[Commission for justice courts in the north]

Commission for justice courts in the north, with the act for the 120 men, recommended to the council and remitted by the king and parliament [...]2 them [...]3

Our sovereign lord, with consent of the estates of parliament, out of his fatherly care and ardent zeal to justice through which malefactors, delinquents and breakers of his majesty's laws and statutes within this kingdom may be punished according to their just demerits, and that peaceable and good men hereafter may live the better in quietness and safety under his majesty's royal most happy and peaceable government, has thought expedient now after the late troubles and settling and establishing of religion with the laws and liberties of this kingdom that circuit courts of justiciary also be established within the several sheriffdoms underwritten yearly for trial and punishing of all thieves, sorners, robbers and resetters thereof and other suspect persons whatsoever or malefactors and transgressors of his majesty's laws and statutes within the said bounds. And therefore his majesty, with consent of the estates of parliament, ordains a letter of commission to be made and passed under his majesty's great seal in due and competent form making, nominating and constituting, likewise his majesty with consent foresaid makes, creates, nominates and constitutes Master Alexander Colville of Blair and Master James Robertson, advocate, his majesty's justice deputes, or such as [Sir William Elphinstone], justice general (if any shall be) for the time, shall depute for the service after-specified, and also the other persons respectively named below, according to the division of the two quorums after-specified, his majesty's justices by commission in that part within the 10 sheriffdoms after-following in manner underwritten, namely: for the sheriffdom of Dunbarton, [Archibald Campbell], earl of Argyll and William Semple of Fulwood, Walter MacAulay of Ardencaple and Humphrey Colquhoun of Balvie. For the sheriffdom of Stirling, [John Erskine], earl of Mar, the Earl of Argyll, [James Livingstone], lord Almond and Sir Ludovic Houston of that Ilk, George Buchanan, fiar of that Ilk, and Master William Cunningham of Brownhill. For the sheriffdom of Perth, [John Murray], earl of Atholl, [John Drummond], earl of Perth, [Mungo Murray], viscount of Stormont, Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy, Sir Thomas Stewart, fiar of Grandtully, Mungo Campbell, fiar of Lawers, and Master George Graham of Inchbraikie and James Stewart of Ardvorlich. For the sheriffdom of Angus, [John Lyon], earl of Kinghorn, [James Carnegie], lord Carnegie, Sir David Graham of Fintry, Sir John Erskine of Dun and Sir Alexander Carnegie of Balnamoon. For the sheriffdom of Kincardine, [William Keith], earl Marischal, Sir Gilbert Ramsay of Balmain, Sir Robert Graham of Morphie and James Wood of Balbegno. For the sheriffdom of Aberdeen, [George Gordon], marquis of Huntly, [George Gordon], lord Gordon, the Earl Marischal, [John Erskine], lord Erskine, [Andrew Fraser], lord Fraser, [James Crichton], laird of Frendraught, [Sir Alexander Irvine], laird of Drum, Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, John Forbes of Leslie and Alexander Strachan of Glenkindie and Robert Farquharson of Invercauld. For the sheriffdom of Banff, [James Ogilvie], earl of Findlater, the Laird of Frendraught, Sir Alexander Abercrombie, younger, of Birkenbog, Walter Barclay of Towie and Alexander Ogilvie of Kempcairn. For the sheriffdom of Moray (including Nairn), [James Stewart], earl of Moray, Sir Robert Innes of that Ilk, [Sir Alexander Sutherland], laird of Duffus, Thomas MacKenzie of Pluscarden, James Grant of that Ilk, John Grant of Moyness, Hugh Rose of Kilravock and Alexander Brodie of Lethen. For the sheriffdom of Inverness, [George MacKenzie], earl of Seaforth, [Hugh Fraser], master of Lovat, William MacIntosh of that Ilk, James Fraser of Brey, Master Alexander MacKenzie of Kilcowie and Duncan Forbes of Culloden. Giving, granting and committing to the forenamed persons respectively and each quorum thereof after-specified jointly and their deputes for whom they shall be answerable his majesty's full power and commission to the effect after-specified, with full power to them, or any quorum of them jointly, according to the said division, by themselves or their deputes in their names (for whom they shall be answerable), to set, affix, affirm, hold and how often as need be to continue justice courts or courts of justiciary within the several sheriffdoms respectively foresaid, or any part thereof, as often and so often as need be and at such times and places as they shall think expedient, twice each year during the space of this commission, namely: at one time from the midst of April to 31 May for that session of the year, and in August thereafter that same year, and to begin thereto in April 1642. And to cause charge, call and convene before them all and whatsoever persons