Clarendon, Assize of

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Clarendon, Assize of. An assize (set of instructions for the king's judges) issued on Henry II's orders from his palace at Clarendon in 1166. It required grand juries to name (‘present’) accused or suspected criminals in their area so that the sheriff could then have them arrested and brought for trial before royal judges in the county courts. Gaols were to be built in every county where they did not already exist. The assize is generally regarded as an important step in the development of common law machinery for the public prosecution of crime and of the integration of county courts into a national court system.

John Gillingham