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categorically as Brunner does on the like prerogative of the Frankish Kings, because no grant of exemption to laymen has survived. But in the charters which the Church received from early Kings are found grants of almost equal authority— exemption from taxation and from the authority of the sheriff. Edgar, when founding the Abbey of Ramsey, freed its estates and tenants from the common burdens of the State ab omnibus secularis servitiis, making it indeed an independent unit of administration ; and when Edward the Confessor and William I grant in express terms to the tenants of the great abbeys freedom from the Suit of the Court of the County and the Hundred, we have evidence almost as exact and valuable as that of the individual exemption.
Before the close of the Norman period, however, the Great Roll of the Pipe records the fact that Stephen granted three men the privilege of not being sheriffs, judges, or jurors. From this point there is an embarrassment of example. Henry III exempted a member of his household from all service of assize or recognizance so long as he held office; he gave another servant not only freedom from the above duties, but also from serving as assessor, collector of overpenny, fifteenth, or thirtieth. The growth of the towns throughout the thirteenth century added the liability of local to State service; and this, no doubt, explains why, from the reign of Edward I, we find the Crown adding exemption from municipal duties to its dispensations. Thus both this monarch and his son granted successively to a favoured servant (John de Lentur) letters patent permitting him to decline the office of Mayor, Escheator, Provost, or Alderman in the City of London, though in both documents it is expressly stated that the Commonalty of the City consent to the privilege. But in a later document, in
Brunner, Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte, vol. ii, p. 13.
Birch, Anglo-Saxonicum Cartularium, vol. iii, p. 638.
Davis, Regesta Anglo-Normanorum (1066-1100), p. xxx (Intro.): Our charter shows that suit of shire was sometimes granted without any express exception. But these are generally given to the tenants of highly privileged monasteries.'
(Quoted by Madox, ch. xiii, p. 457.) (a) Willelmus le lutre et Ganfridus Bucherellus et Hadulfus filius Herlewini reddunt compotum de vi marcis auri, ut exeant de vicecomitatu Londoniae (5 Step. Mag. Rot. 15a). (b) Ibid. p. 468. Note also the following case: Placita W. Espec et Eustachii filii Iohannis, Iudices et iuratores Eboraciscirae debent C. L. ut non amplius sint Iudices nec Iuratores (5 Step. Mag. Rot. 3a).
Cal. Pat. Rolls, 21 Hen. III, p. 184 (exemption granted to R. de Hurule). Cal. Pat. Rolls, 21 Hen. III, p. 193 (exemption granted to Robert de Esseburn). Cf. (p. 198) exemption granted for life of Roger de Mareseye from being put on assizes, juries, or recognitions.
Cal. Pat. Rolls, 23 Edw. I, p. 144. (a) The original exemption (of which the inspeximus and confirmation by Edward II is cited in (b), below) was granted to John de Lentur at the instance of Edmund, the King's brother, and Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. De Lentur was in the service of the Earl of Lincoln,
which Edward II grants three merchants pro bono servitio like favours, there is no mention of the City's consent.1 Richard II went a step further, and issued during his reign at least two exemptions from local office-a practice which the Crown indulged in more and more frequently during the fifteenth century. As no name of any city or town was inserted, these instruments were valid for the whole kingdom, and thus bear the same relation to the particular exemption as the general to the individual warrant.2 But the Year-Books of the fifteenth century show that judges regarded the 'general' patent with great disfavour.
Under the Lancastrian and Yorkist Kings exemption from office was granted very often, and was, moreover, so comprehensive that it relieved its possessor of almost every public duty that he was liable to perform. Nor is the Crown at any great pains to show cause for its action; de gratia speciali nostra concessimus' is the formula it employs as the basis of its grant, though the addition of the word 'miles' or a title of royal office after the recipient's name presumes service of some kind. As an example, let me cite a charter of Henry VI, which is no more extravagant in its terms than many others. It absolves the owner for life from being mayor, sheriff, escheator, coroner, collector, assessor of tenths, or fifteenths, or any tax or subsidy levied or to be levied by Parliament; from being nominated constable, trier, arrayer, commissioner for men-at-arms, bailiff, or servant of the King; from being enrolled on any trial of array at any assize held by the judges of the King or his heirs; from being empanelled
and accompanied him on the King's service beyond the seas. It was given with the consent of the Commonalty of the City of London. This same man, whilst on the service of the King, was granted a protection cum clausula volumus (C. P. R. 28 Edw. I, p. 542). (b) Č. P. R. 2 Edw. II, March 3, 1309.
