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XIX. A Second Letter on the Court of Star Chamber, addressed by John Bruce, Esq. F.S.A. to Thomas Amyot, Esq. F.R.S. Treasurer

  • John Bruce


The letter which I some time since did myself the honour to address to you, upon the subject of the Court of Star Chamber, contains a sketch of the history of the judicial authority of the Consilium Regis down to the reign of Henry VI., during whose minority there occurred something like a parliamentary acquiescence in the interference of the Council in all causes, in which there appeared to be too great might on the one side and “unmight” on the other, or in which there existed other reasonable cause for the withdrawal of the dispute from the ordinary tribunals. I shall now trace the subsequent history of this celebrated Court, commenting, as I proceed, upon some of the cases which came under its notice.



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page 361 note a Just about the time of Cade's rebellion, and the breaking out of the civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York, an Act of Parliament was passed (31 Henry VI. c. 2.) which imposed heavy penalties upon persons who refused to appear before the Council when called upon to answer for “great riots, extortions, oppressionss and grievous offences.” This Act was clearly meant to strengthen the hands of the executive in a time of disturbance, and was so worded as not to give the Council authority over any new description of causes. It expressly declared, that no matter determinable at the Common Law should be determined except in the ordinary Courts. I do not notice this Act in the text, because it was a temporary enactment, limited to the term of seven years; at the expiration of which it was not renewed.

page 362 note b Vid. also Cases of Danvers, Foard, Varney, and Lord Cromwell; Lamb. Archion, 158. Hudson, Col. Jur. ii. p. 15.

page 362 note c Lamb. Archion. 165.

page 362 note d Hall, p. 424, edition 1809.

page 363 note e Wilkins, 77.

page 363 note f 4 Rot. Parl. 329, 348.

page 363 note g 5 Rot. Parl. 487, 633. 6 Rot. Parl. 8.

page 364 note h 6 Rot. Pail, p. 287.

page 364 note i By the Stat. 21 Henry VIII. c. 20. The President of the Council was associated with the Chancellor and other great officers, in the authority given by this act.

page 364 note k 3 Henry VII. c. 1.

page 365 note l Col. Jur. ii. 51.

page 366 note m Col. Jur. ii. 4.

page 369 note n Hall, p. 502.

page 369 note o Harl. MS. no. 1877.

page 369 note p See p. 384.

page 369 note q Fabyan, 685.

page 369 note r Stowe, p. 475.

page 370 note s Fabyan, p. 689.

page 370 note t Fabyan. Harl. MS. 1877.

page 370 note u Stowe, 488.

page 371 note x Lansdowne MS. 160, p. 307.

page 372 note y Hall, 506.

page 372 note z Grafton, ii. 256.

page 373 note a Cavendish, 79. Rymer, v. 569.

page 374 note b Star Chamber Cases, p. 13, b.

page 374 note c Lansdowne MS. no. 639, p. 92. Coll. Jur. ii. 201.

page 375 note d Hall, 600. Grafton, ii. 300.

page 375 note e Herbert, 110.

page 376 note f Lansd. MS. No. 639, p. 92.

page 376 note g Herbert, 108.

page 376 note h Hall, 600.

page 377 note k Cavendish, 105. Singer's 2nd edit.

page 378 note m Cavendish, 107.

page 378 note n Hall, 584.

page 378 note o Lansd. MS. No. 639, p. 78.

page 379 note p Ibid. p. 92.

page 379 note q Ibid. p. 93.

page 379 note r Ibid. p. 95.

page 379 note s Col. Jur. ii. p. 64.

page 380 note t Col. Jur. ii. p. 117. Lansd. MS. No. 659, p. 114.

page 380 note u Ibid. p. 116.

page 380 note x Henry VIII. ibid. 107. Col. Jur. ii. p. 102.

page 380 note y Lansd. MS. No. 639, p. 118.

page 381 note z Hall, 701. Lansd. MS. No. 639, p. 117.

page 381 note a Star Chamber Cases, p. 41 b.

page 381 note b Lansd. MS. No. 639, p. 118.

page 381 note c Ibid. p. 97.

page 382 note d Strype's Cranmer, p. 81, edition 1694. Strype adds that the fine set upon them was £,18,840. Os. 10d. “as was extant to be seen in the records of the Star Chamber.” Upon reference to Harl. MS. 425, p. 15, it seems to me that the records of the Star Chamber ought to have been quoted merely as an authority for the personal punishment, and not for the fine. It is probable from the entries in the margin of that MS. that the fine was £1840. Os. 10d., and not the incredible sum before mentioned.

page 383 note e Privy Council books cited by Dr. Nott, Life of Surrey, p. 53.

page 383 note f Harl. MS. 256, p. 41 b.

page 383 note g Ibid. p. 50.

page 383 note h Ibid. p. 65 a.

page 383 note i Ibid. p. 73 a.

page 383 note k ibid. p. 95 b.

page 384 note l Harl. MS. No. 1226.

page 385 note m Harl. MSS. 169, p. 49 b.

page 385 note n Sir Philip Chetwine was Mayor of Bayonne. Harl. MS. 169, p. 64 b.

page 386 note o Harl. MS. 169, p. 50a.

page 386 note p Ibid. p. 54 a.

page 388 note q Harl. MS. No. 169, p. 59 a.

page 388 note r Paston Letters, i. 115.

page 389 note s Harl. MS. 169, p. 54 b.

page 389 note t ibid. p. 55 a.

page 390 note u Harl. MS. No. 169, p. 57 a.

XIX. A Second Letter on the Court of Star Chamber, addressed by John Bruce, Esq. F.S.A. to Thomas Amyot, Esq. F.R.S. Treasurer

  • John Bruce


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