Commentaries on the Laws of England - Book the First
by William Blackstone
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THE law of settlements may be therefore now reduced to the following general heads; or, a settlement in a parish may be acquired, 1. By birth; which is always prima facie the place of settlement, until some other can be shewn[o]. This is also always the place of settlement of a bastard child; for a bastard, having in the eye of the law no father, cannot be referred to his settlement, as other children may[p]. But, in legitimate children, though the place of birth be prima facie the settlement, yet it is not conclusively so; for there are, 2. Settlements by parentage, being the settlement of one's father or mother: all children being really settled in the parish where their parents are settled, until they get a new settlement for themselves[q]. A new settlement may be acquired several ways; as, 3. By marriage. For a woman, marrying a man that is settled in another parish, changes her own: the law not permitting the separation of husband and wife[r]. But if the man be a foreigner, and has no settlement, her's is suspended during his life, if he be able to maintain her; but after his death she may return again to her old settlement[s]. The other methods of acquiring settlements in any parish are all reducible to this one, of forty days residence therein: but this forty days residence (which is construed to be lodging or lying there) must not be by fraud, or stealth, or in any clandestine manner; but accompanied with one or other of the following concomitant circumstances. The next method therefore of gaining a settlement, is, 4. By forty days residence, and notice. For if a stranger comes into a parish, and delivers notice in writing of his place of abode, and number of his family, to one of the overseers (which must be read in the church and registered) and resides there unmolested for forty days after such notice, he is legally settled thereby[t]. For the law presumes that such a one at the time of notice is not likely to become chargeable, else he would not venture to give it; or that, in such case, the parish would take care to remove him. But there are also other circumstances equivalent to such notice: therefore, 5. Renting for a year a tenement of the yearly value of ten pounds, and residing forty days in the parish, gains a settlement without notice[u]; upon the principle of having substance enough to gain credit for such a house. 6. Being charged to and paying the public taxes and levies of the parish; and, 7. Executing any public parochial office for a whole year in the parish, as churchwarden, &c; are both of them equivalent to notice, and gain a settlement[w], when coupled with a residence of forty days. 8. Being hired for a year, when unmarried, and serving a year in the same service; and 9. Being bound an apprentice for seven years; give the servant and apprentice a settlement, without notice[x], in that place wherein they serve the last forty days. This is meant to encourage application to trades, and going out to reputable services. 10. Lastly, the having an estate of one's own, and residing thereon forty days, however small the value may be, in case it be acquired by act of law or of a third person, as by descent, gift, devise, &c, is a sufficient settlement[y]: but if a man acquire it by his own act, as by purchase, (in it's popular sense, in consideration of money paid) then[z] unless the consideration advanced, bona fide, be 30l. it is no settlement for any longer time, than the person shall inhabit thereon. He is in no case removeable from his own property; but he shall not, by any trifling or fraudulent purchase of his own, acquire a permanent and lasting settlement.

[Footnote o: 1 Lord Raym. 567.]

[Footnote p: Salk. 427.]

[Footnote q: Salk. 528. 2 Lord Raym. 1473.]

[Footnote r: Stra. 544.]

[Footnote s: Foley. 249.]

[Footnote t: Stat. 13 & 14 Car. II c. 12. 1 Jac. II. c. 17. 3 & 4 W. & M. c. 11.]

[Footnote u: Stat. 13 & 14 Car. II. c. 12.]

[Footnote w: Stat. 3 & 4 W. & M. c. 11.]

[Footnote x: Stat. 3 & 4 W. & M. c. 11. 8 & 9 W. III. c. 10. and 31 Geo. II. c. 11.]

[Footnote y: Salk. 524.]

[Footnote z: Stat. 9 Geo. I. c. 7.]

ALL persons, not so settled, may be removed to their own parishes, on complaint of the overseers, by two justices of the peace, if they shall adjudge them likely to become chargeable to the parish, into which they have intruded: unless they are in a way of getting a legal settlement, as by having hired a house of 10l. per annum, or living in an annual service; for then they are not removeable[a]. And in all other cases, if the parish to which they belong, will grant them a certificate, acknowleging them to be their parishioners, they cannot be removed merely because likely to become chargeable, but only when they become actually chargeable[b]. But such certificated persons can gain no settlement by any of the means above-mentioned; unless by renting a tenement of 10l. per annum, or by serving an annual office in the parish, being legally placed therein: neither can an apprentice or servant to such certificated person gain a settlement by such their service[c].

[Footnote a: Salk. 472.]

[Footnote b: Stat. 8 & 9 W. III. c. 30.]

[Footnote c: Stat. 12 Ann. c. 18.]

THESE are the general heads of the laws relating to the poor, which, by the resolutions of the courts of justice thereon within a century past, are branched into a great variety. And yet, notwithstanding the pains that has been taken about them, they still remain very imperfect, and inadequate to the purposes they are designed for: a fate, that has generally attended most of our statute laws, where they have not the foundation of the common law to build on. When the shires, the hundreds, and the tithings, were kept in the same admirable order that they were disposed in by the great Alfred, there were no persons idle, consequently none but the impotent that needed relief: and the statute of 43 Eliz. seems entirely founded on the same principle. But when this excellent scheme was neglected and departed from, we cannot but observe with concern, what miserable shifts and lame expedients have from time to time been adopted, in order to patch up the flaws occasioned by this neglect. There is not a more necessary or more certain maxim in the frame and constitution of society, than that every individual must contribute his share, in order to the well-being of the community: and surely they must be very deficient in sound policy, who suffer one half of a parish to continue idle, dissolute, and unemployed; and then form visionary schemes, and at length are amazed to find, that the industry of the other half is not able to maintain the whole.



HAVING, in the eight preceding chapters, treated of persons as they stand in the public relations of magistrates, I now proceed to consider such persons as fall under the denomination of the people. And herein all the inferior and subordinate magistrates, treated of in the last chapter, are included.

THE first and most obvious division of the people is into aliens and natural-born subjects. Natural-born subjects are such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England, that is, within the ligeance, or as it is generally called, the allegiance of the king; and aliens, such as are born out of it. Allegiance is the tie, or ligamen, which binds the subject to the king, in return for that protection which the king affords the subject. The thing itself, or substantial part of it, is founded in reason and the nature of government; the name and the form are derived to us from our Gothic ancestors. Under the feodal system, every owner of lands held them in subjection to some superior or lord, from whom or whose ancestors the tenant or vasal had received them: and there was a mutual trust or confidence subsisting between the lord and vasal, that the lord should protect the vasal in the enjoyment of the territory he had granted him, and, on the other hand, that the vasal should be faithful to the lord and defend him against all his enemies. This obligation on the part of the vasal was called his fidelitas or fealty; and an oath of fealty was required, by the feodal law, to be taken by all tenants to their landlord, which is couched in almost the same terms as our antient oath of allegiance[a]: except that in the usual oath of fealty there was frequently a saving or exception of the faith due to a superior lord by name, under whom the landlord himself was perhaps only a tenant or vasal. But when the acknowlegement was made to the absolute superior himself, who was vasal to no man, it was no longer called the oath of fealty, but the oath of allegiance; and therein the tenant swore to bear faith to his sovereign lord, in opposition to all men, without any saving or exception: "contra omnes homines fidelitatem fecit[b]." Land held by this exalted species of fealty was called feudum ligium, a liege fee; the vasals homines ligii, or liege men; and the sovereign their dominus ligius, or liege lord. And when sovereign princes did homage to each other, for lands held under their respective sovereignties, a distinction was always made between simple homage, which was only an acknowlegement of tenure[c]; and liege homage, which included the fealty before-mentioned, and the services consequent upon it. Thus when Edward III, in 1329, did homage to Philip VI of France, for his ducal dominions on that continent, it was warmly disputed of what species the homage was to be, whether liege or simple homage[d]. With us in England, it becoming a settled principle of tenure, that all lands in the kingdom are holden of the king as their sovereign and lord paramount, no oath but that of fealty could ever be taken to inferior lords, and the oath of allegiance was necessarily confined to the person of the king alone. By an easy analogy the term of allegiance was soon brought to signify all other engagements, which are due from subjects to their prince, as well as those duties which were simply and merely territorial. And the oath of allegiance, as administred for upwards of six hundred years[e], contained a promise "to be true and faithful to the king and his heirs, and truth and faith to bear of life and limb and terrene honour, and not to know or hear of any ill or damage intended him, without defending him therefrom." Upon which sir Matthew Hale[f] makes this remark; that it was short and plain, not entangled with long or intricate clauses or declarations, and yet is comprehensive of the whole duty from the subject to his sovereign. But, at the revolution, the terms of this oath being thought perhaps to favour too much the notion of non-resistance, the present form was introduced by the convention parliament, which is more general and indeterminate than the former; the subject only promising "that he will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the king," without mentioning "his heirs," or specifying in the least wherein that allegiance consists. The oath of supremacy is principally calculated as a renuntiation of the pope's pretended authority: and the oath of abjuration, introduced in the reign of king William[g], very amply supplies the loose and general texture of the oath of allegiance; it recognizing the right of his majesty, derived under the act of settlement; engaging to support him to the utmost of the juror's power; promising to disclose all traiterous conspiracies against him; and expressly renouncing any claim of the pretender, by name, in as clear and explicit terms as the English language can furnish. This oath must be taken by all persons in any office, trust, or employment; and may be tendered by two justices of the peace to any person, whom they shall suspect of disaffection[h]. But the oath of allegiance may be tendered[i] to all persons above the age of twelve years, whether natives, denizens, or aliens, either in the court-leet of the manor, or in the sheriff's tourn, which is the court-leet of the county.

[Footnote a: 2 Feud. 5, 6, 7.]

[Footnote b: 2 Feud. 99.]

[Footnote c: 7 Rep. Calvin's case. 7.]

[Footnote d: 2 Carte. 401. Mod. Un. Hist. xxiii. 420.]

[Footnote e: Mirror. c. 3. Sec. 35. Fleta. 3. 16. Britton. c. 29. 7 Rep. Calvin's case. 6.]

[Footnote f: 1 Hal. P.C. 63.]

