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I come across this phrase very rarely, most recently in a Wodehouse story. It seems to mean something like "brought as defendant before a county court", e.g., sued. Is there a more precise meaning? In Wodehouse it arises when a character fails to pay his bills and is county courted by his tailor, or something like that. Is a county court something like a small claims court? Can one be county courted for theft, for nonpayment of taxes, for speeding, for murder? What is the level of such a court in the hierarchy?

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The Victorian weekly literary magazine All the Year Round, edited by Charles Dickens, has an interesting passage found here:

The fact is, that Growler had been “County Courted.” (“To County Court,” I may observe in parenthesis, is a verb only admissible into dictionaries of recent date.

I am not sure which dictionaries are meant here, since none of those I checked have such entry. Still, the meaning is clear from the context, as well as from other occurrences of the same phrase found on Google Books, e.g.:

Let it once be known that a trader has been “County Courted ” and his destruction is inevitable,

Otherwise, he remarked, he might be "county courted" for a debt he could not pay. There was also a great deal of evidence as to the inferiority of goods supplied by tallymen upon the credit system, and among the witnesses was Mr. Commissioner Kerr,

Some debtors talked of being 'county courted'. For instance, Debtor 11 said, 'I knew you'd get county courted. That's obvious, everybody knows that.'

The reason why one debtor can be county courted and another cannot lies in the amount of the debt;


The nature and jurisdiction of county courts is IMHO adequately covered by Wikipedia.

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