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Jentleman’s Case. - Sir Edward Coke, Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I 
The Selected Writings and Speeches of Sir Edward Coke, ed. Steve Sheppard (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003). Vol. 1.
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(Between Crosby and Jentleman)
(1583) Easter Term, 25 Elizabeth I
In the Court of King’s Bench.
First Published in the Reports, volume 6, page 11a.
Ed.: In this opinion, which foreshadows many of Coke’s arguments with James I, the judges of the King’s Bench consider when various officials are Judges, who are appointed by writ, by the king, or by statute, to hear certain causes of action, or who are suiters seeking a writ of right, to which they are automatically entitled, or a writ of justicies, which require a sheriff to hear a dispute over a debt. The King cannot abolish courts of the common law but may create new courts, and appoint Judges to courts, but once he has made the appointment, the judge ought to determine matters in the court.
It is to be observed, that the words of a Writ of Right directed to the Lord of a Mannor are, Pracipimus tibi, quod plenum rectum teneas A de B de uno messuagio, &c.1 And the words of a Writ of Justicies are, Rex vic. S. Salutem. Praec. tibi quod Justicies A. quod juste & sine dilatione reddat2 B 20l. &c. And so of other Writs which are Vicountiel. So the Writ of Droit close is directed to the Lord of the Mannor; Pracipimus tibi quod secundum consuetudinem manerii, &c. plenum rectum teneas, &c. de uno messuagio.3 And the Writs are in the same words when they are directed to the Bailifs of a Mannor. And upon the words aforesaid it was objected, that in such cases the Lord, or the Baylifs, or the Sherif, are Judges, for they have authority by the Kings Writ, and the Writs are directed to them, and not to the suters; and therefore it was said, That the difference is, when the plea is in ancient |[11 b] Demesne, Court Baron, or County Court without writ, there the suters are Judges; but when the writ is directed to the Lord, or Baylifs, or Sherif, by which they are commanded to doe Right and Justice to the parties, there they are Judges. Also it was said, that by force of Justicies4 a plea may be holden in the Countie above forty shillings, and therefore it is reason that Judge should be appointed than the suters, who of common right are Judges of small things under forty shillings. And to this purpose are some opinions in temp.5 Edw. 1. tit. Det. 177. 21 Edw. 4. 66. b. & 21 Hen. 6. tit. Retorne. 17. 21 Hen. 6. 34. a. 44 Edw. 3. 10. where Finchden holdeth, where the admeasurement of power6 is made before the Sherif, the Sherif is Judge. But upon consideration of all the Books it was resolved, that in none of the said Cases, the Lord of a Mannor, or the Baylifs, or Sherif, are Judges; but bee the plea holden by writ, or without writ the suters are Judges. And the reason why the writ shall bee directed to the Lord, or Sherif, &c. is, because the Court Baron is the Lords Court, and the County Court is the Sherif’s Court; and therefore it is great reason the writ be directed to him to whom the Court doth belong, to the end he see two things performed. 1. To hold his Courts that Justice and Right be therein done to the parties. 2. That he answered the profits of his Court which belong to him. But in case where they hold plea by force of the Kings writ, it doth not change the nature and jurisdiction of the Court: For as these without writs are not Courts of Record, so when the plea is holden by writ, the Courts are of the same nature; for upon a Judgement given in both cases, a writ of false Judgement lyeth, and not a writ of Error: But if the writ which of record should constitute a new Judge, viz. the Lord in the one case, and the Sherif &c. in the other, then the authority of the Judge being by the Kings Writ, which is of Record, the Court as to this purpose shall be also of record, quod est perspicue falsum.7 For without question, as it appeareth by F. N. B. and all the books, a writ of false Judgement lyeth in such Case, although the plea be held by writ: Also the Kings writ cannot alter the jurisdiction of the Court Baron, County, Hundred, &c. which are all Courts at the Common Law, and have Judges authorised and appointed in them by the Law; and therefore all things determinable in those Courts ought to be determined by the Judges of the same Courts; but it is true, the King may create a new Court, and appoint new Judges in it; but after the Court is established and created, the Judges of the Court ought to determine the matters in the Court. And therefore neither the Lord of ancient demesne, nor of a Court Baron, nor the Sherif in the County Court, when the |[12 a] plea is holden by writ of Right, Justicies, Admeasurement, &c. are Judges, but the Suters, who are by the Common Law are the Judges of the Court. And therewith agree the books in 34 Hen. 6. 35. 39 Hen. 6. 5. a. 7 Edw. 4. 23. a. 6 Edw. 4. 3. b. 12 Hen. 7. 