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European Background Of American History by Edward Potts Cheyney

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An earlier chapter of this work has been devoted to the political
institutions of Spain, France, and the Netherlands, and each had its
share of influence on American history; but it is England from which
the American nation really sprang, of which it was for more than a
century and a half a dependency, and to whose traditions, institutions,
and government we must look back for the origins of our own. The oldest
political institution in England is the monarchy. Older than
Parliament, older than the law-courts, older than the division of the
country into shires, the monarchy dates back to the consolidation of
the petty Anglo-Saxon states in the ninth century--and these were
themselves kingdoms.

At no time in this long course of English history were the claims of
the monarchy more exorbitant than under James I. and Charles I., from
1603 to 1642, just when the tide of immigration began to flow towards
America, and when the governments of the colonies were being
established. "What God hath joined, then, let no man separate. I am the
husband and all the whole isle is my lawful wife. I am the head and it
is my body. I am the shepherd and it is my flock. . . ." [Footnote:
Prothero, Select Statutes, 283.] So King James wove metaphors, when he
addressed Parliament at its opening in 1604. When disputes had arisen
in 1610 he declared: "The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon
earth, for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth and sit upon
God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods. ... As to
dispute what God may do is blasphemy, ... so is it sedition in subjects
to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power." "Encroach
not upon the prerogative of the crown; if there falls out a question
that concerns my prerogative or mystery of state, deal not with it till
you consult with the king or his council, or both, for they are
transcendent matters." [Footnote: Ibid., 293, 294.]

This absolute prerogative of the king was attributed to him by others,
as well as claimed by himself. Dr. Cowell, professor of civil law at
Cambridge, declared that the king "is above the law by his absolute
power"; [Footnote: Cowell, Interpreter, under word "king."] and Sir
Walter Raleigh wrote that attempts to bind the king by law justified
his breach of it, "his charters and other instruments being no other
than the surviving witnesses of unconstrained will." [Footnote:
Raleigh, Prerogative of Parliament, Preface.] But this definition of
the prerogative of the king was an exaggerated description of his real
position in the English system of government, and was either academic
or argumentative. As properly used, absolute monarchy merely meant an
all-powerful not an autocratic government; government was supreme, but
the king was not necessarily supreme in the government. As government
had been developed in England, in the course of time it had grown up
around the monarchy as its centre and found in it its embodiment.

In Anglo-Saxon England government was crude and embryonic, but even
then the king held a general oversight over the exercise of its few
functions. In the later Middle Ages, when government was somewhat more
highly developed, its more numerous functions, in so far as they were
not performed by feudal lords or church officials, were fulfilled by
the king. It was by the monarchy that the law-courts were formed and
commissioned, that Parliament was summoned and given the opportunity
for self-development, that the system of taxation and of military life
was organized. The great advance in the organization and effectiveness
of government which marked the reigns of the Tudor rulers consisted in
the elaboration and increased activity of the administrative or royal
element in the government.

The royal prerogative might, therefore, be conceived of as the function
of keeping the machine of government running. The king was the director
and controller of an aggregate of governmental powers. All officials
were commissioned in his name, and those of higher rank were actually
selected and appointed by him. All foreign intercourse was carried on
in his name, and in the main directed by him; Parliament was called,
prorogued, and adjourned at his will, and he kept at least a negative
control over its actions. All justice, was exercised in his name, and
his interests and known wishes sometimes influenced decisions. All
charters, whether to cities, to guilds, to possessors of mercantile
monopolies, or to commercial and colonizing companies, were issued
under his name and seal, and the powers granted in them could not be in
opposition to his will. [Footnote: Smith, The Commonwealth of England,
book I., chap, ix., book II., chap. iv.]

The powers of the king were, therefore, very real, even if the
philosophic contentions of James and other theorists be disregarded;
but they were powers restricted in every direction by actual
conditions, and exercised through ministers whose familiarity with
precedent, whose control over the details of administration, whose
dignified offices, and whose personal weight of judgment and character
made them, though nominally servants of the king, a real power in the

Much of the royal power was exercised through the three great law-
courts, King's Bench, Exchequer, and Common Pleas; through the courts
of equity, held by the chancellor, the master of the rolls, and the
master of requests; through the half-administrative, half-judicial
bodies, the council of the north and the council of the marches of
Wales, and through the circuit courts of assize. Much was exercised
through higher and lower administrative officers, through the
Exchequer, and through lower offices such as the wardrobe and the

But the real centre of gravity of the executive powers of the
government at this time is to be found in the Council or Privy Council,
two terms which are used indiscriminately. [Footnote: Dicey, The Privy
Council, 80] This body was made up of seventeen or eighteen members,
including all the great ministers of state, the lord chancellor, or, as
he was sometimes called, lord keeper of the great seal, the high
treasurer, the two secretaries, the great master and the comptroller of
the household, the chamberlain and the great admiral, besides a certain
number chosen as members of the Privy Council without otherwise
occupying office. [Footnote: Acts of the Privy Council, 1594-1597]
There were usually from six to ten members of the council present, the
membership of some of the ministers being somewhat perfunctory.

As a body, however, its services were as far from perfunctory as can
well be conceived. Its sessions were held almost daily and its sphere
of activity was apparently coextensive with the life of England and of
all its dependencies. Scarcely an interest, public or private, escapes
its attention, whether it is the organization of a campaign in France
or the settlement of a family quarrel between father and son;
[Footnote: Acts of the Privy Council, 1591-1592, pp 160, 193, 256-258,
292, 327, 414, 476, etc.] whether it is "Sir John Norreis, knight, and
Thomas Diggs, esquire," or a Lord Morley, or the chief baron of the
Court of Exchequer, Lord Manwood, or some merchants or poor artisans or
an "Elice Gailer, of Berton, yeoman," that appear before the council at
its summons; whether it is engaged in formulating rules for articles
contraband of war, or trying to put an end to illicit coinage on the
borders of Wales; whether engaged in one or other of a hundred
different interests, the council is always active, intrusive, and high-
handed. [Footnote: Ibid, 231, 305, 314, 378, 449, 572.] It regulated
manufactures and trade, protected foreigners, disciplined recusants,
kept the oversight of customs and other officials, settled disputes
between colleges and their tenants, bishops, deans, and government
officers, instructed sheriffs and justices of the peace as to their
duty, made provision for the keeping up of military and naval forces,
and performed other duties so numerous and varied as to defy
enumeration or classification.

A special duty of the Privy Council was to keep up correspondence with
the officials of outlying districts under the dominion of the crown and
not within the systematic administration of sheriffs, assize courts,
justices of the peace, or other regular governance. These regions
included the marches of Wales and of Scotland, certain counties of
England, Ireland, and the Channel Islands, the last two of these having
been placed under the direct supervision of the Privy Council by
statute. [Footnote: Poynings's Act (1495), Dicey, The Privy Council,
90.] As colonies grew up they fell, naturally, under the special care
of the Privy Council. The duty of hearing appeals from colonial courts
became and is still a duty of the council; to the Privy Council were
referred colonial laws for approval or veto; and the successive bodies
formed for the oversight of the colonies, culminating in the Board of
Trade and Plantations of 1696, were either committees of the Privy
Council or boards acting under its control and reporting to it.

Although most of this control over the colonies was still far in the
future, the power exercised by the council over England's nearest
dependency, Ireland, may fairly be taken as anticipatory of it. Irish
matters during the later years of Queen Elizabeth and the early years
of James I. demanded much attention and time from the Privy Council,
notwithstanding the existence of an Irish Parliament, a lord deputy,
various provincial officials, and the whole framework of a subordinate
government in Ireland. All the variety of cases that came before the
council from England were duplicated from Ireland. In fact, Ireland was
treated much as if it were an English county, or better, perhaps, one
of those regions of England, like the marches of Wales, which had a
somewhat peculiar jurisdiction.

The most important form of oversight of Ireland exercised by the Privy
Council was that based upon "Poynings's Act" of 1495. Sir Edward
Poynings, a type of that class of vigorous officials of middle rank
which were such useful instruments of the Tudor government, was sent,
in 1494, to Ireland as lord deputy; the next year he called a
parliament at Drogheda and obtained its assent to a number of statutes
designed to introduce order into that disturbed country, and to make
real the power of English government by diminishing that of the
turbulent lords of the Pale. [Footnote: Morris, Hist. of Ireland, 1496-
1868, pp. 58-63.] As a means of reaching the latter object, the Irish
Parliament, which had long been under their control and which had
lately made some assertion of its right of independent action,
[Footnote: Irish Statutes, 37 Henry VI.] was to be curbed, and that by
its own ordinance.

It was therefore enacted that in the future no bill should be
introduced into the Irish Parliament unless its heads had first been
submitted to the English Privy Council and obtained the approval of
that body and of the king. [Footnote: Irish Statutes, 10 Henry VII.,
chap. iv.] Moreover, this approval must be given before Parliament met.
This reduced the Irish Parliament to a mere registering body for royal
enactments. In 1556 an explanatory act was passed [Footnote: Irish
Statutes, 3 and 4 Philip and Mary, chap. iv.] amending Poynings's Act
so far as to make it allowable for the Irish Parliament to pass any
bills which had received the approval of the crown and of the English
Privy Council at any time during its session. The regular practice of
Irish legislation under these acts was as follows: any member of either
house of the Irish Parliament might bring in heads of a bill, which, if
approved by both houses, were submitted to the viceroy, who referred
them to the Irish Privy Council; that body sent them, altered or
unaltered, to the king, who referred them to the English Privy Council;
this body then approved, rejected, or modified them; and they were
returned, through the viceroy, to the Irish Parliament in the form of a
bill, to be accepted or rejected as a whole, but not to be further
modified. [Footnote: Walpole, Kingdom of Ireland, 253, 254.]

By this cumbrous method only could the Irish Parliament legislate. It
was, moreover, subject not only to the English Privy Council, but to
the English Parliament. One of the clauses of Poynings's Act had
provided that all statutes which up to that time had been passed by the
English Parliament should bind Ireland also. [Footnote: Irish Statutes,
10 Henry VII., chap. xxii.] Many laws were subsequently passed by the
English Parliament for Ireland, thus ignoring the Irish Parliament; but
it was not till later than the period we are considering that a claim
of the superiority of the English Parliament was definitely made. In
the eighteenth century a member of the Irish Parliament published a
book called The Case of Ireland Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in
England Stated. This was formally condemned by the English Parliament
and ordered to be burned by the common hangman. [Footnote: Walpole,
Kingdom of Ireland, 252.] When still later the Irish House of Lords
protested against the reversal of one of its judgments, on appeal, by
the English House of Lords, the English Parliament, in 1720, passed an
act depriving the Irish House of Lords of any appellate jurisdiction,
and declaring that "the English Parliament had, hath, and of right
ought to have full power and authority to make laws and statutes of
sufficient force and validity to bind the people of Ireland" [Footnote:
6 George I., chap, v.]--a precedent of portentous applicability to the
American colonies when a similar question came up in regard to them a
half-century later. The power of Parliament over external dependencies
was destined to come into greater prominence in the future. The
question at issue at the beginning of the seventeenth century was the
extent of its power over England itself. Was it, like the Privy
Council, the law-courts, and other such bodies, merely a creation and
dependency of the crown? Or was it, although in form an assembly of
royal councillors, meeting only when the king summoned it and ceasing
to exist when he ordered its dissolution, a branch of the government
co-ordinate with or even in certain relations superior to him?

In the organization of Parliament there were several grave
deficiencies, if it were to be considered an independent body. It was a
composite assembly of two ill-related parts. The House of Lords, which
consisted at this time of some fifty members, [Footnote: D'Ewes,
Journals, 599] had an existence as a royal council quite apart from the
House of Commons, and there were still many evidences that it was the
original body and the House of Commons a later accretion. In 1601, when
Elizabeth appeared in the House of Lords to open her last Parliament,
the Commons, who were waiting in their own chamber, did not hear of her
presence promptly, and when they hastened to the Lords' chamber the
door was closed and they could not obtain admission, so they "returned
back again into their own House much discontented." [Footnote: Ibid,
620.] The Lords had various privileges and constitutional rights of
their own: as individuals, of trial by peers, of being represented by
proxies, of entering individual protests, of audience with the
sovereign, of certain advantages of procedure in the courts of common
law; as a body, of trying impeachments brought by the House of Commons,
and of acting as a final court of appeal for all lower courts whether
of law or equity. [Footnote: Pike, Constitutional History of the House
of Lords, chaps. ix., xi.-xiv.]

