all ye Civil List is maintain'd, which is ye Judges salleries, the great officers, the household of ye king. There is another great revenue in ye Post Office, besides at all Extraordinary occasions of the marriage of any of our princess's their portion, or any warre, then the Parliament raises taxes on the nation on Land or trade, additional Customs, and also on the Excise, Encreasing that under the Civil List is the Expences of the Court, the guards, and also the ambassadors which are sent by the king into forreign kingdoms to treate matters for Each others good: their Expences while there are allowed and so of all Envoyes or Consulls wch are lesser Embassadours. There is also the maintaining the navy, building shipps, the wood of which Indeed is out of the King's fforest.

There remaines now only in what manner the kings or queenes of England give publick audience to fforreigne ambassadours Either when they Come in their first Entrance or at the tyme of their takeing Leave; but first I may give account of our Bishops and Gentry. There is 26 Bishopricks with the two Archbishops Canterbury and york and there are as many Cittyes and Cathedralls which in my travells have described. All these Bishopricks are held of the Crown and are Given by the king, to whome is due the first fruites which is one yeares income of the Bishopricks. They are held for Life, true jndeed they admit of being removed from one Bishoprick to another for advancemt , nay they may forfeit their Bishoprick by not being qualify'd, if they will not sweare to be faithfull to ye government and so they may be suspended, as in ye Case of severall in the last revolution would not sweare to King William and Queen Mary and so now refuse also to sweare to her present Majesty Queen Ann. These Bishops are only Barrons in themselves, their wives have noe honnour thereby nor their Children; but for all peeres of England theirs is hereditary from father to son and their Ladies partake of it, nay ye honour descends on a daughter in default of male jssue. The peere must first be made Barrons by which they hold all their priviledges-Barrons of England-which is from ye king by patent; all his Children are Called ye honbl adding the Christian name to their sirname, and this remaines to daughters when marry'd. By this patent or another of ye same they may be Created viscount, Earles, Marquesses, dukes, and if they are dukes their patent Expresses all the four other titles. Alsoe viscounts Children are the same wth Barrons v; and Earle's, marquess, and duke's are Called, the daughters Lady, by their Christian names, before and after marriage, unless they marry a Barron then they Lose yt name and are Called a Barroness and so Loses their place. The Eldest son of an Earle is Called Lord by his fathers title of Barron, the Eldest son of a Marquiss is Called Earle, by the title of his fathers Earledome, and all marquiss's younger sons are Called Lord by their Christian name added to their sirname. So the same of dukes Children, the Eldest son is Called Marquiss. Now if any dowager to a Lord marry a Private Gentleman she in Law is sullied and has Lost her peeress, so if a Dutchess or Marquess or Countess or viscountess marry a Barron or Either of the degrees which was below her, she Looses it and is only Called as the Lady of the present peer She has marry'd now. Though these titles be given the noblemens sons and Daughters its not that they are really soe, for in our Law they are only Called and Esteemed in the first ranke of Gentlemen, and so take place before all Gentlemen wt soever. The Lower titles made by patents by ye king is Barronets, and is differenc'd only from a Knight by takeing place of all knights and that it is hereditary and goes from father to son; a Knight only is for his own Life and the king makes them thus: any Gentleman that is to be made a knight kneeles down and ye king draws his sword asking him his Christian name, Layes the sword on his head and shoulder, and bids him rise up sir such a one as for Example Sr James Bateman our Last Sherriff &. These severall titles and patents pays great fees to the severall officers according to the ranke, a Duke cost ? 1000-, so in proportion. Ye same manner the Knights of the Garter are made as other knights nevertheless it may be to those wch were dukes before. Their jnstallment is at Windsor Castle, in this manner: the herraulds which I have mentioned several tymes before as a part and management of all the Cerimony, and also the persons that studdy all matters of honours and are the Recorders of all the titles in England, and all their Coates of armour, and knows and keepes Each in their ranke at all Cerimonyes, and gives out their armes for Eschuteons at Every bodyes funeralls; they have an office just by Dr Commons by St Pauls Cathedrall. There is one Principal king at armes and 3 if not more other king at armes and other under herraulds and Sergeants, which all weare Coates with the kings armes all aboute it; these as I say officiates at the jnstalling for they record it and add the blew garter about such a Lords atchievement. Ye Cerimony I have in part described together with ye account of Windsor.

Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, 1888)

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