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which was insisted on by the house of commons in the case of the earl of Danby in the reign of Charles II. (h); and it is now enacted by statute 12 & 13 W. III. c. 2. that no pardon under the great seal shall be pleadable to an impeachment by the commons of Great Britain in parliament (1) (5).
2. The court of the lord high steward of Great Britain (k) is a court instituted for the trial of peers, indicted for treason or felony, or for misprision of either (?). The office of this great magistrate is very ancient; and was formerly hereditary, or at least held for life, or dum bene se gesserit : but now it is usually, and hath been for many centuries past (m), granted pro hac vice only; and it hath been the constant practice (and therefore seems now to have become necessary) to grant *it to a lord of [*262] parliament, else he is incapable to try such delinquent peer (n). When such an indictment is therefore found by a grand jury of freeholders in the king's bench, or at the assises before the justices of oyer and terminer, it is to be removed by a writ of certiorari into the court of the lord high steward, which only has power to determine it. A peer may plead a pardon before the court of king's bench, and the judges have power to allow it ; in order to prevent the trouble of appointing an high steward, merely for the purpose of receiving such plea. But he may not plead, in that inferior court, any other plea; as guilty, or not guilty, of the indictment; but only in this court : because, in consequence of such plea, it is possible that judgment of death might be awarded against him. The king therefore, in case a peer be indicted for treason, felony, or misprision, creates a lord high steward pro hac vice by commission under the great seal; which recites the indictment so found, and gives his grace power to receive and try it, secundum legem et consuetudinem Angliae. Then, when the indictment is regularly removed, by writ of certiorari, commanding the inferior court to certify it up to him, the lord high steward directs a precept to a serjeant at arms, to summon the lords to attend and try the indicted peer. This precept was formerly issued to summon only eighteen or twenty, selected from the body of the peers : then the number came to be indefinite ; and the custom was for the lord high steward to summon as many as he thought proper (but of late years not less that twenty, three) (o), and that those lords only should sit upon the trial (6): which threw a monstrous weight of power into the hands of the crown, and this its great officer, of selecting only such peers as the then predominate party should most approve of. And accordingly, when the earl of Clarendon fell into disgrace with Charles II., *there was a design [*263] formed to prorogue the parliament, in order to try him by a select number of peers ; it being doubted whether the whole house could be in(h) Com. Journ. 5 May, 1679.
fera un grand et sage seigneur d'estre le grand se(i) See ch. 31.
neschal d'Angleterre : qui-doit faire un precept(k) 4 Inst. 58. 2 Hawk. P. C. 5. 121. 2 Jon. 54. pur faire venir er seigneurs, ou mviri, &c. (Yearb. (1) 1 Bulstr. 198. (m) Pryn, on 4 Inst. 46.
(n) Quand un seigneur de parlement serra arrein de treason ou felony, le roy par ses lettres patents
13 Hen. VIII. 11.) See Staundr. P. C. 152. 3 Inst. 28. 4 Inst. 59.2 Hawk. P. C. 5. Barr. 234.
(0) Kelynge, 56.
(5) So also the president of the U. S. can (6) The decision is by a majority, but a ma. pardon all crimes, except in cases of impeach- jority cannot convict, unless it consists of ments : (Const. Art. 2, sect. 2. $ 1,) and the go- iwelve or more. See ante, book 3. p. 376. vernor of New York, all except treason and note. cases of impeachment. (Const. Art. 3, sect. 5). A peer cannot have the benefit of a chal. The vice president is presiding officer of the lenge like a commoner. Harg. St. Trials, senate of U.S. The lieutenant-governor pre- 198. 388. sides over the senate of New-York.
duced to fall in with the views of the court (p). But now by statute 7 W. III. c. 3. upon all trials of peers for treason or misprision, all the peers who have a right to sit and vote in parliament shall be summoned, at least twenty days before such trial, to appear and vote therein ; and every lord appearing shall vote in the trial of such peer, first taking the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and subscribing the declaration against popery.
