time the commissioners say, that they have met in many cases with the most determined opposition to the inquiry on the part of those interested in these matters; no information being given which could by any means be withheld; and they naturally say that in these cases the only inference to be drawn is, that gross peculation and mismanagement prevail.

Before entering upon the present Bill and its provisions, it may be well to take a concise view of the law, and the course of proceedings relating to charities. The 43 Eliz. c. 4, is the first statute, and by it the Lord Chancellor is empowered to award commissions to inquire of all gifts to charitable uses, and of all abuses and breaches of trust relative thereto; and to make orders for the future management of the funds. But this act did not apply to universities and cathedrals, and all colleges, hospitals and free schools, having special visitors or governors. These commissions have long been disused, and their place supplied by remedies of a more simple and effective kind; but while in use, the commissioners returned their decree into the Petty Bag Office of the Court of Chancery, and the matter was contested on the equity side of that court. The proceedings for that purpose were treated as an original suit; the parties not being bound by the evidence before the commissioners, but having power to allege what new matter they might please. An appeal lay from the Chancellor's decree. Besides this remedy, the sovereign, as "parens patriæ," has the general superintendence of all charities not otherwise sufficiently protected; and therefore, whenever it is necessary the attorneygeneral, at the relation of some informant (called the relator) files an information in the Court of Chancery to have the charity properly established. In these relator suits the relators need not be the parties principally interested; any interest in the charity, be it ever so remote, is sufficient; and in point of fact no interest is necessary, for entire strangers, in some instances the clerks of the attornies filing the information, have been made relators. These suits seldom result in any permanent benefit to the charity. If property be recovered, or if new directions be given for the future administration of the charity, the ignorance of the parties, and the want of all means in the court for an independent inquiry, leave the charity with little or no benefit from the proceedings. But in many cases even this end is not attained. The decree having been made by the court, and lengthened inquiries partially entered into, and a goodly bill of costs having by this time run up, the matter is. compromised on payment of these costs, and all future attempts for the benefit of the charity effectually prevented.

By a subsequent act, the 52 Geo. III. c. 101 (Sir J. Romilly's act), summary relief by petition on the part of the trustees only, and under the sanction of the attorney or solicitorgeneral, was granted in cases of breach of charitable trusts. An appeal lay within two years to the House of Lords.

By another statute, passed in the same year, provision was made for the registry and securing of charitable donations in order to prevent the funds being lost. Again, by the statute of 58 Geo. III. c. 91, a commission was authorized to inquire into the amount, nature and application of the produce of any estates or funds from time to time appropriated to the education of the poor, which powers were afterwards extended to all charities of whatever description-subject to certain specified exceptions. By 59 Geo. III. c. 91, the commissioners were also entrusted with the additional duty of certifying to the attorneygeneral the particulars of any case that appeared to them to require the interposition of a court of equity; upon which certificate the attorney-general was authorized to proceed, either by petition, information or otherwise, in the Court of Chancery or Exchequer. This statute also authorized trustees of any charity, by consent of five or more of the commissioners, to present a petition to the Court of Chancery or Exchequer, praying for relief.


These various commissions finally terminated in 1837, having reported upon no less than 28,840 charities, 400 of which were certified to the attorney-general. Of these charities (as appears by the various reports) the aggregate income, down to 1837, was no less than 1,209,3957., and by the report issued by the commission appointed on the 18th September, 1849, it is stated that the present aggregate amount is much greater. The last Commission report, "that, notwithstanding all that has been done, it appears still to them to be necessary, in order to apply an effectual and permanent remedy to the various abuses and defects, to create by legislative enactment some public and permanent authority charged with the duty of supervising the administration of all those charitable trusts." And they then. offer the following suggestions:

"That trustees should be compelled to make out annual accounts of receipt and expenditure.

"That these accounts should be audited before some local authority.

"That they should be registered in some local office, where

'We need hardly remind our readers, that the constitution of the Court of Exchequer was remodelled in 1841, when its equitable jurisdiction was transferred to the Court of Chancery.

they may be accessible to public inspection; and that copies should be sent to some public officer or board, at which office these accounts, and all other information respecting the various charities throughout the kingdom, should be preserved.

"That this officer or board should have authority to institute or direct legal proceedings in such manner, and subject to such control, as parliament may think fit to provide.

"That in the event of any local jurisdiction being provided for the easier and more economical regulation of charities of small amount, it should be required that all schemes ordered by such a local court be revised and confirmed by the proposed officer or board." They then state that "they are of opinion that the creation of such an authority would be the means of saving a large amount of charity property, by putting a stop to many actual abuses, either of neglect or misapplication, by advising a better administration to trustees, who are willing to be advised, and in many instances by preventing expensive litigation, which would seldom be found necessary when it was generally known that any instance of neglect or malversation would meet with a prompt and certain interference." The commissioners propose to pay the expenses of this board by a tax on the charities themselves, and state emphatically that the large revenues and benevolent intentions of the founders of these charities demand from the state some better security than at present exists, for their due and beneficial administration. this recommendation a prolonged inquiry of very many years has terminated, and the result is the present Bill introduced by the Lord Chancellor. The time occupied in this inquiry is not matter of surprise, for there is a tenacity of life and an antiMalthusian tendency to multiply in all salaried commissions, only equalled by the feline race; the number of their lives is legion, and they crawl over the ground with stealthy step and slow, always apparently bearing in mind these lines of Euripides—

ἐπίσχες· οὔτί το ταχὺ την δίκην ἔχεί

βραδεῖς δὲ μῦθοι πλείστον ἄνύουσιν σοφόν.

