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justices of peace in every county. These justices do hold their sessions quarterly.
In every shire, where the commission of the peace is established, there is a clerk of the peace, for the entering and ingrossing of all proceedings before the said justices. And this officer is appointed by the Custos Rotulorum.
Every shire hath its sheriff, which word, being of the Saxon English, is as much to say, as shire reeve, or minister of the county : bis function or office is two fold:
2. Judicial. As touching his ministerial office, he is the minister and executioner of all the process and precepts of the courts of law, and thereof ought to make return and certificate.
As touching his judicial office, he hath authority to hold two several courts of distinct natures: the one called the tourne, because he keepeth his turn and circuit about the shire, and holdeth the same court in several places, wherein he doth inquire of all offences perpetrated against the common law, and not forbidden by any statute or act of parliament; and the jurisdiction of this court is derived from justice distributive, and is for criminal offences, and is held twice every year,
The other is called the county court, wherein he doth determine all petty and small causes civil, under forty shillings, arising within the said county, and therefore it is called the county court.
The jurisdiction of this court is derived from justice commutative, and is held every month: the office of the sheriff is annual, and in the king's gift, whereof he is to have a patent.
Èvery shire hath an offieer, called an Escheator, which is an office to attend the king's revenue, and to seize into his majesty's hands all lands, either escheated goods, or lands forfeited, and therefore is called Escheator; and he is to inquire by good inquest of the death of the king's tenants, and to whom their lands are descended, and to seize their bodies and lands for ward, if they be within age, and is aecounts able for the same; and this officer is named by the lord treasurer of England.
There are in every shire two other officers, called crowners or coroners; they are to enquire by inquest, in what manner, and by whom every person dieth of a violent death, and to enter the same of record; which is a matter criminal, and a plea of the crown, and therefore they are called coroners, or crowners, as one hath written, because their inquiry ought to be publick in Corona populi.
These officers are chosen by the freeholders of the shire, by vertue of a writ out of the chancery, De Coronatore eligendo ; and of them I necd not to speak more, because these officers are in use elsewhere.
Forasmuch as every shire is divided into hundreds, it is also by the said statute of 34 Henry VIII. Cap. 26. ordered, that two sufficient gentlemen, or yeomen, shall be appointed constables of every hundred,
Also there is, in every shire, one jail or prison, appointed for the
These Justices are appointed by the Lord Keeper.
restraint of liberty of such persons as for their offences are thereunto committed, until they shall be delivered by course of law.
In every hundred of every shire, the sheriff thereof shall nominate sufficient persons to be bailitt's of that hundred, and underministers of the sherif; and they are to attend upon the justices in every of their courts and sessions.
SPEECH OF THE LORD DIGBY,
High Court of Parliament,
Printed for Thomas Walkely, 1641. Quarto, containing twelve pages
Mr. Speaker, YO
OU have received now a solemn account from the most of the
shires of England, of the several grievances and oppressions they sustain, and nothing as yet from Dorsetshire. Sir, I would not have you think that I serve for a land of Goshen, that we live there in sunshine, whilst darkness and plagues overspread the rest of the land: As little would I have you think, that, being under the same sharp measure that the rest, we are either insensible and benumbed, or that that shire wanteth a servant to represent its sufferings boldly.
It is true, Mr. Speaker, the county of Dorset hath not digested its complaints into that formal way of petition, which others, I sce, have done; but have intrusted them to my partners and niy delivery of them, by word of mouth, unto this honourable house. And there was given unto us, in the county court, the day of our election, a short memorial of the heads of them, which was read in the hearing of the freeholders there present, who all unanimously with one voice signified upon each particular, that it was their desire that we should represent them to the parliament, which, with your leave, I shall do. And these they are :
1. The great and intolerable burthen of ship-money, touching the legality whereof they are unsatisfied.
2. The many great abuses in pressing of soldiers, and raising monies concerning the same.
3. The multitude of monopolies.
4. The new canon, and the oath to be taken by lawyers, divines, &c.
5. The oath required to be taken by church officers to present, ac. cording to articles new and unusual.
Besides this, there was likewise presented to us, by a very considerable part of the clergy of that county, a note of remembrance, containing these two particulars :
First, The imposition of a new oath required to be taken by all ministers, and others, which they conceive to be illegal, and such as they cannot take with a good conscience.
Secondly, The requiring of a pretended benevolence, but, in effect, a subsidy, under the penalty of suspension, excommunication, and deprivation, all benefit of appeal excluded.
This is all we had particularly in charge : But, that I may not appear a remiss servant of my country, and of this house, give me leave to add somewhat of my own sense.
Truly, Mr. Speaker, the injurious sufferings of some worthy members of this house, since the dissolution of the two last parliaments, are so fresh in my memory, that I was resolved not to open my mouth in any business wherein freedom and plain dealing were requisite, until such time as the breach of our privileges were vindicated, and the safety of speech settled.
But since such excellent members of our house thought fit the other day to lay aside that caution, and to discharge their souls so freely in the way of zeal to his majesty's service, and their
country's good; I shall interpret that confidence of theirs for a lucky omen to this parliament, and, with your permission, license my thoughts too, a little.
Mr. Speaker, under those heads which I proposed to you, as the grievances of Dorsetshire, I suppose are comprised the greatest part of the mischiefs which have, of late years, laid battery either to our estates or consciences.
