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During the period of Henry II judges gradually gained independence from the Monarch and the government. The very first judges, back in the 12th century, were court officials who had particular experience in advising the King on the settlement of disputes. From that group evolved justices in eyre, who possessed a mixed administrative and judicial jurisdiction. The justices in eyre were not, to put it mildly, popular. In fact, they came to be regarded as instruments of oppression.
The seeds of the modern justice system were sown by Henry II (1154 - 1189), who established a jury of 12 local knights to settle disputes over the ownership of land. When Henry came to the throne, there were just 18 judges in the country - compared to more than 40,000 today.
In 1178, Henry II first chose five members of his personal household - two clergy and three lay - "to hear all the complaints of the realm and to do right".
This, supervised by the King and "wise men" of the realm, was the origin of the Court of Common Pleas. Eventually, a new permanent court, the Court of the King's Bench, evolved, and judicial proceedings before the King came to be seen as separate from proceedings before the King's Council.
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