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Returning to Monasterboice, it may be pointed out that the cross bears an Irish inscription in minuscules: Pray for Muiredach by whom this cross was made." The Four Masters record that in the year "922 died Muireadhach, son of Domhnall [Donell], Abbot of Mainistir-Buithe [Monasterboice], head of the council of all the men of Breagh, lay and ecclesiastical, and steward of Patrick's people from Sliabh Fuaid to Leinster." The three groups of three figures on the shaft of the cross are usually supposed to represent incidents in the life of Christ. But the nimbus is absent, and the identifications are vague. It is probable that quite other events are disclosed. In the lowest panel the central figure has his vesture torn open before the thrust of an enemy; the long-robed ecclesiastic is assailed by sanguinary Danes, in soldier's garb, sword in hand. In the next panel the three figures are all arranged in monastic dress; the Danes have been miraculously converted, and are now monks who have already "celebrated the festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary." In the upper panel the central figure is resting upon a chair or couch, and of those who stand beside him he hands to one the Gospels and to the other his pastoral staff; he is taking leave of them and of his life. also, and the two Danish monks, who were once his foes but are now his loved and trusted friends, are receiving his last commands. And at this moment all of them alike wear the heavy moustache that gives the group such a striking and foreign appearance.
NOTES ON THE ANCIENT COURT OF
EXCHEQUER AT CHESTER.
BY CHAS. T. TALLENT-BATEMAN.
N two papers read before this Society in the years 1886 and 1887, on "The Ancient Lancashire and Cheshire Local Courts of Justice," I dealt in the first with the Courts of Civil Jurisdiction, and in the second with the Courts of Criminal and Special Jurisdiction. In the former class was incidentally mentioned the court of which I now propose more particularly to treat.
There has come into my hands an old MS. (the date I fix as to part in the year 1796, and as to other part in the first year of the present century); the title of the earlier portion is "An Essay concerning the practice in the Court of Exchequer at Chester." This gives many interesting details of the court not to be found in any printed work that I can trace.
The MS. gives also "Rules respecting levying Fines and Recoveries in the County of Chester," and certain forms in the procedure of the contemporary court, called "The Court of Sessions for the County of Chester;" but the latter part of the MS. I reserve for some other
The "Essay" commences, "The Exchequer at Chester
is a very ancient Court. In all probability it has its jurisdiction from one of the first Earls of Chester, soon after the Conquest, who were possessed of absolute and regal power. For the Conqueror gave his nephew Hugh Lupus, as the words of the grant express: 'Totum hunc comitatum tenendum sibi et heredítibus ita libere per gladium sicut Rex ipse tenebat Angliae Coronam.' The Court is of a mixed nature, as the Chancery above; the Chamberlain being not only a Judge in causes of equity, but also of matters at the Common Law; but this will not warrant a method of proceeding which I shall have occasion to speak of hereafter. The jurisdiction does not extend further than the County and City of Chester, nor is any person living out of the same compellable to appear by its process, unless they have lands and effects within the same."
This old Court of Exchequer at Chester was (together with "the Court of Sessions for the County of Chester" and also "The Great Sessions in Wales") abolished by the statute, II George IV. and 1 William IV., chap. 70, sec. 14, which put an end to the Cheshire palatine privileges generally.
Though most English counties have had local courts, these were almost invariably of the class known as "Inferior" courts, and Lancashire stands pre-eminent among English counties as the possessor, for many centuries, of not only numerous influential inferior courts, but of powerful superior courts, nearly equal in jurisdiction to the great courts of Westminster: the latter privilege our home county deriving from its position as a County Palatine"-a position which has been shared by both Cheshire and Durham, affording these latter counties also exceptional judicial rights.
It would be interesting to review the origin and causes
of establishment of local courts in Cheshire. These causes can be classified as follows: 1. The survival of Saxon laws and procedure (instances, the Hundred Courts, and the old County Courts, and some of the Courts Baron and Leet). 2. The preservation of feudal rules and practices (instances, most of the Courts Baron and Leet). 3. Grants of palatinate rights (instances, the numerous special Palatine Courts of Common Law and Equity). 4. Mediæval charters to boroughs or intended boroughs (instances, the old Borough Courts). 5. Special statutory enactments, occasioned by the growth of commercial business, particularly in Lancashire (instances, Courts of Request and the new County Courts).
I have little doubt that it was owing to the grants in the third class that the Chester old Exchequer Court was established. The word "exchequer" has a regal or princely association, and we do not find other than high national or palatinate authorities using the word officially in connection with their finances or jurisdictions. We may take it, therefore, that the court I am treating of, owed its existence to the palatine rights of the earls of Chester.
To the matters mentioned in the "Essay" quoted, I need only add that the court had an exclusive jurisdiction where the subject of the suit arose and the defendant resided within the county, and that no appeal from its decision could be made except to Parliament.
Anciently there was another court called "The Court of Star Chamber at Chester," which was attached to this Court of Exchequer; but this was abolished by the statute 16 Charles I., chap. 10, sect. 14, which enacted that jurisdiction in certain Star Chambers, including that "In the Court of Exchequer of the County Palatine of Chester held before the Chamberlain and Council of
that Court" should from the 1st August, 1641, be "repealed and absolutely revoked and made void."
I now deal with some of the more interesting parts of this MS. essay, relative to the quaint procedure of the now extinct local Exchequer Court.
First, "attorneys admitted in other Courts, upon producing their admission to the Baron, or his deputy, were by him sworn in open Court and admitted and enrolled Solicitors in this Court."
The fees to be taken by the attorneys, solicitors, and commissioners, and the filazer were (it appears) "settled and allowed by the Honourable Sir Richard Perryn Knight, Vice Chamberlain of the Court," on the 27th August, 1790. The scale of charges seems now very moderate, but money was then worth much more than it now is.
The only part of the procedure which I shall deal with at any length is that providing for summary remedies— something similar to the practice of "mesne process arrest," or "interim bail” (made so much of by Dickens), 'which prevailed so generally until the Debtors' Act of 1869 practically abolished imprisonment for debt.
One section, or chapter, of the "Essay" is entitled "Practice of the Court from the Bill to the Final Decree," the first few sentences of which, so far as they are interesting, read as follows:
"A Bill in Equity is in nature of a Declaration at Common Law, wherein the complainant sets forth his case, whether he be sufferer by force or fraud, praying relief from the Court for that he cannot be remedied by the common law, likewise concluding his Bill with a prayer of a subpœna and sometimes an Injunction to stay waste or suits at law. The other sort of Bills are called common Bills, and are frequently exhibited upon Bonds,