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The Coroners of Northern Britain c. 1300–1700 by R. Houston

By R. Houston

For the final 800 years coroners were very important in England's felony and political panorama, most sensible referred to as investigators of unexpected, suspicious, or unexplained demise. opposed to the historical past of the coroner's function in ancient England, this publication explains how surprising loss of life used to be investigated through magistrates in Scotland.

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The Coroners of Northern Britain c. 1300–1700. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 0008. 0008 Scottish Coroners: Origins and Development  If modern historians are vague about the Scottish coroner, contemporaries recognised his importance. 1 Some of the great Victorian authorities familiar with these sources ventured educated guesses about the coroner’s origins, functions and fate. One was advocate and antiquary Cosmo Innes. ‘The name was derived ... from this officer having cognizance in the pleas of the Crown – placita coronae.

Yet long before then local magisterial investigation was the norm, even in towns without shrieval jurisdiction, and it was not until the mid-eighteenth century that officials formally called procurators fiscal routinely took precognitions. 29 Precognitions were the basic tool for investigating sudden or suspicious death in Scotland no later than the sixteenth century. 0007  The Coroners of Northern Britain c. 1300–1700 the 1640s, when a bailie and town clerk questioned several people about the death of a woman lodger in the house of the widow Beatrix Tailyer, who lived at the head of the Canongate.

There were, however, other aspects of a national peace-keeping system, such as the hue and cry, in Cheshire and Northumberland. 18 A slightly later example from the north suggests similar priorities in peace-keeping. In 1615 Elizabeth Kersopp, a customary tenant on the manor of Wark in Northumberland, committed ‘murder upon herself by strangling herself ’. Lord Howard de Walden claimed her lands were forfeit to him as lord of the manor and keeper of Tynedale. Elizabeth’s heirs refused to allow the Lord’s new tenant to occupy the lands and he prosecuted them before the Council of the North.

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