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Cro. Car. 61.

$ 109. In the above case an annual fee of £40 had been granted to the parker issuing out of the king's manors in the county of Surry. And a question arose whether that was determined by the destruction of the park. Sir John Walter, chief baron, held clearly that it was. But all the other justices and barons diffented from him, because the annual fee was granted by a distin& clause, and not out of the park : and although the office was determined, yet because it was not by the act or default of the grantee himself, but by the act of the grantor only, they conceived, the grantee should enjoy the annuity.



$1. Origin of Dignities, 1$128. An Earldom does not attrad 15. Names or Titles of Dignities.

a Barony. 38. Of Dignities by Tenure 132. A Dignity is forfeited by 48. Of Dignities by Writ.

Attainder. 50. Ťbe Person fummoned muft 134. Corruption of Blood. fit.

137. Exception-- Intailed Dignia 52. What Proof necessary.

ties. 54. Defcendible to Females.

139. Reftitution of Blood, 68. Of Writs to the eldeft Sons 143. Descent of Dignifies. of Peers.

149. Abeyance of Dignities. 78. Of Dignities by Letters Pa- 156. The King'may terminate the tent.

Abeyance. 97. Whether a Dignity may be 163. Efea of a Writ of Summons refused.

to one of the Heirs of a 98. What Efate may be bad in

Cobeir. a Dignity.

165. Where only one Heir, the 106. No Curtesy of a Dignity.

Abeyance terminates 114. A Dignity cannot be aliened. 171. Attainder of one of Two 119. Nor surrendered to the King.

Coheirs does not determine 123. A Peer degraded for Po

the Abeyance. verty.

174. Length of Time does not bar 125. A Dignity not extinguished

à Claim to a Dignity. by a new Title.

Section I. THE

HE dignities or titles of honour, which now subfist Origin of

in England, derive their origin from the feudal Dignities, institutions, and were introduced into this country by the Normans,


* No title of the English law has been so little discussed as that of Dignities, nor has any fyftematic arrangement of it been ever published. The only work on the subje& is Collins's Proceedings on Claims concerning Baronies by Writ, which consists of a miscellane, ous colle&tion of cases. Little afliltance could therefore he derived from the labours of others ; but the Author is much indebted to the extensive information and liberality of Francis Townsend Efq. Wind for Herald

It was a fundamental principle of the feudal polity, that the supreme authority should reside in the general assembly of the state ; which was originally composed of the king, and of all his immediate tenants, who were bound to attend him on such occasions, as a part of the service by which they held their lands ; it being a rule of the feudal law, that every vassal was obliged to be present at his lord's court, and there to affist him with his advice.

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§ 2. This service is thus described by Ducange. Servitium placiti, service de plaids, quod vasallus domino fio feudato debet, cum placita sua seu aflisas tenet, (quod fequi et juvare dominum de placito vocabant). Hinc formula in hominiis : pro prædictis feudis vobis fidelis existan, et fidele servitium faciam, vidclicet guerram et placitum ; ad fubmonitionem veftram, vel cujuslibet nuntii vestri. Vasalli quippe omnes ad ca placita, convenire tencbantur.

S 3. The power of the feudal sovereigns over their vassals was extremely limited ; they had no right to demand any services or duties, which were not expressly reserved to them upon the grant and investiture of the feud : and, therefore, as to all things that were extrafeudal, the particular consent of the vassals was necefsary. Hence arose the pra&tice of summoning the vassals, to obtain their consent to any new measure, the sovereign might wish to adopt; which gave

rise to those general assemblies that, upon the continent, were called States, and, in England, Parliaments.

S 4. When

4. When William the Norman acquired the crown of England, he distributed the greater part of the lands, which belonged to the Saxon nobility, among his followers, to hold of him as strict feuds, reserving the usual services; among which, attendance upon the king's high court was one of the principal. And, Wright's about the 20th year of his reign, the tenure of all the Ten. 52. lands in England became feudal, and they were subjected to all the feudal services.


S 5. This duty of attendance on the king's high court, gave a species of dignity to those, who were bound to it, and procured them an honourable appellation and distinction. The first titles, by which they were called, were those of Earl and Baron; and the possessions, from which they derived these appellations, acquired the names of comitatus and baronia. Hence, Ingulphus says of the Conqueror, comitatus et baronias Normannis fuis distribuit.

§ 6. The persons who possessed these dignities were also called Peers of the Realm, or Peers of Parliament, from the word pares; which, in the feudal law, denoted persons holding of the fame lord, under the same laws or customs, and with equal powers : for, in that system, the tenants of every lord, who met together in his court to determine the disputes arising within his feignory, were called Pares Curia. Thus Spelman says, Pares dicuntur, qui, acceptis ab eodem domino, puta rege, comite et barone (live majori five minori) feudis, pari lege vivunt ; et dicuntur omnes pares curiæ, quod in curiâ domini illius, cujus sunt vasulli, parem habent poteftatem, fcili vasalli regis, in curia regni; vasalli


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comitis, in curia comitatus ; vasalli baronis, in curia baronis.

S 7. The dignities or titles of earl and baron, having been originally annexed to landed estates, were considered as incorporeal hereditaments, wherein a person might have a freehold estate; and, although they are now become little more than personal honours, yet they are still classed under the head of real property.

S 8. During the reign of William the first, and that of his sons, all dignities or titles of honour were annexed to lands; and every person, who held his estate in capite, ut de perfonâ regis, was ipso facto a peer of parliament. But, although persons, holding one or two knights fees by this tenure, had a right to attend parliament, yet it is supposed that, from their inability to support the expence of this service, they were foon exempted from it; and none were required to attend but those who possessed a considerable number of knight's fees, or a manor.

S 9. Whenever the first kings of the Norman race determined to hold a general assembly of their principal vassals, (which was afterwards called a parliament), they issued a writ of summons to all their immediate tenants, requiring their attendance; but, when these tenants became very numerous, only the principal landholders or barones majores were particularly summoned, by the king's writ; and the Sheriffs of the


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