[Footnote g: Stat. 13 W. III. c. 6.]

[Footnote h: Stat. 1 Geo. I. c. 13.]

[Footnote i: 2 Inst. 121. 1 Hal. P.C. 64.]

BUT, besides these express engagements, the law also holds that there is an implied, original, and virtual allegiance, owing from every subject to his sovereign, antecedently to any express promise; and although the subject never swore any faith or allegiance in form. For as the king, by the very descent of the crown, is fully invested with all the rights and bound to all the duties of sovereignty, before his coronation; so the subject is bound to his prince by an intrinsic allegiance, before the superinduction of those outward bonds of oath, homage, and fealty; which were only instituted to remind the subject of this his previous duty, and for the better securing it's performance[k]. The formal profession therefore, or oath of subjection, is nothing more than a declaration in words of what was before implied in law. Which occasions sir Edward Coke very justly to observe[l], that "all subjects are equally bounden to their allegiance, as if they had taken the oath; because it is written by the finger of the law in their hearts, and the taking of the corporal oath is but an outward declaration of the same." The sanction of an oath, it is true, in case of violation of duty, makes the guilt still more accumulated, by superadding perjury to treason; but it does not encrease the civil obligation to loyalty; it only strengthens the social tie by uniting it with that of religion.

[Footnote k: 1 Hal. P.C. 61.]

[Footnote l: 2 Inst. 121.]

ALLEGIANCE, both express and implied, is however distinguished by the law into two sorts or species, the one natural, the other local; the former being also perpetual, the latter temporary. Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king's dominions immediately upon their birth[m]. For, immediately upon their birth, they are under the king's protection; at a time too, when (during their infancy) they are incapable of protecting themselves. Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gratitude; which cannot be forfeited, cancelled, or altered, by any change of time, place, or circumstance, nor by any thing but the united concurrence of the legislature[n]. An Englishman who removes to France, or to China, owes the same allegiance to the king of England there as at home, and twenty years hence as well as now. For it is a principle of universal law[o], that the natural-born subject of one prince cannot by any act of his own, no, not by swearing allegiance to another, put off or discharge his natural allegiance to the former: for this natural allegiance was intrinsic, and primitive, and antecedent to the other; and cannot be devested without the concurrent act of that prince to whom it was first due. Indeed the natural-born subject of one prince, to whom he owes allegiance, may be entangled by subjecting himself absolutely to another; but it is his own act that brings him into these straits and difficulties, of owing service to two masters; and it is unreasonable that, by such voluntary act of his own, he should be able at pleasure to unloose those bands, by which he is connected to his natural prince.

[Footnote m: 7 Rep. 7.]

[Footnote n: 2 P. Wms. 124.]

[Footnote o: 1 Hal. P.C. 68.]

LOCAL allegiance is such as is due from an alien, or stranger born, for so long time as he continues within the king's dominion and protection[p]: and it ceases, the instant such stranger transfers himself from this kingdom to another. Natural allegiance is therefore perpetual, and local temporary only: and that for this reason, evidently founded upon the nature of government; that allegiance is a debt due from the subject, upon an implied contract with the prince, that so long as the one affords protection, so long the other will demean himself faithfully. As therefore the prince is always under a constant tie to protect his natural-born subjects, at all times and in all countries, for this reason their allegiance due to him is equally universal and permanent. But, on the other hand, as the prince affords his protection to an alien, only during his residence in this realm, the allegiance of an alien is confined (in point of time) to the duration of such his residence, and (in point of locality) to the dominions of the British empire. From which considerations sir Matthew Hale[q] deduces this consequence, that, though there be an usurper of the crown, yet it is treason for any subject, while the usurper is in full possession of the sovereignty, to practice any thing against his crown and dignity: wherefore, although the true prince regain the sovereignty, yet such attempts against the usurper (unless in defence or aid of the rightful king) have been afterwards punished with death; because of the breach of that temporary allegiance, which was due to him as king de facto. And upon this footing, after Edward IV recovered the crown, which had been long detained from his house by the line of Lancaster, treasons committed against Henry VI were capitally punished, though Henry had been declared an usurper by parliament.

[Footnote p: 7 Rep. 6.]

[Footnote q: 1 Hal. P.C. 60.]

THIS oath of allegiance, or rather the allegiance itself, is held to be applicable not only to the political capacity of the king, or regal office, but to his natural person, and blood-royal: and for the misapplication of their allegiance, viz. to the regal capacity or crown, exclusive of the person of the king, were the Spencers banished in the reign of Edward II[r]. And from hence arose that principle of personal attachment, and affectionate loyalty, which induced our forefathers (and, if occasion required, would doubtless induce their sons) to hazard all that was dear to them, life, fortune, and family, in defence and support of their liege lord and sovereign.

[Footnote r: 1 Hal. P.C. 67.]

THIS allegiance then, both express and implied, is the duty of all the king's subjects, under the distinctions here laid down, of local and temporary, or universal and perpetual. Their rights are also distinguishable by the same criterions of time and locality; natural-born subjects having a great variety of rights, which they acquire by being born within the king's ligeance, and can never forfeit by any distance of place or time, but only by their own misbehaviour: the explanation of which rights is the principal subject of the two first books of these commentaries. The same is also in some degree the case of aliens; though their rights are much more circumscribed, being acquired only by residence here, and lost whenever they remove. I shall however here endeavour to chalk out some of the principal lines, whereby they are distinguished from natives, descending to farther particulars when they come in course.

AN alien born may purchase lands, or other estates: but not for his own use; for the king is thereupon entitled to them[s]. If an alien could acquire a permanent property in lands, he must owe an allegiance, equally permanent with that property, to the king of England; which would probably be inconsistent with that, which he owes to his own natural liege lord: besides that thereby the nation might in time be subject to foreign influence, and feel many other inconveniences. Wherefore by the civil law such contracts were also made void[t]: but the prince had no such advantage of escheat thereby, as with us in England. Among other reasons, which might be given for our constitution, it seems to be intended by way of punishment for the alien's presumption, in attempting to acquire any landed property: for the vendor is not affected by it, he having resigned his right, and received an equivalent in exchange. Yet an alien may acquire a property in goods, money, and other personal estate, or may hire a house for his habitation[u]: for personal estate is of a transitory and moveable nature; and, besides, this indulgence to strangers is necessary for the advancement of trade. Aliens also may trade as freely as other people; only they are subject to certain higher duties at the custom-house: and there are also some obsolete statutes of Henry VIII, prohibiting alien artificers to work for themselves in this kingdom; but it is generally held they were virtually repealed by statute 5 Eliz. c. 7. Also an alien may bring an action concerning personal property, and may make a will, and dispose of his personal estate[w]: not as it is in France, where the king at the death of an alien is entitled to all he is worth, by the droit d'aubaine or jus albinatus[x], unless he has a peculiar exemption. When I mention these rights of an alien, I must be understood of alien-friends only, or such whose countries are in peace with ours; for alien-enemies have no rights, no privileges, unless by the king's special favour, during the time of war.

[Footnote s: Co. Litt. 2.]

[Footnote t: Cod. l. 11. tit. 55.]

[Footnote u: 7 Rep. 17.]

[Footnote w: Lutw. 34.]

[Footnote x: The word is derived from alibi natus; Spelm. Gl. 24.]

WHEN I say, that an alien is one who is born out of the king's dominions, or allegiance, this also must be understood with some restrictions. The common law indeed stood absolutely so; with only a very few exceptions: so that a particular act of parliament became necessary after the restoration[y], for the naturalization of children of his majesty's English subjects, born in foreign countries during the late troubles. And this maxim of the law proceeded upon a general principle, that every man owes natural allegiance where he is born, and cannot owe two such allegiances, or serve two masters, at once. Yet the children of the king's embassadors born abroad were always held to be natural subjects[z]: for as the father, though in a foreign country, owes not even a local allegiance to the prince to whom he is sent; so, with regard to the son also, he was held (by a kind of postliminium) to be born under the king of England's allegiance, represented by his father, the embassador. To encourage also foreign commerce, it was enacted by statute 25 Edw. III. st. 2. that all children born abroad, provided both their parents were at the time of the birth in allegiance to the king, and the mother had passed the seas by her husband's consent, might inherit as if born in England: and accordingly it hath been so adjudged in behalf of merchants[a]. But by several more modern statutes[b] these restrictions are still farther taken off: so that all children, born out of the king's ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception; unless their said fathers were attainted, or banished beyond sea, for high treason; or were then in the service of a prince at enmity with Great Britain.

[Footnote y: Stat. 29 Car. II. c. 6.]

[Footnote z: 7 Rep. 18.]

[Footnote a: Cro. Car. 601. Mar. 91. Jenk. Cent. 3.]

[Footnote b: 7 Ann. c. 5. and 4 Geo. II. c. 21.]

THE children of aliens, born here in England, are, generally speaking, natural-born subjects, and entitled to all the privileges of such. In which the constitution of France differs from ours; for there, by their jus albinatus, if a child be born of foreign parents, it is an alien[c].

[Footnote c: Jenk. Cent. 3. cites treasure francois, 312.]

A DENIZEN is an alien born, but who has obtained ex donatione regis letters patent to make him an English subject: a high and incommunicable branch of the royal prerogative[d]. A denizen is in a kind of middle state between an alien, and natural-born subject, and partakes of both of them. He may take lands by purchase or devise, which an alien may not; but cannot take by inheritance[e]: for his parent, through whom he must claim, being an alien had no inheritable blood, and therefore could convey none to the son. And, upon a like defect of hereditary blood, the issue of a denizen, born before denization, cannot inherit to him; but his issue born after, may[f]. A denizen is not excused[g] from paying the alien's duty, and some other mercantile burthens. And no denizen can be of the privy council, or either house of parliament, or have any office of trust, civil or military, or be capable of any grant from the crown[h].

[Footnote d: 7 Rep. Calvin's case. 25.]

[Footnote e: 11 Rep. 67.]

[Footnote f: Co. Litt. 8. Vaugh. 285.]

[Footnote g: Stat. 22 Hen. VIII. c. 8.]

[Footnote h: Stat. 12 W. III. c. 2.]

