Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER FIVE. - Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction
Return to Title Page for Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER FIVE. - Misc (Magna Carta), Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction 
Magna Carta: A Commentary on the Great Charter of King John, with an Historical Introduction, by William Sharp McKechnie (Glasgow: Maclehose, 1914).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Custos autem, quamdiu custodiam terre habuerit, sustentet domos, parcos, vivaria, stagna, molendina, et cetera ad terram illam pertinencia, de exitibus terre ejusdem; et reddat heredi, cum ad plenam etatem pervenerit, terram suam totam instauratam de carrucis et waynagiis, secundum quod tempus waynagii exiget et exitus terre racionabiliter poterunt sustinere.
The guardian, moreover, so long as he has the wardship of the land, shall keep up the houses, parks,1 fishponds, stanks,2 mills, and other things pertaining to the land, out of the issues of the same land; and he shall restore to the heir, when he has come to full age, all his land, stocked with ploughs and “waynage,”3 according as the season of husbandry shall require, and the issues of the land can reasonably bear.
These stipulations form the complement, on the positive side, of the negative provisions of chapter 4. It was not sufficient to prohibit acts of waste; the guardian must keep the estates in good repair.
The Obligations of the Warden of a Lay–fief.
It was the duty of every custodian to preserve the lands from neglect, together with all the usual equipment of a medieval manor. Outlay thus required formed, in modern language, a first charge on the revenues, before the balance was appropriated by the “grantee,” or paid to the exchequer by the “committee.”
This clause expands and improves the corresponding Article of the Barons; but the obligation to restore the land and its appointments “in as good order as the revenues would bear” came to be regarded as too stringent, obliging the guardian to use up surplus revenue in repairing waste committed in the time of the deceased. Henry’s charters modified this: the guardian need only hand over the land and appointments in as good condition as he had received them.4
New methods of abusing wardship were invented after Magna Carta. The Statute of Marlborough (c. 16) gave to a ward, kept out of his heritage, an action of mort d’ancestor against a mesne lord, but not against the Crown.1 The Statute of Westminster I. (c. 48) narrates that heirs were often carried off bodily to prevent them raising actions against guardians. The whole subject was regulated in 1549 by Statute 32 Henry VIII. c. 46, which instituted the Court of Wards and Liveries, the expensive and dilatory procedure of which caused increasing discontent, until an order of both Houses of Parliament, dated 24th February, 1646, abolished it along with “all wardships, liveries, primer seisins, and ouster les mains.”2 This ordinance was confirmed at the Restoration by Statute 12 Charles II. c. 24.3
Wardships over Vacant Sees.
The church had its own grievances. The Constitutions of Clarendon4 had stipulated that each prelate should hold his Crown land sicut baroniam; and this view ultimately prevailed. It followed that all appropriate feudal burdens affected church fiefs equally with lay fiefs. The lands of a see were, however, the property of an undying corporation (to use the language of a later age): a minority was impossible, and therefore, so it might be argued, wardships could never arise. Rufus objected to this reasoning, and devised a substitute for ordinary wardships by keeping sees long vacant, and meanwhile appropriating the revenues. Henry I., while renouncing all pretensions to exact reliefs, retained his right of wardship, promising merely that vacant sees should neither be sold nor farmed out. Stephen went further, renouncing expressly all wardships over church lands; but Henry II. ignored this concession, and reverted to the practice of his grandfather. In his reign the wardship of the rich properties of vacant sees formed a valuable asset of the exchequer. During a vacancy the Crown drew not only the rents and issues of the soil, but also the various feudal payments which the under–tenants would otherwise have paid to the bishop. The Pipe Roll of 14 Henry II.1 records “reliefs” of £30 and £20 paid by tenants of the vacant see of Lincoln for six and four knights’ fees respectively.2
John reserved his wardships in his charter to the church; and Stephen Langton thought, perhaps, it was unnecessary to press for their renunciation, since the promise not to delay elections would render such wardship unprofitable.3
The omission was supplied in 1216, when the provisions applicable to lay fiefs were extended to vacant sees, with the added proviso that church wardships should never be sold.
These provisions were supplemented by later acts. An Act of 14 Edward III. (stat. 4, cc. 4 and 5) gave to the dean and chapter of a vacant see a right to pre–emption of the wardship at a fair price. If they failed to exercise this, the King’s right to appoint escheators or other keepers was confirmed, but under strict rules as to waste.
[1 ]This term is explained, c. 47. infra.
[2 ]It is difficult to distinguish between vivarium and stagnum. By Coke, in the Statutes at large, vivarium is translated “warren”; but that word has its Latin form in warrena. Westminster II. (c. 4) speaks of stagnum molendinæ (a millpond). Statute of Merton (c. 11) refers to poachers taken in parcis et vivariis.
[3 ]Discussed infra, under c. 20.
[4 ]Cf. Blackstone, Great Charter, lxxviii.
[1 ]Cf. infra, under c. 18.
[2 ]See R. S. Gardiner, Documents, p. 207.
[3 ]See infra, under c. 37, for prerogative wardship.
[4 ]Article 11: see Select Charters, 139.
[1 ]Cited by editors of the Dialogus, p. 223.
[2 ]Cf. under c. 43 infra.
[3 ]C. 46 of Magna Carta (see infra) confirmed barons, who had founded abbeys, in their rights of wardship over them during vacancies.