within the said sheriffdoms who are either guilty or suspected guilty of committing thefts, depredations, plunderings, murders, fire raising, witchcraft, incest, adultery and other odious crimes and oppressions whatsoever or who are denounced rebels and fugitives from the laws for criminal causes, their assisters, resetters and partakers, and all and whatsoever persons within the said sheriffdoms who are guilty of resetting and supplying of the said thieves, rebels, fugitives and other suspect persons respectively foresaid since the committing of the said odious crimes and oppressions, or who shall happen to supply, maintain or reset them and their accomplices or any of them thereafter, to underlie the law for whatsoever crime or crimes committed by them and to proceed therein according to the order used before the justice general and his deputes. And for that effect to charge them by precepts and letters of horning to underlie the law within six days next after they be charged thereto under the pain of rebellion, and to charge them by open proclamation at the parish kirk of the parish where they use most often to resort upon a Sunday before noon and at the market crosses of the sheriffdoms wherein also they use most often to repair; which form of situation is hereby declared to be as sufficient as if they and every one of them were charged personally apprehended. And in case they fail, to denounce them to the horn, and in case of compearance, to put them to an assize and to do justice upon them either by death, banishment or any other way whatsoever as their crimes do merit and deserve, as well in life, lands as goods according to the laws of this kingdom likewise and in as ample and free manner as any of his majesty's justice generals or justices by commission within this kingdom have been in use to do, use and exercise of before by virtue of their commissions and offices in that part at one time bygone or may do hereafter by virtue thereof in any time coming; assizes, one or more as need be, to summon, charge, choose and cause be sworn and to cause charge the said assizers to attend upon the said justices by commission during the sitting of the said justice courts; to pass upon the said malefactors and other suspect persons respectively foresaid, their assizes, each person of inquest under the pain of 100 merks on every occasion as they fail; suits to cause be called; absents to fine and punish; transgressors to punish; clerks, serjeants, dempsters, procurators fiscal and all other officers and members of court needful to make, treat, constitute and cause be sworn; decreets, judgements, particulars, acts, testimonies, precepts and other writs necessary thereupon to give out and the same to due and lawful execution cause be put; escheats, fines, amercements and other duties and sums whatsoever of the said courts to exact, uplift and receive and to apply so much thereof to their own proper use as will bear their charges in prosecuting of the premises, and to be accountable for the resting surplus if any be to his majesty's treasurers of exchequer or any whom they shall appoint for that effect; and, if need be, to poind and distrenzie thereof by their own decreets and precepts of poinding as appropriate. And also with power to the said commissioners or any quorum thereof to cause summon all parties necessary within the foresaid sheriffdoms to come in and find sufficient caution and surety for keeping of the king's peace in time coming, excepting always from this all those who are denounced his majesty's rebels for any criminal cause whatsoever. With power also to them if need be to remit and pardon whatsoever person or persons convened before them if they think the same may conduce for the peace and well of the country, providing the said persons be not denounced rebels for any criminal cause of before; and also with this condition always: that the said persons give and find sufficient caution and surety for satisfaction to all parties damnified by them and for their good behaviour in time coming. And generally all and sundry other things to do, use and exercise regarding the premises likewise and as freely in all respects as any other of his majesty's justices by commission or justice general heretofore or their deputes have been in use to do in the like affairs at any time bygone or may do in time coming by virtue of their offices in that part, promising to hold firm and stable all and whatsoever things his majesty's justices in that part foresaid or any quorum of them in the due and lawful execution of their offices in that part in the premises righteously does, without prejudice to [Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall], his majesty's advocate, and [Sir John Hamilton of Orbiston], justice clerk, of their offices and places in the said justice courts and of their privileges thereof, which shall not be prejudiced by virtue hereof; with this provision always and no otherwise: that if his majesty's said