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appointment of all the justices of the peace throughout the kingdom belongs to him. Formerly he was usually an ecclesiastic, and presiding over the royal chapel, he became keeper of the king's conscience, visitor, in the king's right, of all hospitals and colleges of the king's foundation, and patron of all the king's livings under the value of twenty marks per annum in the king's books. He is the general guardian of all infants, idiots, and lunatics, and has the general superintendence of all charitable uses in the kingdom. And all this, over and above the vast and extensive jurisdiction which he exercises in his judicial capacity in the court of chancery; wherein, as in the exchequer, there are two distinct tribunals, the one ordinary, being a court of common law, and the other extraordinary, being a court of equity.

The ordinary legal court is much more ancient than the court of equity. Its jurisdiction is to hold plea upon a scire facias, to repeal and cancel (hence the name cancellarius,) the king's letters patent, when made against law, or upon untrue suggestions: and to hold pleas of petitions, monstrans de droit, traverses of offices, and the like; when he has been advised to do any act, or is put in possession of any lands or goods, in prejudice of a subject's right. On proof of which, as the king can do no wrong, nor can he be supposed to intend to do any wrong, the law does not question but that he will immediately redress the injury, and refers that conscientious task to the chancellor, the keeper of his conscience. This court also holds pleas of all personal actions, when any officer or minister of the court is a party. It might likewise hold pleas of partitions of lands in coparcenary and of dower, when any ward of the crown was concerned in interest, so long as the military tenures subsisted; and it may also do so now of the tithes of forest lands, when granted by the king, and claimed by a stranger against the grantee of the crown; and of executions on statutes, or recognizances in nature thereof. But if any cause comes to issue in this court, that is, if any fact is disputed between the parties, the chancellor cannot try it, having no power to summon a jury, but must deliver the record propria manu into the court of king's bench, where it shall be tried by the country, and judgment shall be there given thereon. And when judgment is given in chancery upon demurrer or the like, a writ of error, in nature of an appeal, lies out of this ordinary court into the court of king's bench; for which reason very little is usually done on the common law side of the court.

In this ordinary or legal court is also kept the officina justiciæ, out of which issue all original writs that pass under the great seal, all commissions of charitable uses. sewers, bankruptcy, idiocy, lunacy, and the like; and for which it is always open to the subject, who may there at any time demand and have, ex debito justiciæ, any writ that his occasions may call for. These writs and their returns, were, according to the simplicity of

ancient times, originally kept in a hamper, in hanaperio, and the others which relate solely to the crown, were preserved in a little sack or bag, in parva baga; hence arises the distinction of the hanaper and petty bag offices, which both belong to the common law court in chancery.

But the extraordinary court, or court of equity, is now become the court of the greatest judicial consequence. This distinction between law and equity, as administered in different courts, is not at present known, nor seems ever to have been known in any other country at any time. The reason and necessities of mankind, arising from the great change in property by the extension of trade and the abolition of military tenures, cooperated in enabling many great men who have presided in chancery, to build a system of jurisprudence and jurisdiction upon broad and rational foundations. And the power and business of this court have now increased to an amazing degree.

From the court of equity in chancery, as from the other superior courts, an appeal lies to the house of peers. But there are these differences between appeals from a court of equity, and writs of error from a court of law: 1st, That the former may be brought upon any interlocutory matter, the latter upon nothing but only a definitive judgment: 2d, That on writs of error the house of lords pronounces the judgment; on appeals it gives direction to the courts below to rectify its own decree.

COURT OF EXCHEQUER CHAMBER. This court has no original jurisdiction, but is simply a court of appeal, to correct the errors of other jurisdictions. It was first erected in the reign of Edward III. to determine causes upon writs of error from the common law side of the court of exchequer. It consists of the lord chancellor and lord treasurer, associating with themselves, the justices of the king's bench and common pleas. In imitation of which a second court of exchequer chamber was erected by statute in the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Elizabeth, consisting of the justices of the common pleas, and the barons of the exchequer, before whom writs of error may be brought to reverse judgments in certain sorts originally begun in the court of king's bench. Also into the court of exchequer chamber (which then consists of all the judges of the three superior courts, and sometimes the lord chancellor also), such causes are oceasionally adjourned from the other courts, as the judges upon argument find to be of great weight and difficulty, before any judgment is given upon them in the court below. From all branches of this court of exchequer chamber, a writ of error lies to the house of peers.

THE HOUSE OF PEERS is the supreme court of judicature of the kingdom, having at present no original jurisdiction over causes, but only upon appeals and writs of error, to rectify any injustice or mistake of the law committed by the courts below, and is in all causes the last resort, from whose judgment no further appeal is permitted; but every subordinate

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tribunal must conform to their determinations, the law reposing an entire confidence in the honour and conscience of the noble persons who compose this important assembly, that they will make themselves masters of those questions upon which they undertake to decide, and in all dubious cases refer themselves to the opinions of the judges, who are summoned by writ to advise them since upon their decision all property must finally depend. THE COURTS OF ASSIZE AND NISI PRIUS are derived out of, and act as collateral auxiliaries to, the foregoing courts. They are composed of two or more commissioners, who are twice in every year sent by the king's special commission all round the kingdom, (except London and Middlesex, where courts of nisi prius are holden in and after every term, before the chief or other judge of the several superior courts, and except the four northern counties, where the assizes are holden only once a-year,) to try by a jury of the respective counties the truth of such matters of fact as are there under dispute in the courts of Westminster Hall. The judges usually make their circuits in the respective vacations after Hilary and Trinity terms.

