網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

the lordship of Man, by letters patent, 7th of Henry IV., to Sir John de Stanley. It continued in his lineal descendents for eight generations, till the death of Ferdinand, earl of Derby, in 1594, when a controversy, concerning its inheritance, arose between his daughters and William his surviving brother: upon which, and a doubt which was started concerning the validity of the original patent, the island was seised into queen Elizabeth's hands. James I. granted it to several individuals; all of which having either expired or being surrendered, it was granted by James I. to William, earl of Derby, and the heirs male of his body, with remainder to his heirs general. On the death of James, earl of Derby, in 1735, the male line of William failing, the duke of Athol succeeded to the island, as heir general, by a female branch. In the mean time, though the title of king had long been disused, the earls of Derby, as lords of Man, had always maintained a sovereign authority, by assenting or dissenting to laws, and exercising an apellate jurisdiction. Though no English writ or process from Westminster was of any authority in Man; yet, an appeal lay from the lord of the island to the king of Great Britain in council. But the distinct jurisdiction of this little subordinate royalty being found inconvenient for the purposes of public justice, and for the revenue, authority was given to the treasury to purchase the interest of the then proprietor, for the use of the crown, in order to break up the asylum which it afforded for debtors, outlaws, and smugglers. This purchase was completed in the year 1765, and confirmed by parliament,† after which the whole island and all its dependencies were inalienably vested in the crown, and subjected to the regulations of the British excise and customs. The landed property, however, of the Athol family, their manorial rights and emoluments, with the patronage of the bishopric, and other ecclesiastical benefices, were excepted.

*

JH

Id

The islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, and their appendages, were parcel of the duchy of Normandy, and were united to the crown of England by the first princes of the Norman line. They are governed by their own laws, which are chiefly the ducal customs of Normandy, as contained in an ancient book of great authority called Le Grand Coustumier. Writs from the courts of Westminster are of no force there; but the king's commission is they are not bound by acts of parliament, unless particularly named therein. All causes are originally determined by their own officers, the bailiffs, and jurats of the islands; but an appeal lies from them to the king in council in the last resort.

Besides these islands, the colonies in more distant countries are also in some respect subject to the English laws. In colonies where the lands are claimed by right of occupancy, when found desert and uncultivated, and thereafter peopled from the mother country, then the English laws, being the

*12 Geo. I., c. 8.

5 Geo. III., c. 26.

natural birthright of the people, are established; but when already peopled and cultivated, and gained by conquest or ceded by treaty from other European nations, then the laws of the kingdom which originally held the sovereignty are respected, and so many of the English laws only are introduced as are applicable to the situation and condition of the new colony. Lord Mansfield has proved by learned arguments that the king can change those laws, as circumstances require, and that he has a legislative authority by his prerogative alone over a ceded or conquered country. The American and West India colonies are principally of the latter sort, and being no part of the mother country, but distinct, although dependent dominions, the common law of England, as such, has no allowance or authority there; they are subject, however, to the control of parliament, though they are not bound by any acts of parliament, unless particularly named. With respect to their interior polity, they are principally of three sorts. I. Provincial establishments, the constitutions of which depend on the respective commissions issued by the crown to the governors, and the instructions which usually accompany those commissions under the authority of which, provincial assemblies are constituted, with the power granted to them by the crown of making local ordinances, not repugnant to the laws of England. II. Proprietory governments, granted out by the crown to individuals, in the nature of feudatory principalities, with all the inferior regalities, and subordinate powers of legislation, which formerly belonged to the owners of counties palatine: yet, still with these express conditions, that the ends for which the grant was made be substantially pursued, and that nothing be attempted which may derogate from the king's right of sovereignty. III. Charter governments, in the nature of civil corporations, with the power of making bye-laws for their own interior regulation, not contrary to the laws of England; and with such rights and authorities as are specially given them in their several charters of incorporation. The form of government in most of them is borrowed from the mother country. They have a governor named by the kingin some proprietory colonies by the proprietor-who is his representative or deputy. They have their own courts of justice, from whose decisions an appeal lies to the king in council. Their general assemblies, which are their house of commons, with their council of state, which is their upper house or house of peers, with the concurrence of the governor, who is the king's representative, make laws suited to their own emergencies.* But it is particularly declared, that all laws, bye-laws, usages, and customs, in practice, in any of the colonies which are repugnant to any law, made or to be made in England, relative to the said colonies, shall be utterly void and of none effect. And, because several of the colonies had claimed a sole and exclusive right of imposing taxes upon themselves, an act of par

