Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Case of Thetford School, &c. - Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I
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The Case of Thetford School, &c. - 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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The Case of Thetford School, &c.
(1609) Easter Term, 7 James 1.
First Published in the Reports, volume 8, page 130b.
Ed.: This case is a consideration of the interpretation of a trust for charitable purposes. Thomas Fulmerston gave lands to “certain people” so that the income from the lands could support a preacher for four days a year, the erection of a free school and maintenance of four poor people. The land grew in value so that there was greater income than necessary, andthepeople acting as trustee wanted to keep the excess. The Lords ruled that the excess must be used in accord with the grantor’s intent, and the excess was used to support more poor people.
Upon a private bill exhibited in the Parliament for erection of a Free-school, maintenance of a Preacher, and of 4 poor people, Scil. 2 poor men, and 2 poor women according to the Will of Sir Thomas Fulmerston, Knight a Question was moved by the Lords, and was such: Land of the value of 35 £. Anno 9 Eliz. was devised by Will in writing to certain persons and their heirs, for the maintenance of a Preacher four days in the year; Of a Master and Usher of a Free Grammar School and of certain poor people, and a special distribution was made by the Testator himself, in the same Will, amongst them, of the Revenues, scil. To the Preacher a certain sum, and certain sums, to the Schoolmaster and Usher, and to the Poor people, amounting in the whole to 35 £ per annum, which was the yearly profit of the Land at that time; and afterwards the lands became of greater value; viz. the value of 100 £ per annum. Now 2 Questions were moved.
—1. if the Preacher, School-master, Usher, and Poor, should have only the certain sums appointed to them by the Founder, or that the Revenew and profit of the Land should be imployed to the increase of the Stipend of the Preacher, School-master, Usher, and Poor?
2. If any surplusage |[131 a] doth remain, how it should be imployed?
And it was Resolved, on hearing of Councel learned on both parts several dayes at Serjeants Inn, by the two Chief Justices, and Justice Walmsey (to whom the Lords referred the consideration of the Case) That the Revenew and profit of the said Lands should be imployed to the encrease of the Stipend of the Preacher, School-master, &c. and Poor; and if any surplusage doeth remain, it should be expended for the maintenance of a greater number of Poor, &c. and nothing should be converted by the Devisees to their own uses. So in the Case in Question, Where Lands in Croxton, in the County of Norfolk, were devised by Sir Richard Fulmerston, to his Executors, to find the said works of Piety and Charity, with such certain distribution as is aforesaid; and now the value of the Mannor was greatly encreased, that it shall be employed in performance and encrease of the said works of Piety and Charity instituted and erected by the Founder: for it appears by his distribution of the profits, that he intended all should be imployed in works of Piety and Charity, and nothing should be converted to the private use of the Executors or their heirs. And this Resolution is grounded on evident and apparent reason; for, as if the Lands had fallen in value, the Preacher, School-master, &c. and Poor people should lose, so when the Lands doe increase in value, by the same reason they shall gain. And they said, that this Case did concern the Colleges in the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and other Colleges, &c. For in old time when Lands were of small value, (victuals then being cheap,) and were given for the maintenance of poor Scholars, &c. and that every scholar, &c. should have 1 d. or 1 d. ob. a day, that then such small allowance was Competent in respect of the price of victuals, and the yearly value of the Land; and now the price of victuals being encreased, it shall be injurious to allow a Poor scholar 1 d. or 1 d. ob. a day, which cannot keep him, and to convert the residue to private uses, where, in right it ought to be imployed to the maintenance or encrease (if it may be) of such works of Piety and Charity which the Founder has expressed, and nothing to any private use; for every College is seised in jure Collegii, scil.1 to the intent that the members of the College, according to the intent of the Founder, should take the benefit thereof and that nothing should be converted to private uses. Panis |[131 b] egentium vita pauperum, et qui defraudat eos homo sanguinis est.2 And afterwards upon Conference had with the other Justices, they were of the same opinion; and according to their opinions the Bill passed in both Houses of Parliament, and afterwards was confirmed by the Kings assent. Note, Reader, there is a good Rule in the Act of Parliament called Statutum Templariorum: Ita semper quod pia et celeberrima voluntas Donatoris in omnibus teneatur et expleatur, et perpetuo sanctissime perseveret.3
Part Nine of the Reports
The Ninth Part of Coke’s Reports was published in 1613. It was originally entitled La Neufme part des reports del Sr. Edw. Coke chivalier, chief justice del common bank: divers resolutions & judgments dones fur solemne arguments, & avec grand deliberation & conference des tres-reverend judges & sages de la ley, de cases en ley queux ne fueront unques resolve ou adjudges par devant: et les raisons & causes des dits resolutions & judgments: publie en le dixiesme an de treshaut & tres-illustre Jaques Roy Dengleterre, France & Ireland, & de Escosse le 46, le fountain de tout Pietie & Justice, & la vie de la ley. In English, The Ninth 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 great deliberation 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 tenth year of the most high and Most Illustrious James, King of England, France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the 46., the Fountain of all Justice, and the life of the Law. Coke here presented another wide-ranging series of topics, including cases in property, criminal law, delivery of an instrument, copyhold, ravishment of a ward, libel, trespass, debt, trusts, leases, and procedure. A large number of these cases were decided in the Court of Wards.
Epigrams from the Title Page:
Marleb. Ann. 52 H. 3. cap. 1.
Provisum est concordatum & concessum, quod tam majores quam minores Justitiam habeant & recipiant in Curia Domini Regis.1
Westm. 1. Ann. 3 Ed. 1. cap. 50.
Summa Charitas est unicuiq; facere justiciam omni tempore cum opus fuerit.2
[1. ][Ed.: in law of the College, that is to say.]
[2. ][Ed.: The bread of the needy is their life; who defrauds them of it is a man of blood (murderer). Eccles. 34:25).]
[3. ][Ed.: In such a way that the intent of the Donor be faithfully and continuously observed in all things, be carried out in full, and remain forever inviolate.]
[1. ][Ed.: It is provided, agreed, and granted that both great and small should have and receive justice in the lord king’s court.]
[2. ][Ed.: It is the most charitable thing to do justice at all times when it is needed,]