Origin of Jury – English History

A hot controversy has been waged as to whether Alfred is entitled to the honour of introducing the practice of trial by jury into England, but, in fact, the jury appears to have been an institution of progressive growth, and its principle may be traced to the earliest Anglo-Saxon times. One of the judicial customs of the Saxons was that a man might be cleared of the accusation of certain crimes, if an appointed number of persons came forward and swore that they believed him innocent of the allegation. These men were literally jurators, who swore to a veredictum, who so far determined the facts of the case as to acquit the person in whose favour they swore. Such an oath, and such an acquittal, is a jury in its earliest and rudest shape, and it is remarkable that for accusations of any consequence among the Saxons of the Continent, twelve jurators were the number required for an acquittal. Thus for the wound of a noble, which produced blood, or disclosed the bone, or broke a limb, or if one seized another by the hair, or threw him into the water, in these and some other cases twelve jurators were required.

 In the treaty between Alfred and Guthrun, more lights appear, “If any accuse the king’s thane of manslaughter, if he dares absolve himself, let him do it by twelve king’s thanes. If the accused be less than a king’s thane, let him absolve himself by eleven of his equals, and one king’s thane.” Here the number of twelve, and the principle of the peers, both appear to us…

Source: Origin of Jury – English History