NATURALIZATION cannot be performed but by act of parliament: for by this an alien is put in exactly the same state as if he had been born in the king's ligeance; except only that he is incapable, as well as a denizen, of being a member of the privy council, or parliament, &c[i]. No bill for naturalization can be received in either house of parliament, without such disabling clause in it[k]. Neither can any person be naturalized or restored in blood, unless he hath received the sacrament of the Lord's supper within one month before the bringing in of the bill; and unless he also takes the oaths of allegiance and supremacy in the presence of the parliament[l].

[Footnote i: Ibid.]

[Footnote k: Stat. 1 Geo. I. c. 4.]

[Footnote l: Stat. 7 Jac. I. c. 2.]

THESE are the principal distinctions between aliens, denizens, and natives: distinctions, which endeavors have been frequently used since the commencement of this century to lay almost totally aside, by one general naturalization-act for all foreign protestants. An attempt which was once carried into execution by the statute 7 Ann. c. 5. but this, after three years experience of it, was repealed by the statute 10 Ann. c. 5. except one clause, which was just now mentioned, for naturalizing the children of English parents born abroad. However, every foreign seaman who in time of war serves two years on board an English ship is ipso facto naturalized[m]; and all foreign protestants, and Jews, upon their residing seven years in any of the American colonies, without being absent above two months at a time, are upon taking the oaths naturalized to all intents and purposes, as if they had been born in this kingdom[n]; and therefore are admissible to all such privileges, and no other, as protestants or Jews born in this kingdom are entitled to. What those privileges are[o], was the subject of very high debates about the time of the famous Jew-bill[p]; which enabled all Jews to prefer bills of naturalization in parliament, without receiving the sacrament, as ordained by statute 7 Jac. I. It is not my intention to revive this controversy again; for the act lived only a few months, and was then repealed[q]: therefore peace be now to it's manes.

[Footnote m: Stat. 13 Geo. II. c. 3.]

[Footnote n: Stat. 13 Geo. II. c. 7. 20 Geo. II. c. 24. 2 Geo. III. c. 25.]

[Footnote o: A pretty accurate account of the Jews, till their banishment in 8 Edw. I. may be found in Molloy de jure maritimo, b. 3. c. 6.]

[Footnote p: Stat. 26 Geo. II. c. 26.]

[Footnote q: Stat. 27 Geo. II. c. 1.]



THE people, whether aliens, denizens, or natural-born subjects, are divisible into two kinds; the clergy and laity: the clergy, comprehending all persons in holy orders, and in ecclesiastical offices, will be the subject of the following chapter.

THIS venerable body of men, being separate and set apart from the rest of the people, in order to attend the more closely to the service of almighty God, have thereupon large privileges allowed them by our municipal laws: and had formerly much greater, which were abridged at the time of the reformation, on account of the ill use which the popish clergy had endeavoured to make of them. For, the laws having exempted them from almost every personal duty, they attempted a total exemption from every secular tie. But it is observed by sir Edward Coke[a], that, as the overflowing of waters doth many times make the river to lose it's proper chanel, so in times past ecclesiastical persons, seeking to extend their liberties beyond their true bounds, either lost or enjoyed not those which of right belonged to them. The personal exemptions do indeed for the most part continue. A clergyman cannot be compelled to serve on a jury, nor to appear at a court-leet or view of frank pledge; which almost every other person is obliged to do[b]: but, if a layman is summoned on a jury, and before the trial takes orders, he shall notwithstanding appear and be sworn[c]. Neither can he be chosen to any temporal office; as bailiff, reeve, constable, or the like: in regard of his own continual attendance on the sacred function[d]. During his attendance on divine service he is privileged from arrests in civil suits[e]. In cases also of felony, a clerk in orders shall have the benefit of his clergy, without being branded in the hand; and may likewise have it more than once: in both which particulars he is distinguished from a layman[f]. But as they have their privileges, so also they have their disabilities, on account of their spiritual avocations. Clergymen, we have seen[g], are incapable of sitting in the house of commons; and by statute 21 Hen. VIII. c. 13. are not allowed to take any lands or tenements to farm, upon pain of 10l. per month, and total avoidance of the lease; nor shall engage in any manner of trade, nor sell any merchandize, under forfeiture of the treble value. Which prohibition is consonant to the canon law.

[Footnote a: 2 Inst. 4.]

[Footnote b: F.N.B. 160. 2 Inst. 4.]

[Footnote c: 4 Leon. 190.]

[Footnote d: Finch. L. 88.]

[Footnote e: Stat. 50 Edw. III. c. 5. 1 Ric. II. c. 16.]

[Footnote f: 2 Inst. 637. Stat. 4 Hen. VII. c. 13. & 1 Edw. VI. c. 12.]

[Footnote g: page 169.]

IN the frame and constitution of ecclesiastical polity there are divers ranks and degrees: which I shall consider in their respective order, merely as they are taken notice of by the secular laws of England; without intermeddling with the canons and constitutions, by which they have bound themselves. And under each division I shall consider, 1. The method of their appointment; 2. Their rights and duties; and 3. The manner wherein their character or office may cease.

I. AN arch-bishop or bishop is elected by the chapter of his cathedral church, by virtue of a licence from the crown. Election was, in very early times, the usual mode of elevation to the episcopal chair throughout all christendom; and this was promiscuously performed by the laity as well as the clergy[h]: till at length, it becoming tumultuous, the emperors and other sovereigns of the respective kingdoms of Europe took the election in some degree into their own hands; by reserving to themselves the right of confirming these elections, and of granting investiture of the temporalties, which now began almost universally to be annexed to this spiritual dignity; without which confirmation and investiture, the elected bishop could neither be consecrated, nor receive any secular profits. This right was acknowleged in the emperor Charlemagne, A.D. 773, by pope Hadrian I, and the council of Lateran[i], and universally exercised by other christian princes: but the policy of the court of Rome at the same time began by degrees to exclude the laity from any share in these elections, and to confine them wholly to the clergy, which at length was completely effected; the mere form of election appearing to the people to be a thing of little consequence, while the crown was in possession of an absolute negative, which was almost equivalent to a direct right of nomination. Hence the right of appointing to bishopricks is said to have been in the crown of England[k] (as well as other kingdoms in Europe) even in the Saxon times, because the rights of confirmation and investiture were in effect (though not in form) a right of complete donation[l]. But when, by length of time, the custom of making elections by the clergy only was fully established, the popes began to except to the usual method of granting these investitures, which was per annulum et baculum, by the prince's delivering to the prelate a ring, and a pastoral staff or crosier; pretending, that this was an encroachment on the church's authority, and an attempt by these symbols to confer a spiritual jurisdiction: and pope Gregory VII, towards the close of the eleventh century, published a bulle of excommunication against all princes who should dare to confer investitures, and all prelates who should venture to receive them[m]. This was a bold step towards effecting the plan then adopted by the Roman see, of rendering the clergy intirely independent of the civil authority: and long and eager were the contests occasioned by this dispute. But at length when the emperor Henry V agreed to remove all suspicion of encroachment on the spiritual character, by conferring investitures for the future per sceptrum and not per annulum et baculum; and when the kings of England and France consented also to alter the form in their kingdoms, and receive only homage from the bishops for their temporalties, instead of investing them by the ring and crosier; the court of Rome found it prudent to suspend for a while it's other pretensions[n].

[Footnote h: per clerum et populum. Palm. 25. 2 Roll. Rep. 102. M. Paris. A.D. 1095.]

[Footnote i: Decret. 1. dist. 63. c. 22.]

[Footnote k: Palm. 28.]

[Footnote l: "Nulla electio praelatorum (sunt verba Ingulphi) erat mere libera et canonica; sed omnes dignitates tam episcoporum, quam abbatum, per annulum et baculum regis curia pro sua complacentia conferebat." Penes clericos et monachos fuit electio, sed electum a rege postulabant. Selden. Jan. Angl. l. 1. Sec. 39.]

[Footnote m: Decret. 2. caus. 16. qu. 7. c. 12 & 13.]

[Footnote n: Mod. Un. Hist. xxv. 363. xxix. 115.]

THIS concession was obtained from king Henry the first in England, by means of that obstinate and arrogant prelate, arch-bishop Anselm[o]: but king John (about a century afterwards) in order to obtain the protection of the pope against his discontented barons, was prevailed upon to give up by a charter, to all the monasteries and cathedrals in the kingdom, the free right of electing their prelates, whether abbots or bishops: reserving only to the crown the custody of the temporalties during the vacancy; the form of granting a licence to elect, (which is the original of our conge d'eslire) on refusal whereof the electors might proceed without it; and the right of approbation afterwards, which was not to be denied without a reasonable and lawful cause[p]. This grant was expressly recognized and confirmed in king John's magna carta[q], and was again established by statute 25 Edw. III. st. 6. Sec. 3.

[Footnote o: M. Paris. A.D. 1107.]

[Footnote p: M. Paris. A.D. 1214. 1 Rym. Foed. 198.]

[Footnote q: cap. 1. edit. Oxon. 1759.]

BUT by statute 25 Hen. VIII. c. 20. the antient right of nomination was, in effect, restored to the crown: it being enacted that, at every future avoidance of a bishoprick, the king may send the dean and chapter his usual licence to proceed to election; which is always to be accompanied with a letter missive from the king, containing the name of the person whom he would have them elect: and, if the dean and chapter delay their election above twelve days, the nomination shall devolve to the king, who may by letters patent appoint such person as he pleases. This election or nomination, if it be of a bishop, must be signified by the king's letters patent to the arch-bishop of the province; if it be of an arch-bishop, to the other arch-bishop and two bishops, or to four bishops; requiring them to confirm, invest, and consecrate the person so elected: which they are bound to perform immediately, without any application to the see of Rome. After which the bishop elect shall sue to the king for his temporalties, shall make oath to the king and none other, and shall take restitution of his secular possessions out of the king's hands only. And if such dean and chapter do not elect in the manner by this act appointed, or if such arch-bishop or bishop do refuse to confirm, invest, and consecrate such bishop elect, they shall incur all the penalties of a praemunire.

