Hue and Cry was an express part of a Constable's duty, and was used as a means of arresting a felon in order to avoid the liability of the Hundred for the wrong done.

By 27 Eliz. c. 13, Hue and Cry had to be by horseman as well as by footmen.

There were many presentments for not performing hue and cry.

On the 5th April, 1675, John Ferryman was fined 6s. 8d. "for denying to go with a Huying Cry."

The offenders were often the Constable:

On 15th January, 1605-1606, the late Constable of Norwell was charged with not prosecuting hue and cry for the taking of a certain felon.

On 26th April, 1609, the Constable of the town of Farndon was fined 3/4 because when the hue and cry was sent him by the Constable of Barneby he neglected to raise it and pursue."

On 10th July, 1615, two labourers were charged with levying a false hue and cry.


The Records contain a large number of Entries in regard to Recognisances.

Many of these were for appearance at Sessions or Assizes to answer charges contained in presentments or indictments, or to prosecute offenders and give evidence in support of the prosecution.

Many Recognisances do not specify the nature of the offence, but order the accused "to answer what might be objected against him." Often the offence is stated to be one of suspicion only. Recognisances to keep the peace and be of good behaviour were very numerous.

Many Recognisances were to perform Orders made by the Court particularly in the case of Orders in Bastardy made upon reputed fathers of Bastard Children. There were also Recognisances entered into by persons desiring to keep Alehouses.

An important change in the form of the Recognisance took place in the time of the Commonwealth:

In 1652 instead of the words "that A.B. acknowledges to owe unto the Lord the King the sum of," &c, the words were used "that A.B. acknowledges to owe unto the keeper of the libertie of England bv authoritie of Parliament the sum of,"&c.

And in the case of a Recognisance to keep the peace, instead of the usual words: "the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King" were inserted the words "the publique peace towards all the people of England," &c, &c.

When the Lord Protector came into office in 1653 the form of Recognisance took the form that the person therein named acknowledged to owe "unto his highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth "the sum of," &c, &c, and he was ordered "to keep the publique peace and be of good behaviour towards his highness the Lord Protector aforesaid, and all the people of England," &c, &c.

Sureties were often called "Subsidy men."

On 29th April, 1633, a man was required to find "sufficientem securitatem anglice two subsidy men."

There are a number of entries in reference to the respiting of Recognisances:

On 14th April, 1654, an Affidavit was read that a defendant "is so sick and lame of a legg that he cannot appear this daie according to his recognisances without danger to his life." The case was respited to the next Sessions.

The following is an Authority to the Clerk of the Peace signed by two Justices:

"Mr. Clerke of the Peace wee desire you and hereby order and authorize you to respite the certifying of the Recognisance agt John Gilliver and Thomas Savage till the next qrter Sessions at Newark for wch this shalbe yor warrant.

Matth. Palmer,
John Millington.

To or loving friend
Mr. Ro. Butler Clerke of the Peace
for the County of Nott."

This was dated in October, 1642. Owing to the outbreak of the Civil War the "next Quarter Sessions at Newark" referred to were never held, and apparently the case was never tried.


The proceedings in cases tried and dealt with at Quarter Sessions were by Indictment or by Presentment. The Sessions Books do not always state which. An Indictment was sent to the Grand Jury who returned it into Court marked either "Billa vera" (a true Bill), or "Ignoramus" (not a true Bill). In the case of a Presentment the Grand Jury wrote the charge on a document called the Presentment, which they endorsed "a true Bill."

The effect was the same, and upon the true Bills found (whether on Indictment or Presentment) the persons named therein were put upon their trial before a Petit Jury.

At the present day the trials of prisoners are much more speedy than they were in the seventeenth century. For instance:

On the 1st October, 1632, a true bill was found against Gabriel Eaton for perjury. He appeared in person to defend, and was bound over in the sum of £10 to appear next Sessions.

On the 7th January, 1632-1633 (the next Sessions), Gabriel Eaton was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. A precept was then ordered to be issued to the Sheriff for a Jury to be impannelled to try the case at the next Sessions, and the parties were bound over to appear at the next Sessions on the 9th April, 1633.

On the 9th April, 1633, the case was tried, and Gabriel Eaton was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment, &c.

Thus there was an interval of seven months between the Grand Jury stage and the trial of the case by the Petit Jury. This was quite a usual course of events.


There is nothing in the Records to show how the Grand Juries in the seventeenth century were impannelled. In the "Indictment Books" in the latter part of the century (Vols. 16 and 17) there are lists of Jurors at each Sessions, but it is not stated whether they are Grand Jurors or Petit Jurors.

On 11th July, 1636, the High Sheriff (Sir Hardolphus Wasteneys, Bart.), was fined 20/- "for not retaining sufficient Grand Jurors to serve the lord the King at this Sessions."

There was a Jury of Constables for each Hundred, and this Jury was called the Constable Jury.

On 21st April, 1680, two men were presented "for absence from the Constable Jury."