The House of Commons was composed of two knights or gentlemen elected
for each shire; and one or two representatives for each of nearly three
hundred cities and boroughs. The system of representation was crude and
antiquated. The knights of the shire were elected by the "forty-
shilling freeholders"--that is to say, by all who had a tenure
approaching ownership in lands whose annual rental value reached that
sum. This was an electorate that reached far down in the social scale,
but it was limited by the tendency of English land to remain in the
hands of large owners, and by the influence, legitimate and
illegitimate, of the gentry, the great county noble families, and the
crown. The knights of the shire, therefore, as a matter of fact, not
only belonged to, but were elected by and reflected the interests and
feelings of, the great body of rural gentry; while the yeomen exercised
little influence in Parliament, as the laboring classes certainly
exercised none at all.

There were vast differences in the system of election by the towns
which were represented in Parliament, varying all the way from
appointment by patrons, in some towns, down through divers grades of
extension of the franchise to an almost universal suffrage in a few.
Nevertheless, from the towns, as from the counties, it was
representatives of the upper and middle classes that sat in the
Commons. There was no approach to equality in the constituencies
represented in the House of Commons; members were elected often by
outside influence and always by a narrow constituency, and no control
was possessed by the electors over their representatives.

Yet these defects were more apparent than real. The special powers of
the House of Lords were becoming shadowy, and almost the only real
significance of the peerage was when it was united with the House of
Commons and made a part of the larger whole of Parliament. [Footnote:
36 and 37 Henry VIII., f. 60 (Dyer, Reports, pt. i, 327).]

In the House of Commons was the real source of power of Parliament.
Whatever the imperfections in the method of election, whatever the
irregularity of constituencies, whatever the crudity of the idea of
representation, the five hundred or more knights, country gentlemen,
lawyers, and merchants who made up the Commons at this time [Footnote:
Names of Members Returned to Serve in Parliament, pt. i., 442-448.]
were convinced that in some way they stood for the whole nation. When
Parliament had been once summoned and organized, it became a body with
three hundred years of precedent back of it; and in the days of the
Stuarts it confronted the king with claims to a very different position
and power from those he was inclined to concede to it. So far from
assimilating their position to that of the law-courts, Privy Council,
and other such bodies, at the very opening of the reign of James the
Commons declared "there is not the highest standing court in this land
that ought to enter into competency either for dignity or authority
with this high court of Parliament which with your Majesty's royal
assent gives laws to other courts, but from other courts receives
neither laws nor orders." [Footnote: Apology of the Commons, 1604;
Petyt, Jus Parliamentarium, 227-247.]

The course of time intensified this difference of opinion. "Set chairs
for the ambassadors," James cried, mockingly, when the deputies from
the House of Commons visited him with a petition during the dispute of
1621. To the king Parliament seemed to be making a claim to sovereignty
against which the only proper argument was a jest. Shortly afterwards
he wrote to the speaker of the House of Commons, "These are, therefore,
to command you to make known in our name unto the House that none
therein shall presume henceforth to meddle with anything concerning our
government or deep matters of state." He insisted that "these are unfit
things to be handled in Parliament except your king requires it of you.
"As to the privileges of Parliament James wrote, "We cannot allow
of the style calling it your ancient and undoubted right and
inheritance, but could rather have wished that ye had said that your
privileges were derived from the grace and permission of our ancestors
and us." [Footnote: Letter of the king to the House of Commons,
December 10,1621.]

The Commons, on the other hand, a week later, placed this protestation
on their minutes: "That the liberties, privileges, and jurisdictions of
Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of
the subjects of England, and that the arduous and urgent affairs
concerning the king, state, and defence of the realm, and of the church
of England and the maintenance and making of laws, and redress of
mischiefs and grievances which daily happen within this realm, are
proper subjects and matters of counsel and debate in Parliament; and
that in the handling and proceeding of those businesses every member of
the House of Parliament hath and of right ought to have freedom of
speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same."
[Footnote: Rushworth, Historical Collections, I., 53.] It is true that
James sent for the Journal and tore this page from its records, but he
could not tear the belief in its statements from the hearts of a great
part of the people of England.

King and Parliament held diametrically opposite views of their relative
powers, and both appealed to the past in justification of their
opinions. But England's past was a long story, and its successive
chapters read very variously. James appealed to the immediate past to
justify his possession of the "inseparable rights and prerogatives
annexed to our imperial crown, whereof, not only in the times of other
our progenitors, but in the blessed reign of our late predecessor, that
renowned queen Elizabeth, we found our crown actually possessed."
[Footnote: King's proclamation on dissolving Parliament, January
6,1622.] The leaders of the House of Commons, on the other hand, were
looking back to a more remote past, the birth-time and period of
acknowledgment by the crown of the parliamentary privileges and English
liberties which now seemed to them endangered.

As a matter of fact, Parliament, like all other political institutions
in England, had grown up around the monarchy. Primarily, the Houses
were a body of advisers of the king, summoned by him to give their
counsel in matters in which he needed the advice of the various classes
of his subjects; and to give their consent to taxation, which would
require sacrifice on the part of the people. Once organized, however,
Parliament gathered into itself all the shadowy survivals of self-
government coming down from a still earlier period; it reflected the
local independence of the towns and counties which sent members to the
House of Commons, and the corporate rights of the church and individual
privileges of the nobility, which constituted its upper house; it
served as the instrument by which the nation at various times protected
itself against bad government; it embodied the fifteenth-century ideal
of a government conjointly by king and estates of the realm.

Moreover, Parliament gained by repeated use and acknowledgment an
established procedure and powers, well-understood rights, and
precedents frequently invoked. The four fundamental privileges of
members of Parliament were: (1) freedom of elections: (2) freedom from
arrest during the sessions; (3) freedom of speech in debate; (4)
freedom of access to the sovereign for their speaker, if not for all
individually. These were frequently acknowledged by the sovereign at
the opening of Parliament and enrolled upon its records, and still more
frequently asserted in the House. [Footnote: D'Ewes, Journals, 65, 66,
175, 236, 259, 411, 460, etc; Petyt, Jus Parliamentarium, 227-243,
quoted in Prothero, Select Statutes, 289; Commons Journals, I., 431,
etc.] The powers of Parliament were less clearly defined than its
privileges; but its control over taxation and legislation, its right to
impeach the king's ministers and to discuss all matters of interest to
the nation, were frequently asserted, and usually conceded. [Footnote:
Gneist, Hist. of the English Constitution, chaps. v., xxxii.] Thus
Parliament was much more than a royal council; it was a body with
claims to co-ordinate powers of government. How far, at any one time,
these privileges and powers were conceded, how far they were denied or
encroached upon by the crown, was largely dependent on circumstances.
These circumstances during Tudor times had been such as to put the
initiative and much of the actual power of government in the hands of
the king, and parliamentary powers were largely in abeyance. Parliament
during this time was a conservative body; the monarchy was the
innovating element of the state.

Circumstances changed with the closing years of the sixteenth century
and favored an increase of parliamentary participation in government.
With all her prestige the old queen herself had to feel it. [Footnote:
D'Ewes, Journals, 602.] With the accession of the half-foreign Stuarts,
with the cessation of danger of invasion from abroad, with the
increasing weight of exactions of an unwise and unpopular personal
government, with the growing interest of the seventeenth century in
matters of politics, and, above all, with the development of
Puritanism, individualistic and self-assertive in its very essence,
Parliament was sure to reassert all the powers which it had ever
possessed, and likely to seek to extend them. The king was now the
conservative element, while Parliament, if recent conditions be taken
as the standard, was the innovating party.

It was exactly at this period of contest and of unsettled balance of
powers that the early settlements were made in America. The colonists
represented almost without exception what might be called the
parliamentarian view. It was not the king, the--courtiers, the nobles,
the judges, the higher clergy, the official classes, and the fellows of
the universities that emigrated. Among these the royalist spirit was
strong, but they remained in England. It was rather from the middle and
lower classes, from those who were on poor terms with the king,
whatever their position in society, from the persecuted, the
dissatisfied, the restless, that the great body of colonists was drawn;
and among these classes the views upheld by the House of Commons were
wide-spread. The same thing was true of those companies which,
remaining in England, yet had so much influence over the destinies of
the American colonies. The most influential elements in the Virginia
Company, the Massachusetts Bay Company, and other similar bodies were
distinctly opposed to the high claims of the king. Yet unanimity did
not exist even among those who, left England; and strong as the
predilection was among the founders of America for self-government and
representative institutions, the Old-World differences of view were
transferred to the colonies and played a part in local struggles there.

Much of the disputation between James and the House of Commons
concerned the privileges of Parliament, and might be suspected of being
largely the natural jealousy of its own rights felt and asserted by an
ancient corporation. But Parliament was waging war for larger objects
than the rights of its own body; it felt itself to be defending in its
own privileges the personal rights of all Englishmen. In the contested
election case of 1604 a member declared that "the case of Sir John
Fortescue and Sir Francis Goodwin has become the case of the whole
kingdom." [Footnote: Commons Journals, I, 159, March 30, 1604] "The
rights and liberties of your subjects of England and the privileges of
this House," is a formula that appears frequently in the documents of
the time, and combines the two objects of the contest, in which the
latter were upheld largely because they supported and protected the

These ancient rights of the people were less definite than either the
privileges or the powers of Parliament. They were, perhaps, attractive
and valued somewhat in proportion to their vagueness. They certainly
included right of freedom from arrest or imprisonment except on a
definite charge and by due process of law; they included exemption from
taxation except after consent of Parliament, [Footnote: Hakewell's
argument in the Bates case of 1610 (State Trials, ed 1779, XI);
Petition of Right of 1628] they included protection against violence
and injustice; they included the right of petition to the king against
any grievance, [Footnote: Coke's speech on Petition of Right
(Parliamentary History, VIII., 104). VOL 1--19] and in general a right
to have the laws enforced, yet to have nothing done to their
disadvantage which was not in the law. It was the spirit rather than
the letter of Magna Carta that was valued by the English people. As
time passed and under Charles I. the conflict between the parliamentary
and the royal claims became more intense, the upholders of the former
fell back more and more on the ancient rights and liberties of the
people, and relatively less is said of parliamentary privileges. In the
Petition of Right of 1629, Parliament appeals to the Great Charter, to
the Confirmation of the Charters, and to other early statements of
personal liberties. Pym declared that "the liberties of this House are
inferior to the liberties of this kingdom." When the civil war was
actually imminent, in December, 1641, the Grand Remonstrance was issued
as a statement of the contentions of the leaders in Parliament. In this
document "the people," "the liberties of subjects," "rights of the
nation," and other popular expressions are constantly used or implied.
[Footnote: Grand Remonstrance, SS 11, 19, 28, 40, 53, 57, 98, 130,
etc., in Rushworth, Historical Collections, IV., 438.]

Ultimately, as a result of the struggles of the later years of the
seventeenth century, the more important of such rights were formulated
in the Bill of Rights of 1689. Thus the heritage of civil freedom which
the people of England had traditionally enjoyed was neither taken from
them by the strong monarchy of the sixteenth century nor forgotten in
the struggle of Parliament for its own privileges in the seventeenth.
It was reasserted with constantly new insistence in England, and was
carried to America by the colonists as an acknowledged and valued



The ordinary Englishman in the seventeenth century had much more to do
with local than with national government. Only a few score men served
the king as ministers, councillors, or judges; only a few hundred
attended Parliament; while as lords lieutenant, sheriffs, justices of
the peace, constables, church-wardens, mayors, aldermen, and in other
capacities of local and limited but real power, many thousands must
have taken a part in public affairs. National government was remote
from the ordinary man; local government came close to him. The
political institutions which surrounded him on all sides, insensibly
controlling every action and forming the world to which his outward
life conformed, were familiar to him and affected his habits and ideas,
whether he remained at home or emigrated to the colonies, far more
directly than did the political institutions of the nation.

