The ordinary business of the ports was conducted in two courts known respectively as the court of brotherhood and the court of brotherhood and guestling, - the former being composed of the mayors of the seven principal towns and a number of jurats and freemen from each, and the latter including in addition the mayors, bailiffs and other representatives of the corporate members.
It did little more than arrange for the administration of justice by nominated jurats (scabini) under the count's bailli.
This charter obtained until in 1599 a second one incorporated the town by the name of "mayor and jurats" and regranted the market and fairs together with some additional privileges, among others that of returning members to parliament, which, however, was never exercised.
In medieval times Droitwich was governed by two bailiffs and twelve jurats, the former being elected every year by the burgesses; Queen Mary granted the incorporation charter in 1554 under the name of the bailiffs and burgesses.
The corporation, which was prescriptive, was entitled the mayor, jurats and commonalty of Folkestone.
Charters were granted by subsequent sovereigns down to Charles I., who reincorporated the town under the title of the mayor, jurats, bailiffs and burgesses of Queenborough.
About this time a body of Schoffen (scabini, jurats), fourteen in number, was formed to assist in the control of municipal affairs, and with their appointment the first step was taken towards civic representative government.
Under the Aragonese, Malta, as regards local affairs, was administered bya Universitd or municipal commonwealth with wide and indefinite powers, including the election of its officers, Capitan di Verga, Jurats, &c. The minutes of the " Consiglio Popolare " of this period are preserved, showing it had no legislative power; this was vested in the king, and was exercised despotically in the interests of the Crown.
It was his business, if not exactly his duty, to preside at the formal election of his successor, the marechal de Matignon; but there was a severe pestilence in Bordeaux, and Montaigne writes to the jurats of that town, in one of the few undoubtedly authentic letters which we possess, to the effect that he will leave them to judge whether his presence at the election is so necessary as to make it worth his while to expose himself to the danger of going into the town in its then condition, "which is specially dangerous for men coming from a good air, as he does."
At first the bishop ruled through his burgrave, advocate, and nominated jurats (scabini, Scheen).
Its bench of jurats (Schoppenstuhl) became celebrated, and "Magdeburg law" (Magdeburger Recht), securing the administrative independence of municipalities, was adopted in many parts of Germany, Poland and Bohemia.
In 1494 a grant was made to the bailiff, jurats and commonalty of a yearly fair on the 12th.
In 1600 it was incorporated under the title of the "Mayor, Jurats and Commons" of the town and hundred of Tenterden, in the county of Kent, the members of the corporation ranking henceforward as barons of the Cinque Ports.
The patriarch of Antioch helped to found a commune, which persisted, with its mayor and jurats, during the 13th century.