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Crecy and Poitiers had followed the sea victory of Sluys. It reduced to reality a shadowy claim which the kings of England had from time to time put forward. and the prestige of the English sovereign now gave him the right and the means of enforcing some kind of law on the sea. But the legal jurisdiction of the admiral did not spring up fully armed immediately after the battle of Sluys; some years of further growth were necessary.
We see it uprising in 1342, when we find that to Robert de Morley, admiral of the northern fleet, and to two others had been assigned the duty of making inquisition by the oaths of jurors from the county within the jurisdiction of the admiral concerning the spoil of a ship of Flanders called the Tarryt. The spoilers were tried before the justices. But five of them were pardoned “ upon their producing the certificate of the admiral that they had equipped ships and gone to serve the King in his expedition to Brittany.” The power of the admiral was thus distinctly recognized, though the actual trial was before justices. Other instances might be given of the growth of the admiral's jurisdiction for the twenty years after the battle of the Sluys.
At length, in 1360, “ John Pavely is appointed 'capitaneus et ductor' of the fleet, with disciplinary powers as had been not uncommon, but, for the first time, he is given a legal jurisdiction, 'querelas omnium et singulorum armatæ pradictæ audiendi et delinquentes incarcerandi castigandi et puniendi et plenam justitiam ac omnia alia et singula quæ ad hujas modi capitaneum et ductorem pertinent
faciendi'» (I. xliii.). Here we have the first distinct and clear giving of a maritime jurisdiction to the admiral. This is followed a few months later by the entrusting of the command of the three fleets of the north, south, and west to one admiral, Sir John de Beauchamp, who "was succeeded in 1361 by Sir Robert Hearle, also admiral of all the fleets." Each of the patents of those two admirals "contains, in addition to
the usual disciplinary powers, a grant of maritime jurisdiction secundum legem maritimam ” (I. xlii.).
In these two patents is also found for the first time a power for the admiral to appoint a deputy, and other patents from this date to the end of the century are in the same terms.
There is, therefore, clearly established in these last sixty years of the fourteenth century a group of interesting and suggestive facts, the supremacy of the English sovereign on the seas, the appointment of a single high official, an admiral of the English fleet, to whom is granted not only the ordinary disciplinary powers of a naval commander, but the jurisdiction of a judge of maritime matters, and, as a necessary consequence, the right to him of appointing a deputy, who would, of course, be a lawyer, and whose sittings constituted a court of admiralty which was primarily intended to check piracy.
From this date 1360 to the year 1536, cases of piracy, both criminal and civil, were usually tried in the Admiral's Court with or without a jury. But the main object for which it was constituted was not attained ; piracy flourished in spite of it, and continued to do so throughout the fifteenth century. Excellent illustrations of French piracy are given in a paper by M. Alfred Spont in the Revue des Questions Historiques (April 1, 1894), entitled “La Marine Française sous le regne de Charles VIII.” “Nos corsaires poursuivent indifferement Anglais, Espagnols, Portugais, ou Italiens.” It is not necessary to give more than two of the instances stated by M. Spont, “Deux navires Français sont arrêtés a Sandwich, et par représailles, le Maréchal d'Esquerdès fait emprisonner quelques Anglais. Hesdin. (Mai 1483.)"
In 1484. "Jean Darrompel, seigneur du Lac, Capitaine de la Marie d'Ecosse, est pillé par les Anglais et recoit 600 livres de recompense sur le domaine de Normandie (21 Août)."
This state of things was not surprising, since the prevention and punishment of lawlessness on the high seas is rather a matter of police than of jurisdiction. It was all very well to
establish an Admiral's Court, but such a tribunal could not alter the habits of the people, nor destroy the sympathy of the coast men for those of their number who had taken a prize. It was easier to get a judgment against a so-called pirate than it was to find the man himself to punish him, and it was not difficult for those who had to bring a pirate to justice to be without such necessary evidence as would insure his conviction. The failure of the Admiralty Court for the main purpose for which it was created became so obvious in the beginning of the sixteenth century that Henry VIII. concluded a treaty with Louis XII. in 1509, and with Francis I. in 1518, by which it was agreed that both in England and in France special tribunals should be established in each country for the trial of pirates. Something very much like martial law was to be administered. For the procedure was to be speedy and informal, “summarie et de plano sine strepitu et figura judicii ... sola facti veritate inspecta.”