The oldest, most stable, and most important unit of local government
was the shire, or county. The conspicuous official and historic head of
the county was the sheriff. As Camden says, "Every year some one of the
gentlemen inhabitants is made ruler of the county wherein he dwelleth."
[Footnote: Camden, Britannia (ed. 1637), 160.] Though no longer
relatively so powerful as in the Middle Ages, his position was even yet
one of much dignity and importance. On occasions of public ceremony he
had an imposing personal retinue, carried a white rod of office, and
wore official robes. [Footnote: King, The Vale-Royall, 40; North,
Examen, quoted in Dict. Nat. Biog., XII., 121.] Richard Evelyn, when
sheriff, "had one hundred and sixteen servants in liverys, every one
liveryed in greene sattin doubliets; divers gentlemen and persons of
quality waited on him in the same garbe and habit." [Footnote: Evelyn,
Diary, 1634.] William Ffarrington, sheriff of Lancashire in 1636, kept
up the following household: a steward, a clerk of the kitchen, two
yeomen of the plate cupboard, a yeoman of the wine-cellar, two
attendants on the sheriff's chamber, an usher of the hall, two
chamberlains, four butlers and butler's assistants, eight cooks, five
scullions, a porter, a baker, a caterer, a slaughterman, a poulterer,
two watchmen for the horses, two men to attend the docket door each day
by turns, twenty men to attend upon the prisoners each day by turns--
altogether a household of fifty-six servants. [Footnote: The Shrievalty
of William Ffarrington, 17 (Chetham Society). This reference and a
number of those which follow I owe to the industry and good scholarship
of Mr. Charles Burrows, a young man of great promise, who, after
studying at the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania, and beginning
the preparation of a thesis on the Subject of this chapter, went abroad
for further study and died in 1902.] With the need for such official
outlays, it is no wonder that a long series of statutes should have
provided that the sheriff should be one who had land in the county
"sufficient to answer king and people." [Footnote: 9 Ed. II., st. 2; 4
Ed. III., chap, ix.; 5 Ed. III., chaps, iv., xiii., xiv.] In fact, he
was usually a knight or a man of such rank as might be made a knight. A
list of the sheriffs of the county of Chester during the reigns of
James I. and Charles I. shows twenty-three knights and twenty-three
without title, but presumably of equal rank in society. [Footnote:
King, The Vale-Royall, 233.] Many of the best-known men of this period,
such as Sir Thomas Wentworth, Sir Ralph Verney, Sir William Selby, and
Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards earl of Shaftesbury, acted at
various times as sheriffs of their respective counties. They were
direct successors of Chaucer's Franklyn, of whom we are told, "A
schirreeve had he been." With some exceptions, such as those cities
which had their own elective sheriffs, and those pairs of counties
which were conjoined under one sheriff, each shire had one sheriff,
appointed in the following manner: every year, on November 1, a special
meeting of the Privy Council was held at the exchequer, a number of the
higher government officials being especially required to be present;
here a list of three persons of distinction from each county, qualified
to fill the office of sheriff, was made up and submitted to the king,
who "pricked" one from each three; the men thus chosen were then bound
to seek letters-patent, and take their oaths as sheriffs for the
ensuing year in their respective counties. [Footnote: Fortescue, De
Laudibus Legum Angliae, chap. xxiv.] By law the same man could not be
appointed for two successive years. [Footnote: 14 Ed. III., chap, vii.,
etc.] This was probably a welcome restriction, as the appointees bore
somewhat unwillingly the burdens and expenditures of the office.
[Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission, Report VII., App., 3-9, 25.] In 1630
we find Sir Francis Coke writing to ask Sir J. Coke "to keep my loving
neighbour and friend Edward Revell of Brookhill from being sheriff this
year";[Footnote: Ibid., Report XII., App. I., 414. ] and in 1663 Evelyn
enters in his diary, "To court to get Sir John Evelyn, of Godstone, off
from being sheriff of Surrey." [Footnote: November 6, 1663.] It is true
that the office brought with it many small fees. A long list of
customary payments for the issue of various writs and the performance
of various services by the sheriff is given in the manuals of the time.
[Footnote: Greenwood, The County Court, 183.] On the other hand, the
fees payable by the sheriff to the officials of the exchequer on his
appointment and discharge, [Footnote: Ibid., 122.] the expenses of his
office, and the requirements of his position for social expenditure
were very considerable, and the comment of a contemporary law-writer
was, no doubt, in most cases, justified: "But the sheriff is at much
more charge, which is laid out and is disbursed during his sheriffwick,
as experience will inform him."[Footnote: Greenwood, The County Court,
187.] Another burden of the sheriff's office was enforced residence in
his own county during his term of service. The records are overspread
with fines for the violation of this requirement and with requests for
dispensations from conformity to it.[Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission,
Report VII., App., 5; Rushworth, Historical Collections, II., App., 27,
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, Reports, XLIII.,151; Cal. of State
Pap., Dom., 1628-1629, pp., 396, 403, etc.] A personage in an old play
says of the ladies of his time, "I think they would rather marry a
London jailer than a high-sheriff of a county, since neither can stir
from his employment." [Footnote: Wycherly, The Country Wife, act iv.,
sc. 1.] The title high-sheriff, frequently used instead of the simple
term sheriff, had no especial significance and was probably suggested
by a desire to discriminate him from the under-sheriff. The exacting
duties of the office led the sheriff very frequently to appoint, at his
own cost, such a subordinate and to empower him to perform such
services as could be legally transferred to another. He was usually a
man of some position, "learned somewhat in the law, especially if the
sheriff be not learned himselfe." [Footnote: Smith, Commonwealth of
England, book II., chap. xvii.] He was a source of considerable expense
to his superior, an estimate of annual cost made in 1628 amounting to
352 Pounds 18s. 6d. He relieved the sheriff, however, of his more
onerous and invidious duties. North declared that "Clifford and
Shaftesbury looked like high-sheriff and under-sheriff. The former held
the white staff and had his name to all returns, but all the business,
especially the knavish part, was done by the latter." [Footnote:
Examen, 8, quoted in Dict. Nat, Biog., XII., 113.]

The duties of the sheriff were many and varied; some of them old
judicial and administrative functions, others new and irregular
services demanded of him by the innovating Tudor and Stuart sovereigns.
Every month he must hold a county court, at which were brought suits
for debts of less than forty shillings, suits for damages, for breach
of contract, for non-payment of wages, for not returning borrowed or
pledged articles, and a hundred other petty causes. [Footnote:
Fitzherbert, Natura Brevium, 28 d, etc.] In this court also, and at
some other times and places, he must proclaim certain ancient statutes
and new laws and ordinances for the information and warning of the

The county court as a judicial body was, in the seventeenth century, a
waning institution, its competence and functions becoming rapidly
obsolete; but occasionally it awakened suddenly to life, took on a new
aspect, and became of unwonted importance. This occurred when a summons
was issued for a new parliament, for the county court was the electing
body of the knights of the shire, and to the next session after the
writs for the parliament had been issued came the gentry and
freeholders of the county to elect their representatives. [Footnote:
Dalton, Officium Vicecomitum, chap. xcii.] There was often a great
concourse and much excitement, and the petty disputes of poor suitors
and the labors of obscure officials were for the time completely
superseded. The sheriff, as presiding official at this election, as the
returning officer of the elected members, and as the official charged
with levying money for the payment of their wages and expenses, had an
active and influential connection with the choice of members of
Parliament. A long series of statutes checked the abuses connected with
this influence; but even yet the sheriff exercised some power over the
selection made, especially when he was a man of large influence in his
county apart from his office.[Footnote: Ibid.]

There was great irregularity in the process of election. Sometimes the
members were elected by acclamation, sometimes by show of hands,
sometimes by a poll, one voter after another expressing orally his
preference. The election should, by law, be held between eight and
eleven o'clock in the morning, but a sheriff sometimes postponed the
election, or refused to acknowledge the candidate insisted on by the
electors, or threw out votes which he claimed were not properly given,
or closed the election when his preferred candidate was in an
advantageous position. The journals of the House of Commons are filled
with reports of contested elections, and sheriffs are repeatedly found
kneeling at the bar of the House to receive censure or pardon for such
offences.[Footnote: Commons Journals, I., 511, 556, 801, 854, 884,

A period of scarcely less responsibility for the sheriff was the semi-
annual assizes, when the judges in their robes, on their circuit, with
all the dignity of the judicial representatives of the crown, visited
the county.[Footnote: Rushworth, Historical Collections, I., 294.] It
was the duty of the sheriff to see that grand and petty juries were
ready to perform the services required of them by these judges, and to
carry out the mandates and judgments of the court. These judgments,
which he had to execute either in person or by his under-sheriff or
bailiffs, varied in character from the serving of writs or levying upon
property for debt to the infliction of the death penalty. [Footnote:
Greenwood, 133; Fortescue, De Laudibus Legum Angliae, chap xxiv.] The
sheriff had also the supervision of the jail and the appointment of
jailers. His presence at the two assizes of the year was considered one
of his most fundamental duties, and heavy fines were imposed when
occasionally a sheriff was absent from his post at that time.
[Footnote: Rushworth, Historical Collections, II., App., 27; Cal. of
State Pap., Dom, 1628-1629, p. 396.] He not only met the judges with
his retinue and furnished them a guard, but feasted them and acted as a
sort of local host to the circuit court so long as it was in session in
his county.

Closely analogous to this duty of the sheriff was the requirement that
he should be present, provide jurymen, and carry out the behests of the
justices of the peace at their quarter-sessions; but the justices were,
like himself, local officers belonging to the county, not visitors from
the capital, so that their sessions had little of the ceremony and
excitement of the assizes; and, in fact, the sheriff was usually
represented there by the under-sheriff acting as his deputy. [Footnote:
Lister, Two Earliest Sessions Rolls of West Riding of Yorkshire, 1597-
1602, III., 28, 44, 64, etc.]

In addition to these and many less conspicuous regular duties the
sheriff in the early seventeenth century was utilized from time to time
by the central government in irregular and somewhat questionable
services. When James revived the distraint of knighthood it was the
sheriffs who were required to make out lists of all who had 40 Pounds a
year of lands or rents and to order them to appear at court and receive
knighthood. When Charles I. revived the imposition of ship-money it was
to the sheriff of each county that the writ was sent, stating the
amount to be paid by his county and ordering him to arrange with the
lower officials for its assessment and collection.

The patriotic resistance of Hampden found a parallel in the passive
opposition of some of the sheriffs to this demand upon them. On June
30, 1640, the King's Council wrote to the sheriff of Huntingdonshire:
"We have read and considered of your letter of the 24th of the present,
wherein we perceive that you have been rather industrious to represent
the difficulties which, as you say, you find in the execution of his
majesty's writ, than circumspect or careful, as you ought to have been,
in overcoming and removing them,... and we cannot but make this
judgment upon your proceedings, that instead of doing your duty in
person and compelling others subordinate to you to do theirs, you
endeavor to make excuses both for yourself and them." [Footnote:
Rushworth, Historical Collections, I, 1203.]

Alongside of the sheriff at the head of the shire was another officer,
the lord-lieutenant, whose position, although but recently attained,
was in some ways more conspicuous and in certain exigencies more
powerful than his. No statute or other formal action provided for the
original creation of the lord-lieutenancy, and it is probable that
Henry VIII. simply began the habit of delegating his military power in
the shires to such officers. Early in the reign of Edward VI., October,
1549, they are mentioned as existing in the counties, and by 1600 their
office was fully established.[Footnote: 3 and 4 Ed VI, chap v, in
Statutes of the Realm, IV, 107.]This position was usually held by the
greatest nobleman with estates in the county, and he appointed as his
deputies various knights and gentlemen of high position; as when, in
1626, the duke of Buckingham was lord-lieutenant of Bucks, and Sir
Edward Verney and five others were his deputies in that county.
Although purely honorary, the appointment was one of much dignity and
responsibility in military matters.

It was the duty of the lord-lieutenant in times of peace to see that
the musters of the trained bands were regularly held, that the militia-
men had their arms, and that men of higher rank who owed military
service to the crown were prepared to perform it; in time of war to
levy, muster, and train soldiers, fix the quotas of the hundreds and
townships, see to the payment of troops, the collection of horses, and
equipment generally, until the recruits were actually handed over to
their officers. It was also their duty to see that the beacons were
kept in order. The lords-lieutenant must be present, by an order of
1615, nine months in the year [Footnote: Cal. of State Pap., Dom.,
1611-1618, p. 337.] in their counties; but there was no such rigorous
requirement of constant residence as in the case of the sheriff, nor
was the appointment restricted to a single year.