1 Rymer, II, para. 1, p. 68. Edward II granted, at the instance of Piers Gaveston, John de Britannia, and Robert filius Pagani,' certain exemptions given below, pro bono servitio quod dilecti mercatores nostri, Iohannes Vanne, Iohannes Bellard, et Colluchius Bellard, cives civitatis nostre London tam celebris memorie domino. E. quondam Regi Anglie patri nostro, quam nobis hactenus impenderunt. Et concessimus eisdem Iohanni, Iohanni et Colluchio pro nobis et heredibus nostris quod in eadem civitate non ponatur in assisis, iuratis, aut recognitionibus aliquibus; quod non fiant maiores, escaetores, coronatores, prepositi, aldermanni, seu alii ministri ibidem contra voluntatem eorundem.' It is worth while recording that Edward II granted an exemption from military service the only one I have been able to discover (C. P. R. 1 Edw. II, p. 19). Exemption of John, son of Reginald, from military service (given at the instance of W. Inge).
Cal. Pat. Rolls, 20 Ric. II, p. 156; Cal. Pat. Rolls, 21 Ric. II, p. 201. These two exemptions are granted generally, without mention of town or place (see those cited for Henry VI and Edward IV). The grounds for such exemption were (a) old age; (b) recipient too infirm for work.
or put on any jury of assize or attaints. It added, moreover, that the holder should suffer no fine or punishment for refusing to perform these offices, and that this exemption, if shown to the King's judges in any place of record, should be considered sufficient warrant for refusal. Other exemptions contain further privileges. Not only did the King exempt subjects from representing town or county in Parliament, but even towns from representing themselves. Men, too, were exempted from being customers,' triers of men-at-arms, hobelers, or archers, and, for the brief period of its operation, from being justices for the Statute of Labourers. An esquire was exempted from attending the Great Council or any other council.1 Edward IV gave letters patent to two men exempting them for life from taking up knighthood against their will. Henry VIII granted (inter alia) an exemption from serving on any commission of sewers.3 This monarch, following the
3 Patent Roll for 36 Hen. VI, pt. i. m. 1, 'pro. exempcione Chalers. Sciatis quod de gratia nostra speciali concessimus pro nobis et heredibus nostris quantum in nobis est, dilecto nobis Iohanni Chalers militi, quod ipse ad totam vitam suam hanc habeat libertatem, videlicet, quod non fiat maior, vicecomes, escaetor, coronator, collector, assessor seu triator decimarum, decimarum quintarum, aut aliorum tallagiorum vel subsidiorum nobis aut heredibus nostris concessorum vel concedendorum, nec ordinetur vel assignetur constabularius, triator, arraiator, commissionarius, vel ballivus seu minister noster quicumque, et quod ipse ad aliquod officium sive onus superius recitatum, nec aliquod aliud officium faciendum, recipiendum aut nullo modo vocetur sive compellatur, nec quod ipse set inratus supra aliqua triacione arraiationis alicuius assisae, coram quibuscumque justiciaris nostris ad assisas capiendas assignatis, vel heredum nostrorum. Et quod non ponatur nec impanelletur in aliquibus assisis inratis, inquisitionibus seu attinctis captis, seu capiendis contra voluntatem suam, licet nos vel heredes nostros tangant.'
Sed quod presens carta nostra de exemptione coram justiciariis nostris vel heredum nostrorum in quocumque loco de recordo per totum regnum nostrum Anglia.. Absque aliquo breve prosequendo vel proclamatione unde facienda, allocetur. Et ideo vobis mandamus quod ipsum Iohannen contra predictam concessionem nostram, non molestetis in aliquo, seu gravetis.'
Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward IV, July 2, 1469: Exemption for life of Richard Forster of Bristol, "gentelman," from being put on assizes, juries, attaints, summons of bedels, recognizances, or inquisitions, and from being made trier of the same, mayor, sheriff, escheator, coroner, constable, customer, justice, collector, assessor, surveyor, or controller of tenths, fifteenths or other subsidy, arrayer, or trier of men-at-arms, hobelers, archers, or other officer, bailiff or minister of the King, or Knight of any shire, or citizen or burgess for any city or town in Parliament against his will; and grant that nothing shall be taken of his goods by the purveyors of the household.'
Ibid. 1 Hen. V, p. 23, May, 25, 1413. The burgesses of Colchester were granted a confirmation of their letters patent dated June 11, 11 Hen. IV, exempting them from sending burgesses to Parliament for twelve years. They paid 40s. to the Hanaper for this renewal.
In the exemption granted to Richard Forster (No. 2).
for life to John Stoby of Cirencester.
Included in an exemption
Ibid. 4 Ric. II, p. 518. Granted to Richard Corbet, Knight, at the supplication of the King's uncle, Thomas Earl of Buckingham.
1 Ibid. 13 Hen. IV, p. 348. Granted to John Doreward.
2 Ibid. 22 Edw. IV, pp. 314-15.
C. S. P. D. 28 Hen. VIII, p. 349, No. 795. Roger Radclyff, Leicester,
precedents of his Plantagenet, Lancastrian, and Yorkist predecessors, dispensed with local duties. He freed a draper of Coventry from performing any municipal office not merely in his own, but in any county town or borough of England.* John Graham, a citizen of London, received similar privileges. The letters patent often concluded with exemption from purveyance.
