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and difficult, to run through every minute distinction that might be gleaned from our antient books with regard to this matter; nor is it in any degree necessary, as much easier and more effectual remedies are usually obtained by such prerogative modes of process, as are peculiarly confined to the crown.
• 2. Such is that of inquihtion or inquest of office : which is an inquiry made by the king's officer, his sheriff, coroner, or escheator, virtute officii, or by writ to them sent for that purpose, or by commissioners specially appointed, concerning any matter that entitles the king to the poffefsion of lands or tenements, goods or chattels*. This is done by a jury of no determinate number; being either twelve, or less, or more. As, to inquire, whether the king's tenant for life died feised, whereby the reversion accrues to the king : whether A, who held immediately of the crown, died without heirs ; in which case the lands belong to the king by escheat : 'whether B be attainted of treason; whereby his estate is for. feited to the crown: whether C, who has purchased lands, be an alien; which is another cause of forfeiture : whether D be an idiot a nativitate ; and therefore, together with his lands, appertains to the custody of the king : and other questions of like import, concerning both the circumstances of the tenant, and the value or identity of the lands. These inquests of office were more frequently in practice than at present, during the continuance of the military tenures amongst us: when, upon the death of every one of the king's tenants, an inquest of office was held, called an inquisitio poft mortem, to inquire of what lands he died seised, who was his heir, and of what age, in order to entitle the king to his marriage, wardship, relief, primer-feisin, or other advantages, as the circumstances of the case might turn out, To superintend and regulate these inquiries the court of wards and liveries was instituted by statute 32 Hen. VIII. C. 46. which was abolished at the restoration of king Charles the second, together with the oppressive tenures upon which it was founded. * Finch. L. 323, 4, 5.
With regard to other matters, the inquests of office still remain in force, and are taken upon proper occasions; being extended not only to lands, but also to goods and chattels personal, as in the case of wreck, treasure-trove, and the like; and especially as to forfeitures for offences. For every jury which tries a man for treason or felony, every coroner's inquest that fits upon a felo de se, or one killed by chances medley, is, not only with regard to chattels, but also as to real interests, in all respects an inquest of office: and if they find the treason or felony, or even the flight of the party accused, (though innocent) the king is thereupon, by virtue of this office found, entitled to have his forfeitures; and also, in the case of chance-medley, he or his grantees are entitled to such things by way of deodand, as have moved to the death of the party.
These inquests of office were devised by law, as an authena tic means to give the king his right by solemn matter of rea cord; without which he in general can neither take, nor part from any thingy. For it is a part of the liberties of Enge. land, and greatly for the safety of the subject, that the king may not enter upon or feise any man's possessions upon bare surmises without the intervention of a jury. It is however particularly enacted by the statute 33 Hen. VIII. C. 20. that, in case of attainder for high treason, the king shall have the forfeiture instantly without any inquisition of office. And, as the king hath (in general) no title at all to any property of this fort before office found, therefore by the statute 18 Hen. VI, c. 6. it was enacted, that all letters patent or grants of lands and tenements before office found, or returned into the exchequer, fhall be void. And, by the bill of rights at the revolution, 1 W. & M. ft. 2. C. 2. it is declared, that all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular pero sons before convi&tion (which is here the inquest of office) are illegal and void; which indeed was the law of the land in the reign of Edward the third a.
y Finch. L. 82,
a 2 Inft. 48.
Wrth regard to real property, if an office be fơund for the king, it puts him in immediate poflession, without the trouble of a formal entry, provided a subject in the like case would have had a right to enter; and the king shall receive all the mesne or intermediate profits from the time that his title accrued b. As on the other hand, by the articuli fuper cartas , if the king's escheator or sheriff feise lands into the king's hand without cause, upon taking them out of the king's hand again, the party shall have the mesne profits restored to him.
In order to avoid the possession of the crowdi, acquired by the finding of such office, the subject may not ovly have his petition of right, which discloses new facts not found by the office, and his monftrans de droit, which relies on the facts as found; but also he may (for the most part) traverse or deny the matter of fact itself, and put it in a course of trial by the common law process of the court of chancery : yeť still, in some special cases, he hath no remedy leít but a mere petition of right. These traverses, as well as the monftrans de droit, were greatly enlarged and regulated for the benefit of the subject, by the statutes before-mentioned, and others. And in the traverses thus given by statute, which came in the place of the old petition of right, the party traversing is considered as the plaintifff; and must therefore make out his own title, as well as impeach that of the crown, and then shall have judgment quod manus domini regis amoveantur, Co.
