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because they have been wanted by different departments, or because they were in the first instance so disgracefully edited as to be useless. The collection of the parliamentary writs before us is the only place in which those records should have appeared ; and we sincerely hope that the series of parliamentary documents which the Commission have so wisely resolved to publish may be completed; but we wholly disapprove of an editor's fixing upon any period as that with which they should commence. We object in the strongest manner to any public officer, acting under a Royal Commission, being allowed, in a work of this nature, to fix upon any particular era as that when “ the legislative and remedial assemblies of England first assumed a definite organization," or to assert dogmatically, that before the commencement of the reign of Edward the First,“ neither the principles nor the practice of the constitution can be ascertained,” and to confine all means of inquiry to the time when he deems that the parliamentary records become important. It may be his opinion, and one which, in a private work, he would be fully justified in expressing or acting upon, that it is in vain to inquire into the constitution of the legislative assemblies of this country before the time he has named ; but we deny the right of any public officer, and even of the Commission itself, to act upon so uncertain an hypothesis. It is its province to publish records which throw light upon our early history; and not, by adopting any theory, prevent the world from obtaining information, which it was the express object of the Commission to afford.
Reports in 1820; again from both copies to the Appendix to the Fourth Peerage Report in 1825; and now among the Parliamentary Writs in August, 1827!
We are aware that the Record Commission and the Lords' Committees have nothing to do with each other; and that whatever may be printed by the latter is supposed to be only for the use of the members of the House of Lords, and is paid for out of the grants for the session. Still, as the funds for that purpose are also derived from the public purse, it may be supposed, without compromising their lordship's dignity, that the labours of the Record Commission, by a little foresight, could have been rendered available for the purposes of the House. The Appendix to the Reports of the Lords’ Committees, which contains the parliamentary and other writs from the 6th John to the 20th Edward II., was ordered to be printed on the 25th of May, 1820, but it did not appear, we believe, until after the resolution of the Record Commission to print all parliamentary instruments, in April 1822; whilst the second part, which consists of similar documents from the 1st Edward III. to the end of the reign of Edward IV., was not printed until about two years since.
VOL, .-PART I.
Whether Mr. Palgrave be right or wrong in his opinion, that until the reign of Edward the First,“ neither the principles nor the practice of the constitution can be ascertained,” is not the object of our present inquiry. We merely protest against any individual having the power to withhold records in such a collection, which might induce others to draw a very different conclusion; and we fearlessly assert, that it was the obvious duty of the Record Commission not to have listened to the theory of any man, or body of men, on so highly important a subject; but to have printed every document which exists, connected with the legislative assemblies of the realm before the reign of Edward the First, as well as those subsequent to that epoch.
A very large proportion of the parliamentary writs, as well as of those for military service, which are inserted in this volume, were printed in the new edition of the “ Fædera” in 1816 and 1821; and a still greater number of them were again printed in the “Appendix, No. 1, to the Report on the Dignity of a Peer of the Realm, pursuant to an Order of the Lords’ Committee of the 25th of May, 1820.” The present volume consequently contains every writ printed by the lords'committees relating to the reign of Edward the First; and the plan of Mr. Palgrave's labours will necessarily require that, with the exception of a dozen instruments, every line printed by order of their lordships in the Appendix to their Reports, and which consists of two folio volumes, containing altogether above one thousand closely printed pages, must be again republished at the expense of the nation.
At a time when so much remains to be done for the publication and better preservation of the muniments of the kingdom, and when the funds at the disposal of the Record Commission are said to be inadequate to the purpose for which they were destined, it does seem monstrous that so little care should have been taken to prevent such a waste of the public money. Their lordships have wisely printed several writs from the time of John, which we presume are the earliest that are preserved; but we repeat, that as it was deemed expedient to form a complete series of these documents from the accession of Edward the First, even with the certainty of reprinting one thousand folio pages, those before that era, as well as every other instrument connected with the subject, should also have been included. Without them the object which can alone justify the reprinting of the others is not attained, for they are not a perfect collection.
It is yet possible to supply this extraordinary and culpable omission, by considering the present the second volume instead of the first ; and which we believe will only require that the titlepage and preface should be cancelled.
