What is WESTMINSTER THE FIRST?

Thestatute 3 Edw. I., A. D. 1275. This statute, which deserves the name of a code ratherthan an act, is divided into fifty-one chapters. Without extending the exemption ofchurchmen from civil jurisdiction, it protects the property of the church from the violenceand spoliation of the king and the nobles, provides for freedom of popular elections,because sheriffs, coroners, and conservators of the peace were still chosen by thefreeholders in the county court, and attempts had been made to influence the electionof knights of the shire, from the time when they were instituted. It contains adeclaration to enforce the enactment of Magna Charta against excessive fines, whichmight operate as perpetual imprisonment; enumerates and corrects the abuses of tenures,particularly as to marriage of wards; regulates the levying of tolls, which wereimposed arbitrarily by the barons and by cities and boroughs; corrects aud restrains tliepowers of the king’s escheator and other officers; amends the criminal law, putting tliecrime of rape on the footing to which it has been lately restored, as a most grievous,but not capital, offense; and embraces the subject of procedure in civil and criminalmatters, introducing many regulations to render it cheap, simple, and expeditious. 1Camp. Lives Ld. Ch. p. 167; 2 Reeve, Eng. Law, c. 9, p. 107. Certain parts of this actare repealed by St. 26 & 27 Vict c. 125. Wharton.

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