Post by lipkatatar
While scanning through 16th Century legal disputes in Cornwall. I regularly find a John Doe and Richard Roe amongst the parties to the dispute. At first I thought they were a firm of attorneys, but I have been told that they were fictional parties to a dispute. What purpose did this serve?
I suppose it would depend on the nature of the "dispute" but it sounds
as if the entire case might be fictional. Here's an example where
fictional parties might be used:
Quite frequently in the Wakefield manorial rolls one sees a case where X
has transferred property to Y without going through the court as would
be required. On the basis of this the property is seized into the
lord's hands. It is then proclaimed for rent at the next three courts
after which it's available for claim. Surprise, surprise there's only
one claimant, x or y,
The entire transfer was fictional in order to give the manor a chance to
seize and re-let (subject to paying a new entry fine), the new letting
being free of any encumbrances the property might have had in the past.
In Wakefield y always seems to be real but, as the case was a legal
fiction, there's no reason why they might not also be fictional.