Please Sir, may I be excused?

“From bodily indisposition it is not in my power to attend. These seven years by gone I never dare to go out of the house before 10 o’clock in the forenoon and never at no time after sunset in the evening and the last damp brings on my complaint on the other side” – I feel you guy. I feel you.

Open Book

Have you ever asked to be excused from jury service? Well you’re not alone! For centuries potential jurors have sought to escape their civic duty on grounds of health, work or simple inconvenience. Here are some such requests which survive within the High Court of Justiciary held by the National Records of Scotland.

Ill Health

By far the most common reason for non-attendance was ill-health. Lumbago [lower back pain] was a common affliction, as was gout – in 1790 a solicitor from Dumfries had been “for many months past very distressed with gouty and bilious complaints which have confined him to his house for several weeks.”

jury service 1Jury service 2The Sheriff Subsitute of Renfrewshire, reported in September 1790 that he had been “seized withcholera morbus” a historic term for gastroenteritis, and was confined to bed.

A similar reason was given to the HighJury Service 3 Court in Edinburgh in 1796, with the…

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