These Constable Juries made presentments and returned verdicts. There are a number of entries of Constables being fined for contempt in departing from their companions Constables of the Wapentake, being Jurors, before their verdict was made and returned"; as well as "for being absent from their companions when a verdict was returned."

On 17th July, 1607, the Constable of Blyth, one of the Jurors of the Wapentake of Hatfield, was fined 1/- because he has not come to his companions Jurors of the Wapentake aforesaid to enquire with them for the lord the King according to the Order of the Court given to them, but made default.

On the 21st April, 1615, the Constables of the Division of North Clay "being Jurors of the Division of North Clay and impannelled at this Sessions and sworne to enquire and present all and singular the things which were given to them in the charge, returned and delivered a verdict into Court, and they presented no crimes nor articles of the charge then, but returned 'Omnia bene'" (all things well). "Wherefore by decision of the Court it is ordered at this Sessions that the aforesaid Jurors shall be called upon to answer for their concealments in this direction."
    The Constables of the Division of South Clay were similarly in default.
    Each of the Constables of the two divisions were bound over in the sum of £10 "to appear personally at the next general Sessions of the Peace to do and receive what shall be then and there enjoined them by the Court for the aforesaid concealments."

There were a number of presentments similar to the following:

On 26th April, 1609, John Whetwand, of Elston, was presented because he revealed the Jurors intention; [or as sometimes stated "the intention of his fellow Jurors."]

When an accused person was arraigned and pleaded "not guilty" or as it is expressed "put himself on the Country" a precept was issued to the Sheriff to impannel a jury to try the case at the next Sessions. Apparently a special Jury was impannelled for each particular case— a different procedure from that at the present day when the Jury are summoned beforehand, and wait in Court until they are called, in the event of their services being required.

On 14th July, 1637, the Bailiff of the Wapentake of Bassetlaw was fined 10/-for a certain contempt in summoning and impannelling Jurors (being insufficient) without warrant or authority of the High Sheriff."

Attempts were made to corrupt Juries:

On 12th January, 1626-1627, John Cherbury was sent to gaol "for using certain words in open Court to corrupt the Jurors enquiring into Indictment against him." On 22nd April, 1653, Thomas Gare, of Gringley, was sent to gaol " for contempt in Court in taxing a Jury at the barre for doeing their duty upon oath of wrong."

The following entry shows how Juries were impannelled in Appeal cases:

On 8th January, 1676-1677, it was Ordered by the Court at Nottingham "that what Appeales are not tryd at Newark Sessions Recognisances to try them the next Sessions and that the Sheriffe produce the freeholders booke to the Clerke of the Peace each Court and hee to pick out 48 men and each party strike out 12."


The names of Counsel employed to prosecute or defend cases, or to make applications to the Court, appear frequently in the Records.

On the 5th April, 1654, a case was respited to the next Sessions on the "petition of the defendant that he cannot gett anie Councell this day to plead his cause in Court."


Non-attendance at Court, and departing from the Court without licence were frequent instances of contempt of Court:

On 20th July, 1658, it was Ordered that "if any Grand Juryman or other officer bound to attend this Court doe depart without license of the Court he or they shall be punished as contemnors of the authority of the Court."

On 12th April, 1605, G. Boothe, bailiff of Bassetlow, was fined 5/- "because he withdrew from the Court at the time of the service of the lord the King."

On 8th October, 1690, Wm. Howe, of Lowdham, was fined £5 "for not observing the Sessions."

Other instances of contempt of Court are as follows:

On 4th October, 1605, Reginald Byron, for his evil deeds against Sir John Thornhagh, was adjudged to be bound for good behaviour. Thomas Byron appeared before the Court and in contempt uttered divers opprobrious words viz.: "I see no cause why Reginald Byron shold be bound to his good behaviour, and I require to know the cawse why he sholde be so bound, and the Court dothe hym [wrong] in imposinge the Order abovesaid upon him." Thomas Byron was committed to gaol for 3 months for his good behaviour.

On 14th July, 1613, a warrant was issued against a Balderton man "for using contemptuous words against the Authority of the Justices of the Peace."

On 17th April, 1615, Thomas Smedley was fined 2/6 "for using contemptuous words in Court."

On 12th January, 1626-1627, a warrant was issued against Henry Heefield, of Worksop, labourer, "for deceiving the Justices so that he was not bound at this Sessions according to the tenour of a warrant before granted therein from the Court."

On 14th January, 1641-1642, a man named Rivington said these English words: "that he cared not a ------for that warrant."

On 25th April, 1677, a warrant was issued against Arthur Collingwood "for contempt and affront George Nevile Esqre upon ye Bench ye last Sessions at Newark."

In the following instance refusing to plead was treated as a contempt of Court:

On 30th April, 1656, two men of Barnby presented for travelling abroad on the Lord's day without good cause allowed by any Justice of the Peace appearing in Court this day did obstinately deny and refuse to submit to ye Court thereupon or to tender any traverse to the said presentments. "Soe as there can be no legal proceedings to tryall against them upon ye same, in manifest contempt of Court, they were sent to ye common gaole until they either submit or traverse the presentments."

