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Re: an interesting question

It is, indeed, and interesting question, Dorothy--

I can't put my hands on the resource I think I have somewhere so I'll
contribute a guess.  It is the case that inquests in various forms are the
forerunners of our modern jury and grandjury systems, so, basically, we are
talking about exemption from jury duty.  Exemptions are usually created to
avoid incompetence, possible conflict of interest, or an overriding public
need for the unencumbered services of the person involved.  Scribes were
often involved in preparing legal papers and may have been exempted for the
same reasons that lawyers were. Or it may have been that there rare
literacy was too important to tie up in jury service.  I think your
friend's guess regarding barbers/surgeons is right in line with the public
intersest aspect. Artists at the time (I think) were primarily either under
royal or titled patronage or clerics. The latter were also exempted for
ecclesiastical reasons. I think the patronage may well have produced the
exemption just to keep the artists on the job as artists.  Also, maybe
early illuminators were seen as "disconnected" from society generally and
therefore not likely to have usable knowledge about matters in litigation.
(Early juries were the witnesses to the event, not impartial triers of the

By the way, literacy was helpful in those days. If a defendant in a
criminal matter could prove he was literate it was conclusive proof that he
was a cleric and subject only to the jurisdiction of the church courts. He
might spend the rest of his life in a monastery, but that was better than
some of the creative punishments of the day.

Sam Lanham

At 08:22 AM 12/8/97 -0500, you wrote:

>  This query appeared on another list I subscribe to, and I thought it
>might interest book folks.  Somebody might even know.  I think it would
>help if the questioner had said something more about the nature of these
> Dorothy Africa
>Date: Sat, 6 Dec 97 12:43:53 -0800
>Content-Type: message/rfc822
>Subject: Re: Query on 14th century Jury Duty
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>FROM: ttaylor/Shar////////RFC-822/ttaylor#a#ctc#f#ctc#f#edu@hulaw5
>TO: H-ALBION@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
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>Date:              Sat, 6 Dec 1997 13:13:57 EST
>From:              VKidrick <VKidrick@xxxxxxx>
>To the list:
>I am currently writing a dissertation on Henry VII's library, and in the
>course of my research, I have stumbled across a citation in Graham Pollard's
>The Company of Stationers before 1557.  I'm hoping someone better versed in
>14th century legal history could give me insight into this:  Apparently, in
>1357, the Mayor and Alderman of the City of London enacted that "the
Livery of
>writers of court-hand and text illuminators and barbers dwelling in the City
>of London should be exempt from serving on Sherriff's inquests."  Can anyone
>think of a reason for this exemption--especially for the illuminators?  I can
>come up with few logical (well, I think they are logical) reasons for the
>exemption of scribes and barbers (I'm assuming this means "barber-surgeons")
>Maybe the idea was to eliminate anyone who could possibly have some kind of
>professional relationship with the court, and scribes and surgeons could
>conceivable have such a connection.  I'm rather at a loss to explain the
>exclusion of artists, however.  Anyone have the answer to this?
Sam Lanham (slanham@xxxxxxxx)

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