* 7 & 8 Will. III., c. 22.

ever.

liament expressly declared that all his majesty's colonies in America have been, are, and of right ought to be, subordinate to and dependent on the imperial crown of Great Britain; which has full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient validity to bind the colonies and peo ple of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain in all cases whatso This authority was very forcibly exemplified and enforced by the statute for suspending the legislature of New York, and by several subse quent statutes. By another act‡ George III. was empowered to conclude a truce or treaty with the American colonies, and by his letters patent to suspend or repeal any acts of parliament which related to those colonies And by the first act of the definitive treaty of peace and friendship between his Britannic majesty and the United States of America, signed at Paris, September 3, 1783, his Britannic majesty acknowledges the United States of America to be free, sovereign, and independent states.

The kingdom of Hanover and his majesty's other property in Germany, being entirely unconnected with the laws of England, do not communicate with this nation in any respect whatever. The English legislature had wisely remarked the inconveniences which had formerly resulted from the continental territories which the princes of the Norman line brought with them, and from Anjou and, its appendages which fell to Henry II. by hereditary descent, and engaged England in foreign wars for nearly four hundred years, till, happily for the peace and prosperity of the nation, they were lost in the reign of Henry VI. From that time, they observed that our maritime interests were better understood, and more closely pursued; and, in consequence of resting from civil wars and being removed from continental politics, the nation began to flourish and become more considerable in Europe, than when her princes possessed continental territories, and her councils were distracted by foreign interests. In conse quence of this experience and these considerations, a clause was wisely inserted in the act of settlement, § which provided," that in case the crown and imperial dignity of this realm, shall hereafter come to any person not being a native of this kingdom of England, this nation shall not be obliged to engage in any war for the defence of any dominions or territories which do not belong to the crown of England, without consent of parliament."

The main or high seas are part of the realm of England, and on which the courts of admiralty have jurisdiction, but they are not subject to the common law. The main sea begins at low water mark; but, between the high water and the low water mark, where the sea ebbs and flows, the common law and the admiralty have an alternate jurisdiction; one upon the water when it is full sea; and the other upon land when it is ebb.

W

7

The territory of England is liable to two divisions, the one ECCLESI ASTICAL, the other CIVIL.

* 6 Geo. III., c. 12.—† 7 Geo. III., c. 59.—† 22 Geo. III., c. 46.—§ 12 & 13 Wil. III., c. 3.

[ocr errors]

2

C

I. The ECCLESIASTICAL is primarily divided into two provinces, Canterury and York. A province is the circuit of an archbishop's jurisdiction. ach province contains several dioceses or sees of suffragan bishops: Canterary containing twenty-one, and York three, besides the bishopric of Man, hich was annexed to the province of York by Henry VIII. Again, every fiocese is divided into archdeaconries, whereof in all there are sixty; each rchdeaconry into rural deaneries, which are the circuit of the arch-deacons and rural deans' jurisdictions; and every deanery is divided into parishes. II. The CIVIL division of the territory of England is into counties, hunfreds, tithings, or towns, which division, as it now stands, seems to owe

original to Alfred: who, to prevent the rapines and disorders which Formerly prevailed in the realm, instituted tithings; so called from the Saxon, because ten freeholders with their families composed one. These all dwelt together, and were sureties or free pledges to the king for the good behaviour of each other. One of the principal inhabitants of the thing is annually appointed to preside over the rest, and is called the thing man, the headborough, and in some countries the borsholder, or boroughs-elder.