No mention is made in these documents of the consent of the towns themselves. That both town and Parliament detested these favours needs little demonstration. When in the reign of Henry VI several citizens of York obtained them, the mayor and council petitioned Parliament, whose answer was a statute revoking the grants and denouncing the practice." Though Mary and Elizabeth do not seem to have issued this form of dispensation, their Stuart successors renewed it. But it is a mere phantom of its former self. Gone entirely is the long list of exemptions from the common obligation of citizenship; and if an individual is excused the duty of holding office, it is pleaded that he is in bad health, infirm, or too old,' or broken in fortune, to perform it.1
For the rest, these documents excuse certain royal officials 2 and members of both Houses of Parliament 3 from the
gentleman, usher of the King's Chamber. Exemption from juries in assizes, &c.; from being made sheriff, justice of the peace, or of gaol delivery, or sewers, commissioner or constable or coroner, or receiver or controller, &c.; and from having his goods seized by the purveyors.
C. S. P. D. 21 Hen. VIII, April 16, 1530, No. 6363. Granted to William Jenons, alias Jenyons, draper, of Coventry.
Ibid. 31 Hen. VIII, October 12, 1539, No. 435. Exemption from being made alderman or mayor or any other officer in the City of London against his will.
Note.-Exemptions granted to Richard Roger Radclyff (supra), and to John Vestment (C. P. R. 22 Edw. IV, p. 314). A very long list of exemptions closes with a protection for life with the clause Nolumus quod blada,' &c.
Statutes of the Realm, 29 Hen. VI, c. 3.
* C. S. P. D. Charles II, August 25, 1674, p. 341. The King to the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich. Directing them to dispense with the exercise of Francis Gardiner, linen-draper, a member of their corporation, of the office of sheriff of that city, or any other chargeable public employment, for seven years, he not having sufficient estate to bear the charges of such employment, having sustained great losses by land and sea, and his father having for his loyalty been imprisoned, decimated, and sequestered, and he also of an unhealthful constitution.
Ibid. Charles II, May 28, 1674, p. 266. The King to the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich, dispensing William Mason, upholder of that city, from bearing the office of sheriff on account of his age and the meanness of his fortune.
See No. 9, supra; No. 2, infra.
2(a) Ibid. Charles II, June 26, 1662, p. 419. Dispensation to Sir Matthew Hale, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, from attending the summer circuit on account of ill-health. (b) Note the following petitions for dispensation (C. S. P. D. Charles II, November 24, 1660, p. 363): Petition of Sir Thos. Malet, Justice of the King's Bench, to the King to dispense with his constant daily attendance in his court in the Winter Session, to give him more time for prayer. He is old and weakened by three years imprisonment in the Tower.'
C. S. P. D. Charles I, vol. ii, p. 116 (1625). Form of licence to be granted
performance of their duties; found throughout the whole period, they may be looked upon as formal dispensations from office when age, sickness, or duty imposed by the Crown made its performance impossible. The Patent Rolls contain what are practically stereotyped forms of excuse for the lords of Parliament, for the judges, and other great officers of the Crown. It would appear that such an exemption, granted, as it was, to members of the Parliament and the permanent officials alike, arose from the fact that they were all regarded as the King's servants.
This prerogative of the Crown to grant to bishops, lords, and members of the Commons leave of absence from the parliamentary duties was, however, challenged by the Long Parliament in April, 1642, when they were beginning to formulate the demands that ultimately caused the Civil War. Charles I at this point commanded the Earls of Essex and Holland to attend him at Court during the Feast of St. George, granting them at the same time dispensations from attending Parliament.
As may be seen from the Journals, both Lords and Commons denounced the King's action, and voted respectively (a) That no member of either House ought to absent himself from the service of the House of which he is a member, by command of the King, without leave of that House'; and (b) The licence of dispensation sent by His Majesty to the Earls of Essex and Holland to discharge them from their attendance on the service of the House is a high breach of the privileges of Parliament.' No claim of Parliament made in the fateful year of 1642 was more revolutionary than this, for the King, in granting a dispensation of absence from Parliament, had the warrant of age-long precedent. The Patent Rolls abound in examples of such dispensations given to bishops and the secular lords of Parliament, and I have already called attention to a form of licence granted to a peer when indisposed. Fortunately, Hatzell has also printed a very important document, touching the right of the King to grant dispensations to members of the Lower House. In his chapter on Compelling the attendance of members,' 5 he shows how the House was called' on June 29, 1607 The clerk called every man by his name; the party
to a peer dispensing with his services in Parliament owing to indisposition. The dispensations granted to the Earls of Holland and Essex discussed below.
C. S. P. D. Charles I, April 13-15, 1642, p. 306. Abstract of the votes of both Houses of Parliament upon His Majesty's message of April 8 (see Commons Journals, vol. ii, p. 325, and the Lords Journals, vol. iv, p. 719). No. 8 on p. 307 tells us that these Earls resigned their places rather than attend the King at Hampton Court on this special occasion.
Hatzell's Precedents, vol. ii, pp. 96-101 (collected for the years 1549-1761).