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rally interesting to every individual who becomes a party to a suit at law. We must at the same time observe, that when such questions apply to particular cases, they should properly be addressed to the practising barrister, in whose skill and experience the party may have learned to place confidence, and not to the CONDUCTORs of a work which professes not to interfere with the ordinary duties of the bar, but to afford, amongst other means of information, a vehicle for the general circulation of essays or short tracts, upon legal topics, combining general principles. For these reasons we refrain from entering ourselves into the subject of all queries proposed, and shall leave these to our Correspondents, as hints, for their inquiry inore at large, or, as instances of the difficulties which may occur in the practical application of principles of law, apparently plain, and of statutes, introduced with an anxious, zeal for the general relief of defendants at law, in cases which have hitherto been the occasion of frequent oppressions. That our present Correspondent, may not, however, complain that our silence is the result of any other motive, we will just suggest to him, that probably he may find a clue to resolve his difficulties the more readily, by considering that the deposit of money is in lieu of bail, to the sheriff, and, at least, upon principle, must be governed by nearly the same rules. Perhaps also, the inquiries in this and our last Number, upon a subject nearly allied to it, the liability of the sheriff in cases of an escape, may induce some of our Correspondents to favour us with a clear and concise review of the system of our law respecting arrest, and imprisonment for debi.
By the 49 Geo. 3. C. 46. persons arrested on nursne process instead of giving bail, as formerly, may deposit with the sheriff, the sum indorsed on the writ, with ten pounds to answer the costs, and they shall be thereupon discharged.
Query íst. Whether the officer can justify detaining persons so arrested, after their having complied with the above act, until he has searched the office, to see if any other writs are there against them and whether he is not bound to liberate them immediately on their giving bail, or depositing with the sheriff, the sun indorsed on the writ, with ten pounds to auswer the costs, agreeably to the said uct? or be Liable to an action for false innprisonment.
Query gd. If the officer is not obliged to discharge the defendants immediately, on their giving bajl, or complymig with the said act, but is entitled to keep them. in custody, until he has searched the office, how long can he keep them in custody at Portsmouth, or any such distance from Lon
don, for the purpose? and is, or is not a defendant entitled to his discharge immediately on return of the post, supposing the officer should not receive an answer from the office by the same ?- The officers at Portsmouth have frequently detained defendants in custody several days, under pretence of not having received an answer from the office.
Query 3d. The officers at Portsmouth charge os. 8d. for the under sheriff's fee, for searching the office, and is. for the postage of a letter to and from town. Query, If the officers have a right to search the office, is the under sheriff entitled to the above, or any other fee, for so doing? and if he is, by what act of parliament, or otherwise ?
C.B. Town of Portsea, Dec. 3, 1803.
V. On the due Execution of Wills of Copyhold Lands, under
BEING a constant
reader, may I be permitted a page for the following question : I observed in a will lately before me, wherein a copyhold estate was devised, that there were only two witnesses. Examining further into the matter, I discovered that the custom of the manor requires the will to be duly executed, to declare the uses of a surrender.
Quære. Will the above be sufficient to declare the uses of the surrender ! or,
Do the words, duly executed, intend that the will should be executed according to the statute of frauds ?
VI. Error in the Queries proposed by B. in No. 10 of the Law
Journal, corrected by himself, with additional Observations.
I WILL most assuredly send the correspondence between
Mr. F. and Mr. H. respecting Booth's papers, with me. moirs of Mr. Fearne, taken by a very accurate hand; but at present they are inaccessible, in the hands of a country friend.
Allow me to trouble you with the inclosed* for your consideration.
Will you have the goodness to refer to my letter, from which you extracted the three queries, inserted in your last Number but one of the Journal. You will find that the words comprehended in the parenthesis of the third query, were not “ according to the common practice,” but “according to the practice I have seen." You will oblige me in correcting this error inmediately, in regard that it hath not escaped censure.
I was well acquainted with the authority introduced by Mr. C., before I put the question he has been pleased to answer; but notwithstanding the respect naturally attached to those authorities, I cannot help thinking, that arguments worthy of attention may be brought forward on other grounds, against the practice of calling in the wife upon the voucher, rather than barring her dower by fine.
But although these are the ideas which at present sway my mind, I cannot help observing, that I ain not altogether satisfied about the point. At soine future period I will do myself the pleasure of writing fully upon the subject, but at present I beg to give your abler friends the preference.
am, Sir, your very obedient servant, New Inn, Feb. 15, 1804.
