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they afford also considerable insight to the manners and customs of the times, and the orthography and phraseology of the English language, when it first came into frequent use in chancery and diplo. matic proceedings.”

From these specimens, some of which are very curious, we are induced to inquire why the whole, or, if they are very voluminous, why abstracts of them have not been printed ? or, if even this was impracticable, why this calendar has not commenced with them? There can be no sufficient cause for fixing upon the accession of Elizabeth, and leaving those of former reigns unnoticed : on the contrary, there are stronger reasons for giving those of earlier than of later periods, since much more elucidation is required of the state of society, the manners of the times, family and personal history, and the descent of property, in the period which, with a happy facility in blundering, the Commission has passed over, than of that to which these calendars refer. Is it not possible, we respectfully ask, to act upon a decided and regular method, instead of the half measures which are adopted ? If records are to be printed or calendared, would not common sense suggest that they should begin with the beginning? But no !this would be too close an imitation of the conduct of ordinary mortals; hence, we have now volume the first, and by and by volume the second, of what ought to have been the two last volumes of the series. In a few years, perhaps, a ray of light will break in upon the Commission : it may then be discovered that piecemeal operations are not consistent with the objects of such an institution ; and we shall probably have the entire contents of this volume reprinted with some slight variations, as part of a perfect collection. If we are suspected of entertaining idle fears, our answer is, we have proved that such has more than once been the case. Mr. Bayley's introductory remarks are well deserving of attention :

“Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, in his observations concerning the office of Lord Chancellor, states that there were no petitions of the Chancery remaining in the office of record of older time, than the making of the statute of the 15th of King Henry the Sixth, which enacted, that no writ of subpæna be granted till security should be found to satisfy the defendant for his damages and expenses, if the matter contained in the bill could not be made good; and he adds, that the most ancient to be found, were of the 20th year of that king. It has appeared, however, from discoveries which have been made among the records in the Tower since the year 1811, that many hundreds of suits, for nearly fifty years antecedent to the period mentioned by Lord Ellesmere, are still extant. They commence in the 17th of King Richard the Second ; in which year a statute was made, enacting, that when the suggestions of the plaintiff were proved to be untrue, the Chancellor should be enabled to award costs and damages to the defendant according to his discretion; and it is probable, that the bills or petitions of this year are the first which were regularly filed. From these proceedings, it appears that the chief business in the Court of Chancery, in those early times, did not arise from the introduction of uses of land, according to the opinion of most writers on the subject ; very few instances of applications to the Chancellor on such grounds occurring among the proceedings of the chancery during the first four or five reigns after the equitable jurisdiction of the court seems to have been fully established. Most of these ancient petitions appear to have been presented in consequence of assaults and trespasses, and a variety of outrages which were cognizable at common law, but for which the party complaining was unable to obtain redress, in consequence of the maintenance or protection afforded to his adversary by some powerful baron, or by the sheriff or other officer of the county in which they occurred.

“ The petitions in the reign of King Richard the Second are very numerous; they are all in the French language ; and, from some of the few examples which are here introduced, it will be seen that, even at that early period, the practice prevailed for the plaintiff to find sureties to satisfy the defendant for his costs and damages, in case he failed to prove the matter contained in his bill. During the active reign of King Henry the Fourth, no bills or petitions addressed to the Chancellor have yet been found, and comparatively few appear to have been filed during that of his son and successor, King Henry the Fifth. From the commencement of the reign of King Henry the Sixth, the bills or petitions and other proceedings in the Court of Chancery appear to have been preserved with greater regularity; and in his time, the use of the English language, which had been partially introduced in the time of his predecessor, became generally adopted. For many years, the usage of the court appears to have been for the defendant to be brought before the Chancellor to be examined viva voce; but from the time of King Henry the Sixth, a course more assimilating to the present practice seems to have been pursued; and in most cases, which were not of a mere personal nature, the answers and other proceedings are preserved in writing, as of record. But few decrees in these early periods have been discovered, and these are generally found endorsed on the bill, a practice which continued from the time of Henry the Sixth, down to that of King Henry the Eighth, if not to a later period.”

Before extracting a few passages from the specimens of the petitions which have been passed over, and which we shall do both from the curious picture which they exhibit of the manners of the times, and to prove the extraordinary sagacity of their omission, a few extracts must be given to show the plan and contents of the calendar.

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These calendars are arranged in alphabetical order under the names of the plaintiffs, and extend to the letter H; but we would inquire, and the inquiry also applies to the calendar to the pleadings in the courts of the Dutchy of Lancaster, why the dates, deduced from the contents of the documents if they do not occur elsewhere, are not affixed to the different articles ? The reign of Elizabeth embraced nearly half a century; and it is very material to a person who finds from this calendar that a certain proceeding took place, to know whether it happened in the year 1558, or in 1603; since it may depend on the precise time whether it be necessary for his object that he should undergo the iniquitous mulcting which attends common searches at the Tower. By common searches we mean such as are not solely of a literary nature, or for a literary purpose; for in those cases, we are told, the gentlemen belonging to that repository occasionally display a liberality of feeling highly creditable to them in every point of view.

In giving the few extracts for which we have room from the early bills in this volume, we shall select from the Editor's translations of the originals. One of these bills is accompanied by a letter from Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, afterwards King Henry the Fourth, and another by a letter from Henry the Fifth, to the Chancellor.

