Item #57098 Summons to the selectmen of Swanzey, Massachusetts before the Grand Jury. Ebenezer Brenton.

Summons to the selectmen of Swanzey, Massachusetts before the Grand Jury

Bristol: January 20, 1718. Octavo sheet approx. 7½" x 6", pp. [2]; official red wax seal of Bristol County; docketed on verso, Charles Church, Sheriff. Ink browned, some bleed through, otherwise very good. At the time, the Rhode Island towns of Bristol, Warren, and Barrington were part of Bristol County, Massachusetts, and Bristol was the county seat. Swansea abuts Warren and parts of Barrington. This document is a summons for the selectmen of Swanzey: "In his Majesties Name you are here by required to sumon the select men of Swanzey that they appear before the justices of our Lord the King ... on Tuesday the twelfth day of February next there to answer to a presentment of the Grand Jury exhibited against ye Town of Swanzey for not having a [animal] pound as the law directs..." in the Court of General Sessions held at Bristol County, and were further ordered "not to depart without license thereof faile not and make due return hereof." Ebenezer Brenton, "clerk" of the town, signs this document. He was the son of William Brenton of Newport who purchased Mettapoisett, as it was then called, now known as Gardiner's Neck, in Swansea, from Philip, chief sachem of Mount Hope [i.e. King Philip]. Ebenezer Brenton inherited this land in 1693 and promptly sold it to Samuel Gardiner. The docket on the verso of this document is signed by Charles Church, Sheriff, dated Feb. 9, 1718/9, and summons by name William Sudbury, Pallatiah Maxson, William Chase, and William Anthony, all selectmen of Swanzey. Members of Grand Juries at the time were "paneled," or selected and appointed, by the Governor and Assistants for an annual term of office, to hear charges made on oath of suspected criminal conduct by persons living in the Colony. The Grand Jury would issue a "presentment" to the General Court (a statement on oath by a jury of fact within their knowledge) if it believed it had evidence that someone could be tried for a crime. If the crime was capital, the accused had to be sentenced by the General Court; lesser offenses could be decided by the Court of Assistants. The office was an important one. Refusal to serve on the Grand Jury meant a fine of 10s for each Court missed during the year of office, or 40s if a juror refused to attend any meetings at all during the year. Item #57098

Price: $300.00

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