The judges upon their circuits sit by virtue of five several authorities. 1st, The commission of the peace. 2d, A commission of oyer and terminer. 3d, A commission of general jail delivery. 4th, A commission of assize directed to the justices and sergeants therein named, to take, together with their associates, assizes in the several counties; that is, to take the verdict of a peculiar species of jury, called an assize, and summoned for the trial of landed disputes. 5th, The last is that of nisi prius, which is a consequence of the commission of assize, being annexed to the office of those justices by statute, and it empowers them to try all questions of fact issuing out of the courts at Westminster, that are then ripe for trial by jury. These, by the course of the courts, are usually appointed to be tried at Westminster, in some Easter or Michaelmas term, by a jury returned from the county wherein the cause of action arises, but with this proviso, nisi prius; that is, unless before the day prefixed, the judges of assize come into the county in question. This they are sure to do in the vacations preceding Easter and Michaelmas term, which saves much expense and trouble.

ECCLESIASTICAL, MILITARY, AND MARITIME COURTS.

BESIDES the several courts just named, in which all injuries are redressed, that fall under the cognizance of the common law of England, or that spirit of equity which ought to be its constant attendant, there still remain some other courts of a jurisprudence equally public and general, which

take cognizance of other species of injuries of an ecclesiastical, military, and maritime nature.

In briefly recounting the various species of ecclesiastical courts, or, as they are often styled, courts christian, we shall begin with the lowest, and ascend gradually to the supreme court of appeal.

THE ARCHDEACON'S COURT is the most inferior court in the whole ecclesiastical polity. In the archdeacon's absence, it is held before a judge of his own appointment, who is called his official; and its jurisdiction is sometimes in concurrence with, sometimes in exclusion of, the bishop's court of the diocese. An appeal, however, lies from this court to that of the bishop.

THE CONSISTORY COURT of every diocesan bishop is held in their several cathedrals, for the trial of all ecclesiastical causes arising within their respective dioceses. The bishop's chancellor or his commissary, is the judge; and from his sentence an appeal lies to the archbishop of each province respectively.

THE COURT OF ARCHES is a court of appeal belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury, and the judge is called the dean of the arches; because he anciently held his court in the church of St Mary le bow, though all the principal spiritual courts are now holden at doctor's commons. His proper jurisdiction is only over the thirteen peculiar parishes belonging to the archbishop in London; but the office of dean of the arches, having been for a long time united with that of the archbishop's principal official, he now, in right of the last mentioned office, (as does also the principal official of the archbishop of York,) receives and determines appeals from the sentences of all inferior ecclesiastical courts within the province. And from him an appeal lies to the king in chancery, that is, to a court of delegates appointed under the king's great seal, as supreme head of the English church.

THE COURT OF PECULIARS is a branch of, and annexed to, the court of arches. It has a jurisdiction over all those parishes dispersed through the province of Canterbury in the midst of other dioceses, which are exempt from the ordinary jurisdiction, and subject to the metropolitan only. All ecclesiastical causes, arising within these peculiar or exempt jurisdic tions, are originally cognizable by this court, from which an appeal lies to the king in chancery.

THE PREROGATIVE COURT is established for the trial of all testamentary causes, where the deceased has left bona notabilia within two different dioceses. In which case the probate of wills belongs to the archbishop of the province, by way of special prerogative. And all causes relating to the wills, administrations, or legacies of such persons, are originally cognizable in this court, before a judge appointed by the archbishop, called the judge of the prerogative court, from whom an appeal lies to

the king in chancery. The granting of letters of administration, in the event of a person dying intestate, and the probates of Will, has ever belonged to bishops, not only in England but in all countries wherever Christianity has been established; nor is there any other court in which wills can be regularly proved, except in some particular boroughs where the chief magistrate may do it by prescription. Our reason for intrusting this power to bishops was, that whatever was given to pious uses might be faithfully applied; and those wills where such charities are given, are called by the canonists privileged wills; for by the canon law, what would annul another will, has no effect on these. In former times Ordinaries had the power of applying some part of the goods of a person dying intestate to pious uses, especially if he were a clergyman; and by the statute of Edward II., "the profits of the lands of idiots, if there be any at the time of their deaths remaining, more than was necessary for the use of them and their families, shall be distributed for their souls, by the advice of the Ordinary."

THE GREAT COURT OF APPEAL in all ecclesiastical causes, viz. the court of DELEGATES appointed by the king's commission under his great seal, and issuing out of chancery, to represent his royal person, and hear all appeals made to him by virtue of 25 Henry VIII. This commission is frequently filled with lords spiritual and temporal, and always with judges of the courts at Westminster and doctors of the civil law. But in case the king himself be a party in any of these suits, the appeal does not then lie to him in chancery, which would be absurd, but by statute 24 Henry VIII. to all the bishops of the realm, assembled in the upper house of convocation.

A commission of review is sometimes granted in extraordinary cases, to revise the sentence of the court of delegates, when it is apprehended they have been led into a material error. But it is not a matter of right which the subject may demand, ex debito justicia, but entirely a matter of favour, and which has been accordingly often denied.

These are now the principal courts of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, none of which are allowed to be courts of record.

COURTS MILITARY.-The only court of this nature known to, and established by the permanent laws of the land, is the court of chivalry, formerly held before the lord high constable and earl marshall of England jointly. The statute of 13 Richard II. gave this court the cognizance of contracts and other matters touching deeds of arms and war, as well out of the realm as within it. And from its sentences an appeal lies immediately to the king in person; but is now grown almost entirely out of use, on account of the feebleness of its jurisdiction, and want of power to enforce its judgments; as it can neither fine nor imprison, not being a court of record.

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