History of Jury Duty

Courtroom-898931_640I’m on call for jury duty, and while I wouldn’t mind sitting through a trial, this kind of thing never comes at a convenient time. We ought to be able to pick our jury weeks!

Anyway, I thought I’d see how long we’ve been plugged into a jury system. Basically, we know the Athenians around 507 BCE, with their democratic system, did everything by the people. Juries of 500 men (of course) were selected every day to rule on criminal and civil accusations and crimes. Sounds like they had complaining neighbors and teen hoodlums aplenty even back then.

A more modern form of this was developed by Germanic tribes where they chose men of good character to investigate crimes (the beginning of the idea of a grand jury) and judge the accused (petit jury).

The Saxons adopted a similar system by 978 AD. One of Alfred the Great’s Dooms (laws) required that 12 men from every 100 were to accuse perpetrators of crimes and pass judgment on them. So without a police force, juries acted as the law—the perfect occupation for the busybody sorts.

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The Tiffany Efffect

NamesNicola here! As readers and writers we all know the importance of a character’s name. The right name can fit perfectly with our view of that person; the wrong one can completely pull us out of a story. With historical fiction it’s even trickier because not only do names have to fit the character but they also need to be historically correct. Nothing breaks my enjoyment more than a Regency heroine called Tiffany.

And that is where I am wrong, as I discovered a couple of weeks ago when I heard about “The Glasses Tiffany Effect.” The Tiffany Effect is the belief that something is more modern than it actually is. So, for example, central heating could be an example of The Tiffany effect if you thought it was a modern invention and not a technology originally introduced by the Ancient Greeks and Romans . Or glasses, which were first worn in 1290.

TiffanyI thought that the name Tiffany simply had to be a 20th century introduction, popularised in 1961 by the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” which was based on the book by Truman Capote.  I vaguely knew that Tiffany had been a surname before that – Tiffany & Co. the jewellers was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany.  So I thought I was clear on the timeline. But it turns out I was wrong because the name Tiffany was recorded in 1200 as a first name, traditionally given to girls born on 6th January, the Feast of the Epiphany.  The spelling in Old French was “Tifinie” and it derives from a Greek word, Theophaneia, which originally mean “manifestation of god.”  By 1600, the name Tiffany appears in English. By this time it was also the name for a light, gauzy sort of material (like the one in the picture) as well as a first name and a surname.

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