In the reign of Richard the Second, Robert Briddicote complains to the Chancellor, that

“ As he was going along in the peace of God and of our lord the king, the Saturday next after the feast of St. Barnabas, on the highway, on the other side of the town of Brentford, alone on foot, on a message to carry to Mr. Piers de Besiles* near Oxford, there the said John with divers persons unknown, all on horseback, met the said suppliant thus alone on foot without defence, and on him the said John cried with a loud voice in English, 'slee, slee the thefe;" *shote, shote the thefe,' by force of which cry all the people there being, surrounded the said suppliant in great numbers, and some of them bent their bows; and some drew their swords and daggers to kill the said suppliant. Whereupon, among others, a servant of the said John Forster shot the said suppliant with an arrow through all his cloaths into his arm, and thereupon he commanded the said servant to cut off his head, and the strangers there would not suffer him: whereupon the said John Forster took a bow-string, and threw it into the water, and then tied both his hands so tightly that the blood gushed out of his fingers; and so led him as a thief to the town of Brentford, and there in the presence of divers persons he would have killed him with his dagger, if it had not been for certain esquires of my lord the Duke of York, when the said suppliant had no other expectation than that of his death,” &c.-pp. iv. v.

Among the petitions in the reign of Henry the Sixth, is one from a man complaining that he had been grievously prosecuted in the sheriff's court, at the suit of Richard Rede who had slandered him, in saying, that he had taken his wife and his goods :

“ The whiche forseid Richard now late cam to one Elene Faux, and wold have yeven her a goun cloth, with that she wolde have assented to be a bawde betwene Katerine his wiff and me the seid John Westowe. Ferthermore the said Richard yaf counsel and excited in all that he cowde or might to his wif for to be a strumpet, beheting here xxs. with that she wolde assente and suffre the seid John Westowe to lye by here, to thentent to take hym and here to geder, and to raunson him. Also the seid Richard be hoote to oon Sire John Person preest, that if he wolde recorde afore a jugge with the seid Richard, that the seid Katerine were founden in taverne with the seid John Westowe, he wolde yeve the seid sire John for his record a noble,” &c.—p. xxii.

About the same time, the queen Dowager complained that William Hicheman of Leicester, “ Halywaterclerke," had been convicted of having stolen certain money and goods,

- The whiche William delivered to John Glover of Leycestro cornesor Cxiij". iiijd. and a new sadell, a paytrell, and a bridell pric' viij". and a two hand swerd and a palet pric' vje. viijd. and a boke compiled of divers tretys pric' xls.; which wer the sayd felon godys the which

* Probably Besils-Legh, five miles from Oxford.

money and godes longyth to us as forfeyt by cause of the sayd atteindr’,” &c.—p. xxüi.

Of the superstition of the fifteenth century we have some curious examples. Henry Hoigges, of Bodmin in Cornwall, gentleman, petitioned the Chancellor, stating, how that late one

" Richard Flamank of the said counte, squyer, suwyd an oyer determyner ageyn Aleyn ye Priour of Bodmyn of the said counte, so th' yo' said suppliant was w'holde as attorney with the said Richard in the said mater ; on Sr. John Harry of the said toun of Bodmyn prest and servant of the said priour, of his malys and evele wylle, ymagenyng by sotill craftys of enchauntement wycchecraft and socerye, malygnyd yo? said suppliant endeles to destroye thurz wechecraft abowesaid, he brake his legge, and foul was hert; thurz the weche he was in despayr of his lyff: and more over contynualy fro day to day the said sotill croft of enchauntement wycchecraft and socerye usyth and ocupyyth, and in opyn plac' pronuncit, and to fore many other dyvers persones boldely avowith and wol stonde thirby ; the weche th' ys weel knowen to many folkys of the said counte. And more over in opyn plac' saide th' he wolde by ye said crafte of enchauntement wycchecraft and socerye, wyrke yor said suppliant his nekke to breke, and hym endeles to destroye, withoute yo' gracyous eide and supporte," &c.-P. xxiv.

And so late as the reign of Henry the Seventh we find Richard Anlaby, gentleman, complaining, that

“One Robert Croke of the cite of London, late of his sympelnesse and ungodly deleyng, had w' him unto his owne house a strange person, which youre seid oratour never knewe, which person affermyd and said unto the seid Robert, that he cowde by his lernyng and truste of nygromancy make that what woman the said Robert lest to have unto his wyfe he shuld have, apon which the said person was retayned still with the said Robert iiij. or v. dayes secretly, and for to accomplissh his said crafte, had at his desire and comaundement of the said Robert, certayne juells and sylver plate delyvered, which was put by them into a cofre w' dyverse images of wex, and so by the space of the said dayes caused and made the said Robert to do certayne observauncez wi lyghtes and other serimonies, which is agaynst the lawes of God and all gode faith, but in conclusion, the said persone craftly and subtilly departed from the house of the said Robert, and toke w' him grete parte of the said juelles and plate, as hit hath been sithin the troble of your said oratour largely declared and notified unto him, and never had knolich thereof to fore, ffor nowe hit so, gode lord, that late your said oratour by fortune bought certayne sylver plate openly by gode recorde to the valewe of vj. li, as any man myght so do, which as thei that then sold hit said that the said plate was won and takyn in the last feld, ffor which nowe the said Robert surmysith that to be his, and hath affermyd an accion of trespasse to fore the shereffs of the cite of London apon your said oratour, and hath him thereupon arrestid, and by cause of his symple delyng woll not troble w' the

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