The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Cognizance
COGNIZANCE, an old term in common law signifying legal jurisdiction or acknowledgment of a fact entailing certain legal consequences. The term is used in the United States to signify a general sense of jurisdiction as in the phrase “to take cognizance of a cause of action.” In pleading, cognizance signifies a formal acknowledgment of an act alleged. In former times cognizance of pleas was jurisdiction of causes, a privilege granted by the king to a city or town to set up a tribunal for the trial of suits. The term is also used in heraldry to signify some distinguishing mark as a crest or badge.