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This very thought or idea may, perhaps, by fome be considered as highly presumptuous; but it would have been still more so, if I had not given to each statute a diligent, and careful perusal.

At the same time that many such statutes occurred in every reign, other observations at the same time naturally arose-I imagined that the old acts of parliament were (as far as they went) the very

best materials for an English history; and that they were likewise strongly descriptive of the manners of the times-It will be found, that the inhabitants of this country were, three or four centuries

ago, guilty of many crimes, which we have at present scarcely an idea of; and that we are not indebted to them (at least in their capacity of legiflators) so much as hath been generally imagined—At the same time we owe much to them, as there were greater struggles for a con stitutional freedom, than in any


country of Europe during the same period. --This, however, should not rest upon assertion merely without having examined the materials proper for forming a comparative judgment; I have, therefore, looked into the Ordinances of most countries of Europe, during the thirteenth and three following centuries (to which time I mean to confine my observations); and it will appear, that our laws are much superior [6] - I have particularly examined the Scots acts of parliament, since the year 1424 [c], which, though continued regularly from one reign to another, have been most unaccountably neglected by all our lawyers and historians—It is well known, that the preface and introduction to their Regiam Majeftatem, as well as many other part of that ancient book of the Scots law, are exactly the fame with our Glanville ; and though formerly there were great wars and animofities between the two nations, yet, from their vicinity, there was, to a certain degree, a communication of laws

[6] Thefe Ordinances are likewise frequently expository of our Statutes, especially when they happen to have been made nearly at the same time.

[c] The collection of Statutes, published by Sir Thomas Murray of Glendook, in 1681, clerk of the council, begins with this first year of James the Firft of ScotlandThe first edition of them, however, was by Liprevick; and from the black character in which they were printed, they were called Aita Nigra-Skeen, afterwards, who was clerk of the parliament, and hath written a Glossary to explain fome of the antiquated words, continued the Black Ads to the year 1597-Traces, however, are to be found of much earlier laws, in Heffor Boethius, and other chroniclers and historians.


and manners --The learned Crais supposes, that the English law is the foundation of the Scots law: other writers upon the Scots law (particularly Bruce) have denied this, and fuppofed the English to be derived from the Scots; but (be this as it may) the very point in litigation necessarily supposes an agreement, and connexion.

As for the opinion of English writers upon this head, I have not happened to meet with one, who feems ever to have looked into the Scots law-And it is very particular, that even in Calin's case [d] when they might have paid their court so well to James the First, by shewing a connexion between the two laws, there is not even an allusion to such an agreement. 61,

With regard to the laws of the other parts of the world, I have chiefly confined my observations, in illustration of any of the statutes, to those of the more northern parts of Europe-If we consider part of the inhabitants of this island as, descended from the Angles, or Saxons, the ancient customs and laws of these people must be supposed to have been adopted by us-If the inhabitants of the more northern parts of England are deseended from the Danes, the laws of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, muft likewise be lupposed to bear a great-affinity to our's.

The same obfervation holds equally with regard to the ancient laws of Normandy, and other provinces of France; and if it is contended, that some of our laws and customs are merely of British origin, the laws of Hoel Dda must be consulted, which are the most regular collection and system of ancient laws that are any where extant [e].

sai The following observations are, therefore, the result of a very attentive reading, of whatever materials might moft contribute to the more fully understanding the itatutes ; and notwithstanding great diligence hath not been wanting in procuring those materials, as well as in the perufal of them, I yet fear that I must beg a more than common share of indulgence from the reader.

I do not by this mean, that I have advanced any thing, which, upon further consideration, or the procuřing of new materials, I

[d] 7 Cok. Rep. p. 1.

[e] Perhaps les Afiles de Jerufalens may be excepted; for an account of which, see observations on the 27th of Henry VIII.


think it necessary to retra&; if what is said (in page 82) with re-

gard to a Retrait Lignager be excepted—A Retrait Lignager re-

fembles an entail only in it's tendency to a perpetuity; and great

part of the citation froin Godefroġ might, therefore, have been

omitted [1]

They are, therefore, inaccuracies of a less material nature, for

which I must beg indulgence ; and many of these possibly will be
corrected by consulting the errata [8]

I can hardly flatter înyself, that any one will give a regular per-

ufal to what consists of such miscellaneous matter-I will only

request, therefore, that those who may look into what relates to

any particular ftatuite, would afterwards cast their eye upon the

Index, as, perhaps, it may furnish a reference to what



to illustrate the same point.

· It may



likewise to mention, that, in some instances, the

reading the statute itself may be necessary for the more clearly. un-
derstanding the Observations---- If it be said, that in huch instance
the statute itself should have been printed, the answer is, that this
would have greatly fwelled the book; and as most of those, who
will ever look into these remarks, will probably be of the profession
of the law, it is needless to say, that every lawyer must have some
edition of the Statutes in his study-In order likewise not to fwell
the book to too great a size, I have scarcely, in any instance, trans-
lated any citation, or authority.

Since two-thirds of this work were printed off, Mr. Blackstone
hath published the first part of his Commentaries. Some
few things are asserted in that very valuable work, which, I have
the satisfaction to find, confirm what I have ventured to advance
These accidental agreements between two. writers, on partly the

I should likewise here apologize for what I have faid with regard to the doctrine in
the cafe De Libellis Fanofis, in Sir Edward Coke's fifth report, being inserted as a comment
on the 34th ch, of Westminster the first, which might be more properly applicable to the
2d Rich. II. ch. v.-I was led into this mistake, by suppoting a word in the text of the 34th
ch. of Westm. rhe firft, which; apon a more accurate perusal, 'I do not find there.

[x] I must here likewise apologize for a mifake of the printer, in the Statute of Mertor's,

following two other Statutes of Henry the Third, which were in reality subsequent to that


redon's). I. je ***


same subject, are not to be wondered at; nor should I have mentioned them, was I not incapable of borrowing from another, what I do not make an acknowledgment of, and refer to the real author.

As some few of the Observations are verbal, it may not be improper to inform the reader, that the edition of the Statutes, which I have generally made use of, is that of Mr. Cay—I do not by this pretend to enter into the comparative merit of this and the later editions; but am perluaded, from the great learning and accuracy of the editor, that it will not easily be rendered more perfect, except by the addition of the Statutes of the present reign-I have likewise very frequent occasion to support what I have advanced, by citations from Rymer's Fædera; it may not be improper, therefore, to inform the reader, that the edition I have made use of, is that printed at the Hague in 1745—As for other authorities, when they are taken from books which are not easily to be procured, I have generally mentioned the place, and time, when such work was printed, in a note subjoined to such authority---Having, however, omitted this in some few instances, I had thought of prefixing a list of the authors cited (which hath not been uncommonly practised) – I have, however, been deterred from this, by it's being condemned by many, as oftentatious.

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