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CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.
OF THE KING'S REVENUE.
HAVING, in the preceding chapter, considered at large those branches of the king's prerogative, which contribute to his royal dignity, and constitute the executive power of the government, we proceed now to examine the king's fiscal prerogatives, or such as regard his revenue ; which the British constitution hath vested in the royal person, in order to support his dignity and maintain his power: being a portion which each subject contributes of his property, in order to secure the remainder.
This revenue is either ordinary, or extraordinary. The king's ordinary revenue is such, as has either subsisted time out of mind in the crown; or else has been granted by par. liament, by way of purchase or exchange for such of the king's inherent hereditary revenues, as were found inconvenient to the subject.
WHEN I say that it has subsisted time out of mind in the crown, I do not mean that the king is at present in the actual possession of the whole of this revenue. Much (nay, the greatest part) of it is at this day in the hands of subjects; to whom it has been granted out from time to time by the kings of England: which has rendered the crown in some measure dependent on the people for its ordinary support and subsistence. So that I must be obliged to recount, as part of the royal revenue, what lords of manors and other subjects frequently look upon to be their own absolute inherent rights; because they are and have been vested in them and their ancestors for ages, though in reality originally derived from the grants of our ancient princes.
I. The first of the king's ordinary revenues, which I shall take notice of, is of an ecclesiastical kind; (as are also the three succeeding ones ;) viz. the custody of the temporalties of bishops: by which are meant all the lay revenues, lands, and tenements (in which is included his barony) which belong to an archbishop's or bishop's see. And these upon the vacancy of the bishoprick are immediately the right of the king, as a consequence of his prerogative in church matters; whereby he is considered as the founder of all archbishopricks and bishopricks, to whom during the vacancy they revert. And for the same reason, before the dissolution of abbeys, the king had the custody of the temporalties of all such abbeys and priories as were of royal foundation.(but not of those founded by subjects) on the death of the abbot or priora. Another reason may also be given, why the policy of the law hath vested this custody in the king; because as the successor is not known, the lands and possessions of the see would be liable to spoil and devastation, if no one had a property therein. Therefore the law has given the king, not the temporalties themselves, but the custody of the temporalties, till such time as a successor is appointed; with power of taking to himself all the intermediate profits, without any account of the successor; and with the right of presenting (which the crown very frequently exercises) to such benefices and other preferments as fall within the time of vacation. This revenue is of so high a nature, that it could not be granted out to a subject, before, or even after, it accrued : but now by the statute 15 Edw. III. st. 4. C. 4 & 5. the king may, after the vacancy, lease the temporalties to the dean and chapter; saving to himself all advowsons, escheats, and the like. Our ancient kings, and particularly William Rufus, were not only remarkable for keeping the bishoprioks a long time vacant, for the sake of enjoying the temporalties, but also committed horrible waste on the woods and other parts of the estate; and to crown all, would never, when the see was filled up, restore to the bishop his temporalties again, unless he purchased them at an exorbitant price. To'remedy which, king Henry the first granted a charter at the beginning of his reign, promising neither to sell, nor let to farm, nor take any thing from, the domains of the church, till the successor was installed (1). And it was made one of the articles of the great charter d, that no waste should be committed in the temporalties of bishopricks, neither should the custody of them be sold. The same is ordained by the statute of Westminster the firste ; and the statute 14 Edw. III. st. 4. C. 4. (which permits, as we have seen, a lease to the dean and chapter),is still more explicit in prohibiting the other exactions. It was also a frequent abuse, that the king would for trifling, or no causes, seise the temporalties of bishops, even during their lives, into his own hands : but this is guarded against by statute 1 Edw. III. st. 2. c. 2.
b Stat. 17 Edw, II. c. 14. F. N. B. 32.
a 2 Inst. 15.
This revenue of the king, which was formerly very considerable, is now by a customary indulgence almost reduced to nothing : for, at present, as soon as the new bishop is consecrated and confirmed, he usually receives the restitution of his temporalties quite entire, and untouched, from the king; and at the same time does homage to his sovereign: and then, and not sooner, he has a fee-simple in his bishoprick, and may maintain an action for the profits f.
