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law is, that of general statutes the judges ought to take notice, although not pleaded—otherwise of special or particular statutes; and for the better understanding of the point as to which are statutum generale and which are statutum speciale, that, generale dicitur a genere, et speciale a specie; and these are genus, species, et individua : for instance, spirituality is genus; bishopric, deanery, &c., are species ; and bishopric, or deanery of a particular place, as Norwich, individuum sic dicet quia in partes dividi nequit.” Hence acts which concern the whole spirituality in general, are general acts, and the act(a) concerning colleges in the two universities, and the colleges of Eaton and Winchester, is a particular act, of which the judges shall not take notice; but the statutes concerning colleges, deans and chapters, hospitals, parsons, vicar, or any other having any spiritual or ecclesiastical living, are general acts.(6) A statute concerning leases made by bishops, is a special act, because it concerns the bishops only, who are but species of the spirituality, or an individual of a certain species, as a particular bishop. So the word officer is a general word or genus, sheriff is a special word or species, and the sheriff of a particular place, as of Norfolk, is individuum. Hence a statute which declares that no sheriff, nor other of the king's officers, shall take any reward to do his office, but shall be paid of that which they take of the king, is a general act, because it extends to officers in general; but at one time it was held, that a statute which extends only to sheriffs was but a particular and special act. This doctrine has since been overruled, and this is now held to be a public act.(C) So, mystery or trade is a gen
(a) 18 Eliz. c. 6.
(c) See 2 Lev. 154 ; 1 Ibid. 83 ; Sid. 23; Samuel v. Evans, 2 T. R. 569 ; Lovell v. Sheriff of London, 15 East, 320.
eral word; trade of a particular kind, as grocery, is special, and this grocer by name is individuum; and hence acts concerning mysteries or trades in general are general acts, but an act concerning a particular trade, as that grocery, is a special act, as it is said,(a) because the trade of grocers contains under it but individua, or singular persons, as this or that grocer by name. The distinction between statutes which concern trade in general, and those which relate to a particular trade, is, that in the former the genus trade is composed of all kinds of trade, but in the latter the particular trade is a species of the genus trade, and the particular person is an individual of that species. § 799. It has been held that the statutes made in the time of Henry 6th, by which all corporations and licenses granted by that prince are declared void, was a private act, for the reason that it did not extend to all corporations: it was not general, but particular in a generality, or, to speak with more propriety, general in a particularity. The genus corporations was general; the species— to wit, those granted by this prince—were particular or special. As it is the species and not the genus provided for in the act, it rendered the act itself a private act.(b) SS00. If an act is special which extends ad species, a multo fortiori, it is special or particular when it extends ad individua. As to what acts as to persons are general, and what not, it may be observed, that although the matter is special, so that under it there be but indiridua, yet if it is general as to persons, it is a general act; but if the act concerns aliquod singulare sua individuum, although it is general as to persons, yet it is a special act, of which the judges will not take notice. An appeal is
(a) Dyer, 27.
a special act, and yet statutes giving appeals to all persons are general acts. But if an act should provide that no appeal should be brought of the death of S., that would be a special or particular act. § 801. It is upon the same reasoning that statutes of waste, and concerning special actions, assizes, assizes by tenant by elegit, of attaints, &c., are general laws, although they concern special actions and are framed in reference to special objects. Although an act as to persons is general, if the matter thereof concerns individua, or singular things, or any particular man or house, &c., or all the manor houses, &c., which are in one or sundry particular towns, or in one or divers particular counties; these are such particular acts of which courts will not take cognizance, without they are specially pleaded or alleged. But of every act, although the matters thereof concerns individua, or singular things, yet if they touch or affect the king or government at heart, they are public acts, of which the judges ea officio ought to take cognizance; for every subject has an interest in the king as in the head of the commonwealth; and as the inferior members cannot estrange themselves from the actions and passions of the head, no less can any subject estrange himself from any thing which touches or concerns the king, their supreme head.(a) § 802. It has been said, that the distinction between public and private statutes is this, a general or public act is a universal rule that regards the whole community, but special or private acts are rather exceptions than rules, being those which operate upon private persons and private concerns.(b) It is not necessary, however, in order to constitute a statute a public act, that it should be equally applicable to all parts of the state. It is suffi
(a) Phil. Ev. 318; Bull. N. P. 222. (b) 1 Black. Com. 86.
cient if it extends to all persons doing or omitting to do an act within the territorial limits described in the statute.(a) § 803. In the case last cited, the act provided for the survey of timber in the county of Penobscot, and prohibited sales unless thus surveyed and marked, but as it was operative upon all persons, it was held to be a public act. On the same principle, and for the same reasons, an act for the preservation of fish called bass in Dunstan river, in Scarborough in the county of Cumberberland, was held to be a public act.(b) In this case it was said, indeed all the laws regulating the taking of fish are made for the public benefit, to preserve fish, and are public statutes. § 804. If a statute contain provisions which are of a private nature, yet if it also contains provisions for the forfeiture of penalties to the state, or for the punishment of public offences, it is a public statute.(c) In For v. Bagg, the defendant was indicted under the statute 2 Phil. & Mar. ch. 11, for using the trade of a dyer and weaver, not being a cloth maker. It was objected that the indictment was not good, because the act was private and not set out in the indictment. It was held it was so if the act had been private, but that although this concerned a particular thing or was private in its nature, yet that the forfeiture being to the king, and so the king concerned, that this made it a public act. § 805. In Rogers,case, the defendant was indicted for having in his possession forged and counterfeit bills, purporting to be issued by the Bank of the United States. It was objected that the judge admitted in evidence a printed copy of the act of congress, and that the act was
(a) Pierce v. Kimball, 9 Greenlf. R. 54.
private, and the only question was, whether the act was public or private. The court held, as the bank was established for public purposes, as an important aid in conducting the fiscal concerns of the nation, the United States owned a large portion of its funds, and its bills were receivable in payment of revenues; that although if the statute was of a private nature, or if it concerned a particular trade, yet if a forfeiture thereby be given to the king or government, it was a public statute. That the twelfth and thirteenth sections of the act provided penalties of different amounts for violations of certain parts of the act, and a moiety or less portion was given to the United States, and sections eighteen and nineteen provided punishments to be inflicted on those convicted of counterfeiting, that such provisions were only generally to be found in the public and general statutes; that for these reasons the act was a public act. Upon the same principle it has been held in Massachusetts, that the statute of 1829, c. 2, to regulate the pilotage in the harbor of Boston, is a public act. Shaw, Ch. J., says: “The last objection is, that the statate is a private act and ought to have been recited in the declaration. Without going minutely into this subject, which sometimes involves distinctions of much nicety and difficulty, there is one consideration which renders it decisive that this is a public act, which is, that the first section in terms imposes a penalty upon every person who shall violate its provisions. It is therefore binding upon every citizen of the commonwealth, and upon every stranger who, coming within its jurisdiction, owes a temporary allegiance and is bound by its laws.”(a) § 806. Where the preamble of a statute recited divers mischiefs to the public which arose from want of proper
(a) Heridia v. Ayres, 12 Pick, 344.