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—"informatus continuo per nuntios tunc praesentes, "cessit officio regali, et omni jure regio sibi compe"tenti, coram notario, abrenunciavit, et regni regimine "se dimisit."
It was re- It is in relation to the last passage that the faw^sa" record of the case now under consideration becomes voluntary illustrative and instructive. There the words are, in resignation. place, "de regimine regni sui se demisit," and in another place "de regimine regni Angliae se demisit." It is clear, therefore, that, whatever may have been the nature of the event in fact, it was in law regarded, fourteen years afterwards, as a voluntary resignation or abdication. It could, indeed, hardly have been regarded otherwise, as the proclamation on the accession of Edward III. was to the same effect. The French words in which the proclamation was made in the City of London, were that Edward II. "de sa "bone volunte, et de commun conseil et assent des "Prelatz, Countes, et Barons, et autres nobles, et "tote la communalte du Roialme, seu est ouste del "governement du Roialme." 1 In the writs of proclamation sent to the Sheriffs and others it was also recited in Latin that Edward II. "spontanea volun"tate se amovit a regimine dicti regni."2 From this it is plain (though, indeed, there could hardly have been a doubt on the subject) that an abdication is a demise.
Original The original meaning of the expression " Demise of the demise "f" ^mg" lias' perhaps, almost passed out of recollection.
It is now regarded as the legal mode of describing the death of the sovereign. It may therefore be of some interest to observe that Edward II. is supposed to have done pre
1 Hot. Claus., 1 Ed. III., part 1, m. 28. The proclamation has been printed, not quite correctly, in Rymer's Fcedera.
3 Rot. Ctaus., 1 Ed. III., part 1, m. 28, not printed by Rymer.
cisely what every other sovereign of England is supposed to do at the end of his reign. "II se demyst." He divested himself of the government of his realm. II se demyst is a form of words in common use throughout the Year Books to signify that the person "divested "himself" of any particular estate which he might have held. It is not restricted to the meaning of granting a^i estate for life or years to another, but applies to any interest to which the holder could disentitle himself. It is thus, though a hard and cruel, and even ironical phrase as applied to Edward II., a not ungraceful euphemism as applied to most of our sovereigns.
A case of some interest in relation to the mode of Contempt:
dealing with contempt of court occurs in Trinity Term 0f tne
(No. 51). It is an instance of the light thrown by ^ngh".
reports upon records, and of the light thrown back by suited in
records upon reports. Sir Robert de Scardeburgh had Wes^n!?: r f ... sterHallby
brought an action against one Sir William Botevileyn, a woman, and his wife Margery, by writ of Trespass. Some curious technical points arose upon that writ. Before the cause was decided, however, Scardeburgh with other Justices of the King's Bench was proceeding up Westminster Hall to his Court, when Botevileyn's wife assailed him with opprobrious words, and said that he had brought the writ of Trespass against her without just cause.
Upon this both Botevileyn and his wife were attached Immediate by Bill to answer Scardeburgh as to the trespass com- *'/theTM611' mitted by speaking the words. Thus much we know offender from the record. Fitzherbert, in his Abrid-ginent, has husband by made some confusion between the original action by Billi withwrit, and Scardeburgh's proceeding by bill, for he has placed the two under the head of Writ.1 There is also an error in two MSS. of one of the two reports of the
proceedings by bill, in wbich occurs the word href, though the word bille is correctly used a few lines afterwards. In the other report the word bille is used correctly throughout.
A comparison of the reports of the original action with the reports and the record of the proceedings following the words used against Scardeburgh reveals the following facts. A Justice of the King's Bench, having a complaint against another subject, for injuries done to himself as a fellow subject, because his house had been burnt and his hedges broken down, proceeded in one of the ordinary ways by suing an original writ of Trespass out of the Chancery returnable in the King's Bench. When, however, his complaint was that he had been insulted in his capacity of Judge, while about to take his seat, there was a summary process of attachment, without any original writ whatever, upon a bill issuing out of the Court of which he was a Justice.1 In some respects the matter was still regarded as one between party and party, because both the offender and her husband were attached to answer Scardeburgh as to a plea (" de placito ") why she had done as alleged, and because Scardeburgh claimed damages. But in one very important respect it was different, because the contempt against the King (in the person of one of his Justices) was made a prominent feature of the bill. It seems clear also from a passage in the reports which will be noticed below that there was little or no delay in the preparation of the bill, and that Botevileyn and his wife were practically attached on the spot.
