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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/132

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law as well as in English.^ But, since corporate bodies were recognized as facts from the earliest dawn of history, when the rule became recognized that the authority of the supreme power of the State was necessary for their formation, a theory had to be found to support the old associations, which had not been formed in accordance with the rule. This was done both in Roman and in English law by recognizing that a corporation could come into existence by prescription. It is safe to say, however, that pre- scriptive and common-law corporations, were of the older forms only, and that for the formation of business corporations, from the first, a charter from the king directly or by authority of Parliament was necessary.

Originally the power was exercised exclusively by the king; but his power to grant charters allowing exemptions or monopolies was gradually restricted, like many of his other powers, as little by little the House of Commons assumed the entire effective control of the government. The regulated Russia Company received its charter from the crown in 1555 without the consent of Parliament; so did the East India Company in 1600, the Canary Company in 1665, the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670. All of these com- panies were given monopolies. The rights of the Russia Com- pany and of the East India Company were afterwards regulated by statute ; and the patent of the Canary Company was soon with- drawn, though not before giving rise to a test case ^ on the validity of the monopoly, in which the court decided against it. The Hudson's Bay Company continued to enjoy its charter without interference, but its right to a monopoly held good so long only as nobody cared to dispute it After the Revolution, no doubt, it was tacitly admitted that for the validity of a charter conferring a monopoly or other special privilege an act of Parliament was necessary, though for granting the simple franchise of acting as a corporation the patent of the king was sufficient.

The last of the requisites enumerated by Coke may be re- garded as included within the first " Lawful authority of incor- poration " must necessarily be given " by words sufficient in law." The necessity for persons to compose the corporation results from the nature of things rather than from any rule of law. Perhaps the same may be said of the importance of a name. As an actual

1 See supra^ p. 107. • Home v. Ivy, i Ventr. 47.