assizesThe Oxford English Dictionary, in its twelfth subsection under the substantive "assize," explains these courts of trial as follows:
The sessions held periodically in each county of England, for the purpose of administering civil and criminal justice, by judges acting under certain special commissions (chiefly and usually, but not exclusively, being ordinary judges of the superior courts, or, after 1875, of the Supreme Court). It was provided by Magna Carta that the judges should visit each county once every year to take assizes (i.e. try writs of assize) of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestre, and darreine presentment (so that the jury who constituted the Grand Assize . . . might not be obliged to travel from remote corners of England to appear in court at Westminster). Thence the names assizes, and justices or judges of assize, still retained by these circuit courts and itinerant judges, after their judicial functions had been greatly extended in various directions, especially in that of the trial of felonies and offences. Assizes were abolished by the Courts Act, 1971; their criminal jurisdiction was transferred to the Crown Courts.Of course, Ireland in the eighteenth-century had not yet been joined administratively to the mechanisms of the United Kingdom as it would become with the Act of Union of 1801. But in practical effect the nominally independent country, in its administration of justice, modeled itself on the English system.