AN arch-bishop is the chief of the clergy in a whole province; and has the inspection of the bishops of that province, as well as of the inferior clergy, and may deprive them on notorious cause[r]. The arch-bishop has also his own diocese, wherein he exercises episcopal jurisdiction; as in his province he exercises archiepiscopal. As arch-bishop, he, upon receipt of the king's writ, calls the bishops and clergy of his province to meet in convocation: but without the king's writ he cannot assemble them[s]. To him all appeals are made from inferior jurisdictions within his province; and, as an appeal lies from the bishops in person to him in person, so it also lies from the consistory courts of each diocese to his archiepiscopal court. During the vacancy of any see in his province, he is guardian of the spiritualties thereof, as the king is of the temporalties; and he executes all ecclesiastical jurisdiction therein. If an archiepiscopal see be vacant, the dean and chapter are the spiritual guardians, ever since the office of prior of Canterbury was abolished at the reformation[t]. The arch-bishop is entitled to present by lapse to all the ecclesiastical livings in the disposal of his diocesan bishops, if not filled within six months. And the arch-bishop has a customary prerogative, when a bishop is consecrated by him, to name a clerk or chaplain of his own to be provided for by such suffragan bishop; in lieu of which it is now usual for the bishop to make over by deed to the arch-bishop, his executors and assigns, the next presentation of such dignity or benefice in the bishop's disposal within that see, as the arch-bishop himself shall choose; which is therefore called his option[u]: which options are only binding on the bishop himself who grants them, and not his successors. The prerogative itself seems to be derived from the legatine power formerly annexed by the popes to the metropolitan of Canterbury[w]. And we may add, that the papal claim itself (like most others of that encroaching see) was probably set up in imitation of the imperial prerogative called primae or primariae preces; whereby the emperor exercises, and hath immemorially exercised[x], a right of naming to the first prebend that becomes vacant after his accession in every church of the empire[y]. A right, that was also exercised by the crown of England in the reign of Edward I[z]; and which probably gave rise to the royal corodies, which were mentioned in a former chapter[a]. It is also the privilege, by custom, of the arch-bishop of Canterbury, to crown the kings and queens of this kingdom. And he hath also by the statute 25 Hen. VIII. c. 21. the power of granting dispensations in any case, not contrary to the holy scriptures and the law of God, where the pope used formerly to grant them: which is the foundation of his granting special licences, to marry at any place or time, to hold two livings, and the like: and on this also is founded the right he exercises of conferring degrees, in prejudice of the two universities[b].

[Footnote r: Lord Raym. 541.]

[Footnote s: 4 Inst. 322, 323.]

[Footnote t: 2 Roll. Abr. 223.]

[Footnote u: Cowel's interpr. tit. option.]

[Footnote w: Sherlock of options. 1.]

[Footnote x: Goldast. constit. imper. tom. 3. pag. 406.]

[Footnote y: Dufresne. V. 806. Mod. Un. Hist. xxix. 5.]

[Footnote z: Rex, &c, salutem. Scribatis episcopo Karl. quod—Roberto de Icard pensionem suam, quam ad preces regis praedicto Roberto concessit, de caetero solvat; et de proxima ecclesia vacatura de collatione praedicti episcopi, quam ipse Robertus acceptaverit, respiciat. Brev. 11 Edw. I. 3 Pryn. 1264.]

[Footnote a: ch. 8. pag. 273.]

[Footnote b: See the bishop of Chester's case. Oxon. 1721.]

THE power and authority of a bishop, besides the administration of certain holy ordinances peculiar to that sacred order, consists principally in inspecting the manners of the people and clergy, and punishing them, in order to reformation, by ecclesiastical censures. To this purpose he has several courts under him, and may visit at pleasure every part of his diocese. His chancellor is appointed to hold his courts for him, and to assist him in matters of ecclesiastical law; who, as well as all other ecclesiastical officers, if lay or married, must be a doctor of the civil law, so created in some university[c]. It is also the business of a bishop to institute and to direct induction to all ecclesiastical livings in his diocese.

[Footnote c: Stat. 37 Hen. VIII. c. 17.]

ARCHBISHOPRICKS and bishopricks may become void by death, deprivation for any very gross and notorious crime, and also by resignation. All resignations must be made to some superior[d]. Therefore a bishop must resign to his metropolitan; but the arch-bishop can resign to none but the king himself.

[Footnote d: Gibs. cod. 822.]

II. A DEAN and chapter are the council of the bishop, to assist him with their advice in affairs of religion, and also in the temporal concerns of his see[e]. When the rest of the clergy were settled in the several parishes of each diocese (as hath formerly[f] been mentioned) these were reserved for the celebration of divine service in the bishop's own cathedral; and the chief of them, who presided over the rest, obtained the name of decanus or dean, being probably at first appointed to superintend ten canons or prebendaries.

[Footnote e: 3 Rep. 75. Co. Litt. 103, 300.]

[Footnote f: pag. 108, 109.]

ALL antient deans are elected by the chapter, by conge d'eslire from the king, and letters missive of recommendation; in the same manner as bishops: but in those chapters, that were founded by Henry VIII out of the spoils of the dissolved monasteries, the deanery is donative, and the installation merely by the king's letters patent[g]. The chapter, consisting of canons or prebendaries, are sometimes appointed by the king, sometimes by the bishop, and sometimes elected by each other.

[Footnote g: Gibs. cod. 173.]

THE dean and chapter are, as was before observed, the nominal electors of a bishop. The bishop is their ordinary and immediate superior; and has, generally speaking, the power of visiting them, and correcting their excesses and enormities. They had also a check on the bishop at common law: for till the statute 32 Hen. VIII. c. 28. his grant or lease would not have bound his successors, unless confirmed by the dean and chapter[h].

[Footnote h: Co. Litt. 103.]

DEANERIES and prebends may become void, like a bishoprick, by death, by deprivation, or by resignation to either the king or the bishop[j]. Also I may here mention, once for all, that if a dean, prebendary, or other spiritual person be made a bishop, all the preferments he was before possessed of are void; and the king may present to them in right of his prerogative royal. But they are not void by the election, but only by the consecration[i].

[Footnote j: Plowd. 498.]

[Footnote i: 2 Roll. Abr. 352. Salk. 137. [Transcriber's Note: Footnotes j and i are in this order in the original.]]

III. AN arch-deacon hath an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, immediately subordinate to the bishop, throughout the whole of his diocese, or in some particular part of it. He is usually appointed by the bishop himself; and hath a kind of episcopal authority, originally derived from the bishop, but now independent and distinct from his[k]. He therefore visits the clergy; and has his separate court for punishment of offenders by spiritual censures, and for hearing all other causes of ecclesiastical cognizance.

[Footnote k: 1 Burn. eccl. law. 68, 69.]

IV. THE rural deans are very antient officers of the church[l], but almost grown out of use; though their deaneries still subsist as an ecclesiastical division of the diocese, or archdeaconry. They seem to have been deputies of the bishop, planted all round his diocese, the better to inspect the conduct of the parochial clergy, and therefore armed with an inferior degree of judicial and coercive authority[m].

[Footnote l: Kennet. par. antiq. 633.]

[Footnote m: Gibs. cod. 972.]

V. THE next, and indeed the most numerous order of men in the system of ecclesiastical polity, are the parsons and vicars of parishes: in treating of whom I shall first mark out the distinction between them; shall next observe the method by which one may become a parson or vicar; shall then briefly touch upon their rights and duties; and shall, lastly, shew how one may cease to be either.

A PARSON, persona ecclesiae, is one that hath full possession of all the rights of a parochial church. He is called parson, persona, because by his person the church, which is an invisible body, is represented; and he is in himself a body corporate, in order to protect and defend the rights of the church (which he personates) by a perpetual succession[n]. He is sometimes called the rector, or governor, of the church: but the appellation of parson, (however it may be depreciated by familiar, clownish, and indiscriminate use) is the most legal, most beneficial, and most honourable title that a parish priest can enjoy; because such a one, (sir Edward Coke observes) and he only, is said vicem seu personam ecclesiae gerere. A parson has, during his life, the freehold in himself of the parsonage house, the glebe, the tithes, and other dues. But these are sometimes appropriated; that is to say, the benefice is perpetually annexed to some spiritual corporation, either sole or aggregate, being the patron of the living; whom the law esteems equally capable of providing for the service of the church, as any single private clergyman. This contrivance seems to have sprung from the policy of the monastic orders, who have never been deficient in subtle inventions for the increase of their own power and emoluments. At the first establishment of parochial clergy, the tithes of the parish were distributed in a fourfold division; one for the use of the bishop, another for maintaining the fabrick of the church, a third for the poor, and the fourth to provide for the incumbent. When the sees of the bishops became otherwise amply endowed, they were prohibited from demanding their usual share of these tithes, and the division was into three parts only. And hence it was inferred by the monasteries, that a small part was sufficient for the officiating priest, and that the remainder might well be applied to the use of their own fraternities, (the endowment of which was construed to be a work of the most exalted piety) subject to the burthen of repairing the church and providing for it's constant supply. And therefore they begged and bought, for masses and obits, and sometimes even for money, all the advowsons within their reach, and then appropriated the benefices to the use of their own corporation. But, in order to complete such appropriation effectually, the king's licence, and consent of the bishop, must first be obtained; because both the king and the bishop may sometime or other have an interest, by lapse, in the presentation to the benefice; which can never happen if it be appropriated to the use of a corporation, which never dies: and also because the law reposes a confidence in them, that they will not consent to any thing that shall be to the prejudice of the church. The consent of the patron also is necessarily implied, because (as was before observed) the appropriation can be originally made to none, but to such spiritual corporation, as is also the patron of the church; the whole being indeed nothing else, but an allowance for the patrons to retain the tithes and glebe in their own hands, without presenting any clerk, they themselves undertaking to provide for the service of the church[o]. When the appropriation is thus made, the appropriators and their successors are perpetual parsons of the church; and must sue and be sued, in all matters concerning the rights of the church, by the name of parsons[p].

[Footnote n: Co. Litt. 300.]

[Footnote o: Plowd. 496-500.]

[Footnote p: Hob. 307.]

