Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

the name, as a territorial affemblage of perfons, from which afterwards the territory itfelf might probably receive it's denomination, were well known to that warlike people. "Centeni ex fingulis pagis funt, idque ipfum inter fuos vocantur : et quod "primo numeros fuit, jam nomen et honor eft."

AN indefinite number of thefe hundreds make up a county or fhire. Shire is a Saxon word fignifying a divifion; but a county, comitatus, is plainly derived from comes, the count of the Franks; that is, the earl, or alderman (as the Saxons called him) of the fhire, to whom the government of it was intrufted. This he ufually exercifed by his deputy, ftill called in Latin vice-comes, and in English, the fheriff, fhrieve, or fhire-reeve, fignifving the officer of the fhire; upon whom by proccfs of time the civil administration of it is now totally devolved. In fome counties there. is an intermediate divifion, between the fhire and the hundreds, as lathes in Kent, and rapes ir. Suffex, cach of them containing about three or four hundreds apiece. Thefe had formerly their lathe-reeves and rape-rceves, acting in fubordination to the fhirereeve. Where a county is divided into three of thefe intermediate jurifdictions, they are called trithings", which were antiently governed by a trithing-reeve. Thefe trithings ftill fubfift in the large county of York, where by an cafy corruption they are denominated ridings; the north, the east, and the weft-riding. The number of counties in England and Wales have been different at different times: at prefent there are forty in England, and twelve in Wales.

THREE of thefe countics, Chefter, Durham and Lancafter, are called counties palatine. The two former are fuch by prefcription, or immemorial cuftom; or, at least as old as the Norman conqueft: the latter was created by king Edward III, in favour of Henry Plantagenet, firft carl and then duke of Lancafler, whofe heiress John of Gant the king's fon had married;

and

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

and afterwards confirmed in parliament, to honour John of Gant himself, whom, on the death of his father-in-law, he had also created duke of Lancaster'. Counties palatine are fo called a palatio; because the owners thereof, the earl of Chester, the bishop of Durham, and the duke of Lancaster, had in those counties jura regalia, as fully as the king hath in his palace; regalem poteftatem in omnibus, as Bracton expreffes it'. They might pardon treasons, murders, and felonies; they appointed all judges and juftices of the peace; all writs and indictments ran in their names, as in other counties in the king's; and all offences were faid to be done against their peace, and not, as in other places, contra pacem domini regis'. And indeed by the antient law, in all peculiar jurisdictions, offences were faid to be done against his peace in whofe court they were tried; in a court leet, contra pacem domini; in the court of a corporation, contra pacem ballivorum; in the fheriff's court or tourn, contra pacem vice-comitis". These palatine privileges (fo fimilar to the regal independant jurisdictions, ufurped by the great barons on the continent, during the weak and infant state of the firft feodal kingdoms in Europe') were in all probability originally granted to the counties of Chester and Durham, because they bordered upon enemies countries, Wales and Scotland: in order that the owners, being encouraged by fo large an authority, might be the more watchful in it's defence; and that the inhabitants, having juftice adminiftred at home, might not be obliged to go out of the county, and leave it open to the enemies incurfions. And upon this account alfo there were formerly two other counties palatine, Pembrokeshire and Hexamshire, the latter now united with Northumberland: but thefe were abolished by parliament, the former in 27 Hen. VIII, the latter in 14 Eliz. And in 27 Hen. VIII likewife, the powers beforementioned of owners of counties palatine were abridged; the reafon for their continuance in a manner ceafing though ftill all

1 Ploud. 215. 8.54.

$1.3.6.
t 4 Inft. 204.

u Seld. in Hengham magn. c. 2.

v Robertfon. Cha. V. i. 60.

all writs are witneffed in their names, and all forfeitures for treafon by the common law accrue to them",

X

Of these three, the county of Durham is now the only one remaining in the hands of a fubject. For the earldom of Chefter, as Camden testifies, was united to the crown by Henry III, and has ever fince given title to the king's eldeft fon. And the county palatine, or duchy, of Lancaster was the property of Henry of Bolinbroke, the fon of John of Gant, at the time when he wrefted the crown from king Richard II, and affumed the title of Henry IV. But he was too prudent to fuffer this to be united to the crown; left, if he loft one, he fhould lofe the other alfo, For, as Plowden and fir Edward Coke' obferve," he knew "he had the duchy of Lancafter by fure and indefeasible title, "but that his title to the crown was not fo affured; for that "after the decease of Richard II the right of the crown was in "the heir of Lionel duke of Clarence, fecond fon of Edward III; "John of Gant, father to this Henry IV, being but the fourth. "fon." And therefore he procured an act of parliament, in the firft year of his reign, to keep it diftinct and feparate from the crown, and fo it defcended to his fon, and grandson, Henry V, and Henry VI. Henry VI being attainted in 1 Edw. IV, this duchy was declared in parliament to have become forfeited to the crown', and at the fame time an act was made to keep it ftill diftinct and feparate from other inheritances of the crown. And in 1 Hen. VII another act was made to veft the inheritance thereof in Henry VII and his heirs and in this state, say fir Edward Coke' and Lambard', viz. in the natural heirs or pofterity of Henry VII, did the right of the duchy remain to their days; a feparate and diftinct inheritance from that of the crown of England.

THE

# 4 Inft. 205.
x215.

y 4 Inst. 205.
z Ventr. 155.
a 4 Inst. 206.
b Archelon. 133.

c. If this notion of Lambard and Coke

be well founded, (which is not altogether
certain) it might have become a
very cu-
rious question at the time of the revolution
in 1688, in whom the right of the duchy
remained after king James's abdication.

[ocr errors]

THE ifle of Ely is not a county palatine, though fometimes erroneously called fo, but only a royal franchise the bishop having, by grant of king Henry the first, jura regalia within the isle of Ely; whereby he exercises a jurifdiction over all causes, as well criminal as civil".

THERE are also counties corporate: which are certain cities and towns, fome with more, fome with lefs territory annexed to them; to which out of special grace and favour the kings of England have granted to be counties of themselves, and not to be comprized in any other county; but to be governed by their own sheriffs and other magiftrates, fo that no officers of the county at large have any power to intermeddle therein. Such are London, York, Bristol, Norwich, Coventry, and many others. And thus much of the countries subject to the laws of England.

The attainder indeed of the pretended
prince of Wales (by statute 13 W. III. c. 3.)
has now put the matter out of doubt. And
yet, to give that attaiuder it's full force in

this respect, the object of it must have been supposed legitimate, elfe he had no interest to forfeit.

d 4 Inft. 220.

« EdellinenJatka »