52 Documents in 52 Weeks #34: How Much Were Jurors Paid in 1858?

You might be noticing a trend here. The last few posts have highlighted different types of documents that might be found in court minutes.

Today’s document is also found within the court minutes and, like last week, Kaufman County, Texas is the source of the information.

I’ve only served once on a jury, back when I lived in California. Because my employer paid my salary while I served, the court payment was reimbursed to my school district. How much was I paid” A whopping $15.00!

Court records give a wonderful picture of what our ancestors’ lives were like. In 1858, white males over 21 could be summoned for jury duty. How much were they paid? Today’s example shows the jury fee paid was $3.00, although one fee listed as $5.00. How much is that worth today? About $83.00!

One important note, though, is that the fees were totaled at the bottom and came to $43.88. That makes me think that the whole jury split $3.00, which comes to 25 cents each.

Today, 25 cents is worth about $7.00 so I guess the current juror pay of $15.00 isn’t too bad!

Jury Fees, Kaufman County, Texas, 31 May 1858

From this list, I am assuming that the numbers in the left column refer to what today would be a docket number during that session. The second column is “plaintiff vs. defendant” title and then the jury fee that was paid.

I am not going to transcribe this page, as it is quite easily read and doesn’t name any of the jurors.

You might notice that the second entry on the page authorizes payments to those serving on the Grand Jury during that session. It appears they were paid 26 cents each, the extra penny covering the extra burden of responsibility, I imagine.

My experience has been that, often, jury members, when found in court minutes, are sometimes not indexed so it is necessary to read the pages one by one looking for entries.

I will share one more jury record next week, this one being from Roane County, Tennessee. It is a more unusual one that I have not come across before.

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