Such an official as the lord-lieutenant was not likely to be left
unburdened with other duties when the government was struggling to
obtain the enforcement of its laws, and, as a matter of fact, functions
quite unmilitary were imposed upon him. In 1637 the council orders the
lords-lieutenant of six of the eastern counties to assist in the better
enforcement of the acts for the drainage of the marshes. [Footnote:
Cal. of State Pap., Dom., 1637, p. 92.] In 1621 they are to investigate
frauds of his majesty's carters. [Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission,
Report VII., App., 670.] They are asked to help collect subsidies and
benevolences, to search for popish recusants, to oversee ale-houses,
slaughter-houses, and the assize of bread and ale, to assist in the
administration of poor relief and the suppression of vagrancy.
[Footnote: Chetham Society, Lancashire Lieutenancy, I, Int., 19; Camden
Society, Verney Papers, 37, 88.] In 1619 the Lords of the Council write
to the lieutenant of Surrey asking him to urge co-operation in a
lottery for the success of "the English colonies planted in Virginia,
to accept the sums adventured, and to report to the treasurer and
council of Virginia." [Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission, Report VII.,
App., 670.] Much less dignified in position than either the lord-
lieutenant or the sheriff, and yet filling an old and important office,
was the coroner. He was elected by the freeholders of the county in the
county court, and his oath was administered by the county clerk. He
was, therefore, more distinctly local and representative than the other
county officers, who were appointed by the crown; and as a result he
was the only officer whose office did not terminate with the death of
the king. Notwithstanding the generality of duties indicated by his
name, "custos placitarum coronae," his functions were few beyond the
fundamental duty of investigating sudden deaths and binding over for
trial such persons as were indicated by the jury through which he made
his inquest. [Footnote: Smith, Commonwealth of England, book II., chap.
xxiv.] Under some circumstances the coroner took the place of the
sheriff, and in general his position looked back to a time when it was
of greater significance than it had become in the seventeenth century.
[Footnote: Greenwood, The County Court, 258.]



However extensive the duties of the officers whose functions are
described above, the real men-of-all-work in the counties at this time
were the justices of the peace. The law required that a justice of the
peace must have lands and tenements to the value of L 20 a year, the
amount of the legal knight's fee; [Footnote: 18 Henry VI., chap. xi]
but ordinarily he had much greater property. John Evelyn's father, who
has been so often referred to as a typical country gentleman of the
early seventeenth century, had an estate of L 4000 a year when he was
successively sheriff and justice of the peace. [Footnote: Evelyn,
Diary, year 1634] The justice of the peace, like the sheriff, the lord-
lieutenant, and the coroner, was expected to perform his public
services as part of his patriotic duty. It is true that certain
statutes provided that part of the fines for any violation should go to
the justices before whom the violators were prosecuted; two or three
others gave small fees to the justice for affixing his seal or signing
a document; but these were apparently casual efforts to secure
enforcement, and can have brought no appreciable return to the
justices. The law gave each justice 2s. for each day of quarter-
sessions up to three days; but this could have produced at most only
6s., and seems to have been usually jointly expended by the magistrates
in a dinner.

In an interesting speech by a Mr. Glascock in the House of Commons,
December 16, 1601, two equally undesirable justices are described--
first, the one "who from base stock and lineage by his wealth is gotten
to be within the commission"; the other "a gentleman born, virtuous,
discreet, and wise, yet poor and needy. And so only for his virtues and
qualities put into the commission. This man I hold unfit to be a
justice, though I think him to be a good member in the commonwealth.
Because I hold this for a ground infallible--that no poor man ought to
be in authority. My reason is this: he will so bribe you and extort you
that the sweet scent of riches and gain taketh away and confoundeth the
true taste of justice and equity." [Footnote: Townshend, Proceedings,
953, 954] But burdensome as the duties of a justice must have been, and
almost unpaid as they were, the office does not seem to have been
avoided as was that of sheriff. Probably such service was taken as a
matter of course by the gentry, and compensation was found in the stamp
of social position it placed upon them, and in the sense of power, as
well as of a patriotic fulfilment of duty. It was sometimes a matter of
complaint that "with us these magistrates have been so unsuitably
appointed that a county justice is made a jest in comedies, and his
character the subject of buffoonery and laughter." [Footnote: Carey,
English Liberties, 275] This is an obvious reference to Justice Shallow
and other worthies of the dramatists. It is dangerous to make too
serious an inference from contemporary comedies, because certain
personages soon became stock characters and ceased to have any very
close relation to actual life, and in this particular instance
Shakespeare was probably gratifying an old grudge.

Nevertheless, there was evidently some foundation for this picture of
the county justice. Dorothy Osborne, in one of her delightful letters
to Sir William Temple, in giving her requirements for a husband, pokes
fun at such ambitions. "He must not be so much of a country gentleman
as to understand nothing but hawks and dogs, and be fonder of either
than his wife; nor of the next sort of them whose aim reaches no
further than to be Justice of the Peace, and once in his life High
Sheriff, who reads no book but statutes, and studies nothing but how to
make a speech interlarded with Latin that may amaze his disagreeing
poor neighbours, and fright them rather than persuade them into
quietness." [Footnote: Letters of Dorothy Osborne to Sir William
Temple, letter 36 (ed. by Parry), p 171] With all these criticisms, and
in the face of occasional ineptitude, the body of justices of the peace
included much ability. It was scarcely possible for a justice to act
without some knowledge of Latin, as almost all the records and
documents which he would have to make, read, or sign were in that
language. A succession of text-books on the duties of the office, the
more important of them appearing in many successive editions, proves an
intelligent interest and demand for instruction in their duties.
Moreover, the men who served as justices were often well known in other
ways, many of them as sheriffs, as members of Parliament, and in still
other capacities. They were of families who provided the active men of
enterprise of the period. The list of Devonshire justices in 1592
includes Sir Francis Drake, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Gilberts, Carews,
Seymours, Courtenays, and other names prominent among the men who laid
the foundations of the maritime greatness of England and of the
existence of America. Of the fifty-five, twenty-eight were at one time
or another high-sheriffs of the county, twenty more were then, or
became afterwards, knights, six sat in the House of Commons, and three
in the House of Lords. [Footnote: Hamilton, Devonshire Quarter-
Sessions, 3, 330-348.]

The justices of the peace were fair representatives of that great class
of rural gentry which exercised so strong an influence over the
destinies of England in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth
centuries. From this class were drawn all the county officials who have
been named, except the lord-lieutenant; from it were chosen the county
representatives to Parliament; and in it were found the strength and
the weakness of the English political system. James I., in appealing to
the country gentry to continue to live on their estates in their
counties, said to them, "Gentlemen, at London you are like ships in a
sea, which shew like nothing, but in your country villages you are like
ships in a river, which look like great things." [Footnote: Bacon,
Apothegms, in Works (Spedding and Heath ed), VII., 125.]

Out of this body of rural gentry from twenty to sixty in each county
were chosen by the lord-chancellor to serve as justices of the peace.
[Footnote: Lambard, Eirenarcha, book I., chap. v.] The "commission of
the peace," by which the justices were appointed and from which they
drew their powers, was a formula well known and constantly quoted and
commented upon, and added to from time to time until late in the
sixteenth century. In was then, in 1590, revised and formulated anew by
Sir Christopher May, Chief-Justice, with the advice of all the other
judges of the time, and has not been changed from that day to this.
[Footnote: Ibid., book II., chap. vii.]

The justices of the peace performed some of their duties separately,
acting individually as circumstances required, or as proved convenient
to themselves. Other powers they could exercise only when two or more
acted together and concurrently. Still others, and those far the most
important and dignified, they performed in a body at their "quarter-
sessions." What things a justice might do singly, what two, three, or
four justices might do together, and what they might do only in the
formal sessions of the whole body of justices of the peace of the
county were defined partly in the statutes, partly in the commission
under which they acted.

The regular or quarter-sessions were meetings held four times a year--
in October, midwinter, spring, and midsummer--at which all the justices
of the peace of the county were supposed to be present. There were,
besides, occasional irregular sessions, or meetings of the regular
sessions adjourned from one time to another. In corporate towns the
city officers acted as justices of the peace, reinforced usually by
some others especially appointed; and each town followed its own
customs as to meeting in general sessions.

Although the law contemplated the attendance of all the justices of the
county at each quarter-sessions, as a matter of fact the attendance was
very irregular and incomplete, few of the records, so far as published,
showing an attendance of as many as a dozen out of perhaps forty or
fifty. Most of them evidently came riding up to quarter-sessions if it
suited their convenience and remained away if it did not, restricting
their services to those duties which could be performed in their own
neighborhoods, and leaving to a few active, regular, and hardworking
magistrates the responsibilities of the higher work. [Footnote: West
Riding Sessions Rolls; Manchester Quarter-Sessions, passim.]

Of those who made up quarter-sessions one at least must be "of the
quorum." This expression is taken from the commission of the justices
of the peace, which in the clause giving to the justices the power to
inquire and determine by oath of the jurors as to felonies and other
offences and to punish them, after naming all those to whom the
commission for that county is issued, says, quorum aliquem vestrum, A,
B, C, etc., unum esse volumus (of whom we wish you, A, B, C, etc., to
be one), naming presumably such as were learned in the law or otherwise
especially trustworthy. [Footnote: Lambarde, Eirenarcha, book I., chap.
ix.] As without the presence of one of the "quorum" no quarter-sessions
could be held, to be a "justice of the peace and of the quorum" was to
be one of a select list of the justices. One-third or one-half of the
list of those in the commission were usually named also in the quorum.
In addition to the justices there should, according to law, be present
at quarter-sessions, in the first place, the custos rotulorum, or
keeper of the rolls of the sessions, the "custalorum" of Justice
Shallow. [Footnote: Merry Wives of Windsor, act i., sc. i.] This was
always one of the justices of high rank indicated to the lord-
chancellor for appointment by the king himself, [Footnote: 37 Henry
VIII., chap i.] and was very apt to be the lord-lieutenant of the
county. He could be, and probably was, usually represented at the
sessions by a deputy, who was a person of considerable importance and
influence, upon whom much responsibility was placed by the statutes,
and whose abilities must have been constantly relied upon by the
magistrates. The title of this deputy was "clerk of the peace," the
predecessor apparently of the American county clerk. He was usually
familiar with the law, and his knowledge of precedents and procedure
must often have stood the unlearned justices in good stead, besides the
work which he performed in drawing up indictments, writing orders, and
keeping records.

Besides the custos and the clerk, the sheriff or his deputy were bound
to be present prepared to empanel jurors and execute process; as well
as the jailer ready to produce his prisoners; the superintendent of the
county house of correction; all jurors who had been summoned by the
sheriff; all persons who had been bound over by single justices to
appear at quarter-sessions; all high constables and bailiffs of
hundreds; and the coroners. [Footnote: Dalton, Officium Vicecomitum,
chaps, xxxiv., clxxxv.] The quarter-sessions should, by law, be kept
for three continuous days if there was any need; [Footnote: 12 Richard
II, chap. x.] but, as a matter of fact, sessions seldom lasted more
than a day, and a contemporary complains that "many doe scantly afford
them three whole hours, besides the time which is spent in calling of
the county and giving of the charge." [Footnote: Lambarde, Eirenarcha,
book IV., chap. xix.]

The powers and duties of the justices of the peace in quarter-sessions
and separately were so considerable and varied as to tax the ability of
an Elizabethan or Jacobean text-book writer to reduce them to
simplicity of statement, or to the compass of five or six hundred pages
of enumeration. Many of these powers were general, arising from the
nature of the office for the "conservation of the peace"; but the great
mass of their duties was placed upon them by statutes. Ten early
statutes are enumerated in the commission itself, before coming to the
inclusive "and cause to be kept all other ordinances and statutes made
for the good of our peace and the quiet rule and government of our
people." From the middle of the fifteenth century forward, the
enforcement of the greater number of new laws was placed primarily in
the hands of the justices of the peace.

As time passed on legislation became more and more minute and
inclusive. Few interests in human life escaped the paternal attention
of government under the Tudors and Stuarts, and this great mass of
enactment it became the duty of the groups of country gentry in the
counties and of the civic magistrates of the towns to put into force. A
writer of the time enumerates two hundred and ninety-three statutes
passed previous to 1603 in which justices of the peace are mentioned
and given some jurisdiction or duties. [Footnote: Lambarde, Eirenarcha,
book IV., chap, xix., Table, App.] Under Elizabeth alone there were
seventy-eight, ranging from the "preservation of spawn and frie of
fish" to those "touching bulls from Rome." The infrequent and short-
lived parliaments of James I. added thirty-six to the list. [Footnote:
Dalton, The Country Justice, Table of Contents.]

