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disfranchised. In 1870, the boroughs of Bridgwater, Chapter Beverley, Sligo, and Cashel, and certain voters of the cities of Norwich and Dublin, were disfranchised by special Acts;1 and in 1871, certain other voters of Norwich were disfranchised. In 1876, after the reports of two commissions, an Act was passed forbidding an election for Norwich until the end of the Parliament, and disfranchising several persons for a period of seven years, in Norwich and Boston.
1 33 & 34 Vict. cc. 21. 25. 38. 54.
: 39 & 40 Vict. c. 72; see also the Acts 44 & 45 Vict. c. 42; 45 & 46 Vict. c. 68, prohibiting elections for
Boston, Canterbury, Chester, Gloucester, Macclesfield, Oxford, and Sandwich.
Table of Contents, see Introduction.
IMPEACHMENT BY THE COMMONS. TRIAL OF PEERS.
IMPEACHMENT by the Commons, for high crimes and mis- Rarity of
impeach demeanours beyond the reach of the law, or which no other ments in authority in the state will prosecute, is a safeguard of public times. liberty, which happily, in modern times, is rarely called into activity;? as the times in which its exercise was needed—when the people were jealous of the Crown ; when the Parliament had less control over prerogative; when courts of justice were impure; and when the Crown and its officers screened political offenders from justice,-have passed away.
Impeachments are reserved for extraordinary crimes and Grounds of extraordinary offenders: but by the law of Parliament, all ment. persons, whether peers or commoners, may be impeached for any crimes whatever.
It was always allowed that a peer might be impeached for Peers and any crime, whether it were cognizable by the ordinary moners. tribunals or not: but doubts have been entertained, upon the authority of the cases of Simon de Beresford, in the 4th Edward III., and of Fitzharris, in 1681, whether a commoner could be impeached for any capital offence.
1 The earliest recorded instance of impeachment by the Commons was in the reign of Edward III., 1376. During the next four reigns, cases of impeachment were frequent; but none occurred in the reigns of Edward IV., Henry VII. and VIII., Edward VI., Queens Mary and Elizabeth, Hallam, 1 Const. Hist. 357. In the reign of James I., the practice of impeachment was revived. Between 1620, when Sir Giles Mompesson and Lord Bacon
were impeached, and the Revolution, 1688, about forty cases of impeachment occurred; in the reigns of William III., Queen Anne, and George I., fifteen; and in the reign of George II., that of Lord Lovat, 1746. The last cases were Warren Hastings, 1788, Lord Melville, 1805.
? 2 Rot. Parl.53, 54; 3 Edward III. Nos. 2 and 6, 14 L. J. 260 ; Blackstone, 4 Comm. c. 19; Lord Campbell, 3 Lives of the Chancellors, 358. 359. 410; 13 L. J. 755.
The authority of the cases of Simon de Beresford and Chapter
of Fitzharris has been superseded. When on the 26th
and considering a report of precedents, including that of
the last adjudication of the House of Lords.
member, in his place, first charges the accused of high
House of Lords, and impeaches the accused accordingly. Articles of A committee is appointed to draw up the articles, and on impeach.
their report, the articles are discussed, and, when agreed
1 Judicature of Parliament, 3
Hist. 1333; 8 Howell's St. Tr. 326 ;
: 4 Hatsell, 428 ; 14 L. J. 260.
3 45 ib. 350; 60 C. J. 482. 483. In the case of Warren Hastings, articles of impeachment were prepared before the formal impeachment; but the usual course has been to prepare them afterwards.
Chapter in by him, are communicated to the Commons by the
Lords; and to these, replications are returned, if necessary.?
The Lords appoint a day for the trial, and in the mean Managers time the Commons appoint managers to prepare evidence“? and conduct the proceedings, and desire the Lords to sum. Witnesses
summoned. mon all witnesses, who are required to prove their charges. The accused may have summonses issued for the attendance of witnesses on his behalf, and is entitled to make his full defence by counsel.4
The trial has usually been held in Westminster Hall, The trial. which has been fitted up for that purpose. In the case of peers impeached of high treason, the House of Lords is presided over by the lord high steward, who is appointed by the Crown, on the address of their lordships; but, at other times, by the lord chancellor or Lord Speaker of the House of Lords. The Commons attend the trial, as a com- Charges to
: be confined mittee of the whole house, when the managers make their to the charges, and adduce evidence in support of them : but they artic are bound to confine themselves to charges contained in the articles of impeachment. Mr. Warren Hastings complained, by petition to the House of Commons, that matters of accusation had been added to those originally laid to his charge, and the house resolved that certain words ought not to have been spoken by Mr. Burke. When the case has been com pleted by the managers, they are answered by the counsel for the accused, by whom witnesses are also examined, if necessary; and, in conclusion, the managers, as in other trials, have been allowed a right of reply.
? 20 L. J. 297 ; 18 C. J. 391; 61 : 61 C. J. 169. 224. ib. 164.
* 20 Geo. II. c. 30; 45 L. J. 439. ? 20 L. J. 112; 27 ib. 19; 16 C.J. 545 ib. 519. 242; 42 ib. 793. 796; 37 L. J. 714. 6 44 C. J. 298. 320.
Lords de. When the case is thus concluded, the Lords proceed to Chapter termine if atomi
XXIV. à determine whether the accused be guilty of the crimes with be guilty. which he has been charged. The lord high steward puts
to each peer, beginning with the junior baron, the question
accused is acquainted with the result.
to demand judgment of the Lords against him; and they
they had demanded it.
to acquaint the Commons that their lordships are ready
The necessity of demanding judgment gives to the Com-
i Printed trial of Lord Melville, p. 402,
? Ib. p. 413.
3 Commons' resolutions, Earl of Winton's and Lord Lovat's impeach
ments, 18 O. J. 405; 25 ib. 320.
* 22 L. J. 556, 560; 27 ib. 78.
5 Ib. 554. 555; 20 C. J. 541 (27th May, 1725); 6 Howell, St. Tr. 762.