Members of the Society of Friends are, and were, opposed to their members taking recourse to the law in settlement of their differences, Most matters of crime and punishment were handled by the Meeting, and only those matters involving non-Quakers, or those unable to be handled by the Meeting reached the Courts in West Chester (or in Chester, the first County seat.) Lawyers were looked upon with disfavor and noted Quaker Isaac Jackson said to a nephew who prepared to study law, "I would rather thou was't preparing thyself to be a chimney sweep than a lawyer." Line fence disputes were common occurrences in the early 1800s. When two people who attended New Garden Monthly Meeting were at odds because of such a dispute, and their neighbors were sorely disturbed, a "committee" appeared one morning at the disputed corner and soon settled to the apparent satisfaction of all. Thomas Ellicott, one of the parties at issue, in order to make the agreement emphatic and everlasting, was on hand with three pairs of strong oxen harnessed to an immense timber wagon from beneath which swung a huge boulder. The stone was placed in position so "that corner should never again go wrong," and as a monument to the efficacy of common sense when aiding others to settle their differences "when they arise."
Court justice was stern in the 1700s, particularly with those who stole cattle and horses, for man was at a great loss without these sources of food and labor. One man found guilty of "leading away a cow" in 1707 was fined two-fold and received "upon his bare back well laid on 21 stripes." He, also, had to wear the Roman "T" in accordance with the law; had to pay an additional twelve pounds fine; and was committed to the custody of the "High Sheriff to be kept in the common jail" until the judgment was paid. The cow was returned to its owner. Another who stole a bay gelding received ten lashes, had to wear the Roman "T" and was fined plus charges. Women were whipped for fornication and bearing illegitimate children; others were fined for allowing servants to work on Sunday, and for selling rum to Indians.
There were more cases of assault and battery, theft, attempted murder during the 1800s than earlier. The keeping of "disorderly houses" was a growing problem and one "gentleman" was taken to court because he
"doth keep and maintain a certain common, ill-governed and disorderly house; & in the said house for his own Lucre and profit, certain evil and ill-disposed persons of ill-name & fame, and of dishonest conversation, to frequent & come together, then & the other said days & times, there unlawfully and wilfully did cause & procure, and the said persons in the said house then and the said other days & times, there to be and remain, fighting of cocks, boxing, playing at cudgels, & misbehaving themselves."
In the late 1800s when Maris M. Hollingsworth was Constable at age 23, his first arrest was
"a woman of unsound mind who had been threatening the lives of several persons in and around Landenberg ... becoming a nuisance, a warrant was sworn out before Squire Whann for her arrest. The charge was preferred and the woman was committed as a lunatic, in the care of Keeper Hagerty. The young constable does not like his business and states that next Spring some other fellow will have to wear the star!"
There were several "lunatics" arrested in the Township throughout that whole period.