Although many of these laws are repetitions, some others temporary or
local, still others insignificant, yet, on the other hand, some of them
opened up whole new fields of activity to the justices: as, for
instance, those placing upon them, after 1563, the administration of
the Act of Apprentice; and, after 1581, the responsibility for the
search for and punishment of popish recusants. A whole code of law,
procedure, and precedent grew up on these two subjects, besides others
scarcely less extensive.

Quarter-sessions had nothing to do with civil suits, and cases of
treason, murder, and certain other high crimes were excluded from their
competence. Apart from this restriction and these offences, there was
little difference between sessions and assizes, between the
jurisdiction of the learned judges of the king in their half-yearly
circuit and that of the county magistrates in their quarter-sessions.
Before them both grand and petty juries were empanelled, indictments
drawn up, prisoners tried for assault, burglary, horse-stealing,
witchcraft, pocket-picking, keeping up nuisances, cheating, failure to
attend church, and almost all other offences of which seventeenth-
century Englishmen were capable. If convicted they were placed in the
stocks, whipped, or hanged. In Devonshire, in the midwinter sessions of
1598, out of sixty-five culprits who were tried eight were hanged; at
midsummer, out of forty-five eight were hanged, thirteen flogged, seven
acquitted, and seven, on account of their claim of benefit of clergy,
were branded and then released. [Footnote: Hamilton, Devonshire
Quarter-Sessions, 33.]

The justices in sessions or singly also performed much administrative
work, such as the oversight and repair of bridges, the granting of
licenses to ale-houses, the establishment of wages, the binding out of
apprentices, and the relief of wounded soldiers. Many laws passed under
Elizabeth and James I. admitted of exceptions when approved by one or
more justices of the peace, and there was thus constant occasion for
granting to individual persons or at special times permission to export
grain, to turn their barley into malt, to build cottages without land
attached, to carry hand-guns, to buy and sell out of market-hours, to
beg, and other dispensations from the rigorous application of the law.
[Footnote: Ibid., 27, 164, etc.]

The punishing of recusants and the discipline of those who refused or
neglected to go to church was, as already stated, an active occupation
of the justices.

At certain times, such as the period just following the Gunpowder Plot,
when the search was for Catholics, and somewhat later, when the search
was for Puritans and Separatists, the Privy Council brought severe
pressure upon the justices to fulfill these duties, and numerous
prosecutions were brought by them. In Middlesex during the reign of
James I. the indictments averaged eighty-five per year for religious
offences, and sometimes at one session there were as many as one
hundred and fifty persons indicted. [Footnote: Middlesex County
Sessions Rolls, II., III.; Hamilton, Devonshire Quarter-Sessions, 27,
74, etc.; Cal. of State Pap., Dom., 1633-1634, p. 531.]

The justices were constantly called upon to act in special emergencies
or to give special relief. If a man's thatched cottage were burned, the
nearest justice might authorize him to make an appeal to his neighbors
for help to rebuild; if a whole village or town suffered from a more
extensive fire, the justices in their sessions quartered the homeless
people in various parishes, announced a subscription, and, calling
constables and leading villagers before them, exhorted them to liberal
voluntary gifts, and appointed a subcommittee to administer the funds
for relief; if a pestilence appeared, a tax-rate for immediate
assistance was levied, and the justices supported the sick and enforced
the quarantine; if food became scarce and high-priced the justices
forbade its export from the county or conversion into malt, and even
announced a maximum market-price for it. When weavers or other
artificers were out of work the justices set to work to induce masters
to employ them or merchants to buy their goods, or, as a last resort,
levied a rate for their support. If news came of the capture of a
number of English sailors or merchants by Barbary pirates, collections
were taken up by the justices of the maritime counties for their
redemption. In all such exigencies it was the justices of the peace who
were expected to tide over the special temporary difficulty or need.

Besides the ancient regulative duties of the justices, and besides
those that were definitely given them by successive statutes, they were
constantly subject to the commands and instructions of the Privy
Council. In 1592, soon after the remodelling of the commission, a
circular letter was sent by the Privy Council to certain commissioners
in each county requiring them to call a special meeting of all justices
of the peace, at which the oath of office and the oath of supremacy
must be taken by each, or they must retire from the commission of the
peace. [Footnote: Hamilton, Devonshire Quarter-Sessions, 36, 48;
Nichols, Hist. of the Poor Law, 252; Hist. MSS. Commission, Report
XIV., App. IV., 42.] This seems to have been preparatory to a more
strict discipline and oversight of their actions, for communications
from the council now became more frequent and more drastic. In
requiring them to fulfil their duties as magistrates the Privy Council
spoke categorically in the name of the king in a constant series of
letters, couched often in such harsh terms of reproof as to make it
hard to realize that the justices were gentlemen of rank and dignity,
fulfilling laborious services practically without compensation. In 1598
vigorous letters were sent to the various counties calling the
attention of the justices to the recently enacted poor law, and
requiring them to see it put into execution. [Footnote: Leonard, "the
Poor Law," 143.] From this time forward to the outbreak of the civil
war the pressure of the council on the justices became stronger and
stronger. In January, 1631, a "Book of Orders" was issued by the Privy
Council giving instructions in greater detail to the justices as to
their duties, especially in regard to the poor law, and requiring them
to make reports every three months to the sheriffs, who were to
transmit these reports to the justices of assize, who were in turn to
send them to certain members of the Privy Council deputed for the
purpose. The judges of assize were also to report directly to the king
if they learned of the negligence of any of the justices of the peace.
[Footnote: Ibid., 158, etc.] "The Book of Orders" was reissued from
time to time and its requirements followed up.

An attempt was made by these means to introduce a system of "thorough"
in the affairs of local government during the period of the personal
government of Charles I., analogous to that attempted in the higher
ranges of government by Wentworth, Laud, and their fellow-members of
the Privy Council. The great instruments of this plan were the justices
of the peace, acting within the limits of their respective counties,
carrying out the manifold duties imposed upon them by law, under
constant pressure from the Privy Council and the king. After even this
partial enumeration of the services of the justices of the peace and of
the supervision kept over them, one can readily appreciate the feeling
of the justices of Nottingham who complained that they had "little rest
at home or abroad." [Footnote: "Cal. of State Pap, Dom," 1631-1633, p.

The centre of gravity of local government in England was in the county.
The power which put its machinery in motion was that of the central
government; but the actual administration was in the hands of the
sheriff, the lord-lieutenant, the coroner, and the justices of the
peace. The county bounded the sphere of activity of all these
officials. The commission of any group of justices named the county in
which they were to exercise their functions, and outside of its
boundaries all their powers dropped from them. The coroner could not
hold an inquest outside of his own county, and even the lord-lieutenant
could exercise his military functions only within the shire or shires
named in his commission. When, in 1603, James I. rode southward from
Edinburgh on the news of the death of Elizabeth, and crossed the border
at Berwick, he was met by the sheriff of Northumberland and escorted by
him to the borders of Durham, where he was met by the sheriff of that
county, and so from shire to shire through the whole length of England
till he reached London.

The basis of representation in Parliament was the county: the counties
formed the districts for all the circuit courts; national taxation was
largely distributed by counties, and, as has been seen, local
jurisdiction and administration were largely in the hands of county



Next below the county as a political subdivision of England came the
hundred, or wapentake, as it was called in the northern shires. One of
the oldest political units of the country, perhaps the very oldest, it
had become the least important of all. Its ancient significance as the
primary organization of the community for judicial purposes disappeared
long before the beginning of the seventeenth century, leaving only a
desultory practice of holding a sheriff's semi-annual "tourn" through
the hundreds of the shire; and some traditional payments of fees to the
noblemen who held the hundred court as a "liberty," or to the crown.
Apart from its existence as a unit of jurisdiction, the hundred was
still put to some use as a subdivision of the county for purposes of
taxation, for military organization and service, for the preservation
of order, and as the sphere of activity of the high-constable.
[Footnote: Lambarde, Constables, S 25; Cal. of State Pap., Dom., 1637,
pp. 39, 104.] The high-constables were, indeed, the only officers of
the hundreds, one or more being chosen annually by the justices of the
peace in quarter-sessions from the same class of rural gentry as we
have already seen furnishing the county local officials. The hundred,
for some reason, took but slight root in colonial soil, though it was
established in a few of the colonies, and in such places many of its
English functions reappeared. [Footnote: Howard, Local Constitutional
History of the U. 5., 272-286; Wilhelmi, Local Institutions of
Maryland, 60, n. 5.] An ancient Latin law writer says, "England is
divided into counties, counties are divided into hundreds (which in
some parts of England are called wapentakes), and hundreds are again
subdivided into villas." [Footnote: Fortescue, De Laudibus Legum
Angliae, chap. cxxiv.] By using the general word villas ("vills") he
evaded one of the greatest difficulties in the description of English
local government in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the
confusing and conflicting use of terms for the smallest subdivision of
civil government. Shall we use parish, town, township, manor, or
tithing when we speak of a neighborhood organized for the affairs of
petty government? All these terms are used abundantly in the records of
the time and to a great extent are used indiscriminately.

This lack of consistency is quite natural and explicable. In the first
place, local organization as it existed at this time was the residuum
of several successive systems of custom and law, and contained
survivals from the nomenclature of each. "Township" or "town" was a
term belonging to a far-distant Anglo-Saxon past, and had been long
obscured by the later institution of tithings and the still later
manors. Secondly, the union of church and state, the mutual
interpenetration of the ecclesiastical and civil systems, served to
complicate the matter still further by confusing the word "parish" with
terms which applied in a non-ecclesiastical sense to the same little
group of people and the same tract of land.

Of all these terms, three--manor, town (or township), and parish--are
the most usual. A manor was a group of inhabitants and the land they
occupied (usually a single village), so far as these people were
connected with and dependent upon a certain "lord of the manor," who
had various rights over the people and their lands. Aside from his
position as landlord, the most important of these rights was that of
holding a court-baron and a court-leet and view of frank-pledge.

Various powers and activities had long gathered around these petty
courts, but the whole group of manorial rights and duties of
jurisdiction and administration was, in 1600, fast becoming an obsolete
and insignificant institution. Yet the terms connected with it had
worked themselves inseparably into local life. Courts-baron were held
in but few places, and almost solely for the purpose of making land
transfers; courts-leet were held only infrequently and irregularly,
many lords of manors who possessed the right exercising it but once a
year or less frequently; the whole system of frank-pledges had long
gone into desuetude. Grants of manorial powers, "court-leet, court-
baron, and view of frank-pledge," were made in several of the colonial
charters; but these institutions showed little inclination to renew in
America a vitality they had lost in England.

The English word town or township is the nearest equivalent to the
Latin word villa or vill, which is a generic term used in the records,
without very exact connotation, for one of those country villages in
which the rural population of England was distributed, including the
land connected with the village. Town and township meant the same
thing, except when the former was applied to an urban community. Over
and over again to the same locality first the term "town" and then
"township" is applied; [Footnote: West Riding Sessions Rolls, passim.]
and a careful search fails to find any distinction drawn between them.
In the north of England the term town or township seems to have been
especially familiar and frequently used as a subdivision of some of the
other local units; [Footnote: Fishwick, Hist of Preston, 2.] and it was
in common use everywhere as a synonym for manor or parish.

While all these terms meet us frequently in the records of the
seventeenth century, the term parish, notwithstanding its
ecclesiastical connotation, was, in fact, superseding all others as the
most usual appellation to give to the unit of local government. Terms
strictly applicable to other phases of the local organization were apt
to be applied to the parish. For instance, we hear of the "constable of
a parish," [Footnote: Archaeological Review, IV, 344.] although that
officer was an official of a township; proprietors of "free" and "copy-
hold" lands of a parish are spoken of, though those terms properly
applied only to a manor; the same is true of an order for a court to be
held every three weeks in certain parishes, [Footnote: Saalkeld,
Reports, III., 98.] the term "court" being properly manorial. These
expressions show the tendency of the time to substitute the term
"parish" for more exact terms applied to the local governing body in
its different aspects. It was the "parish" that was usually sued,
taxed, and fined, that received property by bequest, and that was
ordered by the government to perform various duties.

Our colonial forefathers, according to the locality of their origin or
the particular phase of local government that applied to their new
conditions, used sometimes one term, sometimes another; but in this
study of English conditions the parish and the officers whose sphere of
action was the parish may be taken to include all that is necessary,
with the understanding that our use of the term parish is broad, in
conformity with seventeenth-century usage.

