In a A MURDER TOO SOON, the third title in the Jack Blackjack mystery series set in Tudor England, Jack is ordered to eliminate a spy in Princess Elizabeth’s household. Here, author Michael Jecks shares a historical fact about the origin of the role of a Coroner and also where the word ‘murder’ originates…
Did You Know . . . coroners were brought into being originally to bring in taxes for the Crown? They were primarily created in order to record how much money a village should pay when a homicide victim was discovered. After the Norman invasion, many Normans and their friends were killed by Anglo-Saxon rebels. If a body was found, the Coroner must be called. First, the village must “Present Englishry”. That meant they would have to declare that they knew who the dead person was. If they could not, it was assumed that the corpse was that of a Norman, which meant the “murdrum” fine would be imposed (which is why we have the term “murder”).
Even if the village could prove the dead man was a local, there were other fines to be imposed. One was “deodand”, which was based on the value of the weapon that broke the King’s Peace. If a dagger, it would be cheaper; if larger, the charge increased. Once a Coroner demanded the value of a cart and horses; the jury demurred, saying only one wheel caused the injury. The Coroner brought in a new jury from a neighbouring village to give him the result he wanted.
Deodand remained in force until the 1800s – it was stopped because railway companies complained when fined the value of a locomotive and carriages after a pedestrian was hit and killed!
A MURDER TOO SOON by Michael Jecks is out now in the UK and will be published in hardback in the USA on 1 September 2017, as well as in eBook.
Please visit here for further information about Michael Jecks and his work.
PRAISE FOR MICHAEL JECKS
“Jecks inaugurates his new series by moving from medieval times to the turbulent Tudor period. His unlikely detective is neither brave nor wise nor very bright, but he’s often quite funny as he doggedly tracks down an unexpected killer” Kirkus Reviews
“Jecks keeps the suspense at a steady boil as his well-rounded characters fight for a corner in tumultuous London with humor and even humanity” Publishers Weekly