Page images

the prerogative hath a just right to give, and hath very liberally given for the encouragement of colonization. To some colonies it granted almost all the royal powers of government which they hold and enjoy at this day, but to none of them did it grant less than to the first conquerors of this island, in whose favour it is declared by a royal proclamation, that they shall have the same privileges to all intents and purposes, as the freeborn subjects of England.

"That to use the name or authority of the people of the parent state, to take away or render ineffectual the legal grants of the crown to the colonists, is delusive, and destroys that confidence which the people Have ever had and ought to have of the most solemn royal grants in their favour, and renders unstable and insecure those very rights and privileges which prompted their emigration.

"That your colonists and your petitioners having the most implicit confidence in the royal faith, pledged to them in the most solemn manner by your predecessors, rested satisfied with their different portions of the royal grants, and having been bred from their infancy to venerate the name of parliament, a word still dear to the heart of every Briton, and considered as the palladium of liberty, and the great source from whence their own is derived, received the several acts of parliament of England and Great Britain for the regulation of the trade of the colonies, as the salutary precautions of a prudent father for the prosperity of a wide extended family; and that in this light we received them without a thought of questioning the right, the whole tenor of our conduct will demonstrate, for above one hundred years; that, though we received these regulations of trade from our fellow subjects of England and Great Britain, so advantageous to us, as colonists, as Englishmen, and Britons, we did not thereby confer on them a power of legislation for us, far less of destroying us and our children, by divesting us of all rights and property.

gislative power, still hoping from the interposition of their sovereign, to avert that last and greatest of calamities, that of being reduced to an abject state of slavery, by having an arbitrary government established in the colonies; for the very attempting of which, a minister of your predecessors was impeached by a House of Commons.

"With like sorrow do we find the popish religion established by law, which by treaty was only to be tolerated.

"That the most essential rights of the colonists have been invaded, and their property given and granted to your Majesty by men not entitled to such a power.

"That the murder of the colonists hath been encouraged by another Act, disallowing and annulling their trials by juries of the vicinage; and that fleets and armies have been sent to enforce those dreadful laws.

"We therefore, in this desperate extremity, most humbly beg leave to ap proach the throne, to declare to your Ma jesty, that our fellow subjects in Great Britain, and consequently their represen tatives the House of Commons, have not a right, as we trust we have shewn, to legis late for the colonies; and that your petitioners, and the colonists, are not nor ought not to be bound by any other laws, than such as they have themselves assented to, and not disallowed by your Ma jesty.

"Your petitioners do therefore make this claim and demand, from their sovereign, as guarantee of their just rights, on the faith and confidence of which they have settled, and continue to reside in these distant parts of the empire, that no laws shall be made and attempted to be forced upon them, injurious to their rights as colonists, Englishmen, or Britons.

"That your petitioners, fully sensible of the great advantages that have arisen from the regulations of trade in general, prior to the year 1760, as well to Great Britain and her colonies, as to your petitioners in particular, and being anxiously desirous of encreasing the good effects of these laws; as well as to remove an obstacle, which is now in our government, and could not have existed on the prin ciples of our constitution, as it hath arisen from colonization; we do declare for our selves and the good people of this island, that we freely consent to the operation of "Your humble petitioners have for all such acts of the British parliament, as several years with deep and silent sorrow, are limited to the regulation of our exlamented this unrestrained exercise of le-ternal commerce only, and the sole objects

"That with reluctance we have been drawn from the prosecution of our internal affairs, to behold with amazement a plan almost carried into execution, for enslaving the colonies; founded, as we conceive, on a claim of parliament to bind the colonists in all cases whatsoever.

of which are the mutual advantage of Great Britain and the colonies.

"We, your petitioners, do therefore beseech your Majesty, that you will be pleased, as the common parent to your subjects, to become a mediator between your European and American subjects, and to consider the latter, however far removed from your royal presence, as equally intitled to your protection, and the benefits of the English constitution, the deprivation of which must dissolve that dependence on the parent state, which is our glory to acknowledge, whilst enjoying those rights, under her protection. But should this bond of union be ever destroyed, and the colonists reduced to consider themselves as tributaries to Britain, they must cease to venerate her as an affectionate parent.

"We beseech your Majesty to believe, that it is our earnest prayer to Almighty Providence to preserve your Majesty in all happiness, prosperity, and honour, and that there may never be wanting one of your illustrious line to transmit the blessings of our excellent constitution to the latest posterity, and to reign in the hearts of a loyal, grateful and affectionate people.

"Passed the Assembly this 23rd day of December, 1774.”