THIS appropriation may be severed, and the church become disappropriate, two ways: as, first, if the patron or appropriator presents a clerk, who is instituted and inducted to the parsonage: for the incumbent so instituted and inducted is to all intents and purposes complete parson; and the appropriation, being once severed, can never be re-united again, unless by a repetition of the same solemnities[q]. And when the clerk so presented is distinct from the vicar, the rectory thus vested in him becomes what is called a sine-cure; because he hath no cure of souls, having a vicar under him to whom that cure is committed[r]. Also, if the corporation which has the appropriation is dissolved, the parsonage becomes disappropriate at common law; because the perpetuity of person is gone, which is necessary to support the appropriation.

[Footnote q: Co. Litt. 46.]

[Footnote r: Sine-cures might also be created by other means. 2 Burn. eccl. law. 347.]

IN this manner, and subject to these conditions, may appropriations be made at this day: and thus were most, if not all, of the appropriations at present existing originally made; being annexed to bishopricks, prebends, religious houses, nay, even to nunneries, and certain military orders, all of which were spiritual corporations. At the dissolution of monasteries by statutes 27 Hen. VIII. c. 28. and 31 Hen. VIII. c. 13. the appropriations of the several parsonages, which belonged to those respective religious houses, (amounting to more than one third of all the parishes in England[s]) would have been by the rules of the common law disappropriated; had not a clause in those statutes intervened, to give them to the king in as ample a manner as the abbots, &c, formerly held the same, at the time of their dissolution. This, though perhaps scarcely defensible, was not without example; for the same was done in former reigns, when the alien priories, (that is, such as were filled by foreigners only) were dissolved and given to the crown[t]. And from these two roots have sprung all the lay appropriations or secular parsonages, which we now see in the kingdom; they having been afterwards granted out from time to time by the crown[u].

[Footnote s: Seld. review of tith. c. 9. Spelm. Apology. 35.]

[Footnote t: 2 Inst. 584.]

[Footnote u: Sir H. Spelman (of tythes, c. 29.) says these are now called impropriations, as being improperly in the hands of laymen.]

THESE appropriating corporations, or religious houses, were wont to depute one of their own body to perform divine service, and administer the sacraments, in those parishes of which the society was thus the parson. This officiating minister was in reality no more than a curate, deputy, or vicegerent of the appropriator, and therefore called vicarius, or vicar. His stipend was at the discretion of the appropriator, who was however bound of common right to find somebody, qui illi de temporalibus, episcopo de spiritualibus, debeat respondere[w]. But this was done in so scandalous a manner, and the parishes suffered so much by the neglect of the appropriators, that the legislature was forced to interpose: and accordingly it is enacted by statute 15 Ric. II. c. 6. that in all appropriations of churches, the diocesan bishop shall ordain (in proportion to the value of the church) a competent sum to be distributed among the poor parishioners annually; and that the vicarage shall be sufficiently endowed. It seems the parish were frequently sufferers, not only by the want of divine service, but also by withholding those alms, for which, among other purposes, the payment of tithes was originally imposed: and therefore in this act a pension is directed to be distributed among the poor parochians, as well as a sufficient stipend to the vicar. But he, being liable to be removed at the pleasure of the appropriator, was not likely to insist too rigidly on the legal sufficiency of the stipend: and therefore by statute 4 Hen. IV. c. 12. it is ordained, that the vicar shall be a secular person, not a member of any religious house; that he shall be vicar perpetual, not removeable at the caprice of the monastery; and that he shall be canonically instituted and inducted, and be sufficiently endowed, at the discretion of the ordinary, for these three express purposes, to do divine service, to inform the people, and to keep hospitality. The endowments in consequence of these statutes have usually been by a portion of the glebe, or land, belonging to the parsonage, and a particular share of the tithes, which the appropriators found it most troublesome to collect, and which are therefore generally called privy, small, or vicarial, tithes; the greater, or predial, tithes being still referred to their own use. But one and the same rule was not observed in the endowment of all vicarages. Hence some are more liberally, and some more scantily, endowed; and hence many things, as wood in particular, is in some countries a predial, and in some a vicarial tithe.

[Footnote w: Seld. tith. c. 11. 1.]

THE distinction therefore of a parson and vicar is this; that the parson has for the most part the whole right to all the ecclesiastical dues in his parish; but a vicar has generally an appropriator over him, entitled to the best part of the profits, to whom he is in effect perpetual curate, with a standing salary. Though in some places the vicarage has been considerably augmented by a large share of the great tithes; which augmentations were greatly assisted by the statute 29 Car. II. c. 8. enacted in favour of poor vicars and curates, which rendered such temporary augmentations (when made by the appropriators) perpetual.

THE method of becoming a parson or vicar is much the same. To both there are four requisites necessary: holy orders; presentation; institution; and induction. The method of conferring the holy orders of deacon and priest, according to the liturgy and canons[x], is foreign to the purpose of these commentaries; any farther than as they are necessary requisites to make a complete parson or vicar. By common law a deacon, of any age, might be instituted and inducted to a parsonage or vicarage: but it was ordained by statute 13 Eliz. c. 12. that no person under twenty three years of age, and in deacon's orders, should be presented to any benefice with cure; and if he were not ordained priest within one year after his induction, he should be ipso facto deprived: and now, by statute 13 & 14 Car. II. c. 4. no person is capable to be admitted to any benefice, unless he hath been first ordained a priest; and then he is, in the language of the law, a clerk in orders. But if he obtains orders, or a licence to preach, by money or corrupt practices (which seems to be the true, though not the common notion of simony) the person giving such orders forfeits[y] 40l. and the person receiving 10l. and is incapable of any ecclesiastical preferment for seven years afterwards.

[Footnote x: See 2 Burn. eccl. law. 103.]

[Footnote y: Stat. 31 Eliz. c. 6.]

ANY clerk may be presented[z] to a parsonage or vicarage; that is, the patron, to whom the advowson of the church belongs, may offer his clerk to the bishop of the diocese to be instituted. Of advowsons, or the right of presentation, being a species of private property, we shall find a more convenient place to treat in the second part of these commentaries. But when a clerk is presented, the bishop may refuse him upon many accounts. As, 1. If the patron is excommunicated, and remains in contempt forty days[a]. Or, 2. If the clerk be unfit[b]: which unfitness is of several kinds. First, with regard to his person; as if he be a bastard, an outlaw, an excommunicate, an alien, under age, or the like[c]. Next, with regard to his faith or morals; as for any particular heresy, or vice that is malum in se: but if the bishop alleges only in generals, as that he is schismaticus inveteratus, or objects a fault that is malum prohibitum merely, as haunting taverns, playing at unlawful games, or the like; it is not good cause of refusal[d]. Or, lastly, the clerk may be unfit to discharge the pastoral office for want of learning. In any of which cases the bishop may refuse the clerk. In case the refusal is for heresy, schism, inability of learning, or other matter of ecclesiastical cognizance, there the bishop must give notice to the patron of such his cause of refusal, who, being usually a layman, is not supposed to have knowlege of it; else he cannot present by lapse: but if the cause be temporal, there he is not bound to give notice[e].

[Footnote z: A layman may also be presented; but he must take priests orders before his admission. 1 Burn. 103.]

[Footnote a: 2 Roll. Abr. 355.]

[Footnote b: Glanv. l. 13. c. 20.]

[Footnote c: 2 Roll. Abr. 356. 2 Inst. 632. Stat. 3 Ric. II. c. 3. 7 Ric. II. c. 12.]

[Footnote d: 5 Rep. 58.]

[Footnote e: 2 Inst. 632.]

IF an action at law be brought by the patron against the bishop, for refusing his clerk, the bishop must assign the cause. If the cause be of a temporal nature and the fact admitted, (as, for instance, outlawry) the judges of the king's courts must determine it's validity, or, whether it be sufficient cause of refusal: but if the fact be denied, it must be determined by a jury. If the cause be of a spiritual nature, (as, heresy, particularly alleged) the fact if denied shall also be determined by a jury; and if the fact be admitted or found, the court upon consultation and advice of learned divines shall decide it's sufficiency[f]. If the cause be want of learning, the bishop need not specify in what points the clerk is deficient, but only allege that he is deficient[g]: for the statute 9 Edw. II. st. 1. c. 13. is express, that the examination of the fitness of a person presented to a benefice belongs to the ecclesiastical judge. But because it would be nugatory in this case to demand the reason of refusal from the ordinary, if the patron were bound to abide by his determination, who has already pronounced his clerk unfit; therefore if the bishop returns the clerk to be minus sufficiens in literatura, the court shall write to the metropolitan, to reexamine him, and certify his qualifications; which certificate of the arch-bishop is final[h].

[Footnote f: 2 Inst. 632.]

[Footnote g: 5 Rep. 58. 3 Lev. 313.]

[Footnote h: 2 Inst. 632.]

IF the bishop hath no objections, but admits the patron's presentation, the clerk so admitted is next to be instituted by him; which is a kind of investiture of the spiritual part of the benefice: for by institution the care of the souls of the parish is committed to the charge of the clerk. When a vicar is instituted, he (besides the usual forms) takes, if required by the bishop, an oath of perpetual residence; for the maxim of law is, that vicarius non habet vicarium: and as the non-residence of the appropriators was the cause of the perpetual establishment of vicarages, the law judges it very improper for them to defeat the end of their constitution, and by absence to create the very mischiefs which they were appointed to remedy: especially as, if any profits are to arise from putting in a curate and living at a distance from the parish, the appropriator, who is the real parson, has undoubtedly the elder title to them. When the ordinary is also the patron, and confers the living, the presentation and institution are one and the same act, and are called a collation to a benefice. By institution or collation the church is full, so that there can be no fresh presentation till another vacancy, at least in the case of a common patron; but the church is not full against the king, till induction: nay, even if a clerk is instituted upon the king's presentation, the crown may revoke it before induction, and present another clerk[i]. Upon institution also the clerk may enter on the parsonage house and glebe, and take the tithes; but he cannot grant or let them, or bring any action for them, till induction.

[Footnote i: Co. Litt. 344.]