During the session of parliament the trial of an indicted peer is not properly in the court of the lord high steward, but before the court last mentioned, of our lord the king in parliament (q). It is true, a lord high steward is always appointed in that case, to regulate and add weight to the proceedings : but he is rather in the nature of a speaker pro tempore, or chair. man of the court, than the judge of it; for the collective body of the peers are therein the judges both of law and fact, and the high steward has a vote with the rest, in right of his peerage. But in the court of the lord high steward, which is held in the recess of parliament, he is the sole judge of matters of law, as the lords triors are in matters of fact; and as they may not interfere with him in regulating the proceedings of the court, so he has no right to intermix with them in giving any vote upon the trial (r). Therefore, upon the conviction and attainder of a peer for murder in full parliament, it hath been holden by the judges (s), that in case the day appointed in the judgment for execution should lapse before execution done, a new time of execution may be appointed by either the high court of parliament during its sitting, though no high steward be existing ; or, in the recess of parliament, by the court of king's bench, the record being
removed into that court. (*264) *It has been a point of some controversy, whether the bishops
have now a right to sit in the court of the lord high steward, to try indictments of treason and misprision. Some incline to imagine them included under the general words of the statute of king William, " all peers, who have a right to sit and vote in parliament;" but the expression had been much clearer, if it had been,“ all lords," and not “all though bishops, on account of the baronies annexed to their bishopricks, are clearly lords of parliament, yet, their blood not being ennobled, they are not universally allowed to be peers with the temporal nobility : and perhaps this word might be inserted purposely with a view to exclude them. However, there is no instance of their sitting on trials for capital offences, even upon impeachments or indictments in full parliament, much less in the court we are now treating of ; for indeed they usually withdraw voluntarily, but enter a protest declaring their right to stay. It is observable that, in the eleventh chapter of the constitutions of Clarendon, made in parliament 11 Hen. II., they are expressly excused, rather than excluded, from sitting and voting in trials, when they come to concern life or limb : “ episcopi, sicut caeteri barones, debent interesse judiciis cum baronibus, quousque perveniatur ad diminutionem membrorum, vel ad mortem ;" and Becket's quarrel with the king hereupon was not on account of the exception (which was agreeable to the canon law), but of the general rule, that compelled the bishops to attend at all. And the determination of the house of lords in the earl of Danby's case (1), which hath ever since been adhered to, is consonant to these constitutions ; “ that the lords spiritual have a right to stay and sit in court in capital cases, till the court proceeds
(p) Carte's Life of Ormonde, Vol. II (9) Fost. 141.
(t) Lords' Journ. 15 May, 1679 (r) State Trials, Vol. IV. 214. 232, 3.
peers ;" for
(s) Fost. 139.
to the vote of guilty, or not guilty.” It must be noted, that this resolution, extends only to trials in full parliament : for to the court of the lord high steward (in which no vote can be given, but merely that of guilty, or not guilty), no bishop, as such, ever was or could be summoned ; and though the statute of king William *regulates the proceedings [*265] in that court, as well as in the court of parliament, yet it never intended to new-model or alter its constitution: and consequently does not give the lords spiritual any right in cases of blood which they had not before (u). And what makes their exclusion more reasonable is, that they have no right to be tried themselves in the court of the lord high steward (w), and therefore surely ought not to be judges there. For the privilege of being thus tried depends upon nobility of blood, rather than a seat in the house: as appears from the trial of popish lords, of lords under age, and (since the union) of the Scots' nobility, though not in the number of the sixteen ; and from the trials of females, such as the queen consort or dowager, and of all peeresses by birth; and peeresses by marriage also, unless they have, when dowagers, disparaged themselves by taking a commoner to their second husband (7).
3. The court of king's bench (x), concerning the nature of which we partly inquired in the preceding book (y), was (we may remember) divided into a crown side, and a plea side. And on the crown side, or crown office, it takes cognizance of all criminal causes, from high treason down to the most trivial misdemeanor or breach of the peace (8), (9). Into this court also indictments from all inferior courts may be removed by writ of certiorari, and tried either at bar, or at nisi prius, by a jury of the county out of which the indictment is brought (10). The judges of this court are the supreme coroners of the kingdom. And the court itself is the principal
(I) 4 Inst. 70. 2 Hal. P. C. 2.2 Hawk. P. C. 6. (ro) Bro. Abr. 1. Trial, 142.
(y) See Book III. page 41.
(u) Fost. 248.
(7) But peeresses by marriage cannot be lies in this court, or, in case of misdemeanor, said to be ennobled by blood; for after the an information, if the offence were committed death of their husbands they have even a less in any other county. 1 Esp. Rep. 63. 2 New estate in their nobility than bishops, it being Rep. 91. And this though the defendant himonly durante viduitate. See the editor's con- self was out of the kingdom at the time, if he jecture how the notion was originally intro- caused the offence to be committed here ; as duced that bishops were not entitled to a trial where the defendant sent over a libel from Ireby the peers in parliament. Book I. p. 401. land to be published at Westminster. 6 East, note. Since that nole was written, the editor 599, 590. Persons in his majesty's service has been happy in finding what he suggested abroad committing offences there, may be proonly as a conjecture drawn from general prin- secuted in the king's bench by indictment, or in. ciples, confirmed by the more extensive learn- formation, laying the venue in Middlesex. 42 ing of the late Vinerian professor Mr. Wood- Geo. III. c. 85. s. 1. 8 East, 31. So offences deson, who not only has adopted the same committed in the East Indies are subject to opinion, but has adduced in confirmation of it this jurisdiction. _ 24 Geo. III. sess. 2. c. 25. several instances of bishops, who, being ar- s. 64. 78. 81. 5 T. R. 607. So if high trearaigned before a jury, demanded the privileges son be committed out of the kingdom, it can of the church, and disclaimed the authority of only be tried in the court of king's bench, or all secular jurisdictions. 2 Woodd. 585. under a special commission. 32 Hen. VIII.
