The smallest political subdivision among the Anglo-Saxons was the tything, (teothing,) consisting of ten families, the members of which were responsible for the good conduct of each other. The head man of this community, denominated tything-elder, (teothing ealdor,) seems to have acted as a kind of arbitrator in settling disputes about matters of a trifling nature; but whether he had actually a court for administering justice does not appear. Next in order came the hundred, (hundrede,) or, as it was called in the north of England, the wapentake, in its original constitution consisting of ten tythings, or a hundred families, associated together by a similar bond of mutual responsibility. Its head man was called the hundred’s elder, (hundredes ealdor,) or simply reeve, (gerefa,) that being the generic term for the officer of any district, or indeed for any officer. This gerefa, along with the bishop of the diocese, acted as the presiding officer of the hundred court, which met once at least every month, and had both[Pg 11] civil and criminal jurisdiction, and cognizance also of ecclesiastical causes, which were entitled to precedence over every other business.