Sir, I do not conceive this the fit season to search and ventilate particulars, yet, I professe, I cannot forbear to add somewhat to what was said the last day by a learned gentleman of the long robe, concerning the acts of that reverend new synod, made of an old convocation. Doth not every parliament-man's heart rise to see the prelates thus usurp to themselves the grand pre-eminence of parliament ? The granting of subsidies, and that under so preposterous a name as of a benevolence, for that which is a malevolence indeed; a malevolence, I am confident, in those that granted it, against parliaments; and a malevolence surely in those that refuse it, against those that granted it; for how can it incite less ? When they see wrested from them what they are not willing to part with, under no less a penalty than the loss both of heaven and earth; of heaven, by excommunication; and of the earth, by deprivation; and this without redemption by appeal. What good Christian can think with patience on such an insnaring oath, as
that which is, by the new canons, enjoined to be taken by all ministers, lawyers, physicians, and graduates in the universities? Where, besides the swearing such an impertinence, as that things necessary to salvation are contained in discipline; besides the swearing those to be of divine right, which, amongst the learned, never pretended to it, as the arch things in our hierarchy. Besides, the swearing not to consent to the change of that, which the state may, upon great reason, think fit to alter; besides the bottomless perjury of an &c. Besides all this, Mr. Speaker, men must swear that they swear freely and voluntarily what they are compelled unto; and, lastly, that they swear that oath in the literal sense, whereof no two of the makers themselves, that I have heard of, could ever agree in the understanding.
In a word, Mr. Speaker, to tell you my opinion of this oath, it is a covenant against the king, for bishops and the hierarchy, as the Scotish covenant is against them; only so much worse than the Scotish, as they admit not of the supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs, and we are sworn unto it.
Now, Mr. Speaker, for those particular heads of grievances whereby our estates and properties are so radically invaded; I suppose, as I said before, that it is no season now to enter into a strict discussion of them; only thus much I shall say of them, with application to the country for which I serve, that none can more justly complain, since none can more justly challenge exemption from such burthens thau Dorsetshire; whether you consider it is a country subsisting much by trade, or as none of the most populous; or as exposed as much as any to foreign invasion.
But, alas! Mr. Speaker, particular lamentations are hardly distinguishable in universal groans.
Mr. Speaker, it hath been a metaphor frequent in parliament, and, if my memory fail me not, was made use of in the lord keeper's speech at the upening of the last, that what money kings raised from their subjects, they were but as vapours drawn up from the earth by the sun, to be distilled upon it again in fructifying showers.
The comparison, Mr. Speaker, hath held of late years in this kingdom too unluckily: what hath been raised from the subject by those violent attractions, hath been formed, it is true, into clouds, but how? To darken the sun's own lustre, and hath fallen again upon the land only in hailstones and mildews, to batter and prostrate still more and more our liberties, to blast and wither our affections; had not the latter of these been still kept alive by our king's own personal virtues, which will ever preserve him, in spight of ill counsellors, a sacred object both of our admiration and loves.
Mr. Speaker, it hath been often said in this house, and, I think, can never be too often repeated, that the kings of England can do no wrong: But, though they could, Mr. Speaker, yet princes have no part in the ill of those actions which their judges assure them to be just, their counsellors that they are prudent, and their divines that they are cogie scientious.
This consideration, Mr. Speaker, leadeth me to that which is more necessary far, at this season, than any farther laying open of our miseries, that is, the way to the remedy, by seeking to remove from our sovereign such unjust judges, such pernicious counsellors, and such disconcient divines, as have of late years, by their wicked practices, provoked aspersions upon the government of the graciousest and best of kings.
Mr. Speaker, let me not be misunderstood; I level at no man with a forelaid design ; let the faults, and those well proved, lead us to the men: It is the only true parliamentary method, and the only fit one to incline our sovereign. For it can no more consist with a gracious and righteous prince to expose his servants upon irregular prejudices, than with a wise prince to with-hold malefactors, how great soever, from the course of orderly justice.
Let me acquaint you, Mr. Speaker, with an aphorism in Hippocrates, no less authentick, I think, in the body politick, than in the natural. This is it, Mr. Speaker, bodies, to be thoroughly and effectually purged, must have their humours first made fluid and moveable.
The humours, that I understand to have caused all the desperate maladies of this nation, are the ill ministers. To purge them away clearly, they must be first loosened, unsettled, and extenuated, which can no way be effected with a gracious master, but by truly representing them unworthy of his protection. And this leadeth me to my motion, which is, that a select committee may be appointed to draw out all that hath been here represented; such a remonstrance as may be a faithful and lively representation unto his majesty of the deplorable estate of this his kingdom, and such as may happily point out unto his clear and excellent judgment the pernicious authors of it. And that, this remonstrance being drawn, we may, with all speed, repair to the lords, and desire them to join with us in it. And this is iny humble motion.
Speech penned in the beginning of the Parliament against the Judges,
PER IGNOTUM QUENDAM.
Printed for John Ashton, 1641. Quarto, containing twelve pages.
Mr. Speaker, IT T was a custom amongst the Romans (who, as by their power they
once gave laws, so, by the happy success of their long flourishing government, might they well give examples to all the world) that in their senates the youngest men spoke first : partly, that they might