Monday smile – A VERY long presentation of the Court

The archives of the Old Bailey, London’s criminal court, hold the following introductory clause which is THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHT-NINE words long. 😊 All it does is introduce the judges and jurors.

The case is the trial of Francis Henry de la Motte, charged with high treason, and dates from 1781. Drafting lawyers have not all learnt their lesson about succinctness since then… 😉

BE IT REMEMBERED, That at the general session of Oyer and Terminer of our Lord the King, holden for the county of Middlesex, at Hick’s Hall in Saint John’s street in the said county, on Tuesday the 24th day of April, in the 21st year of the reign of our sovereign lord George the Third, king of Great-Britain, &c. before William Mainwaring, esq. the Reverend Sir George Booth, bart. George Mercer, David Walker, esqrs. and others their fellows, justices of our said lord the king, assigned by his Majesty’s letters-patent under the great seal of Great-Britain, directed to the same justices before named, and others in the said letters named, to enquire more fully the truth by the oath of good and lawful men of the said county of Middlesex, and by other ways, means, and methods, by which they shall or may better know (as well within liberties as without) by whom the truth of the matter may be better known, of all treasons, misprisions of treason, insurrections, rebellions, counterfeitings, clippings, washings, false coinings, and other falsities of the money of Great-Britain and other kingdoms or dominions whatsoever; and all murthers, felonies, manslaughters, killings, burglaries, rapes of women, unlawful meetings, conventicles, unlawful uttering of words, assemblies, misprisions, confederacies, false allegations, trespasses, riots, routs, retentions, escapes, contempts, falsities, negligences, concealments, maintenances, oppressions, champarties, deceits, and all other evil doings, offences, and injuries whatsoever, and also the accessaries of them, within the county aforesaid (as well within liberties as without) by whomsoever and in what manner soever done, committed, or perpetrated, and by whom or to whom, when, how, and after what manner; and of all other articles and circumstances concerning the premises, and every of them or any of them in any manner whatsoever; and the said treasons, and other the premises, to hear and determine according to the laws and customs of England, by the oath of John Tilney, Miles Dent, John Thomas, John Dawson, James Smith, Richard Snow, Joseph Cary, John Tayler, John Clark, Thomas M’Carty, Isaac Watson, William Cock, Richard Stapleton, Timothy Tomlins, and Joseph Muskett, good and lawful men of the county aforesaid, now here sworn and charged to inquire for our said Lord the king for the body of the same county, It is presented in manner and form following (that is to say):


Deep bow and hat tip to Kevin Underhill for his blog Lowering the Bar, which pointed to this little gem.

One thought on “Monday smile – A VERY long presentation of the Court

  1. For other curious about the outcome of the trail, Wikipedia offers this information: Having been found guilty by the jury, the terrible sentence pronounced by the judge was that the prisoner be hanged, drawn and quartered,_drawing_and_quartering. In fact de la Motte was spared some of the gruesome refinements — after hanging for nearly an hour, he was taken down and his heart cut out and burned.

    Regards Dr Richter

    Dr. Borka Richter / Dr. Richter Borka Kodolányi János University Dept of English Language and Literature NB: virtual office hours: Tuesday, p.m.

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