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so far that “the memory of man runneth not to the contrary,” and if antiquity of title alone were sufficient to make out England's claim of exclusive jurisdiction over all persons navigating the British Channel at the present day, it would not be difficult to shew that England claimed that right at a very early time, and actively maintained it for several centuries against all nations. If the charter, which purports to have been granted by King Edgar, A.D., 964, to Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, could be relied on as authentic, respecting which, however, doubts exist whether it is not a monkish fabrication, King Edgar would appear to have asserted his empire, in the 10th century, over all the kings of all the islands of the ocean, which lie round England. The Charter commences in these words, which, it must be admitted, are somewhat out of place in a document, the object of which was to authorise Oswald, Bishop of Worcester, to expel all the married clergy from their preferments in his diocese and to replace them with monks. “Ego Aedgarus Anglorum Basileus, omniumque regum insularum Oceani quæ Britanniam circumjacent,* cunctarum nationum quæ infra eam includuntur, Imperator et Dominus.” It goes on afterwards to say, “Mihi autem concessit propitia divinitas cum Anglorum imperio omnia regna insularum Oceani cum suis ferocissimis regibus usque ad Norwegiam, maximamque partem Hiberniæ cum sua nobilissima civitate Dublinia Anglorum regno subjugare.” Passing by this charter and other questionable documents of the Anglo-Saxon period we are apparently in waters better defined when we arrive at the Four Seas of England, which are mentioned in three places in Bracton, De Legibus Angliæ, as the “ quatuor maria,” not coupled by him indeed with the name of England, but fully described as the “ quatuor maria Anglia” in a Placitum corain
* The extract is from Spelman's Concilia Tom 1, p. 432. Pryone adopts a different reading, “Oceanique Britanniam Circumjacentis." The document is curious, as it extends the claim of the Crown of Enxland as far as Norty;
Rege in the 52nd year of Henry III.* These seas are also distinctly designated as “ les quatre mers d'Angleterre" in four different places in the Domus Day of Gippeswich, t which was drawn up in the 19th year of Edward I., and purports to be a restoration of an earlier Domesday of the reign of King John.
What “the four Seas of England” precisely were, may be open to some doubt. According to the common interpretation of the phrase, “the four Seas' were (1.) The South Channel, between England and France. (2.) The St. George's, or Irish Channel, and the Deucaledonian Sea, I washing the West of Scotland. (3.) The Caledonian Sea
(4.) The German Ocean, washing the East of Britain. Such. - is the description of the Four Seas' which Dr. Arthur
Browne has adopted in his chapter on the Law of the Admiralty as a Criminal Court. (Civil Law, 1801, vol. ii. p. 464.) If this interpretation of the phrase, “the Four Seas,' be correct, it would rather seem to have been a geographical expression, and to have simply signified the Seas of England, and such is the view which Selden seems to take of it, as he considers the term, 'the Four Seas,' to signify the Seas of England, Ireland, and Wales, and to be “so divided according to the four quarters of the globe."-(Mare Clausum, B. II, ch. xvi.) The phrase, however, is susceptible of another interpretation, if it first came into use in the reign of Henry III., or, at least at some period subsequent to the reign of Henry II., as the Domus Day of Ipswich, may, possibly, carry it back to the reign of King
* Placitorum Abbreviatio Temp. R. I, ch. 11., published·by the Record Commission. 1811., p. 171.
† Published for the first time in 1873 in the Appendix to the Black Book of the Admiralty. Vol. ii., p. 45, 47, 65.
The term, “Deucaledonian," seems to have ibeen used in the fifteenth century to describe the Northern Sea, in which were the Orcades and the Shetland Islands, which were given up by King Christian I., of Denmark, after the marriage of his daughter, the Lady Marguerite, to James III , King of Scotland. They were described in the deed of surrender as being in the Deucaledonian Sea.