Phoniss. 442, 443.


It should also be remembered, that the labour of hunting up evidence of the deepest "black letter" character, and many hundred years old, as well as the hostile feeling experienced at almost every turn by the commissioners, rendered their task by no means light. It is highly creditable to them that they have accomplished it at all.

The Bill which has just been introduced into the House of

Lords, and which has (as we before stated) passed the second reading without a dissentient voice, is intituled "An Act for the better securing and facilitating the due Administration of Charities in England and Wales.'

The first few sections of the Bill are taken up with the appointment of the commissioners, who are to be not fewer than five in number, two of whom are to be salaried, to form a corporation under the name and title of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales, with a common seal, and to sue and be sued in their corporate name. The two paid commissioners must be barristers or pleaders of at least ten years' standing. The salary of the chief commissioner is in no case to exceed 20007. a year, and that of the second paid commissioner 12007.

The 8th section enacts, "that the said commissioners are hereby empowered and required, when and as occasion may require, and the said commissioners in their discretion shall think fit, to examine, inquire into and investigate the nature, condition, value, management and application of all charities in England or Wales, and of the estates, funds and property belonging or which heretofore may have belonged thereto, and of the income and produce of such estates, funds and property (except as hereinafter provided and excepted), and also to examine, inquire into and investigate all breaches of trust, irregularities, abuses, defects, errors or misconduct relating to the management, letting or condition, or the application or non-application of such charities, or such estates, funds or property, or income or produce, respectively."

By the 9th section, "the said commissioners are also hereby empowered and required, in such form and manner as they shall prescribe, to receive and entertain any application which shall or may from time to time be made or addressed to them the said commissioners, by any trustee or other person interested in any charity, for their opinion, advice or directions, respecting any such charity, or the management or application thereof, or the estates, funds, property or income thereof, or generally in relation thereto; and if they shall so think fit, upon every or any such application, to give such opinion, advice or direction as they shall think expedient, and that such opinion, advice or direction shall be in writing, signed by two or more of the said commissioners (of whom one at least shall be a paid commissioner), and sealed with the seal of the said commission, and shall be addressed to the person or persons by whom such application shall have been made, and may be in such form and terms as such commissioners shall think fit; and that such opinion, advice or direction, may from time to time be revoked, altered or modified, in such manner and to such extent as the said commissioners shall think fit; and that subject to any order or direction which may be made or given by any competent court of law or equity, or by any

master or county court judge acting under the provisions of this act, in respect of all or any of the matters comprised in or affected by the opinion, advice or direction given by the said commissioners as aforesaid, and until any such order or direction shall be made or given, and after any such order or direction shall be made or given, so far as such opinion, advice or direction of the said commissioners shall not be altered thereby, every trustee and other person who shall act upon or in accordance with the opinion, advice or direction given by the said commissioners, shall be held harmless and indemnified in respect thereof; and no such order or direction to be made or given by any such court, master or judge as aforesaid, shall have any such retrospective effect as to interfere with or impair the indemnity which is by this act given to trustees and other persons, who shall have acted upon or in accordance with such opinion, advice or direction of the said commissioners: provided always, that nothing herein contained shall extend to indemnify any trustee or other person for any act done in accordance with the opinion, advice or direction of the said commissioners, if such trustee or other person shall have been guilty of any fraud or wilful concealment in obtaining such opinion, advice or direction."

The 10th section gives power to the commissioners to issue precepts for the production of accounts and documents, and the attendance of witnesses.

The 11th authorizes the commissioners, or any one or more of them, to examine witnesses upon oath. The Bill also inflicts a penalty on any one, except "purchasers without notice," who refuse to obey the precepts of the commissioners. But But persons are not bound to criminate themselves by their answers. are mortgagees and trustees bound to produce deeds without notice to mortgagors or cestui que trusts. All officers having custody of records must furnish copies and extracts if required by the commissioners.


The 16th section gives power in any and every case, in which it shall appear desirable to the commissioners, to certify cases to the attorney-general; who thereupon, if he shall think fit, shall institute legal proceedings with respect to such cases, either by petition to the Court of Chancery, or, as to certain cases coming within their jurisdiction under this act (see below), by proceedings before a master in Chancery, or any county court judge respectively.

The 18th section relates to the important matter of the mode in which the funds, necessary for the maintenance of these proceedings, are to be raised. The revenues of the charities are to be taxed; but in no case is the charge to exceed a sum of twopence in the pound, on incomes of charities amounting to, and exceeding 107., which charge is to be paid and collected in

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