Les reportes del cases in Camera Stellata, 1593 to 1609 from the original ms. of John Hawarde edited by William Paley Baildon Published 1894 Pages 5-10
In Camera Stellata Die Mercurij 6 Februarij, 1593, Elizab. 36, [1593-4,] termino Hillarij.
One Parsons, a hosteler plaintiff, against Herne, defendant, a Bencher of Lincolnes Inne, for perjury and misdemeanour, argued by the Counsel for the plaintiff, but Perjury not answered by the defendants Counsel, but adjourned to the next day. It was moved by the Lords how these words should be understood when a man testifies in his deposition that such a man swore or had said these wordes or the like in effecte. By the Lord Keeper: no bill could be words they judged on such uncertain words, as in this case, because the words were that he did depose thus or the like in effect.
On the Friday next following, the bill being declared and [about] to be heard, the Court deferred the hearing [Page 6] because of the uncertainty of the words. And Serjeant Healle, of Counsel with the defendant, had agreed that the bill should be amended, which could not be done by the order of the Court without the agreement of the parties: and afterwards both parties agreed that a new bill should be preferred and those words amended, which the Court would not and could not do without the consent of both parties; and, to avoid precedents in such cases, it was ordered, on the motion of the Lord Keeper, that no man of base condition, such as an apprentice, horsekeeper, or suchlike, should be a plaintiff in this Court before he had [found] suffcient surety to perform the order of the Court. And from the proceedings in this case it would appear that this Court does not give judgment without apparent, pregnant and sufficient proof. But as to the former query regarding the uncertainty of the depositions of one witness, the whole Court held against the Lord Keeper, saying that when a man deposes that he said these wordes or the like, it shall be taken [to mean] these wordes or wordes of the like sounde but when he says these wordes or the like in effecte shall be understood the same wordes in sense and meaninge, because no one would swear certainly or precisely to words. To this Bishop Flecher said that perjury is a lie with an oath.
In Camera Stellata 8° Februar., die Veneris, Elizab. 36, termino Hillarij, [1593-4].
[Page 7] The former cause between Parsons and Herne and Sleyford, who is now dead and so no cause to proceed against him. But the cause was sentenced as follows.
First, the charges were perjury, in giving evidence to a jury in the Queens Bench [in banco Regis] and of this [there were] two or three parts, as usurious taking of interest, &c., another misdemeanour when he was attached by process in the Bench, refusing contemptuously to appear, and on attachment against him, he procured interrogatories from the officer of the court, and, having had a conference with the defendant Sleyford, he wrote his answer and gave it to Sleyford, &c. This cause was three days in hearing, and at the end the Court thought that nothing was proved against Heme as to the perjury, although Weymarke (who was the man who had maintained Parsons suit against Heme) had complained in Parsons name so that he himself might be a witness, and has deposed directly against Heme, and Heme against him, but it was not read, but by the clear opinion of all the Court, he being the defendant and [there being] no deceit, it could be read and good credit given to it. Exceptions were moved against Weymarke, because if he recovered in this action he would again be interested in his land which he had sold to Sleyford. On which contract arose one part of the perjury, whether the sale was conditional or absolute, it being proved to be conditional, they forced an oath from Heme that it was an absolute bargain. As to the misdemeanour, the Chief Justices of both Benches held it clear that any man may, either by order of Court or by consent of the parties, procure interrogatories out of Court, and write his own answer. And so it was proved viva voce by one Felle, an officer of the Bench, that Weymarkes man had consented to the interrogatories being delivered to Heme; and Sleyford en- [Page 8] -treated Herne, who was ill and doubtful if he would be alive the next term, to give him his answers in writing, which Herne did, praying Sleyford not to suffer them to be read by by anyone but to deliver them again to him, but if he, Herne, died, then Sleyford was to use them for his own good. Whichwas allowed by the whole Court, and some of them had done the like. And also a deed was shown to the Court which was penned by Serjeant Harris and his hand [set] to it, and perused by Herne of counsel with Sleyford, in which the lands now demanded were granted by Sleyford to Weymarke, and in the same deed other lands previously sold were recited: and then follows he enfeffes, grauntes, &c., all his righte, intereste, &c., in the sayd premisses, where it ought to be in the same premisses. Valde good shift, and some oversight of Hernes. In the same deed bearing date of 9 May, 35 Elizab. 92, follows a proviso that Weymarke should pay on a certain day certain money and so have back his land, which [deed] was first dated 92 but afterwards 8 was put in, and so it was made 82, a day past before the date, so that Weymarke should have his land back and give nothing for it, a shiftinge device and without any good intent.