(8) This power in New.York is vested in c. 23. 1 Leach, 157. 1 Hale, 1. And this court the court of oyer and terminer. (2 R. S. 205, bas jurisdiction by information over offences $29.) See note (1) p. 258 ante.
committed in Berwick. 2 Burr. 860. (9) Without some statute for that purpose, (10) All informations filed in the court of offences committed out of England are not king's bench, and all indictments removed cognizable by this court. 1 Esp. Rep. 62. there by certiorari, if not tried at the bar of the 1 Sess. Cas. 246.
If, however, any part of court, which rarely happens, must be tried by an offence be completed in Middlesex, though writ of nisi prius. the rest were committed abroad, an indictment
† In New York, stealing in another state in the same way as if the theft were commitand bringing the propery here, is punishable ted here. 2 R. S. 698, 9 4,5.
court of criminal jurisdiction (though the two former are of greater dignity known to the laws of England. For which reason by the coming of the court of king's bench into any county (as it was removed to Oxford on account of the sickness in 1665), all former commissioners of oyer and termi
ner, and general gaol delivery, are at once absorbed and deter[*266] mined ipso facto : *in the same manner as by the old Gothic and
Saxon constitutions, “jure vetusto oblinuit, quievisse omnia inferiora judicia, dicente jus rege (z) (11).”.
Into this court of king's bench hath reverted all that was good and salutary of the jurisdiction of the court of star-chamber, camera stellata (a); which was a court of very ancient original (6), but new-modelled by statutes 3 Hen. VII. c. 1. and 21 Hen. VIII. c. 20. consisting of divers lords spiritual and temporal being privy counsellors, together with two judges of the courts of common law, without the intervention of any jury.
Their jurisdiction extended legally over riots, perjury, misbehaviour (*267] of sheriffs, and other notorious *misdemeanors, contrary to the
laws of the land. Yet, this was afterwards (as lord Clarendon informs us) (c) stretched “ to the asserting of all proclamations, and orders of state : to the vindicating of illegal commissions, and grants of monopolies ; holding for honourable that which pleased, and for just that which profited, and becoming both a court of law to determine civil rights, and a court of revenue to enrich the treasury; the council table by proclamations enjoining to the people that which was not enjoined by the laws, and prohibiting that which was not prohibited ; and the star-chamber, which con(z) Stiernhook, l. 1, c. 2.
most considerable, of which was in the king's ex: (a) This is said (Lamb. Arch. 154.) to have been chequer at Westminster; and no start was allowed so called, either from the Saxon word steoran to to be valid unless it were found in some of the said steer or govern ;-or from its punishing the crimen repositories. (Memorand. in Scacc. P. 6 Edu. I. stellionatus, or cosenage ;-or because the room prefixed to Maynard's year-book of Edw. II. fol. 8. wherein it sat, the old council-chamber of the pa. Madox, hist. exch. c. vii. $ 4, 5, 6.) The room at lace of Westminster,(Lamb. 148.) which is now con- the exchequer, where the chests containing these verted into the lottery office, and forins the eastern starrs were kept, was probably called the startside of New Palace-yard, was full of windows ;- chamber : and when the Jews were expelled the or (to which sir Edward Coke, 4 Inst. 66. accedes) kingdom, was applied to the use of the king's coun. because haply the roof thereof was at the first gar- cil, sitting in their judicial capacity. To confirm nished with gilded stars. As all these are merely this, the first time the starr-chamber is mentioned conjectures (for no stars are now in the roof, nor in any record, it is said to have been situated near are any said to have remained there so late as the the receipt of the exchequer at Westminster: (the reign of queen Elizabeth), it may be allowable to king's council, his chancellor, treasurer, justices, propose another conjectural etymology, as plausi- and other sages, were assembled en la chaumbre des ble perhaps as any of them. It is well known that esteilles pres la resceipt al Westminster.-Claus. 41. before the banishment of the Jews under Edward I. Edw. Ilm. 13. For in process of time, when the their contracts and obligations were denominated meaning of the Jewish starts was forgotten, the in our ancient records starra or starts, from a cor- word starr-chamher was naturally rendered in law. ruption of the Hebrew word shetar, a covenant. french, la chaumbre des esteilles, and in law-latin (Tovey's Angl. judaic. 32. Selden, tit. of hon. ii. 34. camera stellata ; which continued to be the style in Uzor braic. 1. 14.) These siarrs, by an ordinancc latin till the dissolution of that court (12). of Richard the First, preserved by Hoveden, were (6) Lamb. Arch. 158. commanded to be enrolled and deposited in chests (c) Hist. of Reb., book 1 and 3. under three keys in certain places; one, and the
(11) But by the 25 Geo. III. c. 18, it is en. not known, the word starrum is twice used for acted, that the session of byer and terminer, a schedule or inventory. The statute is enti. and gaol delivery of the gaol of Newgate for tled De computatione procuratorum, and it dithe county of Middlesex, shall not be discon- rects that in fine computi fiat starrum per motinued on account of the commencement of dum dividendae, in quo ponentur omnia remanen. the term, and the sitting of the court of king's tia in communi cistå tam pignora quam pecunia, bench at Westminster, but may be continued ac etiam arreragia et debita, ita quod omnibus till the business is concluded. And the 32 constare poterit evidenter, in quo statu tune uniGeo. III. c. 48, was passed to continue in like versitas fuerit quoad bona, fe. Stal. Acad. Canl. manner the sessions of the peace, and of oyer p. 32. Such'inventories would be made at and terminer, held before the justices of the the king's exchequer, and the room where peace for the county of Middlesex.