On the 4th October, 1682, the Gaoler of Nottingham was ordered to pay £5 for contempt and not obeying ye Court." The fine was afterwards remitted.


The following are instances in which "contemptuous and scandalous and abusive words" are used against Justices:

On 3rd October, 1614, there was Information that John Sympton, of Mansfield, clerk, "is a man of bad behaviour and rude life and conversation and that he (besides many other misdemeanours by him daily perpetrated) has lately used at divers times before certain persons many opprobrious and abusive words against certain principal persons in the Commission of the Peace within this County tending obviously to the contempt and disparagement of Justices and defamation of persons of great worth illbecoming man of such mean quality, much less one of his 'toga,' which things deserve early reformation lest others of the vulgar by example of this impunity become bolder to indulge in such abuse." A warrant of good behaviour was granted.

On 14th April, 1634, a warrant was issued against a laboror of Radford for abusing Gervase Tevery Esqre, a Justice of the Peace, with his scandalous words viz.: "He was sometimes a Justice of Peace, and sometimes a just asse."

On 4th October, 1637, Robert Patefield, of Worksop, cooper, was indicted for certain "vile and contemptuous words against Earl Rutland."

On 9th July, 1655, Simeon Wightman, of Bilborow, was bound over to good behaviour for speaking scandalous words against Mr. Sacheverell saying "he was a Cavallier Rogue and was in the last plott."

On the 14th July, 1682, ffrancis Mennett, of Beckingham, was sent for trial to the Assizes for saying " I care not a------for ye Justices of the Peace of ye King or his subjects."

On the 15th July, 1698, the Information of John Bloome was taken on oath who saith that Richard Hankin saith that Edward Hardwin, who was his kinsman, would make a better warrant than any Justice of the Peace, and that Mr. Simpson, one of His Majties Justices of the Peace was a Rogue and a Knave, and did not do Justice, or else he would have sent him, this Informant, to Gaol, or words to this effect."


There were many presentments for using abusive words or opprobrious language to Constables and other officials.

On 17th April, 1626, Richard Allen, of Bingham, was sent to gaol for opprobrious words against Lawrence Gunthorpe, gentleman, Chief Constable.

On 11th July, 1625, Jacob Barkyn, of Mansfield, laborer, was sent to the House of Correction to be whipped for using opprobrious words in reference to Robert Somersall, gentleman. On leaving the House of Correction the said Jacob to be placed in the Stocks at Mansfield for 3 hours and to confess his injury to Robert Somersall in the presence of Robert and his neighbours.


The functions of the Judges of Assize in the seventeenth century were more extensive than they are at the present day, as, in addition to the trial of prisoners and causes, they appear to have exercised some jurisdiction over the County Justices, and to have had some interest in the administration of County affairs.

They could enquire into the way in which Justices exercised their functions; but the Records do not show that any of the Justices in this County was called to account for neglect of office.

They could also require Justices to furnish them with Reports on various subjects.

The Justices at Sessions often referred to them points of law and questions arising in regard to the Settlement of poor persons, and in regard to rates and Assessment.

The Judges themselves called the attention of Justices to matters requiring to be dealt with. For instance:

In 1614 "the most noble Edward Coke, Knight, Chief Justice of the lord the King's Bench and the Royal Council and one of the Justices for taking the Assizes, &c. at Nottingham" held that a Bridge called Stafford Bridge near Littlebrough should henceforth be repaired by the Inhabitants of the whole County "it not being possible to state by whom the said bridge should be repaired."

In 1634, Sir Richard Hutton, one of the King's Justices at Assizes, complained that the King's highways at either end of Merryall bridge "are now ruinous and in great decay for defect of repair to the great nuisance of travellers there."

In 1657 a difference between the Inhabitants of Mansfield and the Inhabitants of Pleasley Hill as to the necessity for the appointment of an additional Constable or Thirdborow at Pleasley Hill was referred by Quarter Sessions to the Judges at next Assizes.

The following instances relate to the expenses of attending Assizes, &c.:

On the 9th January, 1659-1660, the Court had before them a Petition of Jane Brodwith, of Sutton on Trent, widow, "that Brian Cumberland, of Sutton, gent, carryed her to ye last Assizes at Nott to be a witnes for him in a cause then tryed promising her that in lieu of her paines in yt journey he would take care she should be provided for all necessaries during her life. In wch journey ye said Jane took a cold (being a very aged and weak woman) and is very lame and infirm in her body." It was Ordered that Mr. Cumberland who was the sole cause of her present weakness pay her 12d weekly unless he shall show good cause to the contrary."

On the 5th October, 1653, an alehouse keeper of Winthorpe complained that a little before the last Assizes at Nottingham the Constable of Winthorpe having apprehended a man on suspicion of felony caused him to be watched with divers watchmen one night in ye house of the complainant, at which time the said Constable, watchmen and prisoner spent in his house in meat and drink and other expenses and for his complete attendance at the Assizes ten shillings which the Constable neglects to pay. An Order was made for payment of the amount "out of the townes stock."