Chaplin, was owner and occupier of all the lands in the parish of Rysom in the county of Lincoln, to the amount of 2,000 acres, for which he paid no tythe whatever, but a sum of money of 15l. 10s. 14d. by way of composition: this being considerably under the real value, the respondent, Bree, rector of the parish, exhibited his bill in the court of Exchequer, Hilary term, 1769, praying that the appellant might be deemed to account with him, according to the real and full value of the lands. The appellant admitted, generally, the allegations contained in the respondent's bill; but insisted that part of the lands called Grange de Lynge, mentioned in the pleadings, were not within the parish of Rysom, being extra-parochial; and that an ancient composition real, anterior to the reign of queen Elizabeth, had been made between the patron and parson of the parish, for the yearly sum of 15l. 10s. 14d. in lieu and full satisfaction of all tythes, and other ecclesiastical dues. The said cause being heard before the barons of the Exchequer, two issues were directed to be tried, the first at the next Lincoln assizes, to enquire whether the lands of Grange de Lynge were in the parish of Rysom; the second, whether there had been any composition real between the patron and parson, previous to the reign of queen Elizabeth. On the 25th and 26th of March, 1774, both matters came to be determined before Mr. Justice Blackstone and two special juries, at Lincoln, when verdicts in both issues were found for the appellant, that Grange de Lynge was extra-parochial; and that there had been an ancient composition real, paid in lieu and full satisfaction of tythes and ecclesiastical dues.

Debate in the Lords on the Tythe Cause -Chaplin against Bree.] March 6. This day was heard a remarkable Tythe Cause. Counsel were called in to be heard in the cause wherein Charles Chaplin, esq. is appellant, and John Bree, clerk, is respondent, being an appeal from an order of the court of Exchequer of the 16th of May 1774. The case shortly was this: two is--The respondent, looking upon himself sues had been tried at the assizes of Lin- to be aggrieved by both verdicts, and concoln, to enquire what were the modes for ceiving that the learned judge who tried collecting tythes in the parish of Rysom, the cause, (by his direction of the jury) and whether the lands in question, of which was of opinion, that the appellant had failtythe was demanded, were extra-parochial, ed in proving the affirmative, or either of or within the parish. The jury found for the propositions on which he rested his Mr. Chaplin, the proprietor of the land. cause, applied for a new trial at the court Judge Blackstone attended, and, as the of Exchequer, who, after hearing counsel judge who tried the cause, reported the several days, thought fit to order a new evidence. His opinion was, that the ver- trial on both issues, against which the apdict was against evidence. The clergy- pellant, Chaplin, appealed.-As soon as man, Mr. Bree, applied to the court of the counsel had finished the reply, Exchequer, and obtained two orders for new trials, which Mr. Chaplin now complained of; and against these orders appealed to the House of Lords. It appeared by the judge's report, and the arguments of counsel, that the appellant,

Lord Chancellor Apsley observed, that the whole of the first question rested solely on the construction of the terms, in which the grant of the 30th Henry 8 to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, of the lands in question, was conceived. His lordship re

[ocr errors]

cited the grant, and observed, that in the first clause the words were, that he granted the lands of Grange de Lynge, in the county of Lincoln, and all the lands in the lordship and parish of Rysom, to the said Charles,' &c. which, whatever construction might be put on it, strongly inclined him to believe, that Grange de Lynge was in the county, and not in the parish of Rysom. The other part of the said grant, which the learned judge seemed to lay greatest stress on in his report, was, where the grant mentioned all granges in said parish, and no other grange appearing to lie within the parish, it was extremely natural and probable, that it could be only Grange de Lynge which was meant to be therein described; but here again he begged leave to differ: for coupled almost with those words, Grange de Lynge was described to be in the county of Lincoln, and not in the parish of Rysom; consequently, he was clearly of opinion, that Grange de Lynge was an extra-parochial place, and that the decree of the court of Exchequer, ordering a new trial on that issue, ought to be reversed. As to the composition real, no evidence having been brought to prove that it was of more ancient date than the year 1707; and different sums, at several times, being paid, one time 4. another 10l. and lastly 15. which if an ancient composition within the statute, should have been equal and uniform, he was of opinion, that another trial ought to be had, and that of course the second order ought to be affirmed. His lordship then returned to the woolsack, and put the question on the reversal of the first order, which was agreed to; and having put the question of affirmance on the order of a new trial on the second issue,