Tithings, towns, or vills, are of the same signification in law. A city a town incorporated, which is or has been the see of a bishop. A borough is a town, either corporate or not, that sends burgesses to parliament. As ten families of freemen composed a town or tithing, so ten tithings or ten times ten families composed a superior division, called a hundred. The hundred is governed by a high constable or bailiff. In some of the more northern counties these hundreds are called wapentakes, because the people at a public meeting confirmed their union with the governor by taking or touching his weapon or lance.

In

A county or shire is composed of an indefinite number of these hundreds. Shire is a Saxon word signifying a division: but a county, comitatus, is evidently derived from comes, the count of the Franks; that is, the earl or alderman of the shire, to whose government it was intrusted. This he usually exercised by his deputy, still called in Latin rice-comes, and in English, the sheriff, shrieve, or shire-reeve, signifying the officer of the shire, upon whom its civil administration is now entirely devolved. some counties there are intermediate divisions between the shire and the hundreds, as lathes in Kent, and rapes in Sussex, each of them containing about three or four hundreds. These had formerly lathe-reeves and rape-reeves, acting in subordination to the shire-reeve. Where a county is divided into three of these intermediate jurisdictions, they are called trithings; and which were anciently governed by a trithing-reeve. These still subsist in the extensive county of York, where by an easy corruption they are called ridings.

There are forty counties in England, and twelve in Wales. Three of these, Chester, Durham, and Lancaster, are cailed counties palatine, so

called a palatio, because their owners, the earl of Chester, the bishop of Durham, and the duke of Lancaster, had in those counties jura regala, as fully as the king has in his palaces. They might pardon treasons, murders, and felonies; they appoint all judges and justices of the peace, all writs and indictments run in their names, as they do in the king's in other counties; and all offences are said to be done against their peace. These palatine privileges were in all probability originally granted to the coun ties of Chester and Durham, because they bordered upon enemies' coun tries, in order that the inhabitants might have justice administered at home, and not be obliged to go out of the county and leave it open to the enemies' incursions. Lancaster was created such by Edward III., in favour of Henry Plantagenet, first earl, and afterwards duke, of Lancaster. Of these, the county of Durham is the only one now remaining in the hands of a subject; for the earldom of Chester was united to the crown by Henry III., and has ever since given a title to the king's eldest son. The county palatine of Lancaster was the property of Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, at the time when he usurped the crown of Richard II. and assumed the title of Henry IV. But he was too prudent to suffer this to be united to the crown, knowing the insufficiency of his title, lest if he lost the one he might lose the other also: for he knew that he possessed the duchy of Lancaster by sure and indefeasible title, but that his title to the crown was entirely usurped for, after the decease of Richard II. the right of the crown was in the heir of Lionel, duke of Clarence, second son of Edward III., whereas John of Gaunt, father to this Henry IV., was but the fourth son. And, therefore, in the first year of his usurpation he procured an act of parliament, ordering that the duchy of Lancaster and all other his hereditary estates, with all their royalties and franchises, should remain to him and his heirs for ever; and should remain, descend, be administered, and governed, in like manner, as if he never had attained the regal dignity. Consequently they descended to his son and grandson, Henry V. and Henry VI., and the former added many new privileges and territories to the duchy. When the house of York asserted their just rights and recovered the throne, this duchy was declared by parliament to be forfeited to the crown, and at the same time it was incorporated, and ordained to continue as a county palatine, and also to make it parcel of the duchy and farther, Edward IV. vested the whole in himself and his heirs, kings of England for ever, but under a separate guiding and government from the other inheritances of the crown.

:

The isle of Ely is not a county palatine, though sometimes erroneously called so, but is only a royal franchise: the bishop of Ely having, by a grant of king Henry I., jura regalia within the isle of Ely, whereby he exercises a jurisdiction over all causes, both criminal and civil.

There are also counties corporate; which are certain cities, some with more, some with less territory annexed to them: there are twelve cities, Lon

« 上一頁繼續 »