16, &c. And observe well the words of the writ in the Register, 10. b. Rex sectatoribus, Cur. J. Manerii de G. quae est de antiquo dominico Coronae Angliae, ut dicitur, Salutem. Cum secundum legem & consuetudinem infra maneria, quae hujusmodi antiquo dominico Coronae Angliae hactenus existunt, ut dicitur, usitat’ in placitis in Curia eorundem Maneriorum pendentibus, cum ad judicium inde reddendum sit placitatum, sectatores hujusmodi curiae ad judicia in placitis inde reddend. licite procedere debeant & consueverunt totis temporibus retroactis.8 And there it appeareth, that the plea did there depend by a writ of Droit close, &c. Vobis mandamus, &c. ad judicium inde reddendum cum omni celeritate procedatis, &c.9 by which it appeareth, that although the plea is holden by writ, yet the suters are the only Judges. It appeareth also by the said books, That in a Hundred Court, the suters are judges, and so the Law is well resolved in a Case, wherein there was variance in opinions in our books. But in some case, the sheriff is made Judge by Parliament, as in Redisseisin, by the Statute of Merton, cap. 3. And all his proceeding, by force of that Act, is of record; and a writ of Error lyeth of a judgement given against him, &c. vide 44 Edw. 3. 10. In a Court of Pipowders the Steward is Judge, 6 Hen. 4. 3. acc. 7 Edw. 4. 23. a. In the Leet the Steward, and in the torn the Sheriff judge, 10 Hen. 6, 7. 7 Hen. 6. 12. 12 Hen. 7. 15. In the Court of Marshalsea, the steward and marshal of the King’s house are Judges, 19 Edw. 4. 8. b. F. N. B. 241. B. 20 Edw. 4. 16. b. 7 Hen. 6. 30. 4 Hen. 6. 8. Artic. super Chartas, cap. 3.
Part Seven of the Reports
The Seventh Part of Coke’s Reports was published in 1608. It was originally entitled La sept part des reports Sr. Edw. Coke chivaler, chiefe Justice del Common Banke: des divers resolutions & judgements done sur solemne arguments & avec grand deliberation & conference des tresreverend judges & sages de la ley, de cases en ley queux ne fueront unques resolve ou adiudges par deuant: et les raisons & causes des dits resolutions & judgements. Publies en le size an del treshaut & tresillustre Jaques roy d’Engl. Fr. & Irel. & de Escoce le 42. Le fountaine de tout Pietie & Justice, & la vie de la Ley. In English, The Seventh Part of the Reports of Sir Edward Coke, Knight, Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas, of divers Resolutions and Judgments given upon solemn Arguments, and with greatdeliberation and Conference of the reverend Judges and Sages of the Law, of Cases in law which were never Resolved or Adjudged Before: and the Reasons and Causes thereof. Published in the Sixth year of the most high and Most Illustrious James, King of England, France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the 42., the Fountain of all Justice, and the life of the Law. Coke maintained that he had not intended to publish another part of the Reports so quickly, but the significance of the first case in Part Seven, Calvin’s Case, convinced him to bring it to print. Calvin’s Case was of great importance to the constitution of Great Britain in the relationship among its constituent nations and with her new colonies. The case was also important in determining the role of the courts, the Parliament, and the King and in determining the status of the subject to the King. Besides Calvin’s Case, this part of the Reports covers a wide range of mainly more recent cases, of local enforcement of criminal laws, property, appointment to offices, uses (a predecessor to the modern trust), wild animals, estates, inheritance, procedure, the powers of the Queen, and the effects of divorce.
Epigrams from the Title Page:
Frequentibus Argumentis & Collationibus latens veritas aperitur, cum sub eisdem verbis saepe lateat multiplex intellectus.
Veritas saepius agitata magis splendescit in lucem.1
[1. ][Ed.: We command you that you hold full right to A. B. concerning one messuage, etc.]
[2. ][Ed.: The king to the sheriff of S., greeting. We command you that you justice A. that rightly and without delay he render . . .]
[3. ][Ed.: We command you that according to the custom of the manor etc. you hold full right, etc. concerning one messuage.]
[4. ][Ed.: Writ giving a sheriff unusually greater powers in a debt collection.]
[5. ][Ed.: in the time.]
[6. ][Ed.: The 1658 edition has here “power”; the 1607 has “dower.”]
[7. ][Ed.: which is obviously false. In English in 1658, but in Latin in most editions.]
[8. ][Ed.: The King to the suitors of the court of J. of the manor of G., which is of the ancient demesne of the crown of England, as it is said, greeting. Whereas according to the law and custom until now used within the manors which are of the ancient demesne of the crown of England, as it is said, in pleasdepending in the court of the same manors, when pleaded as far as judgment to be given therein, the suitors of such court ought, and have been accustomed in all times past, lawfully to proceed to render the judgments in the pleas therein.]
[9. ][Ed.: We command you, etc. to proceed with all speed to render judgment therein, etc.]
[1. ][Ed.: The hidden truth is opened up by frequent argument and conference, since hiding beneath the same words there is often a manifold understanding. The truth being frequently considered shines greater in the light.]