advocate and justice clerk shall not have deputes under them being advertised of the diets thereof by the space of 20 days of before to attend the foresaid commissioners in the execution of the foresaid commission, then and in that case it shall be lawful to them and each quorum of them to choose their own procurators fiscal and clerks in the premises in manner foresaid. And it is hereby declared that the foresaid commissioners shall divide themselves in two separate quorums as they think most expedient, having always one of the foresaid justice deputes or such as shall be depute under them in their place present at each quorum at the expedition and execution of the foresaid service. And that the foresaid commissioners and justice deputes may accept of the foresaid commission upon them and make faith by faithful administration, his majesty and estates of parliament ordain them to meet and convene at Perth the [...] day of [...] next, each person under the pain of [...] in case of fail, to the effect they may resolve upon their division and making of the foresaid two quorums, and thereafter to take such course for their proceedings in the premises as may best conduce for the well and good of the foresaid service. Likewise the said commissioners and justices shall be held to report their proceedings and diligences to be done in the premises according to the tenor of the foresaid commission, and that to his majesty's secret council twice each year after the foresaid terms prescribed for holding of the said justice courts. And because it is thought expedient that 120 men shall be levied for attending and assisting the execution of the foresaid commission, as well for bringing in of malefactors and other suspect persons to underlie the law in the foresaid justice courts as for putting the sentences thereof to due and lawful execution, therefore his majesty is hereby graciously pleased, with consent of the estates of parliament, to cause his majesty's treasurers and other commissioners of exchequer pay the charges and expenses of the said 120 men during the whole time of the said service out of the first and readiest of his majesty's rents and casualties payable to his majesty in exchequer, and ordains this commission to be a sufficient warrant to them for that effect. And to the effect it may be known where the said rebels, thieves and other suspect persons respectively foresaid use most often to resort, his majesty and estates of parliament ordain every heritor within his own bounds within the several sheriffdoms above-specified to give up in roll the names of all thieves, sorners and other suspect persons to the said commissioners in their own several shires, and likewise give up indictment to them according thereto as they will be answerable upon their peril under all highest pain and charge that after may follow; and thereafter the said commissioners shall be held to give up in roll the names of the said persons, what they are and where they dwell and resort, and that to the commissioner who shall have charge for bringing in of the said broken men to be punished according to their just demerits. And the foresaid commission shall endure to the next parliament or sooner if the same be expressly discharged, either by his majesty, parliament and secret council. It is always hereby declared that this present commission shall in no way be extended to the bounds or any part whereof the Earl of Argyll is heritable justice by his infeftment held of the king's majesty ratified in parliament [...]4 the said whole bounds are and shall be expressly excepted and reserved out of and from hereof. And it is declared that [...]5 nothing contained therein shall be prejudicial to his majesty's justice general, his power, liberty and jurisdiction competent to him [...]6 of his place and acts of parliament for making and constituting of justice deputes in the same justice courts and justiciars. And his majesty and estates of parliament ordain the foresaid letter to be further extended hereupon in the best form with all clauses needful, and do hereby give command to [Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit], director of his majesty's chancellery, to write out the said letter upon this commission to the great seal freely, and to [John Campbell, lord Loudoun], his majesty's high chancellor, to cause append the said great seal thereto, also freely, without passing of any other seals or registers. And this commission shall be a sufficient warrant to them for that effect.

16 November 1641

This commission being moved to the king's majesty and estates of parliament, they remit the same to the secret council with this declaration: that whatsoever the council shall conclude and enact therein shall have the authority, force and validity of an act of parliament.

[John Elphinstone, lord] Balmerino, in presence of the lords of parliament

  1. NAS, PA6/5, 'November 16 1641'.
  2. Illegible.
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