Lord Le Despencer said, the present order, if affirmed, might be a precedent big with the most fatal consequences to the landed interest in general; and that, should such a claim prevail in the present instance, it might at once render one half of the landed property in the kingdom insecure and precarious. Here, said his lordship, from 1601, for the space of 174 years, a composition has been paid in lieu of tythes; and now a man, in a distant county, who cannot perform any duty, because he cannot be at the same time in two places, in Essex and in Lincoln, comes to demand tythes in a place where there is no congregation, where there is not a church, nor has been in the memory

of man, and where, besides, the few priestly functions performed are paid for to a neighbouring clergyman. But however unreasonable and inequitable such a claim may be, there is still something infinitely worse, when we come to examine some of the circumstances attending this case. This gentleman's father purchased this estate in 1721, under the idea of its being only encumbered with a payment of 151. per annum; and at the end of half a century, a claim is made which will considerably lessen its value; and what still causes additional aggravation is, that the present appellant and his father have expended above 8,000l. in improving the estate; so that a man may sink his whole fortune th improvement, and be permitted to do so, and by this doctrine it may go on from father to son successively for a century and a half; and when the wild or waste is brought into a state of cultivation, then some dormant claim is set up, whereby the person or family may be at once stripped of the fruits of their industry. His lordship, therefore, said, that if a motion had not been already made by the noble and learned lord on the woolsack, he should move for reversing both orders, but at all events he should give the latter part of it his hearty negative.

The Earl of Denbigh said, that the prin ciples of the Revolution were strongly in favour of juries, and that he should never sit silent, and hear it as a doctrine not to be departed from, that the judges were to determine when juries did, or did not, perform their duty; that however high a respect he might entertain for the learned judge who tried the cause, or deference he might be willing to pay to his opinion on matters of mere law, he should never countenance any thing which might seem to have the most distant appearance of granting new trials on slight occasions, of giving the judges an indiscriminate con troul over juries. No man respected the church more than he did, or wished more sincerely for the preservation of her just rights and privileges; but he believed, if such vexatious claims as the present were set up and pursued, the nation at large would find itself under a necessity of pro curing a nullum tempus law, to secure their property against the encroachments of the church, as it had been on a recent occa sion against those of the crown.

The Archbishop of Canterbury (the hon. Frederic Cornwallis) said, he by no means agreed with what fell from the noble

earl: and as for the noble lord who spoke before him, he presumed to say, he was mistaken; for the composition which he said took place in 1601, was of no longer standing than 1707; and to go no further into the argument, the difference between both compositions was the fullest proof of the non-existence of either as an antient composition; because, if it could be so construed, the composition at both periods must have been the same; whereas the former was 10l. and the latter 15. the strongest proof in the world with him, that they were made according to the real value at the respective periods.

Lord Le Despencer answered, that it mattered very little what was the composition at one time, compared with what it was at another; but a prescription or usage of 60 years, from 1704 or 1707, to 1767, satisfied his conscience (all the other circumstances of a bona fide purchase, and money expended in improvement considered, with the total non-performance of duty, and abstinence of all the functions on which the respondent could only equitably claim the tythes or ecclesiastical dues) that the present composition was a good one, and should be sustained by their lordships.

The Archbishop of Canterbury replied, that the question in his opinion was simply, whether the Act of the 13th Eliz. since which no composition could have taken place, should determine their lordships. He therefore called upon some noble lord, learned in the law, to rise and direct the judgment of the House, in a matter which seemed at present to be controverted.

Lord Mansfield, after assuring the House that he did not mean to give a vote, as he had not attended on the two first days, said, he was astonished to hear such doctrines laid down, as persons' consciences being satisfied in direct contradiction to an express statute. He insisted, that any determination formed on such doctrine would be monstrous, would be iniquitous. I do not pretend to say, continued his lordship, whether the composition contended for is not more ancient than the reign of queen Elizabeth; but will any lord in this House, at this time of day, rise and tell me, that a composition of 60 or 174 years, or even an hour later than the passing of the statute of the 13th Eliz. will legally or equitably defeat the intentions of that statute? No, I hope I shall never hear so wild, so dangerous a doctrine seriously maintained. What, my What, my

lords, would be the consequence of such a procedure? Why, that we sitting here in our judicial capacity, should, by one single determination, abrogate all the laws of the land; for if we can do it in one instance, cannot we clearly do it in every other? There is an express statute passed in the 13th of queen Elizabeth, which positively nullifies every agreement made by an incumbent, which may injure, nay bind, his successor; and are we to alter the laws of the land, because from some particular instances we are induced to think and feel our consciences satisfied? No; if it be an hardship which may extend in a variety of instances so as to become a real grievance, let the legislature remedy it, let a Bill be brought in to prevent the mischief; but let us not, under the appearance of equity and justice, by a vote of this House, overthrow all law and justice, and by averting one evil, introduce ten thousand others of infinitely greater magnitude.