The knowledge of the boundaries of the parish was kept alive by the
traditional ceremony of perambulation. From time to time, usually once
a year, a procession was formed which went the rounds of the outer
boundary, stopping from time to time at well-marked points for various
commemorative ceremonies. In pre-Reformation times the ceremony was a
religious one, the priest leading and the parishioners following with
cross, banners, bells, lights, and sacred emblems, successive points
being blessed and sprinkled with holy water. [Footnote: Burn,
Ecclesiastical Law, II, 133,134.] When religious processions were
forbidden at the Reformation, this ceremony came under the condemnation
of the law; and Queen Elizabeth found it necessary, in order to
perpetuate the useful civil element in it, to direct by proclamation a
certain form of renewal of the processions. "The people should, once in
the year, at the time appointed, with the curate and substantial men of
the parish, walk about the parish, and at their return to the church
make their common prayers. And the curate in the said perambulation
was, at certain convenient places, to admonish the people to give
thanks to God in the beholding of His benefits, and for the increase
and abundance of his fruits upon the face of the earth, with the saying
of the one hundred and third Psalm." [Footnote: Gibson, Codex, 213.]

The custom survived in this or other forms, [Footnote: Shillingfleet,
Ecclesiastical Cases, I., 244.] because there were no surveyed
boundaries, and reliance had to be placed on marked stones and trees,
hill-tops, watercourses, and such indications, interpreted and defined
only by human tradition. In some remote districts it is still
preserved. From the practice of performing the perambulation in
rogation week it was often called "the rogation," and conversely
rogation days were sometimes called "gang-days" [Footnote: Burn,
Ecclesiastical Law, II., 133.] In the seventeenth century, as the men
who afterwards practised it in New England and Virginia must have
remembered, it was still a festivity. In the church-wardens' accounts
for the parish of St. Clements, Ipswich, in 1638, is the item "ffor
bread and beare given to the boyes when they wente the boundes of the
parishe, 12s." [Footnote: East Anglian, IV., 2d series, 5.] Boys were
taken as those whose life and memory would naturally be the longest,
and the poorer boys were often especially included as a treat. In
Chelsea, Middlesex, at a somewhat later time, a more official feast is
suggested by the entry: "Spent at the perambulation dinner, 3 pounds
10s." [Footnote: Toulmin Smith, The Parish, 473.]

No material obstacle was allowed to interfere with the progress of the
perambulators. They could, by law, enter all dwellings on the boundary
and pass through and even break down all enclosures which lay across
it. Private persons whose houses lay in the line of march of the
perambulators sometimes provided food and drink for them, and this
became so customary that efforts were made, though unsuccessfully, to
enforce this custom by law. [Footnote: Burn, Ecclesiastical Law, II.,

In describing the officers of the parish we pass from the class of
country gentry, from which the sheriffs, coroners, justices of the
peace, and high-constables were drawn, to a group of lower social rank.
In the towns they may have been of somewhat higher or at least more
varied status, but in the rural parishes the officers were of very
humble position. In the invaluable description of England written by
Harrison in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, from which we
have had occasion to quote so frequently, the author says: "The fourth
and last sort of people in England are day-labourers, poor husbandmen,
and some retailers (which have no free land), copyholders, and all
artificers, as tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, brickmakers, masons,
etc. ... This fourth and last sort of people therefore have neither
voice nor authority in the commonwealth, but are to be ruled and not to
rule others: yet they are not altogether neglected, for ... in villages
they are commonly made churchwardens, sidesmen, aleconners, now and
then constables, and many times enjoy the name of head boroughs."
[Footnote: Harrison, Description of England (Camelot ed.), 13.]

The most active and conspicuous officer of the parish or township was
the constable, or petty constable, as he is often called, to
distinguish him from the high-constable of the hundred. He was
appointed by the court-leet, where this was still held; in other cases
by the steward of the lord of the manor, the vestry of the parish, or,
as a part of their residuary duties, by the justices of the peace. The
regular form of oath of the constable may be quoted in some fulness to
show the nature of his duties. "You shall swear that you shall well and
truly serve our sovereign lord, the king, in the office of a constable.
You shall see and cause his majesty's peace to be well and duly kept
and preserved, according to your power. You shall arrest all such
persons as in your sight and presence shall ride or go armed
offensively, or shall commit or make any riot, affray, or other breach
of his majesty's peace. You shall do your best endeavor to apprehend
all felons, barrators, and rioters, or persons riotously assembled; and
if any such offenders shall make resistance you shall levy hue and cry
and shall pursue them until they be taken. You shall do your best
endeavors that the watch in and about your town be duly kept for the
apprehending of rogues, vagabonds, nightwalkers, eavesdroppers, and
other suspected persons, and of such as go armed and the like. ... You
shall well and duly execute all precepts and warrants to you directed
from the justices of the peace of the county or higher officers. In
time of hay or corn harvest you shall cause all meet persons to serve
by the day for the mowing, reaping, and getting in of corn or hay. You
shall, in Easter week, cause your parishioners to chuse surveyors for
the mending of the highways in your parish. ... And you shall well and
duly, according to your knowledge, power, and ability, do and execute
all things belonging to the office of a constable so long as you shall
continue in this office. So help you God." [Footnote: Dalton, The
Country Justice, chap. clxxiv.]

The constable, among the other duties prescribed by his oath, had to
"raise the hue and cry" when it was demanded--that is to say, if any
one were assaulted or robbed and appealed to the constable of the
parish in which the injury occurred, the constable must summon out his
neighbors, whether it were by day or by night, to seek the culprit. If
not successful he must give notice to the constables of the adjacent
parishes, who were similarly to raise the hue and cry in their
neighborhoods. If the offender was not then discovered the person who
suffered the loss might bring suit for its recovery from the whole
hundred in which the attack occurred. [Footnote: Ibid., chap. lxxxiv,]

In practice hue and cry was a very ineffective method of capturing ill-
doers. Harrison says: "I have known by my own experience felons being
taken to have escaped out of the stocks, being rescued by others for
want of watch and guard, that thieves have been let pass, because the
covetous and greedy parishioners would neither take the pains nor be at
the charge to carry them to prison, if it were far off; that when hue
and cry have been made even to the faces of some constables, they have
said: 'God restore your loss! I have other business at this time.'"
[Footnote: Harrison, Description of England (Camelot ed.), 247.] To
prosecute petty offenders, to force laborers to serve during harvest-
time, to sign their testimonials when they wished to leave the parish,
and to see that innkeepers refused no travellers, gave the constable
considerable duties of local supervision.

The constable must, with the advice of the minister and of one other
inhabitant of the parish, whip any rogue, vagabond, or sturdy beggar
who appeared in the parish, and then send him, with a testimonial to
the fact of the whipping, back to his native parish. The word rogue was
a comprehensive term as used in the laws of Elizabeth, including
wandering sailors, fortune-tellers, collectors of money for charities,
fencers, bearwards, minstrels, common players of interludes, jugglers,
tinkers, peddlers, and many others, and adequate whipping of them and
starting them in the direct route homeward must have been no sinecure.
[Footnote: Lambarde, Duties of Constables, S 45.]

A contemporary testimonial with which such a person was provided may
not be without interest as an illustration of the manners of the time.
"A. B., a sturdy rogue of tall stature, red-haired and bearded, about
the age of thirty years, and having a wart neere under his right eie,
born (as he confesseth) at East Tilberie, in Essex, was taken begging
at Shorne in this county of Kent, the tenth of March, 1598, and was
then and there lawfully whipped therefor, and hee is appointed to goe
to East Tilberie aforesaid, the direct way by Gravesend, over the river
of Thamise; for which hee is allowed one whole day, and no more at his
peril; subscribed and sealed the day and yeare aforesaid. By us"
(signed by the minister, the constable, and a parishioner). [Footnote:
Lambarde, Duties of Constables, S 45.] It is no wonder that constables
are advised "in every corner to have a readie hand and whip."

The constable was also the warden of such arms and armor as each parish
kept, or was supposed to keep, in obedience to the militia
requirements. A writer of Elizabeth's time says: "The said armour and
munition likewise is kept in one several place of every town, appointed
by the consent of the whole parish, where it is always ready to be had
and worn within an hour's warning. ... Certes there is almost no
village so poor ... that hath not sufficient furniture in a readiness
to set forth three or four soldiers, as one archer, one gunner, one
pike, and a billman." [Footnote: Harrison, Description of England
(Camelot ed.), 224.]

An account of the armor kept in a parish in Middlesex is entered in the
vestry accounts of the year 1583. "Note of the armour for the parish of
Fulham: first, a corslet, with a pyke, sworde, and daiger, furnished in
all points, a gyrdle only excepted. Item, two hargobushes, with flaskes
and touch-boxes to the same; two morryons; two swords, and two daigers,
which are all for Fulham side only. All which armore are, and do
remayne in the possession and appointment of John Palton, of Northend,
being constable of Fulhamsyde the yere above wrytten." [Footnote:
Toulmin Smith, The Parish, 473.] One may easily imagine the nature and
value of such accoutrements, and of the villagers who were occasionally
pressed into the service to wear them. Mouldy and Bullcalf, Wart,
Shadow, and Feeble, and Falstaff's whole company of "cankers of a calm
world and a long peace" may readily enough have been drawn from the

These duties the constable must fulfil at his own initiation or upon
the recurrence of the occasion for them. But the great part of his
duties were those imposed upon him from above in special cases--that is
to say, in carrying out the warrants and precepts of the justices of
the peace, or occasionally of the coroner, sheriff, lord-lieutenant, or
still higher officials. If the justice of the peace was the man-of-all-
work, as has been said, of the government of the time, the constable
was the tool and instrument with which he worked. The constable was
required to arrest all persons who were to be bound over by the
justices to keep the peace, and all felons and other ill-doers for whom
a warrant had been issued, and to bring them before the justices into
jail. And woe be to him if he allowed such a prisoner to escape. The
justices might construe his inactivity as participation in the crime of
the prisoner, or he might be fined to the extent of all his property.
[Footnote: Lambarde, Duties of Constables, S 15]

The constable must carry out the lesser sentences of the justices,
inflicting the punishment ordered and collecting the fines imposed. For
instance, when a certain poor woman, Elizabeth Armistead, was convicted
of petty larceny at the West Riding Sessions, in 1598, it was ordered
by the justices that "she shall nowe be delivered to the constable of
Keerbie, and he to cause her to be stripped naked from the middle
upward and soundly whipped thorowe the said town of Keerbie, and by hym
delivered to the constable of Kirkby and he to see like execution
within his town, and the next markett att Weatherbie to delyver her to
the constables of Weatherbie, and they to see like punishment of her
executed thorow their towns." [Footnote: West Riding Sessions Rolls,
58] In assessing and collecting taxes and in obtaining information the
constables were at the command of county and hundred authorities. They
were used as the active or at least the most available intermediaries
between the justices of the peace and the individuals whom it was
desirable to reach. [Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission, Report XIV., App,
pt. iv, 28, 67.] They were by no means ideal instruments; many were
extremely ignorant--as, for instance, the constable of Collingbourne
Ducis, who in 1650 prays to be relieved from his office because he can
neither read nor write, and is obliged to go to the minister and divers
others to get his warrants read. [Footnote: Hist. MSS. Commission,
Report I., 121] They were constantly being fined by the justices for
neglect of their duties or for inefficiency. [Footnote: Middlesex
County Records, II., 36, 41, 139.]

The most important remaining ancient parochial officers were the
church-wardens. Their position and functions were not so purely
ecclesiastical as the name would suggest. Their duties included, it is
true, the care of the parish church and the provision of other material
requirements for religious services. But they also included many things
which were quite clearly temporal or civil in their nature. Coke says
of their position, "The office is mere temporal." [Footnote: Lambarde,
Duties of Constables, SS 57-60.] That is to say, the church-wardens
represented the parishioners, not the minister or the ecclesiastical
authorities. They formed a quasi-corporation for the holding of the
personal property that belonged to the parish, and could sue and be
sued as trustees for the parish. [Footnote: Lambarde, Duties of Church-
wardens, S 1.]

The almost invariable custom was for the body of the parishioners at a
vestry meeting in Easter week to choose two church-wardens for the next
year. But neither the number nor the mode of appointment was at this
time quite fixed. During the first half of the seventeenth century
clergymen were inclined to magnify their office, and the canons of 1603
and 1639 gave to the minister of the parish some control over the
choice of the wardens; although whenever the rights of the parishioners
were asserted and an established custom shown, the courts upheld this
custom against ecclesiastical encroachments. [Footnote: Toulmin Smith,
The Parish, 78-87.]