they were deposited would probably be called (12) In one of the statutes of the universi. the Star-chamber. ty of Cambridge, the antiquity of which is
sisted of the same persons in different rooms, censuring the breach and disobedience to those proclamations by very great fines, imprisonments, and corporal severities : so that any disrespect to any acts of state, or to the persons of statesmen, was in no time more penal, and the foundations of right never more in danger to be destroyed.” For which reason it was finally abolished by statute 16 Car. I. c. 10. to the general joy of the whole nation (d).
4. The court of chivalry (e), of which we also formerly spoke (S) as a military court, or court of honour, when held before the earl marshal only, is also a criminal court, when held before the lord high constable of Eng. land jointly with the earl marshal. And then it has jurisdiction over pleas of life and member, arising in matters of arms and deeds of war, as well out of the realm as within it. But the criminal, as well [*268] as civil part of its authority, is fallen into entire disuse : there having been no permanent high constable of England (but only pro hac vice at coronations and the like) since the attainder and execution of Stafford duke of Buckingham, in the thirteenth year of Henry VIII; the authority and charge, both in war and peace, being deemed too ample for a subject : so ample, that when the chief justice Fineux was asked by king Henry the Eighth, how far they extended, he declined answering; and said, the decision of that question belonged to the law of arms, and not to the law of England (g).
5. The high court of admiralty (r), held before the lord high admiral of England, or his deputy, stiled the judge of the admiralty, is not only a court of civil but also of criminal jurisdiction. This court hath cognizance of all crimes and offences committed either upon the sea, or on the coasts, out of the body or extent of any English county ; and by statute 15 Ric. II. c. 3. of death and mayhem happening in great ships being and hovering in the main stream of great rivers, below the bridges of the same rivers, which are then a sort of ports or havens ; such as are the ports of London and Gloucester, though they lie at a great distance from the sea. But, as this court proceeded without jury, in a method much conformed to the civil law, the exercise of a criminal jursidiction there was contrary to the genius of the law of England : inasmuch as a man might be there deprived of his life by the opinion of a single judge, without the judgment of his peers. And besides, as innocent persons might thus fall a sacrifice to the caprice of a single man, so very gross offenders might, and did frequently, escape punishment: for the rule of the civil law is, how reasonably I shall not at present inquire, that no judgment of death can be given against offenders, without proof by two witnesses, or a confession of the fact by themselves. This was always a great offence to this English nation : and therefore in the eighth year of Henry VI. it was endeavoured to apply *a [*269]
(d) The just odium into which this tribunal had fallen before its dissolution, has been the occasion very full, methodical, and accărate account of the that few memorials have reached us of its nature, constitution and course of this court, compiled by jurisdiction, and practice ; except such as, on ac- William Hudson of Gray's inn, an eminent practicount of their enormous oppression are recorded in tioner therein (13) ; and a short account of the the histories of the times. There are however to be same, with copies of all its process, may also be met with some reports of its proceedings in Dyer, found in 18 Rym. Foed. 192, &c. Croke, Coke, and other reporters of that age, and
() See Book III. page 68. two; one from 40 Eliz, to 13 Jac. I. the other for (g) Duck. de authorit. jur. civ. the first three years of king Charles: and there is in
the British Museum (Harl. MSS. Vol. I. N° 1226.) a
(e) 4 Inst. 123. 2 Hawk. P. C. 9
some in manuscript, of which the author hath
(h) 4 Inst. 134. 147.
(13) Hudson's Treatise of the Court of Star-chamber is now published at the beginning of the 2d vol. of Collectanea Juridica.