Blackstone, 3 Comm. 278 (1st edn., 1768):
The first return in every term is, properly speaking, the first day in that term [ . . . ]. And the court sits to take essoigns, or excuses for such as do not appear according to the summons of the writ: wherefore this is usually called the essoign day of the term. But the person summoned has three days of grace, beyond the return of the writ, in which to make his appearance; and if he appears on the fourth day inclusive, the quarto die post, it is sufficient. For our sturdy ancestors held it beneath the condition of a freeman to be obliged to appear, or do any other act, at the precise time appointed or required.An enimently civilized attitude to tardiness.