John. There were four Seas subject to the Lordship of the kings of England after the Duchy of Acquitaine came into the possession of Henry II., as the marriage portion of Eleanor of Guienne, namely, (1.) The North Sea. (2.) The British Channel. (3.) The Irish Sea. (4.) The Sea of Acquitaine; and over each of these Seas the kings of England maintained their Lordship by fleets under separate admirals; for although the early series of Letters Patent of the Admirals, which is preserved in the Record Office, is confined to the Letters Patent of the Admirals of the Northern and Western Seas of England, a very curious record of the exercise of the Jurisdiction of the Admiral of Acquitaine is preserved amongst the Placita Coram Rege of the 18th year of Edward II.* The preservation of this Record, which has escaped the researches of Prynne, and of other writers, who have discussed the origin of the Admiral's Jurisdiction, enables us to form a more accurate opinion as to the object for which the Admiral's Office was introduced into England. The earliest mention of an Admiral of England occurs in the twenty-third year of Edward I., when William Leybourne, who had been previously appointed Captain of the Ports and of the Coasts, was also constituted Admirallus Angliæ. Before this time, indeed, the kings of England had been accustomed to appoint great officers under the title of Custodes Maris, or Custodes Marinae, but those officers do not appear to have exercised any other authority than what was strictly military for the defence of the Ports and of the Coasts. The Admiral's Office, on the other hand, was a judicial office, and the record of 18. Edward II. shews that he administered justice in matters of maritime wrong on the high seas, secundum legem mercatoriain,t not secundum consuetudinem terræ. Hence the disputes become more intelligible between the King and the Parliament in the reign of Richard II., and the frequent conflicts of jurisdiction between the Common Law Courts and the Admiral's Court, the Common Law Courts seeking to enforce the consuetudo terræ wherever the sea might be considered to be intra fauces terræ ; the Admiral's Court, on the other hand, claiming to exercise its jurisdiction over the sea, secundum legem maritimain, wherever it flowed up to high water mark. It is unnecessary to refer to the later Patents of the Admirals prior to the reign of Henry IV., to show that the kings of England maintained their Lordship over the Four Seas of the North, of the West, of Ireland, and of Acquitaino by separate fleets under the command of as many Admirals, or under the command of separate Vice-Admirals, the Lieutenants of one High Admiral. One memorable instance will suffice, which is recorded in the Appendix to the Black Book of the Admiralty, vol. i. p. 373, which happened in the thirteenth year of the reign of Henry IV., when Letters Patent were granted to Sir Thomas Beaufort constituting him Admiral of England both for the Northern parts and for the Western parts, Admiral of Ireland, and Admiral of Acquitaine. This Admiralty Jurisdiction, however, is quite distinct from the prescriptive claim of England to the Lordship of the Sea, which culminated in the Treaty of Westminster of 1674, when the Dutch, having previously consented, under the Treaty of Breda of 1667, that their vessels should lower their flag to the kings of England's war-ships, whenever they should meet them on the British Ocean, “ eo modo, quo id ipsum ab omni tempore olim factum fuerat," agreed that their vessels should pay that mark of honour to the English Jack in the seas extending from the promontory of Van Staten in Norway to Cape Finisterre in Spain. Vattel observes, in regard to this claim of England, “The fleets of England have given room to her kings to claim the Empire of the Seas, which surround that island, even as far as the opposite coasts. Selden relates a solemn act, by which it appears that in the time of Edward I. that Empire was acknowledged by the greatest part of the maritime nations of Europe, and the republic of the United Provinces acknowledged it in some measure by the Treaty of Breda in 1667, at least so far as related to the honour of the flag. But solidly to establish a right to that extent, it were necessary to prove very clearly the express or tacit consent of all the persons concerned. The French have never agreed to this pretension of England, and in that very treaty of Breda Louis XIV. would not even suffer the Channel to be called the English Channel or the British Sea” (Chitty's translation, B. i. § 289).
* Placitorum Abbreviatio temp. R. 1.-Edw. II. p. 353. + The Record is in these words: Processus placiti tenti 'coram majore Ville Bristoll, virtute brevis Domini Regis ei inde directi anno XVIII Regis nunc per quem compertum est super eo quod magister navis Sancti Dominici de Placentia et alii socii sui monstraverunt domino Regi, quod frectati fuerunt cum vinis adducendis in Flandriam depredati fuerunt super mare per quosdam
malefactores Apglos, Scilicet per homines de Bristoll, super quo Dominus Rex mandavit Johanpi Bendin, admirallo flete Regis navium versus partes Aquitanie, quod navem predictam et vina una cum mercimoniis in eadem, si contingeret ipsam invenire, dicto magistro restitueret. Qui admirallus virtute mandati predicti inquisitionem de premissis per sacramentum marinariorum per qnos compertum fuit quod XIII., nominati de Bristoll, felonice depredarunt predictum Petrum Martyn ad valenciam XI. librarum. Quos dictus Rex præcepit alochiari et restitucionem fieri secundum legent mercatorium, p. 353.
This claim of England to the Lordship of the Sea, although it acquired latterly an unreasonable development, had not an unreasonable origin. The Lordship of the Sea was originally claimed by States, as a justification of their right to put down piracy, and there is a tradition that King Edgar sent forth a fleet twice a year to scour “the narrow sea” of pirates, and that a custom grew up, founded on this practice of King Edgar, under which the kings of England were, as it was believed, bound to keep the seas adjoining England clear of pirates. Thus in a quaint old law-book, entitled, “The Doctor and Student," compiled about 1518, by Christopher St. Germain, a famous lawyer of the Middle Temple. The Student says, p. 270, “ The King, of the old Custom of the Realme, as Lord of the Narrow Sea, is bound, as it is said, to scour the sea of the pirates and petit robbers of the sea, and so it is read of the noble King Saint Edgar, that he