"OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ!
Silence is commanded in the court while his Majesties Justices are sitting, upon pain of imprisonment. All manner of persons that have anything to doe at this court draw neer and give your attendance and if anyone have plaint to enter of suite to prosecute let them come forth and they shall be heard.
God save the King!"
Thus was the ancient call of the under-sheriff that began a day at the once-monthly court session. The Justices of the Peace sat the first Thursday each month for the purpose of trying persons accused of crimes, deciding disputes over property worth twenty-five shillings or more, probating wills, appointing Commissions to to build or repairing public properties and for assessing of taxes. The taxes were necessary to pay for the upkeep of the courthouse itself, the jail, bridges and roads. Salaries and fees also had to be paid to the Sheriff and Clerk of the Court. Court day actually began long before the court was declared in session. Before dawn, horsemen, carriages, carts, boats and many citizens afoot made their way into the town. Soon the courthouse grounds were overflowing with men, women, and children.
A bench for the Justices of the Peace was built around the circular back wall of the courtroom. It has cushions to sit on and a railing to separate the Justices from the Court Officials. The Clerk was seated at the small table. The jury sat on the bench in front of the Justices, facing the accused, and narrow benches were provided for the attorneys. They, as a rule, read the law in a local law office and had no college degrees. A second railing separated the court officials from the citizenry. In many courthouses, the citizenry stood during the court's sessions as no benches were provided for them. There was no heat except in the side office, but it is doubtful that there were complaints since court day was a time of general merriment and much imbibing of "spirits."