But on the whole matter the cause continued three entire days and was argued at length with divers crossing of the Counsel at law, which was checked by the Court; the Court went to sentence as follows.
John Fortescue, knight; checked Heme for his rash deposing and speaking regarding his oath, but this notwithstanding acquitted him as to the perjury and every part of it; and also as to the misdemeanour. And so did John Woolly, knight, but he blamed Heme for giving counsel to a usurer. These two did not give any charges. Lord Anderson, Chief Justice of the Common Bench, acquitted Herne of everything and would restore his good fame in the best sort that could be, and delivered some words in dislike of what John Woolye had uttered regarding usury.
The Chief Justice of the Bench also acquitted Herne of everything, and he to have restitution of his good name. [Page 9] He would have this done by the plaintiffa confession in Lincolns Inn or in this Court; and the said Parsons to be examined who were the maintainers of this suit and if they be of ability to pay costs to Heme. Lord Buckherst said that perjury being the greatest offence, and that as the simplest man living ought to esteem [his good name] rather than his goods or his life, we ought not to proceed to sentence this without proofs luce clariores, and witnesses omni exceptione maiores. And thus he agreed in all points with the Chief Justice of the Bench.
The Bishop of Worcester agreed with them, and argued some divinitas, but the whole cause was opened by the Chief Justice of the Queens Bench [de banco Regis].
The Archbishop agreed with them, and so did the Lord Keeper. And he ordered that, according to the precedents of Sir John Yonges and Sir John Davers and an Attorneys cases at St. Albans term, the plaintiff, if his ability be such, shall pay costs to the defendant, and shall make confession in this Court of his slanderous complaint against Heme, and he shall be specially examined who were his procurers, aiders or assisters in this suit.
After sentence was given by the whole Court, the Queens Attorney and Solicitor being present, the Attorney moved that, because this Court being the most honourable, worthy and grave Court that ever he had read or heard of in all Europe, and the Judges of this Court being Councillors of the Queen, peers of the realm, and for the deciding of causes here the Queen is content for them to depart from her side. therefore it will not be convenient that this Court should be abused before all others for men to wreck their malice and to spew their poison in slandering and defaming Her Majestys subjects; for in other Courts an action on the case will lie for slanderous words. Thus in this case the Court being detained these three days, and nothing proved against the defendant who was acquitted per totam curiam, the precedents are that [the plaintiff] shall pay a fine to the Queen.
[Page 10] So the Lord Keeper moved for a new sentence, to which Fortescue said nothing, but Woollye and the Chief Justice of the Bench gave a fine to the Queen, the Chief Justice of the Common Bench having gone, and so Lord Buckhurst agreed on a £40 fine, also the Bisliop of Worcester, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Keeper; if it should appear that the plaintiff is of ability, or any who are procurers, maintainors or actors in this suit, then to be fined a greater fine to the Queen than £40; and imprisonment if the precedent of the Court will warrant it, as it will ut dicitur.
Case Book BL Harley MS 2143 fo. 58r. Bill amended at the hearing and the proofs to stand without exception. Parsons, plaintiff; Heron et al: for perury and the charge of the bill was that the defendant deposed these or the like words in effect, which the court at the hearing of the cause held to be imperfect and therefore referred the hearing thereof for some ten days and ordered by assent of the defendant’s counsel that the plaintiff should amend his bill in this point and the defendant to plead not guilty and so to proceed upon the same proofs without any exception. Hillary 36 Elizabeth. (kk)
See also STAC Parsons