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VICTORIA R. VICTORIA, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith: To the Right Reverend Father in God, John Bishop of LICHFIELD, Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Councillors JAMES STUART WORTLEY, STEPHEN LUSHINGTON, Doctor of Civil Law, and ANTHONY RICHARD BLAKE, and Our Trusty and Well-Beloved Sir EDWARD VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Knight, and ANDREW RUTHERFURD, Esquire, Greeting
WHEREAS an humble Address has been presented to Us by the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses, and Commissioners of Shires and Burghs, in Parliament assembled, humbly praying that we would be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission to inquire into the State and Operation of the Law of Marriage, as relating to the Prohibited Degrees of Affinity, and to Marriages solemnized abroad or in the British Colonies:
NOW KNOW YE, that We, reposing great trust and confidence in your knowledge and ability, have authorized and appointed, and do by these presents authorize and appoint, you, the said John Bishop of LICHFIELD, JAMES STUART WORTLEY, STEPHEN LUSHINGTON, ANTHONY RICHARD BLAKE, Sir EDWARD VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, and ANDREW RUTHERFURD, to be Our Commissioners for the purposes aforesaid: And for the better effecting the Purposes of this Our Commission, We do by these Presents give and grant to you, or any Three or more of you, full power and authority to call before you such persons as you shall judge likely to afford you any information upon the subject of this Our Commission; and also to call for, have access to, and examine all such Books, Documents, Registers, and Records as may afford the fullest information upon the subject, and to inquire of and concerning the premises by all other lawful ways and means whatsoever.
And We do by these Presents will and ordain that this Our Commission shall continue in full force and virtue, and that you Our said Commissioners, or any Three or more of you, may from time to time proceed in the execution thereof, and of every matter and thing therein contained, although the same be not continued from time to time by adjournment.
AND Our further Will and Pleasure is, that you do, with as little delay as possible, report to Us, under your hands and seals, or under the hands and seals of any Three or more of you, your several proceedings under and by virtue of this Our Commission, together with what you shall find touching or concerning the Premises.
AND We further ordain that you, or any Three or more of you, may have liberty to report your proceedings under this Commission from time to time, should you judge it expedient so to do.
And for your assistance in the due execution of these presents, We have made choice of Our Trusty and Well-beloved HERMAN MERIVALE, Esquire, to be Secretary to this Our Commission, and to attend you, whose services and assistance We require you to avail yourselves of from time to time, as occasion may require.*
Given at Our Court at St. James', the Twenty-eighth Day of June,
* Mr. Merivale having received an appointment in the Colonial Office, Dr. Haggard became Secretary.
WARRANT APPOINTING ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONERS FOR
INQUIRING INTO THE STATE AND OPERATION OF THE
VICTORIA R. VICTORIA, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith: To Our Trusty and Wellbeloved Henry GRANVILLE HOWARD, Esquire, (commonly called Earl of ARUNDEL and SURREY,) and Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Councillor Sir Edward Ryan, Knight, Greeting.
WHEREAS We did by Warrant under Our Royal Sign Manual, bearing date the Twenty-eighth day of June, 1847, in the Éleventh Year of Our Reign, authorize and appoint the Right Reverend Father in God John Bishop of LICHFIELD, Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Councillors James StuART WORTLEY, STEPHEN LUSHINGTON, Doctor of Civil Law, and ANTHONY RICHARD BLAKE (since deceased), and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Sir EDWARD VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, Knight, and ANDREW RUTHERFURD, Esquire, to be Our Commissioners for Inquiring into the State and Operation of the Law of Marriage, as relating to the prohibited degrees of affinity, and to Marriages solemnized abroad, or in the British Colonies: And whereas We have deemed it expedient that additional Commissioners should be appointed for the purposes aforesaid:
NOW KNOW YE, that We reposing great Trust and Confidence in your knowledge and ability, have authorized and appointed, and do by these Presents authorize and appoint you the said HENRY GRANVILLE HOWARD, (commonly called Earl of ARUNDEL and Surrey,) and Sir Edward Ryan, to be additional Commissioners for Inquiring into the State and Operation of the Law of Marriage, as relating to the prohibited degrees of affinity, and to Marriages solemnized abroad, or in the British Colonies; with all the powers and authorities vested in the Commissioners heretofore appointed for the aforesaid purpose.
Given at Our Court at St. James', the Nineteenth day of February,
1849, in the Twelfth Year of Our Reign.
By Her Majesty's Command,
SECOND RE POR T.
EAST INDIA MARRIAGES.
TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
WE, Commissioners appointed by Your Majesty “to inquire into the state and operation of the Law of Marriage, as relating in the prohibited degrees of affinity, and to Marriages solemnized abroad, or in the British Colonies,” present to Your Majesty the following Report in respect of Marriages in the East Indies.
1. The attention of Your Majesty's Commissioners has been directed to the consideration of the law of marriage prevailing in the territories under the government of the East India Company; and in prosecuting our inquiries, we have derived great assistance from the evidence of the witnesses examined, and the documents transmitted to us by order of the Board of Control, and of the Directors of the East India Company. The subject is one of very great importance; for questions of a very serious character arise with respect to the validity of marriages heretofore solemnized; and, consequently, doubts may exist both as to the status of individuals, and rights to property. We think that a legislative measure should be passed for the purpose of removing all these doubts, and of ratifying the marriages to which we allude. We also think that the subject should be brought before Parliament as soon as it can conveniently be done; for recently a case, calling in question the validity of very many marriages, has arisen at Bombay; and the publicity so given, and the discussion of the question here, may probably also give rise to more litigation, and increase the uneasiness already excited in families where the slightest doubt can be cast on the validity of their marriage.*
2. With respect to the future, we conceive that it will be admitted, on all hands, that it is essential to the comfort and welfare of the inhabitants of Hindostan, that the law of marriage should be established on safe principles, adapted to the condition of the population of that country.
3. In perusing the following observations, it will be desirable to bear in mind that the population of India consists of various classes of inhabitants, Christians —British or foreign-Mahomedans, Hindoos, Parsees, and other tribes holding various religious tenets. The law of marriage, under such circumstances, may be local and general, or personal-confined to individuals of particular nations or religions.
4. It appears to us, that the general law of marriage, as to British subjects, prevailing in the provinces under the government of the East India Company, is the marriage law of England as it stood prior to the passing of the Act 26 Geo. II. c. 33, called Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act. The only modification of this law is the 58 Geo. III. c. 84, as to Presbyterian marriages.f
5. It should, however, in the first place, be observed, that the term “British subjects” is generally used in the charters and statutes relating to India in contradistinction to “Native inhabitants,” though, in strictness of law, all the native inhabitants within the Company's territories are subjects of Her Majesty, and therefore, in the proper sense of the word, might be considered to be “ British subjects.” In the cities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay the law of England is the lex loci, having been introduced by the charters granted to the Mayors and Supreme Courts; consequently, all the inhabitants are subject to the same laws which govern“ British subjects,” with the exceptions contained
* The case referred to is Maclean v. Christall (October 1849), where, in an action in the Supreme Court at Bombay, for criminal conversation, a marriage in 1834, between two British subjects, and members of the Church of England, celebrated at Surat by a missionary not in holy orders, was sustained.
† This statute is in the Appendix, p. 10. See also par. 7, 8.