1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Westminster, Statutes of

20737201911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28 — Westminster, Statutes of

WESTMINSTER, STATUTES OF, two English statutes passed during the reign of Edward I. Parliament having met at Westminster on the 22nd of April 1275, its main work was the consideration of the statute of Westminster I. This was drawn up, not in Latin, but in Norman French, and was passed “par le assentement des erceveskes, eveskes, abbes, priurs, contes, barons, et la communaute de la tere ileokes somons” Its provisions can be best summarized in the words of Stubbs (Const. Hist cap. xiv.):—

This act is almost a code by itself it contains fifty-one clauses, and covers the whole ground of legislation. Its language now recalls that of Canute or Alfred now anticipates that of our own day, on the once hand common right is to be done to all, as well poor as rich without respect of persons, on the other, elections are to be free, and no manner by force, malice or menace, to disturb them the spirit of the Great Charter is not less discernible: excessive amercements, abuses of wardship, irregular demands for feudal aids, are forbidden in the same words or by amending enactments. The inquest system of Henry II., the law of wreck, and the institution of coroners, measures of Richard and his ministers, come under review as well as the Provisions of Oxford and the Statute of Marlborough.”

The second statute of Westminster was passed in the parliament of 1285. Like the first statute it is a code in itself, and contains the famous clause De donis conditionalibus (q.v.), “one of the fundamental institutes of the medieval land law of England.” Stubbs says of it: “The law of dower, of advowson, of appeal for felonies, is largely amended; the institution of justices of assize is remodelled, and the abuses of manorial jurisdiction repressed; the statute De religiosis, the statutes of Merton and Gloucester, are amended and re-enacted. Every clause has a bearing on the growth of the later law.”

The statute Quia Emptores of 1290 is sometimes called the statute of Westminster III.