As we are most anxious not to be misunderstood in our remarks on the publication of parliamentary documents, to avoid the possibility of mistake, we will briefly state the purport of them. Nothing can be more proper than that a perfect series of the parliamentary records of the kingdom should be printed; nor could a more qualified person be chosen than Mr. Palgrave; or a better plan than his have been devised; hence we earnestly hope that every possible facility will be afforded him in completing the laborious task he has undertaken. But on the other hand, the public expect that the utmost attention will be paid to the manner in which the documents are printed ; that as much information as possible, without swelling the work to an inordinate extent, may be abstracted ; that neither the theory nor the interests of individuals may be allowed to prevent the insertion of records of any particular period or subject, more especially in relation to the constitutional history of the country; that great caution be used when it is proposed to print either the calendars to particular records, or the records themselves, that a proper plan be first formed; and that in no case such an absurdity be again committed as the printing twice or thrice within a few years, documents which should be printed once and no more; but which, when published, ought to appear in the most luminous, accurate, and satisfactory manner.
The volume relating to the Duchy of Lancaster consists, we are told in the few lines prefixed to it, of “A Supplemental Calendar to the Pleadings, Depositions, &c. temp. Henry VII. in continuation of the volume previously published, and including several Records which had been heretofore considered as lost; but have been recently discovered in the Duchy Office; a Calendar to the Pleadings, Depositions, &c. in the reigns of King Henry VIII., King Edward VI. and Philip and Mary ; and a Calendar to the Pleadings, &c. in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, as far as the thirteenth year of her reign inclusive; with copious Indexes of Places and Persons in the respective Calendars. The Calendar to the remaining part of the Pleadings, &c. temp. Eliz. will be continued in a succeeding volume." These pleadings consist of bills, answers, and depositions of surveys in suits exhibited in the Duchy Court. The Calendars are arranged in alphabetical order according to the name of the plaintiffs; and the following examples will show the information which they contain :
Reign. Plaintiffs. Defendants.I Premises and Matters in
Lessees of sitions of the certifi-Maghull
Queen's duct thereon, stating
fendants; and there-
| 1 and 2 James Sir Bryan Disputed claim on the Manches Lanca-
Ralph Dame (Lcylonde, for a debt
testament Partyngton, with inter
The compiler of the index to the volume has done much to render it more satisfactory, by introducing “ the distinctive appellations of persons as occupiers or officers, &c.;” and which he truly says, “ will facilitate searches by immediate reference as well to persons as places.”
It is obvious that this and the former volumes, relating to the proceedings in the Court and Duchy of Lancaster, contain much information of considerable value to those interested in that county, and occasionally also of a more general nature; but it is questionable whether the publication of these calendars should not have been postponed until records of a more important description had been printed. Few people, comparatively speaking, have occasion to consult the muniments of that duchy,
whilst scarcely an historical research can be made without requiring a reference to the Patent rolls, and Fine rolls, &c. and still more frequently to the rolls of parliament. To the present edition of the latter, an index is now printing, and which ought long since to have been completed; but however valuable that index may be, and we are fully impressed with its utility, we presume that both it and the printed rolls themselves will be wholly superseded by the publication of the parliamentary documents ordered to be printed by the resolution of the Record Commission on the 22d April, 1822; and thus another memorable instance will occur of time, labour, and expense being thrown away. Preparations are, we understand, making for a third specimen of this profligate expenditure by the publication of a new Calendar to, or we hope rather abstracts of, the Patent Rolls. We fully admit the necessity of these works; and we only refer to these unfortunate facts to induce the Commission to profit by the past, and to take care that similar failures do not happen in future. Whilst alluding to the Patent Rolls, we shall take the liberty of impressing on the Commission, that by giving as full an abstract as possible of the contents of those instruments, their publication will be quadrupled in value, though it is not impossible that the fees of the keepers of them may be lessened. The Calendar to the “ Inquisitiones Post Mortem” is an example of the omissions which we deplore; for if the name and age of the heir had always been stated, with the manner in which he was related to the deceased, and which would not have added one hundred pages to the volumes, their utility would have been increased tenfold; to say nothing of the errors into which the public are led by finding entries introduced of Inquisitions which were not Inquisitions “ Post Mortem.”
Pursuant to an order of the Record Commission, on the 16th July, 1821, six years ago, that “ the Calendars to the Proceedings in Chancery in the Tower of London, commencing with the reign of queen Elizabeth, and ending with the reign of king Charles the First be forthwith transcribed and printed :" the last volume at the head of this article has just been published. Mr. Bayley, the editor, says in his preface, that
“ In carrying into effect the order of his Majesty's Commissioners on the Public Records, for printing Calendars of the early proceedings in Chancery, it has been deemed adviseable to preface this work with some examples of the bills or petitions addressed to the Chancellors in each reign from the earliest period that any of them are known to be extant; as they throw considerable light on the origin of the Court of Chancery, as a court of equitable jurisdiction ; and, whilst they point out the variations that have taken place from time to time in the course of proceeding in that court, and shew under whose authority or administration those alterations have been introduced ;