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of them were of record. The Black Book of the Admiralty is supposed to have been commenced in the reign of Edward III., and to have been continued during the reigns of Richard II. and Henry IV. “When one is made Admiral,” says the Black Book (Vol. I., A. I)," he must first ordain and substitute for his lieutenants, deputies and other officers under him, some of the most loyal, wise, and discreet persons in the Maritime Law and ancient customs of the seas, which he can anywhere find." The Admiral is next “ to write to all his lieutenants, deputies and other officers whatsoever, throughout all the sea coasts through the whole realm, to know how many ships, barges, balingers and other vessels of war the King may have in his realm when he pleaseth or need shall require, and of what burthen they are, and also the names of the owners and possessors thereof,” and “to know, likewise, by good and lawful inquests taken before the said lieutenants, deputies, or other officers of the Admiralty, how many fighting mariners are in the realm." The reason of this ordinance was that in case the King or his Council (which he had always about him for advice in matters of law, and who managed the affairs of the Navy) should make enquiries of the Admiral, they might always know what force might be serviceable by sea. Again, it was ordained at Hastings by King Edward I., " and his lords," that "though divers lords had several franchises to try pleas in ports, that neither their seneschals (stewards) nor bailiffs should hold plea if it concerns merchant or mariner, as well by deed as by charter of ships, obligations and other facts, though the same amounts but to twenty shillings or forty shillings ; and if anyone is indicted that he hath done to the contrary, and be thereof convicted, he shall have the same judgment as above said. Item: Any contract made between merchant and merchant, or merchant or mariner beyond the sea, or within the flood-mark, shall be tried before the Admiral, and nowhere
else, by the ordinance of the said King Edward and his lords. Item: Those who are indicted that they hold plea of hue and cry, or bloodshed committed on salt water, within the flood-mark, if they are thereof convicted, they shall be imprisoned for two years and then shall be fined according to the pleasure of the King or the Admiral." The above words before the Admiral, evidently signify the Admiralty Courts or Sessions, and are not to be restricted to the personal presence of the Admiral. There is no evidence that the Lord High Adiniral ever personally presided in his judicial office, although the precepts of venire facias to the sheriffs and officers, as also the warrants for proclaiming the Sessions, for bringing prisoners to their trials, for executing such as had sentence of death against them, etc., were in the Admiral's name, and under his seal of office. Neale (Sea Laws, p. 6), writing in 1704, refers to this power of the Admiral of appointing deputies for particular parts of the sea coast, thus: “Now seeing the Admiral himself is commonly resident at land, or if at sea, not possible to be everywhere and consequently is not capable of an immediate exercise of this authority on the sea, it has been judged convenient for the entire preservation of his jurisdiction to constitute a Vice-Admiral, with captains to supply his absence; and considering the dignity and difficulty of his office, as well for the aggrandizement of the one as the ease of the other, he constitutes his deputies for particular parts on the sea coasts, with coroners to view the dead bodies found on sea or on the coasts." And Godolphin (Admiral, p. 41), who wrote earlier (1661), speaks of the Admiral having several officers “of higher and of lower form ; some at land, others at sea; some of a military, others of a civil capacity; some judicial, others ministerial.” The Admiral had jurisdiction of all causes of merchants and mariners, happening on the sea or in foreign parts within the King's dominions, as also of all crimes within
the above limits, and of all maritime causes where the common law could give no remedy. Where the lex terre does not run, other laws are allowed in many cases, and this is not contrary to Magna Charta. “If,” says Coke (2 Inst., p. 50), “any injury, robbery, felony, or other offence be done upon the high sea, the lex terræ extended not to it; therefore the Admiral hath cognizance thereof, and may proceed according to the marine law by imprisonment of the body, and other proceedings as have been allowed by the laws of the realm."
The Admiral appointed his deputies or Vice-Admirals for the sea coasts, from the very early times which, we have already indicated, unto the present day. The sea coasts of England and Wales were divided into nineteen circuits, or vice-admiralties, viz. :-1. Northumberland, Durham, and York; 2. Lincoln; 3. Norfolk; 4. Suffolk; 5. Essex; 6. Kent; 7. Sussex; 8. Southampton; 9. Dorset; 10. Devon; II. South Cornwall; 12. North Cornwall; 13.