exception Botevileyn, on behalf of himself and Margery, adto the Bill: mitted the trespass, but it was pleaded on behalf of whether Margery, who declined to be bound by Botevileyn's plea,
1 The proceeding by bill without cases of this kind, as is shown by the writ wns not, however, restricted to records, even at this early period.
that she was wrongly named, in the bill, wife of Bote-the woman vileyn, as she was in fact a fewfie sole because she had M having been divorced. Scardeburgh denied the divorce, and been issue was joined on that question of fact. 'norCL
Both the reports here introduce a curious piece of A jury de information, which it would be impossible for the record s^n^,jus to make known to us. Scardeburgh prayed that an was prayed, inquest might be taken immediately, because the words on^'b^*1 had been spoken in the presence of the Justices them- cause the selves. The meaning appears to be that a jury to in- notwithm form the Court formally of the fact of the contempt,tneir. should be at once made up de circumstantibua, withoutcopmsance' sending any jury-process to the Sheriff. There seems every reason to believe that this would actually have been done, had the issue joined been one upon which a jury could give a verdict. Willoughby, the Chief Justice, distinctly gave as the reason against it that the issue joined was not on the trespass or point of the bill.
After this both reports agree in a remarkable error, Bishop's which is that jury-process was sent to the Sheriff. As a that the'6 matter of fact no such process did issue, because there woman was nothing in dispute of which a jury could have divoreed, any cognisance. The question of the divorce had to be and was settled by the certificate of the Bishop of Rochester, who certified that there had been no such divorce.
Scardeburgh now prayed judgment against Botevileyn The woman
and his wife. The Court, however, seems to have hesi- the tres-S
tated for a considerable time, and there were several Pass'and is
adjournments. The Judges may, perhaps, have been in to the
doubt whether they should consider the fact of the alleged CUstoay
. of the
trespass as not denied by Margery (though it had been Marshal,
admitted on her behalf by her husband) when .she had butlet
* . out on
chosen an issue on a wholly different question. At last mainprise.
Margery, who had been out on mainprise, was brought
to the bar by the Marshal, and confessed the trespass.
She was re-committed to the custody of the Marshal,
U 50018. d
of the fact.
It could, nevertheless, pro
but was again let out on mainprise to appear on a day given. Nothing more has been found in relation to the case, and the lady was probably not further punished for her little outburst of temper.
The most noteworthy feature of these proceedings is the evident principle on which the Court acted, that before anything could be done in relation to the contempt they must be informed of the fact in a legal manner. Once duly informed they could give judgment and commit to prison, but they could not or would not regard an act done in their own presence as being within their own knowledge, unless they had the confession of the doer actual or implied, or the verdict of a jury. The pleading of a divorce by Botevileyn's wife and the joinder of issue thereon had the effect of keeping the information as to the trespass or contempt from the Court until a question which was in no way connected with it had been decided. The matter would otherwise have been settled quickly and effectively.
The Court clearly had the power of proceeding more expeditiously when contempt against itself was in ques
expedi tiously than in an ordinary action.
ceed more tion than when an ordinary action by original writ had to be brought before it. There seems, however, to be but little doubt that it did not act in so summary a manner in early as in more recent times, even when the contempt was in the presence of the Justices. Some kind of formal proceeding had to be instituted,1 the most rapid of which was a bill drawn immediately, upon which the offender could be attached on the spot. A jury of the by-standers could be sworn, and upon their finding a judgment of imprisonment might follow. But, of course, even the proceeding by bill was subject
1 Mr. Solly Flood has collected a number of instances from the year 38 Henry III. to the year 9 Henry V., and printed them in u Schedule at the end of his " Story of Prince
Henry of Monmouth and Chief Justice Gascoign" (Royal Historical Society, 1885). They include several in which a jury of the bystanders was sworn on the spot.