Jury Rigging Trial in New Jersey 1709


William Ogborne and John Ogborne Jnr. were members of a jury sworn in November 1709 to hear a trial in which Jeremiah Bass, who held high office in Her Majesty Queen Anne’s Council and the Supreme Court of New Jersey stood accused of falsifying the book of Freeholders of the then Colony of New Jersey for corrupt purposes. William and John were probably two brothers, and the sons of John Ogborne who settled in the Burlington area of New Jersey in 1684 or earlier together with Samuel Ogborne (see Issue 1)

The outcome of the trial was to give rise to criticism of the judge and jury in part due to the speed with which the jury came to it’s conclusions, which in comparison would make the jury in the recent OJ Simpson case seem somewhat tardy!

The details of the case are as follows, abbreviated from the original account, but spelling unaltered.

“The Jurors for our Sovereign Lady the Queen upon their Oaths Doe present that Jeremiah Bass Esqr Secretary of the Province Clerk of her Majestys Councill and Prothonotary of the Supream Court of Judicature of Said Province the fiveteenth day of October 1709 Designing Contriveing and Intending to Pick a Jury in a Case then Depending in the Supream Court of Judicature of Said province Between Abraham Governner Plaintiffe against several other parties and fraudulently Corruptly and Malitiously alter Change and Transpose the books of the Freeholders of the Said Colony and also Did Give a false Copy of the Rules of the Said Court made in these Cases with Design to Defeat the Said Deffendants Contrary to the Duty of his Office and the Evill Example of Others and against the peace of Our Sovereign Lady the Queen.

To which the Said Bass Pleaded not Guilty-And put himself on his Country.

The Jury were sworne as follows:

William Fisher, Charles Miller, Jn. Stockton, Tho Potts, William Adkinson, Jn Rogers, Jn Hancock, Jno Ogborne Junr, Jn Hammell, Jn Moore, William Ogborne, James Thompson

Jn Norton (witness) Saith that in October he Received a Book from Adam Hinde high Sheriffe of Middlesex Called the Freeholders Book which he Deliver’d Jeremiah Bass to strick a Jury And that when he brought yee said Book back to the Sheriffe the Pages were Alter’d; Being asked what the said Bass said to him when he brought him the Book he reply’d that said Bass was Dipleased and found fault with the Book and said it was Irregular and Refused to Strick any Jury out of it because of its being Irregular.

David Hariott said that he saw a Book that it had been taken Assunder and had been Altered and that page 13. were put were page the Second was but he knows nothing who alter’d it.

Jn Brown saith that att the request of the Sheriffe he Did write and bind a Book (Viz) The freeholders Book and paged it that when it Came Back from Burlington the pages were Altered but nothing Else but the pages no Names being Added or Altered.

Adam Hude said that he knows nothing of the matter [that?] he received no list of any Names of a Jury from the Secretary [nor?] was any Jury Struck by him that he knows of and then [produced?] the Book in Court which appear’d to be the names of Sundry persons Confusedly Sett Down not in any Regular Order and only tied Together with a piece of Sad Coulerd Tape.

On which the Chief Justice Sum’d up the Evidence and the Jury without Going from the Barr Unanimously Cry’d out

“Not Guilty”

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Focusing on the history of the name of Ogbourne, Ogborn, Ogburn and other variants, including the early form of Ocheburne & Okebourne