The Court Leet and the Court Baron were two components of the medieval Manor Court by which Lords of the Manor were allowed to deal with matters arising in relation to their own tenants within their own territory. Both courts would be presided over by the lord or his steward.
The Court Leet had the power to deal with petty criminal activity, while the Court Baron was concerned mainly with administrative matters and land transfer.
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Window tax was introduced in England and Wales in 1696; property owners paid differing amounts of tax according to the number of windows in their properties, thus ensuring that the wealthiest members of society paid the most tax. To reduce it, property owners started blocking up some of their windows.
The tax was abolished in 1851, but even today one may see the legacy of the window tax in old buildings which still have some of their windows blocked up.
Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,
Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,
They sate them down on a marble stone,
(A Scottish monarch slept below;)
The descriptions in the poem are of Melrose Abbey in Melrose, Scotland, which was founded in 1136.
King James II (1633-1701) of England, Wales and Ireland (also known as King James VII of Scotland) reigned between 1685 and 1688. His Catholic faith led to political tensions, and he was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 by William of Orange and those who supported the Protestant cause.
Hugh Blair (1718-1800) was a Scottish author and minister in the Church of Scotland, as well as Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh. One of his best-known works was Sermons (a five-volume series of his own sermons), the first volume of which was published in 1777.
In garden design, a ha-ha is a concealed trench whose purpose is to create a barrier, usually to keep livestock out, while at the same time allowing an unobstructed view from a garden or park. It also refers to the type of ditch sometimes known as a deer-leap, one side of which is vertical and lined with brick or stone.
The caged starling appears in the novel A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768) by Laurence Sterne (1713-1768). In the chapter entitled 'The Passport, the Hotel at Paris', Mr Yorick, the first person narrator, says:
"In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words repeated twice over; and, looking up, I saw it was a starling hung in a little cage - 'I can't get out, - I can't get out,' said the starling."
Quarterly Review was a literary and political magazine. Publication began in 1809 and ceased in 1967.