Front Page Titles (by Subject) Walter Chute's Case. - Selected Writings of Sir Edward Coke, vol. I
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Walter Chute’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.
About Liberty Fund:
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
Walter Chute’s Case.
(1614) Easter Term, 12 James I.
In Conference in Serjeants’ Inn.
First Published in the Reports, volume 12, page 116.
Ed.: This is a note of an unusual judicial conference in which they considered the legality of the King’s creating a variety of offices, particularly one for Walter Chute to register aliens. The Judges held that it would be illegal for the King to create the office, because it would be more for private gain than for public benefit. This is an important limit imposed by Law on royal patronage and so on royal revenue.
New erected office void.Walter Chute Sewer to the King, did exhibite a Petition to the King, that for the safety of the Realm, and the security of strangers within the Realm, that the King would vouchsafe to erect a new Office of Registering of all strangers within the Realm, except Merchant-strangers, to be kept at London, and to grant the said Office to the Petitioner, with a reasonable Fee, or without a Fee: And that all strangers, except Merchant-strangers, might depart the Realm within a certain convenient time, if they do not repair to the said Register, and take a Billet under the Registers hand: Which Petition the Lords of the Councel did refer to me, by their honourable Letters of the 13. ofNovem. 1613, that I calling to me Counsel learned in the Law, should consider what the Law is in that behalf, and how it may stand with conveniency and policy of State, to put the same in execution, and by whom it ought to be performed: And upon conference had with the Justices of the Common Pleas, and the other Justices and Barons of Serjeants Inne Fleetstreet; It was resolved, that the erections of such new Offices, for the benefit of a private man was against all Law, of what nature soever: And therefore where one Captain Lee did make suit to the King to have a new office to make Inventory of Goods of those who died testate or intestate; It was resolved by the Lord Chancellor and my self, that such Grant shall be utterly void, although no certain person hath it, and that this was against Common Law, and the Statute of 21 Hen. 8. In like manner, another sued | to have the Registering of Birth-dates, and the time of the death of each person within the Realm, and that it might be on Record and authenticall: So Mich. 19 Jac. To make a new Office in the upper Bench, for the only making of all Latitats at the suit of the Lord Daubigny, and after him of the Lord John Hungerford, and others, was resolved to be void. So Littletons suit, to name an Officer to be a generall Register, or rather Tabler or Indexer of all Judgements, for Debts and Damages, Recognizances, Bils, Obligations to the King, Deeds inrolled, Fines upon Offenders in the Star Chamber, and other Courts whatsoever: and this was pretended to be for the benefit of the Purchaser, and the ready finding of Records; and to such purpose was made the Statute of the 27 Eliz. for inrolling of Statutes; but the Suit was rejected by the two chief Justices and others: for every Court shall choose Officers either by Law or Prescription: the Law or Custom may not be changed without a Parliament; and so it was resolved Hil. 12 Jac. Regis; and divers other such inventions were resolved to be against Law and Record.
As to the second, in the case of Sir Walter Chute, concerning the conveniency or inconveniency of it, it was resolved, that it was inconvenient for divers causes. 1. For a private man to have private ends. 2. The numbring of Strangers by a private man would infer a Terror, and the King and Princes of other Countries will take offence at it, and will do the like to the Kings Subjects. 3. It is to be considered what breach it will be to former Treaties.
As to the third, in the case of Sir Walter Chute, that may be performed without any inconvenience; and so it was devised by the Lord Burleigh, and other Lords of the Councel: An. 37 Eliz. viz. To write Letters to the Mayors, Bayliffs, or other head Officers of every City, Borough, or Town, where any strangers are resident, to certifie how many strangers, and of what quality are in their Cities, &c. the which they are to know in respect of their Inhabitants, and Contributions to the poor, and other charges, and this may be done without any writing.
Which Suit being made to the Lords, was well approved by them, and the Suit utterly disallowed the 3. Dec. An. 3 Hen. 8. Commission granted to divers, to certifie the number of Strangers, Artificers, with the number of their Servants within London, and the Suburbs thereof, &c. according to the Statutes. See Candishs Case, 29 El. for making of all Writs of Supersedeas in the Kings Bench.
13 Eliz. A grant of an Office of Thomas Knivet, to examine all his Majesties Auditors and Clerks of the Pipe concerning their Offices for years: It was resolved by the Court to be against Law, for it belongs to the Barons who are Judges; and it is also an Invocation in a Court of Justice. 25 Eliz: A Grant of an Office to Thomas Leichfield to examine all deceits false allowances of the Queens officers for eight years, resolved to be void.
The making of Subpoenas in Chancery anciently belonged to the six Clerks: The late Queens Majesty granted the same by Patent to one particular man.
The keeping and filing of Affidavits in Chancery anciently belonged to the Register. The Kings Majesty, that now is, granted the same to one particular man.
The erecting and putting down of Innes hath been anciently in the power of the Justice of Peace. His Majesty hath given that power by Patent to a particular man.
| The taking of the Depositions, and all other proceedings, before and by the Commission which hath used to be taken and kept by the Commissioners themselves, or some Clerk of their appointment; his Majesty hath granted the same by Patent to one particular man.
The King by his Letters Patents granted to Simon Darlington the Office of Alveger and limited what Fees he should take.
The sole drawing, writing, and ingrossing of all Licences and Pardons was granted to Edward Bacon Gent. with the Fee that had formerly been taken, and a Restraint for all others, &c.
The Offices of Subpoenas was granted to Thomas George and others during life, with the fee of 2s. and a restraint that no others presume to make those Writs.
The Office of making and registering all manner of assurances and Policies, &c. was, by Letters Patents granted to Richard Gandler Gent. with such fees as the Lord Major and others should rate, with power toratefees, and arestraint of all others, &c. which was during pleasure, and afterwards to him and others during lives.
The Office of writing Tallies and Counter-Tallies granted to Sir Vincent Skinner.
Quare.The office of ingrossing Patents to the great Seal, and an encrease of fees granted late to Sir Richard Young, and Mr. Pye.