INDUCTION is performed by a mandate from the bishop to the arch-deacon, who usually issues out a precept to other clergymen to perform it for him. It is done by giving the clerk corporal possession of the church, as by holding the ring of the door, tolling a bell, or the like; and is a form required by law, with intent to give all the parishioners due notice, and sufficient certainty of their new minister, to whom their tithes are to be paid. This therefore is the investiture of the temporal part of the benefice, as institution is of the spiritual. And when a clerk is thus presented, instituted, and inducted into a rectory, he is then, and not before, in full and complete possession, and is called in law persona impersonata, or parson imparsonee[k].

[Footnote k: Co. Litt. 300.]

THE rights of a parson or vicar, in his tithes and ecclesiastical dues, fall more properly under the second book of these commentaries: and as to his duties, they are principally of ecclesiastical cognizance; those only excepted which are laid upon him by statute. And those are indeed so numerous that it is impracticable to recite them here with any tolerable conciseness or accuracy. Some of them we may remark, as they arise in the progress of our enquiries, but for the rest I must refer myself to such authors as have compiled treatises expressly upon this subject[l]. I shall only just mention the article of residence, upon the supposition of which the law doth stile every parochial minister an incumbent. By statute 21 Hen. VIII. c. 13. persons wilfully absenting themselves from their benefices, for one month together, or two months in the year, incur a penalty of 5l. to the king, and 5l. to any person that will sue for the same: except chaplains to the king, or others therein mentioned[m], during their attendance in the houshold of such as retain them: and also except[n] all heads of houses, magistrates, and professors in the universities, and all students under forty years of age residing there, bona fide, for study. Legal residence is not only in the parish, but also in the parsonage house: for it hath been resolved[o], that the statute intended residence, not only for serving the cure, and for hospitality; but also for maintaining the house, that the successor also may keep hospitality there.

[Footnote l: These are very numerous: but there are only two, which can be relied on with any degree of certainty; bishop Gibson's codex, and Dr Burn's ecclesiastical law.]

[Footnote m: Stat. 25 Hen. VIII. c. 16. 33 Hen. VIII. c. 28.]

[Footnote n: Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 13.]

[Footnote o: 6 Rep. 21.]

WE have seen that there is but one way, whereby one may become a parson or vicar: there are many ways, by which one may cease to be so. 1. By death. 2. By cession, in taking another benefice. For by statute 21 Hen. VIII. c. 13. if any one having a benefice of 8l. per annum, or upwards, in the king's books, (according to the present valuation[p],) accepts any other, the first shall be adjudged void; unless he obtains a dispensation; which no one is entitled to have, but the chaplains of the king and others therein mentioned, the brethren and sons of lords and knights, and doctors and bachelors of divinity and law, admitted by the universities of this realm. And a vacancy thus made, for want of a dispensation, is called cession. 3. By consecration; for, as was mentioned before, when a clerk is promoted to a bishoprick, all his other preferments are void the instant that he is consecrated. But there is a method, by the favour of the crown, of holding such livings in commendam. Commenda, or ecclesia commendata, is a living commended by the crown to the care of a clerk, to hold till a proper pastor is provided for it. This may be temporary, for one, two, or three years, or perpetual; being a kind of dispensation to avoid the vacancy of the living, and is called a commenda retinere. There is also a commenda recipere, which is to take a benefice de novo, in the bishop's own gift, or the gift of some other patron consenting to the same; and this is the same to him as institution and induction are to another clerk[q]. 4. By resignation. But this is of no avail, till accepted by the ordinary; into whose hands the resignation must be made[r]. 5. By deprivation, either by canonical censures, of which I am not to speak; or in pursuance of divers penal statutes, which declare the benefice void, for some nonfeasance or neglect, or else some malefeasance or crime. As, for simony[s]; for maintaining any doctrine in derogation of the king's supremacy, or of the thirty nine articles, or of the book of common-prayer[t]; for neglecting after institution to read the articles in the church, or make the declarations against popery, or take the abjuration oath[u]; for using any other form of prayer than the liturgy of the church of England[w]; or for absenting himself sixty days in one year from a benefice belonging to a popish patron, to which the clerk was presented by either of the universities[x]; in all which and similar cases[y] the benefice is ipso facto void, without any formal sentence of deprivation.

[Footnote p: Cro. Car. 456.]

[Footnote q: Hob. 144.]

[Footnote r: Cro. Jac. 198.]

[Footnote s: Stat. 31 Eliz. c. 6. and 12 Ann. c. 12.]

[Footnote t: Stat. 1 Eliz. c. 1 & 2. and 13 Eliz. c. 12.]

[Footnote u: Stat. 13 Eliz. c. 12. 14 Car. II. c. 4. and 1 Geo. I. c. 6.]

[Footnote w: Stat. 1 Eliz. c. 2.]

[Footnote x: Stat. 1 W. & M. c. 26.]

[Footnote y: 6 Rep. 29, 30.]

VI. A CURATE is the lowest degree in the church; being in the same state that a vicar was formerly, an officiating temporary minister, instead of the real incumbent. Though there are what are called perpetual curacies, where all the tithes are appropriated, and no vicarage endowed, (being for some particular reasons[z] exempted from the statute of Hen. IV) but, instead thereof, such perpetual curate is appointed by the appropriator. With regard to the other species of curates, they are the objects of some particular statutes, which ordain, that such as serve a church during it's vacancy shall be paid such stipend as the ordinary thinks reasonable, out of the profits of the vacancy; or, if that be not sufficient, by the successor within fourteen days after he takes possession[a]: and that, if any rector or vicar nominates a curate to the ordinary to be licenced, the ordinary shall settle his stipend under his hand and seal, not exceeding 50l. per annum, nor less than 20l. and on failure of payment may sequester the profits of the benefice[b].

[Footnote z: 1 Burn. eccl. law. 427.]

[Footnote a: Stat. 28 Hen. VIII. c. 11.]

[Footnote b: Stat. 12 Ann. st. 2. c. 12.]

THUS much of the clergy, properly so called. There are also certain inferior ecclesiastical officers of whom the common law takes notice; and that, principally, to assist the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, where it is deficient in powers. On which officers I shall make a few cursory remarks.

VII. CHURCHWARDENS are the guardians or keepers of the church, and representatives of the body of the parish[c]. They are sometimes appointed by the minister, sometimes by the parish, sometimes by both together, as custom directs. They are taken, in favour of the church, to be for some purposes a kind of corporation at the common law; that is, they are enabled by that name to have a property in goods and chattels, and to bring actions for them, for the use and profit of the parish. Yet they may not waste the church goods, but may be removed by the parish, and then called to account by action at the common law: but there is no method of calling them to account, but by first removing them; for none can legally do it, but those who are put in their place. As to lands, or other real property, as the church, church-yard, &c, they have no sort of interest therein; but if any damage is done thereto, the parson only or vicar shall have the action. Their office also is to repair the church, and make rates and levies for that purpose: but these are recoverable only in the ecclesiastical court. They are also joined with the overseers in the care and maintenance of the poor. They are to levy[d] a shilling forfeiture on all such as do not repair to church on sundays and holidays, and are empowered to keep all persons orderly while there; to which end it has been held that a churchwarden may justify the pulling off a man's hat, without being guilty of either an assault or trespass[e]. There are also a multitude of other petty parochial powers committed to their charge by divers acts of parliament[f].

[Footnote c: In Sweden they have similar officers, whom they call kiorckiowariandes. Stiernhook. l. 3. c. 7.]

[Footnote d: Stat. 1 Eliz. c. 2.]

[Footnote e: 1 Lev. 196.]

[Footnote f: See Lambard of churchwardens, at the end of his eirenarcha; and Dr Burn, tit. church, churchwardens, visitation.]

VIII. PARISH clerks and sextons are also regarded by the common law, as persons who have freeholds in their offices; and therefore though they may be punished, yet they cannot be deprived, by ecclesiastical censures[g]. The parish clerk was formerly always in holy orders; and some are so to this day. He is generally appointed by the incumbent, but by custom may be chosen by the inhabitants; and if such custom appears, the court of king's bench will grant a mandamus to the arch-deacon to swear him in, for the establishment of the custom turns it into a temporal or civil right[h].

[Footnote g: 2 Roll. Abr. 234.]

[Footnote h: Cro. Car. 589.]



THE lay part of his majesty's subjects, or such of the people as are not comprehended under the denomination of clergy, may be divided into three distinct states, the civil, the military, and the maritime.

THAT part of the nation which falls under our first and most comprehensive division, the civil state, includes all orders of men, from the highest nobleman to the meanest peasant; that are not included under either our former division, of clergy, or under one of the two latter, the military and maritime states: and it may sometimes include individuals of the other three orders; since a nobleman, a knight, a gentleman, or a peasant, may become either a divine, a soldier, or a seaman.

THE civil state consists of the nobility and the commonalty. Of the nobility, the peerage of Great Britain, or lords temporal, as forming (together with the bishops) one of the supreme branches of the legislature, I have before sufficiently spoken: we are here to consider them according to their several degrees, or titles of honour.

ALL degrees of nobility and honour are derived from the king as their fountain[a]: and he may institute what new titles he pleases. Hence it is that all degrees of honour are not of equal antiquity. Those now in use are dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons[b].

[Footnote a: 4 Inst. 363.]

[Footnote b: For the original of these titles on the continent of Europe, and their subsequent introduction into this island, see Mr Selden's titles of honour.]

1. A duke, though it be with us, as a mere title of nobility, inferior in point of antiquity to many others, yet it is superior to all of them in rank; being the first title of dignity after the royal family[c]. Among the Saxons the Latin name of dukes, duces, is very frequent, and signified, as among the Romans, the commanders or leaders of their armies, whom in their own language they called [Anglo-Saxon: heretoga][d]; and in the laws of Henry I (as translated by Lambard) we find them called heretochii. But after the Norman conquest, which changed the military polity of the nation, the kings themselves continuing for many generations dukes of Normandy, they would not honour any subjects with that title, till the time of Edward III; who, claiming to be king of France, and thereby losing the ducal in the royal dignity, in the eleventh year of his reign created his son, Edward the black prince, duke of Cornwall: and many, of the royal family especially, were afterwards raised to the same honour. However, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, A.D. 1572[e], the whole order became utterly extinct: but it was revived about fifty years afterwards by her successor, who was remarkably prodigal of honours, in the person of George Villiers duke of Buckingham.

