From Chambers Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge (Collier, 1887):
SWEARING, PROFANE, according to the law of England, is an offense for which the party may be convicted by a justice of the peace according to a scale of penalties. A day laborer, a common soldier, sailor, or seaman forfeits 1s. per oath; every other person under the degree of gentleman, 2s.; and every person of the degree above gentleman, 5s.—for a second offense, double these sums; for a third, treble, &c. If the cursing take place in presence of a justice of the peace, the latter may convict the swearer then and there, without further proces or evidence; and in all cases a constable may apprehend a profane swearer; and carry him before a justice. On a recent occasion, a man swore a volley of oaths, twenty times repeating the oath, and the justices fined him 2s. for each repetition, making in all £2, and this was held a proper conviction. The justice of the peace in Scotland have a similar jurisdiction intrusted to them, to convict of profane swearing, and fine according to the rank of the party.

Swear"ing, a. & n.

from Swear, v.

Idle swearing is a cursedness. Chaucer.

 

© Webster 1913.

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