Harvard Law School Library

Bracton Online -- English

Previous   Volume 3, Page 345  Next    

Go to Volume:      Page:    

Of the oath of the twenty-four.

[002] ‘Hear this, O justices, that I will say the truth to what you will ask me on behalf of
[003] the lord king and that I will in no way omit etc.’1 The others will swear after him, as in
[004] other juries. When they have sworn, let the justice show them the form of plaint and
[005] the matters on which they ought to speak the truth, that is, whether the plaintiff has
[006] been wrongfully disseised or not, [they are bound to assign a reason for their verdict,
[007] if necessary,] and according as they find for one party or the other, absolution follows
[008] or condemnation. The form of enrolment ought to be this: ‘A jury of twenty-four to
[009] convict twelve comes to recognize whether A. wrongfully and without judgment
[010] etc. (or in another way, according to the different kinds of assises and the form of the
[011] writ of conviction) as to which [A.] complains that the jurors of that assise, recently
[012] taken before such judges, swore a false oath, because they said that [A.] disseised
[013] [B.] wrongfully and without judgment [when] he did not disseise him, as the other
[014] says. As to which [B.] says that the facts were these, and thus the whole narratio
[015] of the respondent and of the exceptor against the jurors must be enrolled. When the
[016] twenty-four give their verdict, let them support it by reasons and presumptions;
[017] they are to be carefully examined by the justices and frequently questioned as to the
[018] truth, since no conviction lies, and because the twenty-four are often deceived as
[019] were the twelve, and sometimes swear a false oath or a foolish one, as did the twelve,
[020] and sometimes the twenty-four speak falsely where the twelve told the truth. In
[021] giving their verdict either all agree, or some do and some do not. If [the greater part
[022] agree and some] disagree, let others be associated with [those who agree] to afforce
[023] them, as was said above [of assises.]2 If they know nothing, and cannot learn anything
[024] of the truth by questions and examinations, whether the twelve spoke truthfully
[025] or not, possession will remain undisturbed because the plaintiff fails to prove
[026] his case. And so if they are doubtful whether the plaintiff's allegation is true or not,
[027] because the plaintiff does not prove his statement, for whenever there is doubt as to
[028] whether a thing is so, it is as though it were not so. If when those who are in agreement
[029] speak the truth and it is what the twelve said, or the same and more than what
[030] the twelve said, it will be adjudged that the twelve judged properly and that the
[031] tenant remain in seisin and the plaintiff be imprisoned, to be redeemed by a heavy
[032] pecuniary punishment.3 If the twelve said the contrary, that is, that such a one was
[033] disseised or was not, they will remain convicted, and the judgment will be that the
[034] aforesaid twelve jurors swore falsely and that the plaintiff recover his seisin and


1. Supra 72, 254

2. Supra 73

3. B.N.B., no. 933

Contact: specialc@law.harvard.edu
Page last reviewed April 2003.
© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College