. Somerset ; 14. Gloucester; 15. South Wales ; 16. North Wales ; 17. Chester; 18. Lancaster; 19. Westmoreland and Cumberland. Of these only six are at present filled, viz. :-Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cornwall, North Wales and Carmarthen, Westmoreland and Cumberland, by the Earl of Yarborough, the Earl of Kimberley, the Earl of Stradbroke, the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, the Marquess of Anglesey, and Lord Hothfield respectively.
Every Lord Admiral," says Sir W. Monson, “ substitutes his deputy or Vice-Admiral in every maritime shire in England, except in such places where the lords of manors challenge a right formerly granted by the Kings of England, as will appear by their grants. These Vice-Admirals are carefully to look that all things be performed that are ordained by the Lord Admiral, and yearly to keep a Court in their several counties, where every man's complaint may be publicly heard.” A Vice-Admiral is now constituted or appointed by Letters Patent of the Sovereign, given in the High Court of Admiralty (Admiralty Division) of England, under the Great Seal. The candidate for the office of ViceAdmiral having previously requested the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral to permit him to hold the place, the Commissioners if they think fit so to do, direct their warrant to the Judge of the High Court of Admiralty requiring him to cause the said Letters Patent to issue.
It appears that the accustomed place in Southwark, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, to hold the Admiralty or Water Court, was a quay on the Southwark side of the River Thames ; unless the Court of the Admiralty was already held in a building forming part of the ancient church of St. Margaret's-on-Hill, which was destroyed as a church in the reign of Henry I., the parish of St. Margaret's being at that time united to the parish of St. Mary Overy. Stow, in his Survey (A.D. 1598), says, “a part of this parish church of St. Margaret is now a Court wherein the assizes and sessions be kept, and the Court of Admiralty is also there kept ; and Pepys, in his Diary (17th March, A.D. 1663), describes the Court of Admiralty as there sitting. In the Rolls of Parliament (11 Henry IV., No. 61), the Commons complain of persons being summoned by the officers of the Admiral à Loundres à la Key de William Horton, Suthwerke. In the reign of Henry VIII., Orton Key, near London Bridge, is mentioned in the Records of the High Court of Admiralty (3rd November, 1541), as its usual place of sitting. The Vice-Admirals held their Courts in the same manner; primarily on the sea shore within the floodmark. Hence by easy digressions on quays, banks of public streams, where the tide ebbed and flowed, and on the coast of arms of the sea. Three Statutes viz. :13 Ric. II., st. 1, c. 5, 15 Ric. II., c. 3, and 2 Hen. IV., c. II, were passed to restrict the encroachment of the Admiral's
Courts on the Common Law jurisdiction, by entertaining causes and complaints which did not appertain to the
or to maritime matters. Although these statutes restrained the Admiralty Courts from holding pleas of things arising in the body of counties, yet, as Sir H. Spelman observes, it did not restrain the Admiralty from making execution upon the land. The body of the realm, and of every county, are places accidentally subject to the Admiralty; therefore the Admiral “may take the body in execution upon the land ; and so also may he do the goods by the opinion of the Court" (Brook, Admiral, 19 Henry VI., “and," continues Sir H. Spelman, “it is said that at that time the use was for the Admiral's officers to serve their citations upon the land—and great reason, for otherwise their jurisdiction were to little purpose. Upon this reason, also, is the High Court of Admiralty, by ancient use, holden in the body of the county, and so also may the inferior Courts, though the judges many times used to hold them under the full sea-mark; but discretion requires they should be in maritime towns, for the conveniency of the business and ease of the suitors. This, also, I take to be the cause that the Lord Admirals of England, in the patents to their Vice-Admirals, used to grant them that office as well in upland counties adjoining, as maritime, that they might have power to hold Courts and award process thither if need require. So the Vice-Admiral of Norfolk is usually Vice-Admiral of the city of Norwich, &c." This right mentioned by Sir H. Spelman, of holding Admiral's Courts in maritime towns, does not appear to have passed unchallenged. A petition of the Commons, with its answer, of the fourth year of Henry IV. (1402), directs that “the Admiral and his lieutenants do sit to keep their courts in no liberty or town, but only upon the sea coasts or arms of the sea, and that every plea before them may be determined in one place without adjournment."