[Footnote c: Camden. Britan. tit. ordines.]

[Footnote d: This is apparently derived from the same root as the German [Fraktur: hertzogen], the antient appellation of dukes in that country. Seld. tit. hon. 2. 1. 22.]

[Footnote e: Camden. Britan. tit. ordines. Spelman. Gloss. 191.]

2. A marquess, marchio, is the next degree of nobility. His office formerly was (for dignity and duty were never separated by our ancestors) to guard the frontiers and limits of the kingdom; which were called the marches, from the teutonic word, marche, a limit: as, in particular, were the marches of Wales and Scotland, while they continued to be enemies countries. The persons who had command there, were called lords marchers, or marquesses; whose authority was abolished by statute 27 Hen. VIII. c. 27: though the title had long before been made a mere ensign of honour; Robert Vere, earl of Oxford, being created marquess of Dublin, by Richard II in the eighth year of his reign[f].

[Footnote f: 2 Inst. 5.]

3. AN earl is a title of nobility so antient, that it's original cannot clearly be traced out. Thus much seems tolerably certain: that among the Saxons they were called ealdormen, quasi elder men, signifying the same as senior or senator among the Romans; and also schiremen, because they had each of them the civil government of a several division or shire. On the irruption of the Danes, they changed the name to eorles, which, according to Camden[g], signified the same in their language. In Latin they are called comites (a title first used in the empire) from being the king's attendants; "a societate nomen sumpserunt, reges enim tales sibi associant[h]." After the Norman conquest they were for some time called counts, or countees, from the French; but they did not long retain that name themselves, though their shires are from thence called counties to this day. It is now become a mere title, they having nothing to do with the government of the county; which, as has been more than once observed, is now entirely devolved on the sheriff, the earl's deputy, or vice-comes. In all writs, and commissions, and other formal instruments, the king, when he mentions any peer of the degree of an earl, always stiles him "trusty and well beloved cousin:" an appellation as antient as the reign of Henry IV; who being either by his wife, his mother, or his sisters, actually related or allied to every earl in the kingdom, artfully and constantly acknowleged that connexion in all his letters and other public acts; from whence the usage has descended to his successors, though the reason has long ago failed.

[Footnote g: Ibid.]

[Footnote h: Bracton. l. 1. c. 8. Fleta. l. i. c. 5.]

4. THE name of vice-comes or viscount was afterwards made use of as an arbitrary title of honour, without any shadow of office pertaining to it, by Henry the sixth; when in the eighteenth year of his reign, he created John Beaumont a peer, by the name of viscount Beaumont, which was the first instance of the kind[i].

[Footnote i: 2 Inst. 5.]

5. A baron's is the most general and universal title of nobility; for originally every one of the peers of superior rank had also a barony annexed to his other titles[k]. But it hath sometimes happened that, when an antient baron hath been raised to a new degree of peerage, in the course of a few generations the two titles have descended differently; one perhaps to the male descendants, the other to the heirs general; whereby the earldom or other superior title hath subsisted without a barony: and there are also modern instances where earls and viscounts have been created without annexing a barony to their other honours: so that now the rule does not hold universally, that all peers are barons. The original and antiquity of baronies has occasioned great enquiries among our English antiquarians. The most probable opinion seems to be, that they were the same with our present lords of manors; to which the name of court baron, (which is the lord's court, and incident to every manor) gives some countenance. It may be collected from king John's magna carta[l], that originally all lords of manors, or barons, that held of the king in capite, had seats in the great council or parliament, till about the reign of that prince the conflux of them became so large and troublesome, that the king was obliged to divide them, and summon only the greater barons in person; leaving the small ones to be summoned by the sheriff, and (as it is said) to sit by representation in another house; which gave rise to the separation of the two houses of parliament[m]. By degrees the title came to be confined to the greater barons, or lords of parliament only; and there were no other barons among the peerage but such as were summoned by writ, in respect of the tenure of their lands or baronies, till Richard the second first made it a mere title of honor, by conferring it on divers persons by his letters patent[n].

[Footnote k: 2 Inst. 5, 6.]

[Footnote l: cap. 14.]

[Footnote m: Gilb. hist. exch. c. 3. Seld. tit. of hon. 2. 5. 21.]

[Footnote n: 1 Inst. 9. Seld. Jan. Angl. 2. Sec. 66.]

HAVING made this short enquiry into the original of our several degrees of nobility, I shall next consider the manner in which they may be created. The right of peerage seems to have been originally territorial; that is, annexed to lands, honors, castles, manors, and the like, the proprietors and possessors of which were (in right of those estates) allowed to be peers of the realm, and were summoned to parliament to do suit and service to their sovereign: and, when the land was alienated, the dignity passed with it as appendant. Thus the bishops still sit in the house of lords in right of succession to certain antient baronies annexed, or supposed to be annexed, to their episcopal lands[o]: and thus, in 11 Hen. VI, the possession of the castle of Arundel was adjudged to confer an earldom on it's possessor[p]. But afterwards, when alienations grew to be frequent, the dignity of peerage was confined to the lineage of the party ennobled, and instead of territorial became personal. Actual proof of a tenure by barony became no longer necessary to constitute a lord of parliament; but the record of the writ of summons to them or their ancestors was admitted as a sufficient evidence of the tenure.

[Footnote o: Glanv. l. 7. c. 1.]

[Footnote p: Seld. tit. of hon. b. 2. c. 9. Sec. 5.]

PEERS are now created either by writ, or by patent: for those who claim by prescription must suppose either a writ or patent made to their ancestors; though by length of time it is lost. The creation by writ, or the king's letter, is a summons to attend the house of peers, by the stile and title of that barony, which the king is pleased to confer: that by patent is a royal grant to a subject of any dignity and degree of peerage. The creation by writ is the more antient way; but a man is not ennobled thereby, unless he actually takes his seat in the house of lords: and therefore the most usual, because the surest, way is to grant the dignity by patent, which enures to a man and his heirs according to the limitations thereof, though he never himself makes use of it[q]. Yet it is frequent to call up the eldest son of a peer to the house of lords by writ of summons, in the name of his father's barony: because in that case there is no danger of his children's losing the nobility in case he never takes his seat; for they will succeed to their grand-father. Creation by writ has also one advantage over that by patent: for a person created by writ holds the dignity to him and his heirs, without any words to that purport in the writ; but in letters patent there must be words to direct the inheritance, else the dignity enures only to the grantee for life[r]. For a man or woman may be created noble for their own lives, and the dignity not descend to their heirs at all, or descend only to some particular heirs: as where a peerage is limited to a man, and the heirs male of his body by Elizabeth his present lady, and not to such heirs by any former or future wife.

[Footnote q: Co. Litt. 16.]

[Footnote r: Co. Litt. 9. 16.]

LET us next take a view of a few of the principal incidents attending the nobility, exclusive of their capacity as members of parliament, and as hereditary counsellors of the crown; both of which we have before considered. And first we must observe, that in criminal cases, a nobleman shall be tried by his peers. The great are always obnoxious to popular envy: were they to be judged by the people, they might be in danger from the prejudice of their judges; and would moreover be deprived of the privilege of the meanest subjects, that of being tried by their equals, which is secured to all the realm by magna carta, c. 29. It is said, that this does not extend to bishops; who, though they are lords of parliament, and sit there by virtue of their baronies which they hold jure ecclesiae, yet are not ennobled in blood, and consequently not peers with the nobility[s]. As to peeresses, no provision was made for their trial when accused of treason or felony, till after Eleanor dutchess of Gloucester, wife to the lord protector, had been accused of treason and found guilty of witchcraft, in an ecclesiastical synod, through the intrigues of cardinal Beaufort. This very extraordinary trial gave occasion to a special statute, 20 Hen. VI. c. 9. which enacts that peeresses either in their own right, or by marriage, shall be tried before the same judicature as peers of the realm. If a woman, noble in her own right, marries a commoner, she still remains noble, and shall be tried by her peers: but if she be only noble by marriage, then by a second marriage, with a commoner, she loses her dignity; for as by marriage it is gained, by marriage it is also lost. Yet if a duchess dowager marries a baron, she continues a duchess still; for all the nobility are pares, and therefore it is no degradation[t]. A peer, or peeress (either in her own right or by marriage) cannot be arrested in civil cases[u]: and they have also many peculiar privileges annexed to their peerage in the course of judicial proceedings. A peer, sitting in judgment, gives not his verdict upon oath, like an ordinary juryman, but upon his honour[w]: he answers also to bills in chancery upon his honour, and not upon his oath[x]; but, when he is examined as a witness either in civil or criminal cases, he must be sworn[y]: for the respect, which the law shews to the honour of a peer, does not extend so far as to overturn a settled maxim, that in judicio non creditur nisi juratis[z]. The honour of peers is however so highly tendered by the law, that it is much more penal to spread false reports of them, and certain other great officers of the realm, than of other men: scandal against them being called by the peculiar name of scandalum magnatum; and subjected to peculiar punishment by divers antient statutes[a].

[Footnote s: 3 Inst. 30, 31.]

[Footnote t: 2 Inst. 50.]

[Footnote u: Finch. L. 355. 1 Ventr. 298.]

[Footnote w: 2 Inst 49.]

[Footnote x: 1 P. Wms. 146.]

[Footnote y: Salk. 512.]

[Footnote z: Cro. Car. 64.]

[Footnote a: 3 Edw. I. c. 34. 2 Ric. II. st. 1. c. 5. 12 Ric. II. c. 11.]

A PEER cannot lose his nobility, but by death or attainder; hough [Transcriber's Note: though] there was an instance, in the reign of Edward the fourth, of the degradation of George Nevile duke of Bedford by act of parliament[b], on account of his poverty, which rendered him unable to support his dignity[c]. But this is a singular instance: which serves at the same time, by having happened, to shew the power of parliament; and, by having happened but once, to shew how tender the parliament hath been, in exerting so high a power. It hath been said indeed[d], that if a baron waste his estate, so that he is not able to support the degree, the king may degrade him: but it is expressly held by later authorities[e], that a peer cannot be degraded but by act of parliament.