The financial powers of the church-wardens were considerable, though
exercised in most cases along with the constable, and in many only
after the approval of the whole body of parishioners at a vestry
meeting. They had, of course, the duty of providing for the repairs of
the church and of taxing their neighbors for this purpose. Unless
previously settled upon by the parishioners themselves, they levied and
collected the local taxes already described as being imposed by the
justices upon the parishes for various purposes. They had the power to
seize and sell the property of such parishioners as refused or
neglected to pay the amounts assessed upon them. Many of the parishes
also received considerable sums by gift or bequest, which were
invested, and the income expended for the poor or other parish objects.
[Footnote: Ibid., chap, v., App.]

Property in land and houses also belonged to some parishes, apart from
the minister's glebe, and the renting and accounts fell within the
church-warden's duties. Various means of combining the securing of
funds with much neighborhood merriment, even in those days of militant
Puritanism, were used by the parish authorities, such as "church-ales,"
"pigeon-holes," Hock-tide games, Easter games, processions, and festive
gatherings, at all of which farthings, pence, and shillings were
gathered. [Footnote: Various quotations in Toulmin Smith, The Parish,
chap, vii., S 12.] Such accounts of these various funds and the record
of the thousand and one petty expenditures for local purposes as were
kept were usually the work of the church-wardens and made their office
one of real local importance. In fact, a whole cycle of parish life
passes before us in these accounts. "Paid the carpenters 5s. for a
barrow to carry the people that died of the sickness to church to bury
them." "For a coat for the whipper, and making, 3s." "For too payre of
glovys for Robin Hode and Mayde Maryan, 3d." "Received for the May-
pole, 1 pound 4s." "Paid Robert Warden, the constable, which he
disbursed for carrying away the witches, 11s." [Footnote: Ibid., 465-

The church-wardens, under a law of Queen Mary, [Footnote: 2 and 3
Philip and Mary, chap. viii.] with the constables and parishioners,
selected the surveyors of highways; and under two statutes of Queen
Elizabeth [Footnote: 8 Eliz., chap, xv., and 14 Eliz., chap. xi.] every
year appointed two men who should be named "the distributers of the
provision for the destruction of noisome fowle and vermine." A tax was
levied upon the parishioners to provide these officers with funds, and
it then became their duty to pay bounties for the heads and eggs of
crows, rooks, starlings, and many other birds. A long list of four-
footed beasts is also included in the definition of "vermine," and
rates ranging from a shilling for a fox to a halfpenny for a mole were
established. [Footnote: Lambarde, Office of Distributers, etc., 92.]
The mole-catcher was a regular employe of some parishes. [Footnote:
Hist. MSS. Commission, Report III., App., 331; V., App., 597.]

Finally, the church-wardens were ex-officio overseers of the poor. By
the great poor law of 1597 the church-wardens, along with four
overseers of the poor appointed each year at Easter by the justices,
had the whole charge of the relief of the poor. [Footnote: 8 Leonard,
The Poor Law, 76, etc.]

They were to estimate the annual costs and to tax their fellow-townsmen
for this purpose. From this time forward taxation for the poor under
the control of parish officers became the most important, as it was the
heaviest, of local charges. The constant efforts of the Privy Council,
through the justices of the peace, to enforce the poor law, kept
church-wardens and other overseers of the poor up to their duties and
engaged them in constant conferences with the justices and in making
reports, as well as in the actual work of poor relief.

A vestry clerk existed in some parishes, and later such an office
became quite general and influential, but at this period the records
were generally preserved by one of the church-wardens or by the
minister. The vestry-clerk is of special interest as being apparently
the prototype of the town-clerk in the American colonies. [Footnote:
Howard, Local Constitutional History of the U. S., 39.]

Various other petty officers existed, but their duties were either
identical with those already described, or insignificant, or so
exceptional as not to reward inquiry and description here. Such were
the beadle, sexton, haywards, ale-conners, waymen, way-wardens,
sidesmen, synodsmen, swornmen, questmen, and perhaps some others.
[Footnote: Discussed in Charming, Town and County Government in the
English Colonies (Johns Hopkins University Studies, II.), No. 10, p.
18, etc.]

Such being the officers whose sphere of activity was the parish, it
remains to describe the general assembly of the people of the parish,
the vestry. This name arose apparently from the practice of meeting in
the part of the church in which the vestments were kept. Ordinarily,
all who held house or land in a parish, no matter on what tenure, were
members of the vestry of the parish. All inhabitants, therefore--land-
owners, free tenants, copy-holders, laborers occupying cottages, even
those who held land in the parish but lived somewhere else--were by law
at liberty to attend the meetings of the parishioners and to join in
the exercise of their functions.

Such a body is of great interest. [Footnote: Coke, 5 Report, 66, 67.]
Those officials whose positions and functions have been discussed in
the two preceding chapters drew all their powers from the crown, and
the duties that they performed were imposed upon them by statute law or
by royal instruction. The same is true of a considerable part of the
activity of constables and church-wardens. But the vestry of the parish
existed as a body which within certain limits had powers of government
of its own, and could impose duties upon parish officials, appoint
committees and require services from them, adopt by-laws which bound
all the inhabitants, and impose taxes upon the landholders of the
parish which they were bound to pay.

Yet evidences of anything like regular meetings of the parishioners
are, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so scanty as to leave
considerable doubt as to whether they occurred at all generally. They
are not mentioned in the legal text-books of the time, which were, of
course, written by men who looked from above downward and were not
interested in local institutions as such. A few accounts of such vestry
meetings remain, [Footnote: E.g., those of Steeple Ashton, quoted in
Toulmin Smith, The Parish, chap, vii, SS 12.] but the action taken at
them was apparently restricted to the choice of parish officers, the
adoption of by-laws for the carrying out of necessary taxation and
other distribution of burdens, and for matters connected with the
building or repair of the church. The attendance probably consisted
only of the more substantial members of the parish and of those who
held office and must present reports. The parish life resided more in
the activity of its officials than of its assembly. Vigorous local
self-government could not have existed without leaving more distinct
traces than it has done, and our study of the political system of the
time will have made it clear that much local independence was not
suited to the period of the Tudors and Stuarts. [Footnote: See Toulmin
Smith, The Parish, chaps, ii., iv., vii.; and Gneist, Self-Government,
book III., chap, ix., S 115.] Such was the provision for the carrying
out of those matters of local concern in the county, the hundred, and
rural parish which were not performed by immediate officials or
commissioners of the central government. It is evident that in the
early seventeenth century the motive power for almost all government,
local as well as general, emanated from the national government--from
the king, Privy Council, and Parliament. It was a vigorous, assertive,
centralized administration, eager to carry out its will and enforce
order, uniformity, and its own ideas upon all persons and bodies in
England. No shade of doubt of their own wisdom or reluctance to
override local or individual liberty of action troubled the thought or
weakened the resolution of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns and their
ministers. Nor were their Parliaments antagonistic to the principle of
centralized government, even when they wished to curb unrestrained
royal control of it. Strong government was in entire consonance with
the spirit of the time.

Yet this ambitious central government was working with very inadequate
and unsuitable instruments. Instead of a body of efficient and
responsible officials, directly and immediately dependent upon their
superiors, receiving wages and hoping for promotion, such as successful
centralized governments have usually possessed, the king and council
made use of the old and cumbrous machinery of local self-government as
they found it. It was quite unsuited to their purposes. Sheriffs,
coroners, high and petty constables, church-wardens, even justices of
the peace, had come down from a period when government was of quite
another and more primitive character, in which the central power
counted for far less, local powers for far more. Most of the local
officials were unpaid, and the others were dependent on insignificant
fees for such money reward as they obtained. The labors imposed upon
them were performed only from a sense of duty, loyalty, or necessity,
not as a fair return for remuneration received.

There was little provision for a wise selection of office-holders, so
far as regarded their suitability to the objects of the central
administration. The county and hundred officials were taken from one
restricted class, the rural gentry; the township and parish officials
were chosen by their neighbors from their own number. In a word, the
government of Elizabeth, James, and Charles was trying to carry on an
ambitious, centralized administration by means of an unpaid, untrained,
and carelessly selected group of local officials, whose offices had
been established and whose characters had been formed for a system of
much more limited powers and of more independent local life.

At certain times, as in the period of personal government of Charles
I., something like a hierarchy seemed about to develop itself, in which
the Privy Council, speaking in the name of the king, gave instructions
to the justices of assize, the justices of assize to the sheriffs and
justices of the peace, the justices of the peace to the high-constable
of the hundred, and the high-constable to the petty constable, church-
wardens, and other township or parish officials. But no such regularity
was attained; the council frequently communicated directly with the
justices of the peace, the sheriff with the parish officers; and the
administration became no more systematic as time went on.

The primary governmental division of the country, the shire, was the
sphere of much activity; but it was not automatic, and acted wholly or
almost wholly in response to pressure from above. The ultimate unit of
local government, the parish, township, or manor, had many and
interesting functions, but they were for the most part either declining
survivals of earlier powers, or new forms of activity imposed upon it
from above. It had the necessary officials and the political rights to
enable it to do a great deal, but it showed few signs of vigorous life.
Thus government in England in the early seventeenth century was so
organized that at the top was an energetic national government, midway
an active but dependent county organization, and at the bottom the
parish with a residuum of ancient but unutilized powers of self-

No greater contrast could be noted in the position of men than that
between the Englishman at home, in the early seventeenth century, and
the Englishman who emigrated to America. Almost all the conditions that
surrounded the former were reversed in the case of the latter. The
pressure of central government was immediately and almost completely
withdrawn. Many of the most urgent activities of government in England,
such as the administration of the poor law and the restriction of
vagabondage, almost ceased in the colonies. The class of settled rural
gentry from which most local officials were drawn in England did not
exist in America. On the other hand, the wilderness, the Indians, the
freedom from restraint, the religious liberty, the opportunity for
economic and social rise in the New World made a set of conditions
which had been quite unknown in the mother-country.

As a result, the colonists had to make a choice from among the
institutions with which they were familiar at home, of those which were
applicable to their new needs. Of such institutions of local government
in England there were, as has been seen, a considerable number and
variety. Naturally, some functions which had been prominent at home
were reduced to insignificance in the colonies; some which had been
almost forgotten or had remained quite undeveloped in England gained
unwonted importance in America. Almost every local official or body
which existed in England reappeared in some part or other of the
English colonies, although often with much altered powers and duties.
All the familiar names are to be found, though sometimes with new
meanings and always more or less considerably adapted to new
conditions. Moreover, the choice was in the main restricted to familiar
English institutions, for in the great variety of system in different
parts of the colonies there was scarcely an official or body which did
not have its prototype in England. [Footnote: Howard, Local
Constitutional History of the U. S.; Channing, Town and County
Government in the English Colonies; Adams, Germanic Origin of New
England Towns. Cf. also Tyler, England in America; Andrews, Colonial
Self-Government; Greene, Colonial Commonwealth (American Nation
Series), IV., V., VI.]

In this as in other matters, the foundations of America were laid in
European conditions and occurrences. European needs sent explorers on
their voyages of discovery, and European ambitions equipped adventurers
for their expeditions of conquest; the commercial projects of England,
France, Holland, and Sweden led to the establishment of the principal
New-World colonies; the economic exigencies and the political and
religious struggles of Europe sent a flood of settlers to people them;
the institutions of Spain, France, Holland, and England all found a
lodgment in the western continent; and those of England became the
basis of the great nation which has reached so distinct a primacy in




No general bibliography of the whole field of this volume exists,
although two comprehensive publications (both described below) have
special bibliographic sections: The Cambridge Modern History has full
lists of books, less well analyzed than the systematic and useful
bibliographies in Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale.


Several general histories of Europe covering the field of this volume
have been published in recent years or are now appearing. The most
important are: Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale (12 vols., 1893-
1901), of which vols. III. and VI. apply most nearly to the subjects
included in this book; The Cambridge Modern History (to be in 12 vols.,
1902-), especially vols. I.-IV.; H. H. Helmolt, History of the World,
translated from the German (to be in 8 vols., 1902-), especially vols.
I. and VII. Helmolt differs from all other general histories by its
arrangement in accordance with ethnographical and geographical
divisions rather than historical epochs; he pays also especial
attention to economic phenomena. The following three volumes in the
series entitled Periods of European History, give an account of this
period in somewhat shorter form: Richard Lodge, The Close of the Middle
Ages, 1272-1494 (1901); A. H. Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century,
1494-1598 (1897); H. O. Wakeman, Europe, 1598-1715 (1904).