II. The king is entitled to a corody, as the law calls it, out of every bishoprick, that is, to send one of his chaplains to be maintained by the bishop, or to have a pension allowed him till the bishop promotes him to a benefice 6. This is also in the nature of an acknowledgment to the king, as founder of the see, since he had formerly the same corody or pension from every abbey or priory of royal foundation. It is, I apprehend, now fallen into total disuse : though sir
c Matt. Paris,
e 3 Edw. I. c. 21.
& F. N. B. 230.
(1) But queen Elizabeth kept the see of Ely vacant 19 years, in order to retain the revenue. Strype, 4 vol. 351.
Matthew Hale says h, that it is due of common right, and that no prescription will discharge it.
II. The king also (as was formerly observedi) is entitled to all the tithes arising in extraparochial placesk: though perhaps it may be doubted how far this arti- (284) cle, as well as the last, can be properly reckoned a part of the king's own royal revenue: since a corody supports only his chaplains, and these extraparochial tithes are held under an implied trust, that the king will distribute them for the good of the clergy in general. • IV. The next branch consists in the first-fruits, and tenths, of all spiritual preferments in the kingdom; both of which I shall consider together.
These were originally a part of the papal usurpations over the clergy of this kingdom; first introduced by Pandulph the pope's legate, during the reigns of king John and Henry the third, in the see of Norwich; and afterwards attempted to be made universal by the popes Clement V. and John XXII, about the beginning of the fourteenth century. The first-fruits, primitiae, or annates, were the first year's whole profits of the spiritual preferment, according to a rate or valor made under the direction of pope Innocent IV. by Walter bishop of Norwich in 38 Hen. III, and afterwards advanced in value by commission from pope Nicholas III, A. D. 1292, 20 Edw. Il: which valuation of pope Nicholas is still preserved in the exchequerm. The tenths, or decimae, were the tenth part of the annual profit of each living by the same valuation ; which was also claimed by the holy see, under no better pretence than a strange misapplication of that precept of the Levitical law, which directs n, that the Levites « should offer the tenth part of their tithes as a “ heave-offering to the Lord, and give it to Aaron the high u priest.” But this claim of the pope met with a vigorous
h Notes on F. N, B. abore cited.
k 2 Inst. 647.
m 3 Inst. 154.
resistance from the English parliament; and a variety of acts were passed to prevent and restrain it, particularly the statute 6 Hen. IV. c. 1. which calls it a horrible mischief and damnable custom. But the popish clergy, blindly devoted to the will of a foreign master, still kept it on foot ; some. times more secretly, sometimes more openly and avowedly: so that in the reign of Henry VIII, it was computed, that in the compass of fifty years 800,000 ducats had been sent to Rome for first-fruits only. And, as the clergy expressed this willingness to contribute so much of their income to the head of the church, it was thought proper (when in the same reign the pupal power was abolished, and the king was declared the head of the church of England) to annex this revenue to the crown; which was done by statute 26 Hen. VIII. c. 3. (confirmed by statute i Eliz. c. 4.) and a new valor beneficiorum was then made, by which the clergy are ať present rated (2).
By these last mentioned statutes all vicarages under ten pounds a year, and all rectories under ten marks, are discharged from the payment of first-fruits : and if, in such livings as continue chargeable with this payment, the incumbent lives but half a year, he shall pay only one quarter of his first-fruits ; if but one whole year, then half
(2) When the first-fruits and tenths were transferred to the crown of England, by 26 Hen. VIII. c. 3. at the same time it was enacted, that commissioners should be appointed in every diocese, who should certify the value of every ecclesiastical benefice and preferment in the respective dioceses ; and according to this valuation, the first-fruits and tenths were to be collected and paid in future. This valor beneficiorum is what is commonly called the King's Books ; a transcript of which is given in Ecton's Thesaurus, and Bacon's Liber Regis.