“Abroad”: It was not until 1560 that “abroad” meant foreign, but instead meant:
1. a. Over a broad or wide area; widely, broadly; so as to be fully open or outspread (obs.). In later use more commonly with reference to non-physical things, as news, information, etc. Freq. in later use to spread abroad.
2. In public, so as to be widely known, believed, used, etc.; openly, publicly; (so as to be) in general circulation; at large.
(From the Oxford English Dictionary).
From a faculty website at Wisconsin, by JP Sommerville on Medieval English Government:
“Justices of the Peace were typically members of the local gentry (large landowners who did not have noble titles) given a commission by the monarch to administer justice in their county. JPs could personally punish minor offences and commit criminals for trial at the Assize Courts. Justices of the Peace were appointed from the 14th Century onward but it was only during the 16th that they became the primary administrators of local government, replacing the sheriff.”