[Footnote b: 4 Inst. 355.]

[Footnote c: The preamble to the act is remarkable: "forasmuch as oftentimes it is seen, that when any lord is called to high estate, and hath not convenient livelyhood to support the same dignity, it induceth great poverty and indigence, and causeth oftentimes great extortion, embracery, and maintenance to be had; to the great trouble of all such countries where such estate shall happen to be: therefore, &c."]

[Footnote d: By lord chancellor Ellesmere. Moor. 678.]

[Footnote e: 12 Rep. 107. 12 Mod. 56.]

THE commonalty, like the nobility, are divided into several degrees; and, as the lords, though different in rank, yet all of them are peers in respect of their nobility, so the commoners, though some are greatly superior to others, yet all are in law peers, in respect of their want of nobility[f].

[Footnote f: 2 Inst. 29.]

THE first name of dignity, next beneath a peer, was anciently that of vidames, vice domini, or valvasors[g]: who are mentioned by our antient lawyers[h] as viri magnae dignitatis; and sir Edward Coke[i] speaks highly of them. Yet they are now quite out of use; and our legal antiquarians are not so much as agreed upon their original or ancient office.

[Footnote g: Camden. ibid.]

[Footnote h: Bracton. l. 1. c. 8.]

[Footnote i: 2 Inst. 667.]

NOW therefore the first dignity after the nobility, is a knight of the order of St. George, or of the garter; first instituted by Edward III, A.D. 1344[k]. Next follows a knight banneret; who indeed by statutes 5 Ric. II. st. 2. c. 4. and 14 Ric. II. c. 11. is ranked next after barons: and that precedence was confirmed to him by order of king James I, in the tenth year of his reign[l]. But, in order to intitle himself to this rank, he must have been created by the king in person, in the field, under the royal banners, in time of open war[m]. Else he ranks after baronets; who are the next order: which title is a dignity of inheritance, created by letters patent, and usually descendible to the issue male. It was first instituted by king James the first, A.D. 1611. in order to raise a competent sum for the reduction of the province of Ulster in Ireland; for which reason all baronets have the arms of Ulster superadded to their family coat. Next follow knights of the bath; an order instituted by king Henry IV, and revived by king George the first. They are so called from the ceremony of bathing, the night before their creation. The last of these inferior nobility are knights bachelors; the most antient, though the lowest, order of knighthood amongst us: for we have an instance[n] of king Alfred's conferring this order on his son Athelstan. The custom of the antient Germans was to give their young men a shield and a lance in the great council: this was equivalent to the toga virilis of the Romans: before this they were not permitted to bear arms, but were accounted as part of the father's houshold; after it, as part of the public[o]. Hence some derive the usage of knighting, which has prevailed all over the western world, since it's reduction by colonies from those northern heroes. Knights are called in Latin equites aurati; aurati, from the gilt spurs they wore; and equites, because they always served on horseback: for it is observable[p], that almost all nations call their knights by some appellation derived from an horse. They are also called in our law milites, because they formed a part, or indeed the whole of the royal army, in virtue of their feodal tenures; one condition of which was, that every one who held a knights fee (which in Henry the second's time[q] amounted to 20l. per annum) was obliged to be knighted, and attend the king in his wars, or fine for his non-compliance. The exertion of this prerogative, as an expedient to raise money in the reign of Charles the first, gave great offence; though warranted by law, and the recent example of queen Elizabeth: but it was, at the restoration, together with all other military branches of the feodal law, abolished; and this kind of knighthood has, since that time, fallen into great disregard.

[Footnote k: Seld. tit. of hon. 2. 5. 41.]

[Footnote l: Seld. tit. hon. 2. 11. 3.]

[Footnote m: 4 Inst. 6.]

[Footnote n: Will. Malmsb. lib. 2.]

[Footnote o: Tac. de morib. Germ. 13.]

[Footnote p: Camden. ibid. Co. Litt. 74.]

[Footnote q: Glanvil. l. 9. c. 4.]

THESE, sir Edward Coke says[r], are all the names of dignity in this kingdom, esquires and gentlemen being only names of worship. But before these last the heralds rank all colonels, serjeants at law, and doctors in the three learned professions.

[Footnote r: 2 Inst. 667.]

ESQUIRES and gentlemen are confounded together by sir Edward Coke, who observes[s], that every esquire is a gentleman, and a gentleman is defined to be one qui arma gerit, who bears coat armour, the grant of which adds gentility to a man's family: in like manner as civil nobility, among the Romans, was founded in the jus imaginum, or having the image of one ancestor at least, who had borne some curule office. It is indeed a matter somewhat unsettled, what constitutes the distinction, or who is a real esquire: for it is not an estate, however large, that confers this rank upon it's owner. Camden, who was himself a herald, distinguishes them the most accurately; and he reckons up four sorts of them[t]: 1. The eldest sons of knights, and their eldest sons, in perpetual succession[u]. 2. The younger sons of peers, and their eldest sons, in like perpetual succession: both which species of esquires sir H. Spelman entitles armigeri natalitii[w]. 3. Esquires created by the king's letters patent, or other investiture; and their eldest sons. 4. Esquires by virtue of their offices; as justices of the peace, and others who bear any office of trust under the crown. To these may be added the esquires of knights of the bath, each of whom constitutes three at his installation; and all foreign, nay, Irish peers; and the eldest sons of peers of Great Britain, who, though generally titular lords, are only esquires in the law, and must so be named in all legal proceedings[x]. As for gentlemen, says sir Thomas Smith[y], they be made good cheap in this kingdom: for whosoever studieth the laws of the realm, who studieth in the universities, who professeth liberal sciences, and (to be short) who can live idly, and without manual labour, and will bear the port, charge, and countenance of a gentleman, he shall be called master, and shall be taken for a gentleman. A yeoman is he that hath free land of forty shillings by the year; who is thereby qualified to serve on juries, vote for knights of the shire, and do any other act, where the law requires one that is probus et legalis homo[z].

[Footnote s: 2 Inst. 668.]

[Footnote t: Ibid.]

[Footnote u: 2 Inst. 667.]

[Footnote w: Gloss. 43.]

[Footnote x: 3 Inst. 30. 2 Inst. 667.]

[Footnote y: Commonw. of Eng. book 1. c. 20.]

[Footnote z: 2 Inst. 668.]

THE rest of the commonalty are tradesmen, artificers, and labourers; who (as well as all others) must in pursuance of the statute 1 Hen. V. c. 5. be stiled by the name and addition of their estate, degree, or mystery, in all actions and other legal proceedings.



THE military state includes the whole of the soldiery; or, such persons as are peculiarly appointed among the rest of the people, for the safeguard and defence of the realm.

IN a land of liberty it is extremely dangerous to make a distinct order of the profession of arms. In absolute monarchies this is necessary for the safety of the prince, and arises from the main principle of their constitution, which is that of governing by fear: but in free states the profession of a soldier, taken singly and merely as a profession, is justly an object of jealousy. In these no man should take up arms, but with a view to defend his country and it's laws: he puts not off the citizen when he enters the camp; but it is because he is a citizen, and would wish to continue so, that he makes himself for a while a soldier. The laws therefore and constitution of these kingdoms know no such state as that of a perpetual standing soldier, bred up to no other profession than that of war: and it was not till the reign of Henry VII, that the kings of England had so much as a guard about their persons.

IN the time of our Saxon ancestors, as appears from Edward the confessor's laws[a], the military force of this kingdom was in the hands of the dukes or heretochs, who were constituted through every province and county in the kingdom; being taken out of the principal nobility, and such as were most remarkable for being "sapientes, fideles, et animosi." Their duty was to lead and regulate the English armies, with a very unlimited power; "prout eis visum fuerit, ad honorem coronae et utilitatem regni." And because of this great power they were elected by the people in their full assembly, or folkmote, in the same manner as sheriffs were elected: following still that old fundamental maxim of the Saxon constitution, that where any officer was entrusted with such power, as if abused might tend to the oppression of the people, that power was delegated to him by the vote of the people themselves[b]. So too, among the antient Germans, the ancestors of our Saxon forefathers, they had their dukes, as well as kings, with an independent power over the military, as the kings had over the civil state. The dukes were elective, the kings hereditary: for so only can be consistently understood that passage of Tacitus[c], "reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt;" in constituting their kings, the family, or blood royal, was regarded, in chusing their dukes or leaders, warlike merit: just as Caesar relates of their ancestors in his time, that whenever they went to war, by way either of attack or defence, they elected leaders to command them[d]. This large share of power, thus conferred by the people, though intended to preserve the liberty of the subject, was perhaps unreasonably detrimental to the prerogative of the crown: and accordingly we find a very ill use made of it by Edric duke of Mercia, in the reign of king Edmond Ironside; who, by his office of duke or heretoch, was entitled to a large command in the king's army, and by his repeated treacheries at last transferred the crown to Canute the Dane.

[Footnote a: c. de heretochiis.]

[Footnote b: "Isti vero viri eliguntur per commune consilium, pro communi utilitate regni, per provincias et patrias universas, et per singulos comitatus, in pleno folkmote, sicut et vice-comites provinciarum et comitatuum eligi debent." LL. Edw. Confess. ibid. See also Bede, eccl. hist. l. 5. c. 10.]

[Footnote c: De morib. German. 7.]

[Footnote d: "Quum bellum civitas aut illatum defendit, aut infert, magistratus qui ei bello praesint deliguntur." De bell. Gall. l. 6. c. 22.]

IT seems universally agreed by all historians, that king Alfred first settled a national militia in this kingdom, and by his prudent discipline made all the subjects of his dominion soldiers: but we are unfortunately left in the dark as to the particulars of this his so celebrated regulation; though, from what was last observed, the dukes seem to have been left in possession of too large and independent a power: which enabled duke Harold on the death of Edward the confessor, though a stranger to the royal blood, to mount for a short space the throne of this kingdom, in prejudice of Edgar Atheling, the rightful heir.

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