VII. On the Difficulty attending the Proof of Pedigree from
Irregularities in the Mode of keeping Registers, &c. IT T can scarcely have escaped any persons in the least ac
quainted with the proceedings of Courts of Justice to observe how difficult it is become in later times to trace regularly the pedigree of any family, even of high rank in this kingdom; while persons, whose ancestors have not risen into eminence, should they by the decease of one of their own name without an acknowledged kin, really become entitled to claiin his estate, would find it next to impossible clearly to trace the degrees of their relationship. Obscure reports of strangers, vague recollection of ancient neighbours and unauthenticated entries in old books, are often the only sources from which the descent of a collateral beir is proved; while the entries in parish registers are often kept without
Several opinions of eminent conveyancers on important subjects, which shall be inserted speedily.
the smallest attention to accuracy, and with such little care, as to the custody of them, that they are constantly liable to obliteration, cancelling, and falsification, by those whom interest inay tempt to the commission of such frauds. Of this an instance occurred in the case of the duchess of Kingston, which perhaps was more remarkable for the rank of the agent than the rarity of the act. In hunting out the ancestors of a client, I have often, in the course of my practice, been obliged to travel over three or four counties, and examine all the registers and tomb-stones of all the parishes within 20 miles round the place of his ancestors' residence, and bare not unfrequently been left with an old woman or an infirm and purblind sexton for some hours in a vestry. In some instances I have had these annals of the dead sent to an inn, to read them over at my leisure, where it has taken me three or four days to find an entry, which by the aid of a good index would have been explored in as many minutes. But when at length, after much labour, it was discovered, it has been so concise, as to the description of the persons, and so unsatisfactory in all respects, that it has been very seldom that I could say more with certainty, than that the birth, death, or marriage of one A. B. was entered in a certain register of a certain year; but whether the person that I expected to find, or any other, it was almost impossible to determine. If I sought for evidence of the birth of a child, his father's or his mother's name was often mis-spelt, and that with a variation in the course of two or three years : the day of the birth was scarcely ever mentioned, and that of the christening sometimes omitted ; so that it was iin possible to tell the age, or whether it was the first, second, or other child of its parents, equally as often doubtful whether it was at the time known to be the lawful or legitimate issue.
When we consider the very serious importance of these records in a country where the law of primogeniture prevails, and where the heir is to succeed to the estates of bis ancestor (as indeed in what country is it not of high importance?) it should seem that it is a matter of great concern in the regulation of the police that some mode should be adopted by which it mighi be possible to secure to every one the clear proof, by documents the most indisputable, of his lineage, upon which his inheritance is to depend.
In foriner times, when a court of honour was maintained, with a regular survey of arnis, there was less difficulty in establishing descents. These were indeed destroyed, and properly, because their powers were exerted by means which gave alarm to our ancestors for the security of their liberties; but surely some mode may be adopted by which a man's possessions may be secured to his beirs at little trouble, and without any hazard of rendering insecure that liberty which is their best inheritance, and without which all others are worthless, because their tenure is then frail, and the enjoyment of them unsafe.
I have not now either leisure or legislative invention sufficient to point out what may be the best plan for regulating the proper entries of births, marriages, and deaths, for this purpose; but I submit that it would not be an ill mode of employing the leisure of some of your more able correspondents to consider by what means this end could be best obtained.
Without presuming to anticipate the plans of others, permit me to suggest that on every married person coming to settle in any parish he should within a certain time register his name in the parish books; that upon every inarriage a certificate on parchment, with an indented margin, in which the name of the parson should be written, and cut through so as to serve as a check, and which should be duly nambered, dated, signed, and sealed *, should be delivered to the parties. That upon the baptism of any child it should be produced, and an entry made of whether it be the first or other child, and the day of the actual birth, and whether legitimate or not. Upon marriage or death these certificates might be again produced and shortly entered, or referred to by proper pages and volumes. Every entry and document should be written at length, the registers should be kept under safe and proper eustody with regular indexes, and abstracts should be transmitted to some proper office either under the diocesan or metropolitan.
Some regulations of this kind were indeed introduced in the reign of Henry VIII. t, but they were perhaps not adequate to the purpose, and have been since very generally disused.
I know not that these, which are mere hints loosely thrown out, may not appear inadequate to the end sought for, and by some they may be even thought vexatious and troublesome; but I wish rather to elicit something from others than propose a regular plan myself; and when we consider with
• With an official or stamp seal.
+ It is to Lord Cromwell, who about the year 1538 was Vicar General to that king, that we are indebted for the introduction of Registers.