Lord Camden informed the House, that as he did not attend till the second day, he should give no vote on the occasion; he should never be the first to introduce so fatal a precedent, should it ever come to be adopted, as giving a vote without personally attending from the beginning to the end. His lordship complimented lord Mansfield highly on the part he had taken, as the great patron of the common law. He expatiated largely on the sentiments thrown out by the noble and learned lord; after which he confined himself chiefly to two points: the first to prove, that there was no composition; for that the sum paid was always fairly equivalent to the value of the land, even to the very last composition, in the reign of queen Anne, when the lands in question were rated at 1047. per annum, and the composition was 157.; the second, to shew, that whenever a nullum tempus Bill should pass, respecting the possessions of the clergy, from that instant there would be a foundation laid for stripping her of her inheritance, as things might be easily managed between the patron and incumbent, so as that in two ordinary successions, the patrons, in whose gifts the livings are, might settle matters with those who might be glad to accept them on any terms; that compositions might be set up within a period of sixty years, sufficient to strip the church of more than one half, or two thirds of the real value of the livings she now possessed.

[ocr errors]

The question being put on the Lord Chancellor's motion, it passed in the affirmative, without one dissenting voice.

Debate in the Commons on bringing in the Bill for restraining the Trade of the Southern Colonies of America.] March 9. The House having resolved itself into a Committee on the Papers relative to the Disturbances in America,

Lord North moved, that the Chairman be directed to move the House, " That leave be given to bring in a Bill to restrain the trade and commerce of the colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, to Great Britain, Ireland, and the British islands in the West Indies, under certain conditions | and limitations." He said, as the southern provinces had acceded to the non-importation and exportation agreement, it would be manifest partiality not to make their punishment the same as the northern provinces.

Lord John Cavendish little expected to see another Bill of the same tendency with the last so soon make its appearance: but he should endeavour to frame his mind so as that nothing should surprise him.

Sir W. Mayne was no less astonished, as he understood from the noble lord, that he meant to proceed no further, till it should be known what effect the former Bill would have. He thought the present an irritating measure, from which no salutary consequence could be expected.

Mr. Hartley, after lamenting the fluctuating state of our public councils, observed, that a few days ago, nothing was echoed from the other side of the House but plans of conciliation, of moderation, and concession. In all probability, said those gentlemen, though all the colonies should not consent to tax themselves, or break the non-importation and non-exportation agreement, some of them certainly will, and destroy the confederacy, the refractory with very little struggle, must submit. Now, what is the language? Drive the whole continent of America into despair; hold out no temptation to the moderate and less offending, and that is the sure way to restore peace and harmony, to recover our commerce, just on the verge of destruction, and to reconcile them cordially to our government. He said, he had been informed that lands on the confines of Virginia had been ceded at the conclusion of the late Indian war, which cession had been divided into 22

shares; and that those shares had been sold. Not intending to reflect upon the noble lord (Dunmore) who must have had the principal hand in that business, or upon any other person in particular, he wished for information whether the facts thus confidently reported, were true.

Lord North gave no answer, but defended the propriety of the Bill now moved for. The former Bill was only against a part of America; this against the remainder. He did not recollect that he had ever said he would wait to know the event of the first Bill, before he proposed another. As the colonies had come to an agreement to carry on no trade whatever with Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, he was clearly of opinion, that it became indispensably necessary to restrain their commerce, and prevent them from trading with any other country.-Leave was given to bring in the Bill,

Debate on a Motion for a Bill to enable Members of Parliament to vacate their Seats.] March 15. Mr. George Grenville said: It has been frequently urged, Sir, and indeed with some justice, that no parliament ever made the provisions equal to those agreed to by the last, for a system of parliamentary independence in this House. At least, Sir, I am not the man to reprobate it, or to endeavour to take from them any part of the merit which they, on that head, are so justly entitled to. If, however, there should be any part of that plan imperfect; if, from the exigency of the time, or indeed from any other reason, they were not enabled to pursue that system to the utmost, we, their successors, must feel it incumbent on us to give it due consideration, and, in the discussion of it, we should adopt it as a legacy entrusted to us; and we are well justified in assenting to any feasible system, however weakly the great arguments for it may be urged, however unequal may be the abilities of him who moves it, however light his authority, however great his inexperience. The evil of which we now complain lies within a very short compass: I will not, therefore, detain you long in stating it. It will not be denied me, that there are many situations, in which a member of this House may wish to resign his trust into the hands of those from whom he held it. I know that here I tread on the most tender ground, when I attempt to define the relative duties of constituent and representative,

or when I

« PreviousContinue »