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the crown; raised by the crown, officered by the crown, commanded by the crown. They are kept on foot it is true only from year to year, and that by the power of parliament: but during that year they muft, by the nature of our conftitution, if raised at all, be at the abfolute difpofal of the crown. And there need but few words to demonftrate how great a truft is thereby repofed in the prince by his people. A truft, that is more than equivalent to a thoufand little troublesome prerogatives.

ADD to all this, that, befides the civil lift, the immenfe revenue of almoft feven millions fterling, which is annually paid to the creditors of the public, or carried to the finking fund, is first deposited in the royal exchequer, and thence iffued out to the respective offices of payment. This revenue the people can never refuse to raise, because it is made perpetual by act of parliament: which also, when well confidered, will appear to be a trust of great delicacy and high importance.

UPON the whole therefore I think it is clear, that, whatever may have become of the nominal, the real power of the crown has not been too far weakened by any transactions in the last century. Much is indeed given up; but much is alfo acquired. The ftern commands of prerogative have yielded to the milder voice of influence; the flavish and exploded doctrine of non-refiftance has given way to a military establishment by law; and to the difufe of parliaments has fucceeded a parliamentary truft of an immenfe perpetual revenue. When, indeed, by the free operation of the finking fund, our national debts fhall be lessened; when the pofture of foreign affairs, and the univerfal introduc tion of a well planned and national militia, will fuffer our formidable army to be thinned and regulated; and when (in confequence of all) our taxes fhall be gradually reduced; this adventitious power of the crown will flowly and imperceptibly diminith, as it flowly and imperceptibly rofe. But, till that fall happen, it will be our efpecial duty, as good fubjects and good Englishmen,

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Englishmen, to reverence the crown, and yet guard against corrupt and fervile influence from those who are intrusted with it's authority; to be loyal, yet free; obedient, and yet independent; and, above every thing, to hope that we may long, vey long, continue to be governed by a fovereign, who, in all those public acts that have perfonally proceeded from himself, hath manifefted the higheft veneration for the free conftitution of Britain; hath already in more than one inftance remarkably ftrengthened it's outworks; and will therefore never harbour a thought, or adopt a perfuafion, in any the remoteft degree detrimental to public liberty.





Na former chapter of these commentaries' we diftinguished magiftrates into two kinds; fupreme, or thofe in whom the fovereign power of the ftate refides; and fubordinate, or those who act in an inferior fecondary sphere. We have hitherto conidered the former kind only, namely, the fupreme legislative power or parliament, and the fupreme executive power, which is the king: and are now to proceed to enquire into the rights and duties of the principal fubordinate magiflrates.

a ch. a. pag. 136.

AND herein we are not to investigate the powers and duties of his majefty's great oflicers of ftate, the lord treafurer, lord chamberlain, the principal fecretaries, or the like; because I do not know that they are in that capacity in any considerable degree the objects of our laws, or have any very important share of magiftracy conferred upon them: except that the fecretaries of ftate are allowed the power of commitment, in order to bring offenders to trial. Neither fall I here treat of the office and authority of the lord chancellor, or the other judges of the fuperior courts of juftice; because they will find a more proper place in the third part of thefe commentaries. Nor fhall I enter into amy minute difquifitions, with regard to the rights and dignities of


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mayors and aldermen, or other magiftrates of particular corporations; becaufe thefe are mere private and ftrictly municipal rights, depending entirely upon the domeftic conftitution of their respective franchifes. But the magiftrates and officers, whofe rights and duties it will be proper in this chapter to confider, are fuch as are generally in use and have a jurisdiction and authority difperfedly throughout the kingdom: which are, principally, fheriffs; coroners; juftices of the peace; conftables; furveyors of highways; and overfeers of the poor. In treating of all which I fhall enquire into, first, their antiquity and original; next the manner in which they are appointed and may be removed; and, laftly, their rights and duties. And firft of fheriffs,

I. THE fheriff is an officer of very great antiquity in this kingdom, his name being derived from two Saxon words, fcire gerefa the reeve, bailiff, or officer of the fhire. He is called in Latin vice-comes, as being the deputy of the earl or comes; to whom the cuftody of the fhire is faid to have been committed at the firft divifion of this kingdom into counties. But the earls in process of time, by reafon of their high employments and attendance on the king's perfon, not being able to tranfact the bufinefs of the county, were delivered of that burden; referving to themielves the honour, but the labour was laid on the fheriff. So that now the sheriff does all the king's bufinefs in the county; and though he be still called vice-comes, yet he is entirely independent of, and not fubject to the carl; the king by his letters patent, committing cuftodiam comitatus to the fheriff, and him alone.

SHERIFFS were formerly chofen by the inhabitants of the feveral counties. In confirmation of which it was ordained by ftatute 28 Edw. I. c. 8. that the people fhould have election of fheriff's in every fhire, where the fhrievalty is not of inheritance. For antiently in fome counties the sheriffs were hereditary; as I apprehend they were in Scotland till the ftatute 20 Geo. II. c. 43; and fill continue in the county of Weftmorland to this day: the

Tt 2

Delter Amerifis c. 1.

the city of London having also the inheritance of the shrievalty
of Middlefex vefted in their body by charter". The reafon of
thefe popular elections is affigned in the fame ftatute, c. 13. “that
"the commons might choose such as would not be a burthen to
"them." And herein appears plainly a ftrong trace of the de-
mocratical part of our conftitution; in which form of govern-
ment it is an indifpenfable requifite, that the people should choose
their own magiftrates. This election was in all probability not
abfolutely vefted in the commons, but required the royal appro-
bation. For in the Gothic conftitution, the judges of their county
courts (which office is executed by our sheriff) were elected by
the people, but confirmed by the king: and the form of their
election was thus managed; the people, or incolae territorii, chofe
twelve electors, and they nominated three perfons, ex quibus rex
unum confirmabat. But with us in England, these popular elec-
́tions, growing tumultuous, were put an end to by the ftatute
Edw. II. ft. 2. which enacted, that the fheriffs fhould from
thenceforth be affigned by the chancellor, treasurer, and the
judges; as being perfons in whom the fame truft might with con-
fidence be repofed. By ftatutes 14 Edw. III. c. 7. 23 Hen. VI.
c. 8. and 21 Hen. VIII. c. 20. the chancellor, treasurer, prefident
of the king's council, chief justices, and chief baron, are to make
'this election; and that on the morrow of All Souls in the exche-
quer. And the king's letters patent, appointing the new sheriffs,
ufed commonly to bear date the fixth day of November. The
ftatute of Cambridge, 12 Ric. II. c. 2. ordains, that the chan-
cellor, treasurer, keeper of the privy-feal, fteward of the king's
houfe, the king's chamberlain, clerk of the rolls, the justices of
the one bench and the other, barons of the exchequer, and all
other that shall be called to ordain, name, or make juftices of
the peace, jheriffs, and other officers of the king, fhall be fworn
to act indifferently, and to name no man that fueth to be put in
office, but fuch only as they fhall judge to be the best and most
fuflicient. And the cultoni now is (and has been at leaft ever


da Rep. 72.

e Montefq. Sp. L. b. 2. c. 2.

f Stiernh, de jure Goth. I. 1. v. j.
g Stat. 12 Edw. IV. c. 1.

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