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from deserters and prisoners that the Thames was only fordable in one place, which was defended by sharp stakes driven below the water.
Several ancient fords have been found between Chelsea and London, well attested by Sir Richard Phillips's personal survey in 1820; by Maitland the historian, also from personal survey, in 1756, and by Bagford and others.
It seems always to have been assumed that the ford must have been above the tidal limit, whereas we have distinct information from Diodorus Siculus, in the case of the Island of Vectis, that it was the custom of the people of these islands to ford when the tide was low. This still continues at St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, and also at the mount of the same name in Normandy and in many parts of the Morbihan and Côtes du Nord. Such a ford is still used between one of the Channel Islands, Alderney, and the mainland of France, at low tide, and a tax is paid to maintain it. It is kept in use in the same way now, that Caesar's officers adopted to cross marshes, particularly those near the Seine, by fascines and clay, and was adopted by William the Conqueror at Belsar's Hill to take the Isle of Ely.
The fact that other fords existed shows that this was an ambuscade; and the statement that there was but one ford was to draw Caesar, through the assertions of these no doubt instructed deserters, to the well-defended part of the river ; but the valour of the Roman soldiers overcame the plot.
There is no need to go a great distance from London in this case; it is clear and the closer the matter is examined the more apparent it becomes-that Caesar saw the great city on the site of which London now stands.
These fords bring us to the question of pre-Roman roads.
(To be continued.)
PLEAS OF THE CROWN IN THE CITY OF
TEUP. THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CENTURIES.
BY R. R. SHARPE, ESQ., D.C.L.
(Read September 22nd, 1896.) HE Pleas of the Crown were those pleas,
suits, or causes, which, as affecting more particularly the King's crown and dignity, were set aside to be determined either by his Majesty in person or by his immediate law officers. Originally, their
number was small, but in course of time, as the King's peace extended itself, and serious crimes came to be treated as felonies, the jurisdiction of the Curia Regis had to be enlarged, and a special officer appointed under the name of Coronator or Coroner, whose duty it was to keep the Pleas of the Crown; his full title being Custos Placitorum Coronæ.
The King, to whom the Curia Regis owed its establishment as a central legal court with a staff of Justiciars or Justices—viz., King Henry I, showed especial favour to the citizens of London by allowing them to appoint their own Justiciar to determine Crown Pleas. How far the citizens availed themselves of this privilege is open to doubt. The Records of the City are searched in vain for the existence of any officer specifically known as Justiciar for London; although a learned antiquary, who has given the question considerable attention, has discovered elsewhere the
of at least two individuals who appear to have held that office.? According to the compiler of the City's Liber Albus (John Carpenter, the Town Clerk, or as he was better known, the “ Common Clerk ” of the City, whose name is best remembered at the present day in connection with the City of London School), the Mayor himself came to be called Justiciar. Personally, I am inclined to think that Crown Pleas continued, as before, to be determined by the Sheriffs, at least until the institution of Justices in Eyre.
1 Pollock and Maitland, list, of English Law, ii, 451-2. ? Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville, Appendices K and P.
The visits of these Justices when they went on circuit were extremely unwelcome at all times, but more especially to the citizens of London ; for although they were nominally made for the purpose of hearing and determining Crown Pleas, their main object was to challenge every privilege, custom and franchise of the City, and on any and every pretext to exact fines for the augmentation of the King's Exchequer. Fortunately for the citizens, individually as well as collectively, these visits were comparatively few and far between. Speaking generally, the Justices made their circuits through the country once in seven years. The records of their visits to the Tower of London, where they held their sessions, show them to have been still less frequent.
The earliest Iter mentioned in the City's archives is recorded as having taken place ao 5 Henry III [A.D. 1220-1]. It was usual on such occasions for the Justices to prepare a list of questions or articles to be delivered to the City authorities, who were expected to give satisfactory answers thereto under penalty of fine or loss of franchise. The list then submitted was a modest one, numbering no more than eighteen questions in all, and bore generally on technical legal procedure. The questions and answers are set out in the City's Liber Albus, and are said to have been enrolled at an Iter held ten years later [ao 15 Henry III]
1 Lib. Alb. (Rolls Series), i, 14.
2 We know that in 1258 the citizens made formal protest against the King's Justiciar sitting at the Guildhall to hear matters which they declared ought of right to be determined by the Sheriffs alone. Lib. de Antiquis (Camden Soc.), p. 40.
: Lib. Alb., i, pp. 62-71.