1782, "An Act establishing a Supreme Judicial Court within the Commonwealth", quoted in The Constitutional History of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Frank Washburn Grinnell, 1917, page 434
they or any three of them shall be a Court and have cognizance of pleas real, personal, and mixed.
In 19th-century U.K. law, that which the plaintiff alleges in his declaration is answered and repelled or justified by the defendant’s plea. In chancery practice, a plea is a special answer showing or relying upon one or more things as a cause why the suit should be either dismissed, delayed, or barred. In criminal practice, the plea is the defendant’s formal answer to the indictment or information presented against him/her.
1824, James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner:
With my riches, my unhappiness was increased tenfold; and here, with another great acquisition of property, for which I had pleaed, and which I had gained in a dream, my miseries and difficulties were increasing.