3. WHERE the crow'n hath unadvisedly granted any thing by letters parcnt, which ought not to be granted, or where
the patentee hath done an act that amounts to a forfeiture of 261 the grant ", the remedy to repeal the patent is by writ of scire
facias in chancery i. This may be brought either on the part b Finch, L. 325, 326.
( Law of nifi prius, 201, 202. C 28 Edw. l. st. 3. c. 19.
& See book II. ch.21. d Finch. L. 324.
h Dyer. 198. e Stat. 34 Edw. III c. 13. 36 Edw. i 3 Lev. 220. 4 Ink. 88. III. 4.13. 2 & 3 Edw. VI. c. 8.
of the king, in order to resume the thing granted; or, if the grant be injurious to a subject, the king is bound of right to permit him (upon his petition) to use his royal name for repealing the patent in a scire facias k. And so also, if, upon office untruly found for the king, he grants the land over to another, he who is grieved thereby, and traverses the office itself, is entitled before issue joined to a scire facias against the patentee, in order to avoid the grant'.
4. An information on behalf of the crown, filed in the exchequer by the king's attorney general, is a method of suit for recovering money or other chattels, or for obtaining satisfaction in damages for any personal wrong m committed in the lands or other poffeffions of the crown. It differs from an information filed in the court of king's bench, of which we shall treat in the next book; in that this is instituted to redress a private wrong, by which the property of the crown is affected; that is calculated to punish some public wrong, or heinous misdemesnor in the defendant. It is grounded on no writ under seal, but merely on the intimation of the king's officer the attorney-general, who "gives the court to under“ stand and be informed of” the matter in question : upon which the party is put to answer, and trial is had, as in suits between subject ard subject. The most usual informations are those of intrusion and debt: intrusion, for any trespass committed on the lands of the crown", as by entering thereon without title, holding over after a lease is determined, taking the profits, cutting down timber, or the like; and debt, upon any contract for monies due to the king, or for any forfeiture due to the crown upon the breach of a penal statute. This is most commonly used to recover forfeitures occasioned by transgressing those laws, which are enacted for the establishment and support of the revenue : others, which regard mere matters of police and public convenience, being usually left to be inforced by common informers, in the qui tum informaK2 Ventr. 344.
Cro. Jac. 212. Leor. 48. Sa1 B:0. Abr. 1. fcire facias. 69. 185. vil. 49. on Moor. 375.
. 13 tions
2621 tions or actions, of which we have formerly spoken' But after the attorney-general has informed upon the breach of a penal law, no other information can be received P. There is also an information in remi, when any goods are supposed to become the property of the crown, and no man appears to claim them, or to dispute the title of the king. As antiently in the case of treasure-trove, wrecks, waifs, and estrays, seised by the king's officer for his use. Upon such seisure an information was usually filed in the king's exchequer, and thereupon a proclamation was made for the owner (if any) to come in and claim the effects; and at the same time there issued a commission of appraisement to value the goods in the officer's hands : after the return of which, and a second proclamation had, if no claimant appeared, the goods were supposed derelict, and condemned to the use of the crown 9. And when, in later times, forfeitures of the goods themselves, as well as personal penalties on the parties, were inflicted by act of parliament for transgreslions against the laws of the customs and excise, the same process was adopted in order to secure such forfeited goods for the public use, though the offender himself had escaped the reach of justice.
5. A writ of quo warranto is in the nature of a writ of right for the king, against him who claims or usurps any office, franchise, or liberty, to inquire by what authority he supports his claim, in order to determine the right'. It lies allo in case of non-user or long neglect of a franchise, or mif-user or abuse of it; being a writ commanding the de. fendant to shew by what warrant he exercises such a franchise, having never had any grant of it, or having forfeited it by neglect or abuse. This was originally returnable before
the king's justices at Westminster; but afterwards only [ 263 ] before the justices in eyre, by virtue of the statutes of qus
warranto, 6 Edw. I. c. 1. and 18 Edw. I. st. 2.. but since those justices have given place to the king's temporary commillioners of allise, the judges on the several circuits, this
See pag. 162.
o Finch, L. 322. 2 Inft. 282.