Thus things went on until 1536, when the criminal jurisdiction of the Admiralty Court over piracy was handed over to the common law courts * for the reason, as the statute recites, and this should be carefully noted, that pirates, thieves, robbers, and murderers on the seas, escape unpunished.
It is easy to understand the position of affairs when we read a document which is printed in Mr. Marsden's first volume. It bears the dry heading of “Re Shenew” (p. 73), and it is stated to be a petition to the admiral of a French ship by Englishmen; the petition being subsequently referred to the judge of the Admiralty Court. It gives us a quaint and lifelike picture of maritime and commercial life and of the comparative impotency of the arm of the law.
"In the most humble wise piteously complaining,” it begins, Piers Shenew of St. Malo in a time of peace together with two other merchants of St. Malo sailed from
* 28 Henry VIII. c. 15.
Bordeaux in the Mary of St. Malo, of 28 tons, with a cargo of wine, for Ireland. Here they sold the wine and bought salt, hides, and herrings, and having loaded their ship in Carlingford, they made sail for their own country. Contrary winds drove them to an anchor in the haven of Skerys. There, on the 6th of February, Walter Soly, an Englishman, and many sailors in a great ship with two tops came with staves and swords, carried the sailors off to his own ship, and kept them for ten days below deck. Then he landed them on the Isle of Man, and left them there robbed and spoiled of the ship and her cargo to their utter undoing. The matter was referted—as we have said—to the Judge of the Admiralty Court, so that proceedings should be taken against this turbulent Englishman. But how the suit ended we know not; probably the poor Frenchman had to put up with the loss of his ship and his goods. But the facts of the case, stated nakedly in a legal document, show how intolerable was the existing state of affairs on the seas. The growing commerce of England, which was contemporary with the increasing prosperity of the English towns and seaports, was hampered by lawlessness on the seas just as was that of the towns of Flanders and of France.
But though the Admiralty Court had failed in what was its primary and most important object, it had yet come to exercise a varied jurisdiction as a municipal maritime tribunal by the end of the sixteenth century. Fixity and certainty of jurisdiction is altogether inconsistent with the growth of a tribunal or with the development of society. It is only after civilization has come to a particular point that the law courts of a nation can be regarded as having settled functions, and the early history of the Admiralty Court is noticeable for periodical fluctuations. Limitations placed on the Court, and never very strictly enforced, were relaxed by Henry VIII., and thus, with the jurisdiction at one period expanding, at another contracting, it has gradually attained
that distinct and limited jurisdiction which is now so well recognized.
With this part of the history of the High Court of Admiralty this article has not been concerned. It has been the object of this paper to emphasize the historical point which stands out so prominently in the Select Pleas of the Court of Admiralty that in the extent of piracy in the Middle Ages is to be found the cause of the creation of a Court of the Lord High Admiral. “The origin of the Admiralty Court can be traced with tolerable certainty to the period between the years 1340 and 1357. It was instituted in consequence of the difficulty which had been experienced in dealing with piracy or 'spoil' claims made by and against foreign sovereigns.” This is Mr. Marsden's concise summary of the evidence which has now at length placed this portion of our legal history on a sound historical footing, and removed it from that region of uncertainty in which, from an absence of detailed research, so many of our legal institutions have remained. And the more the early history of English law is considered, the more obvious also is the influence of the condition of society on jurisdictions and legal principles-the changes in which, whether veiled in legal fictions or not, always reflect the spirit and the wants of
E. S. ROSCOE.
IV.—THE LAW AS TO SUNDAY AMUSEMENTS.
"HE action of the London County Council, in November
of last year, on the application for licences to places of entertainment, has drawn general attention to the present state of the law as to Sunday amusements. That it has also drawn attention to the methods of the London County Council