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Hundred Courts

PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:31 pm
by holy vehm
Hundred courts

Over time, the principal functions of the hundred became the administration of law and the keeping of the peace. By the 12th century the hundred court was held twelve times a year. This was later increased to fortnightly, although an ordinance of 1234 reduced the frequency to once every three weeks. In some hundreds, courts were held at a fixed place; while in others, courts moved with each sitting to a different location. The main duties of the hundred court were the maintenance of the frankpledge system. It was formed of 12 freeholders, or freeman.[5] They crossed jurisdictions of manorial courts,[5] i.e. courts baron and courts leet. Tithings handled many problems involving villeins, but since freeholders were outside the frankpledge system, any suits involving them would need to be held in a hundred court.[5]

For especially serious crimes, here the hundred was under the jurisdiction of the crown, the chief magistrate was a sheriff, and was called the sheriff's tourn.[5] However, many hundreds were in private hands, with the lordship of the hundred being attached to the principal manor of the area and becoming hereditary. Where a hundred was under a lord, a steward, the chief official of the Lord of the Manor and a judge, was appointed in place of a sheriff.[6]

The importance of the hundred courts declined from the 17th century, and most of their powers were extinguished with the establishment of county courts in 1867.[7] The remaining duty of the inhabitants of a hundred to make good damages caused by riot was ended in 1886, when the cost was transferred to the county police rate.[8] Although hundreds had no administrative or legal role after this date, they have never been formally abolished.