Two excellent histories of the period of discovery are O. F. Peschel,
Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen (1858), and Sophus Ruge,
Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen (1881). More recent works
are S. Gunther, Das Zeitalter der Entdeckungen (1901), and Carlo
Errera, L'Epoca delle Grandi Scoperti Geografiche (1902).


The seemingly well-established view that Columbus when he discovered
America was in search of a direct western route to the East Indies and
Cathay, and that he had been led to form this plan by correspondence
with the Florentine scholar Toscanelli, was attacked by Henry Vignaud,
La Lettre et la Carte de Toscanelli sur la Route des Indes par L'Orient
(1901), and in a translation and extension of the same work under the
title Toscanelli and Columbus (1902). Vignaud considers the letter of
Toscanelli a forgery, and the object of Columbus in making the voyage
the discovery of a certain island of which he had been informed by a
dying pilot. His work elicited many replies in the form of book reviews
or more extended works. Of the former may be mentioned those of E. G.
Bourne (American Historical Review, January, 1903) and Sophus Ruge
(Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft fur Erdkunde zu Berlin, 1902); among the
latter, the monumental work, Christopher Columbus, His Life, His Work,
His Remains, by John Boyd Thacher (I., 1903). Few scholars seem to have
been convinced by the arguments of Vignaud, but the whole question must
be considered as still undetermined. The last word is E. G. Bourne,
Spain in America (The American Nation, III., 1904).


A large number of the contemporary accounts of the early expeditions of
discovery and adventure are published by the Hakluyt Society. These
volumes are provided with introductions of great value and with
numerous maps, glossaries, and other material illustrative of the time.
They cover a long period of time and include many lines of travel not
referred to in this book; but many of them refer to the early
expeditions to the southeast, west, and northwest which had much to do
with the discovery and exploration of America. Some of the most
important publications of this character in the series are the
following: Select Letters of Columbus, edited by R. H. Major (II, and
XLIII, 1849 and 1870); Narratives of Early Voyages to the Northwest,
edited by Thomas Rundall (V., 1851); India in the Fifteenth Century,
edited by R. H. Major (XXII., 1859); The Commentaries of the Great
Afonso Dalboquerque, edited by Walter de Gray Birch (LIII., LV., LXII.,
LXIX., 1875, 1880, and 1883); The Voyage of John Huyghen van Linschoten
to the East Indies, edited by A. C. Burnell and P. A. Tiele (LXX. and
LXXI., 1884); The Journal of Christopher Columbus, edited by C. R.
Markham (LXXXVI., 1892); The Discovery and Conquest of Guinea, Written
by Gomes Eannes de Azurara, edited by C. R. Beazley and Edgar Prestage
(XCV. and C., 1896 and 1900); The First Voyage of Vasco da Gama, edited
by E. G. Ravenstein (XCIX., 1898); Texts and Versions of John de Piano
Carpini and William de Rubruquis, edited by C. R. Beazley (1903).

The standard editions of the narratives of the early land travellers in
eastern Asia are those of the Recueil de Voyages et de Memoires publie
par la Societe de Geographie, including (IV., 1839) Relations des
Voyages de Guillaume de Rubruk, Jean du Plan Carpin, etc. (edited by M.
A. R. D'Avezac); and Schafer et Cordier, Recueil de Voyages et de
Documents pour Servir a L'Histoire de la Geographie, especially
"Voyages en Asie ... du ... Odoric de Pordenone" (edited by Henri
Cordier). English translations of Rubruquis and Pordenone also appear
as an appendix in Travels of Sir John Mandeville, edited by A. W.
Pollard (1900). Sir John Mandeville is worthless as an historical
source, as his genuine material is all drawn from these sources and
from Marco Polo, and there is no probability that he ever travelled in
the East. His own additions are usually mendacious. The standard
edition of Marco Polo is that of Sir Henry Yule (2 vols., 1871). This
has just been reprinted with additional editorial notes by Henri
Cordier, under the title, The Book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian,
Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East, etc. (1903). A
valuable collection of narratives of early discovery is M. F. de
Navarrete, Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos (5 vols., 1825-
1837). Those of particular interest to England are in Richard Hakluyt,
Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries (1589, reprinted 1903,
to be in 12 vols.).


Among the standard histories of mediaeval and modern geography are
Joachim Lelewel, Geographie du Moyen Age (4 vols., 1852-1857); Vivien
de St. Martin, Histoire de la Geographie et des Decouvertes
Geographiques (1873); M. F. Vicomte de Santarem, Essai sur L'Histoire
de la Cosmographie pendant le Moyen Age (3 vols., 1849-1852); and C. R.
Beazley, The Dawn of Modern Geography (vols. I. and II., 1897 and
1901). A full account of the history and development of maps,
especially of the form known as portolani, is to be found in the two
works translated from the Swedish of A. E. Nordenskiold: Facsimile
Atlas to the Early History of Cartography (1889), Periplus, an Essay on
the Early History of Charts and Sailing-Directions (1 vol. and an
atlas, 1897); G. Wauverman, Histoire de L'Ecole Cartographique Belge et
Anversois du 16 degrees Siecle (2 vols., 1895).

The state of geographical knowledge at the beginning of the period of
explorations is well described in C. R. Beazley, Introduction to the
volume of the Hakluyt Society's publications for 1899. F. Kunstmann,
Die Kenntniss Indiens in XV. Jahrhunderts (1863); and G. H. Pertz, Der
Aelteste Versuch zur Entdeckung des Seeweges nach Ostindien (1859),
describe two important phases of that subject.

The fullest and best work on the relations between the Orient and the
Occident, the trade-routes, the objects of trade, and the methods of
its administration is Wilhelm Heyd, Geschichte des Levantehandels im
Mittelalter (2 vols., 1879). There is a French translation of this work
(1885-1887), which is later and has been corrected by the author. There
is a valuable article on ancient trade in Encyclopaedia Biblica, IV.,
48, etc. Much that is suggestive and informing concerning Eastern
commerce and trade-routes can be found in Sir W. W. Hunter, History of
British India, I. (1899), and on the products of the East in Sir George
Birdwood, Report of Commissioners for the Paris Exhibition of 1878
(1878). Some information concerning trade organization in the
Mediterranean Sea and throughout Europe can be found in William
Cunningham, An Essay on Western Civilization in Its Economic Aspects (2
vols., 1898-1900). H. H. Helmolt, General History, VII., pt. i., pp. 1-
139, has a long and valuable chapter on "The Economic Development of
Western Europe Since the Time of the Crusades," by Dr. Richard Mayr.
John Fiske, The Discovery of America (2 vols., 1892), contains an
interesting popular account of the trade conditions of the time and of
those explorations which were directed westward.

The formation of the later commercial companies is described and the
provisions of their charters analyzed in P. Bonnassieux, Les Grandes
Compagnies de Commerce (1892). This work is somewhat superficial, being
based, apparently, entirely on works in the French and Latin languages,
and using secondary materials where primary sources are attainable; but
it stands almost alone in its subject, and has, therefore, considerable

Naval architecture is described in Auguste Jal, Archeologie Navale (2
vols., 1840); and J. P. E. Jurien de la Graviere, Les Manns du XV. et
du XVI. Siecle (1879); Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, Don John of
Austria (2 vols., 1883).


The best general account of Italy during the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries is in Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire Generale, III., chaps, ix.
and x., and IV., chap. i. For the intellectual and artistic history of
Italy as a whole, J. Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in
Italy (1860, English translation, 2 vols.), is the most satisfactory
work. J. A. Symonds, Renaissance in Italy (7 vols., 1875-1886), takes
up many sides of the period. A good general history of Venice in small
compass is H. P. Brown, Venice: a Historical Sketch of the Republic

M. G. Canale, Storia del Commercio dei Viaggi, ... degl' Italiani
(1866), and Storia della Republica di Genoa (1858-1864), contain much
information about Mediterranean trade and voyages, especially of the

The commerce of Venice is described in H. F. Brown, Calendar of State
Papers, Venetian, Introduction, I. (1864).

Of the fondaco and the German merchants in Venice a description is
given in H. Simonsfeld, Der Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venedig (2 vols.,
1887). Many additional sources are in G. Thomas, Capitolare dei
Visdomini del Fontego dei Todechi (1874). A valuable article on the
same subject is W. Heyd, "Das Haus der deutschen Kaufleute in Venedig,"
in Historische Zeitschrift, XXXII., 193-220.

The standard history of the rise of the Ottoman Empire is J. W.
Zinkeisen, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reichs in Europa (6 vols., 1840).
More modern works are A. La Jonquiere, Histoire de L'Empire Ottoman
(1881); and G. F. Herzberg, Geschichte des Bysantischen und des
Osmanischen Reiches (1883).

An excellent work on the fifteenth century is Edwin Pears, The
Destruction of the Greek Empire and the Story of the Capture of
Constantinople by the Turks (2 vols., 1903). For later history, see L.
von Ranke, Die Osmanen in XVI. und XVII. Jahrhundert (1827). A short
and good popular account is A. Lane-Poole, Turkey (1886). Good sections
are devoted to the Ottoman Turks in the Cambridge Modern History (I.,
chap, iii., by J. B. Bury); and in Lavisse et Rambaud, Histoire
Generale (III., chap, xvi., and IV., chap, xix.), by A. Rambaud.


A short but excellent history of Portugal is H. M. Stephens, The Story
of Portugal (1891, Stories of the Nations Series).

The interesting character and significant work of Prince Henry the
Navigator have made him the subject of many biographies. One of the
earliest of these was G. de Veer, Prinz Heinrich und seine Zeit (1864).
More detailed is R. H. Major, Life of Prince Henry the Navigator (1868,
abbreviated edition, 1874). A number of other biographies were called
forth by the interest in the five hundredth anniversary of Henry's
birth, which was coincident with the four hundredth anniversary of the
discovery of America. A partial list of these is as follows: C. R.
Beazley, Prince Henry the Navigator (1890); G. Wauverman, Henri le
Navigateur et L'Academie Portugaise de Sagres (1890); J. P. O. Martins,
Os Filhos de Dom Joao I. (1891); M. Barradas, O Infante Dom Henrique
(1894); A. Alves, Dom Henrique o Infante (1894); J. E. Wappaus,
Untersuchungen uber... Heinrich (1842). Two valuable essays, Prince
Henry the Navigator and The Demarcation Line of Pope Alexander III., by
E. G. Bourne, are republished in his Essays in Historical Criticism

The most important original source for the early exorations of the
Portuguese is Gomes Eannes de Azurara, Chronicle of the Discovery and
Conquest of Guinea (2 vols., Hakluyt Society, 1896 and 1899). The
voyages of Cadamosto are published by the Hakluyt Society. Long
extracts from the accounts of the voyages of Diego Gomez are given in
C. R. Beazley, Prince Henry, 289-298, and in R. H. Major, Prince Henry,
288-298. A number of original documents illustrative of this period are
contained in Alguns Documentos do Archivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo
Acerca das Navagacoes e Conquistas Portuguezas (1892). An account of
the latest stages of the Portuguese advance to India is given in F. C.
Danvers, The Portuguese in India (1894). An almost contemporary account
of the explorations is J. Barros, Decadas da Asia (first published
1552, etc.); the first five books have been translated into German by
E. Feust (1844).


The great collection of sources for the history of Spain is the
Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de Espana (112 vols.,
1842-1895). Matters more particularly relating to the subjects of this
book appear in vols. I., III., VI., XIII., XIX., XXIV., XXVIII.,
XXXIX., and LI. The proceedings of the cortes are published by the
Academia de la Historia, Cortes de los Antiguos Reinos de Leon y de
Castilla (4 vols., 1861-1884). The records of those called by Ferdinand
and Isabella are in vol. IV. (1882). A careful analysis and
introduction to these records is by M. Colmeiro (2 vols., 1883-1884).

The three most important chronicles of Spain contemporary with
Ferdinand and Isabella are Hernando del Pulgar, Cronica de los Reyes
Catolicos (1780); and Andre Bernaldez, Historia de los Reyes (1878).

The institutions of Spain are described in detail in two admirable
works: J. M. Antequera, Historia de la Legislacion Espanola (1874); and
F. M. Marina, Ensayo Historico-critico sobre la Antigua Legislacion ...
de Leon y Castilla (1834). There is a short but systematic and valuable
account of Spanish institutions in The Cambridge Modern History (I.,
chap, xi., by H. B. Clarke). The most satisfactory general description
of the changes in Spanish institutions during the reign of the Catholic

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