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England by the Normans: they were originallyannexed to the possession of certain estates in land, and were created, transferred, and inherited, by the grant, conveyance, or descent of the estate to which they were appended. The lands were held immediately of the Crown, upon condition of performing certain services, among which was attendance upon the great councils, afterwards denominated parliaments. The manner in which dignities by tenure descended is noticed under the head, Succession to Peerages, &c.” In 1669, it was decided by the privy council, when a claim was preferred to a seat in the house of Lords in right of a barony by tenure, that “such a dignity had been discontinued for many ages, was not then in existence, was unfit for revival, and did not admit of any claim to succession thereon.” This doctrine, being subsequently confirmed in 1805, it may be considered clear that the acquisition of territorial possession in this country does not now constitute its possessor a peer of the realm, notwithstanding that anciently writs of summons to parliament were issued to persons, in right of their tenure of certain lands, and that these writs and sittings in parliament erected a heritable dignity-a barony in fee, which is actually enjoyed by many peers at the present time.
But it has been observed that all who held lands per baroniam in the latter end of the reign of Edward I. were not summoned to parliament; and that many who were not barons by tenure, and were not previously considered barons of the realm, were nevertheless summoned. Hence the discretion of the Crown was clearly exercised in summoning only a part of those who held lands per baroniam, and many who never were barons by tenure. This, combined with the fact that since 1669 the decisions of all questions bearing upon the subject have tended to confirm that of the privy council, renders it highly improbable that the possession of certain lands would be admitted to entitle the holder de jure to a writ of summons to parliament.
BARONIES JURE UXORIS. Whenever baronies by tenure were inherited by an heir female, it was the practice before the reign of Henry VIII. to summon to parliament her husband, if she happened to be married, and he sometimes continued to be so summoned, even after his wife's death; in other instances, where the husband died before the wife, and that she married again, the second husband was summoned in the same barony; this was purely an expedient for the performance by him of those services to the Crown which constituted his wife's tenure of certain lands, and therefore such writs of summons never created dignities which were heritable by the husband's issue through any other wife.
But since the reign of Henry VIII. the practice has not been followed, nor have claims to a seat in the house of Lords, founded on this courtesy, of late years been allowed.
SUCCESSION TO PEERAGES, &c. Dignities by tenure descended in the same manner, and to the same individuals, as the possessions to which they are annexed; so that in the male line
they followed a similar course, and could be entailed in the same way as fee simple estates, by leaving unshackled in the one case, or by limiting in the other, the inheritance of the manors or castles upon which they depended.
But in the female line a difference existed between titles by tenure and titles by writ, for in the former the rule of primogeniture was held to prevail amongst the daughters, when there was no male issue; so that the heir of the elder was always preferred to the heir of the younger daughters (see TENURE)
Peerages created by writ (see Writ) invariably descend to the eldest of the sons, but in one respect they differ in their mode of descent from lands; viz. that the claimants must prove themselves heirs, not to the last possessor of the title, but to the person first summoned to parliament; and thus a brother of the half-blood inherits in preference to a sister of the whole blood; for the latter can only derive her claim from her own deceased brother, while the former de. rives his claim direct from the first ancestor, through the common father of the two claimants. In default of heirs male, dignities by writ will descend to the heirs female, and their representatives, although probably at first it was the practice for the eldest heir female to succeed, yet in course of time a difference arose between the descent of dignities by tenure, and those created by writ, for it became established in the latter class of titles, that on the failure of male issue, all the daughters were equally entitled, and the Crown had the prerogative of granting at will the preference to any one of the daughters. So long as the dignity remains divided among the co-heirs, it is
said to be in aBEYANCE, and when the king apportions the title on one heir female in preference to another, he is said to “terminate the abeyance in her favour" (see ABEYANCE). The females of one generation always inherit before the males of the preceding generation.
Peerages created by letters patent are solely inherited by the class of heirs particularly designated in the patent, and without such designation the grant is void. Thus commonly the heirs male of the body of the peer first ennobled succeed, but the pedigree must pass wholly through the male line. A brother of the half-blood may, however, inherit. Limitations may be made in the patent to brothers' sisters, uncles, &c. but in each individual case the original letters of creation themselves clearly exhibit the manner in which it is intended that the dignity should descend. (See PATENT.)
With reference to peerages generally, it is to be observed, that a title cannot be alienated, surrendered, extinguished, or otherwise lost by any negligence of the person entitled to it; and dignities may be claimed after any interval of time, for they are not subject to the statute of limitations.
Anciently, dignities were considered to be alienable with the consent of the Crown, and many instances, both of alienation and of surrender to the monarch, have actually taken effect, and the titles are now descending in pursuance of that alienation ; but the house of Lords resolved in 1646, “that no person that hath any honour vested in him, or is a peer of the realm, can alienate or transfer the dignity to another, and that no peer can extinguish his title, but that it descends unaffected by any grant, surrender, fine, or other conveyance.” This resolution cannot be considered as having the authority of a law, or as acting retrospectively, but it is now established that peerages are absolutely unalienable.
EXTINCTION OF TITLES.
" And is it so, and are all gone—the high sould and the free, And are the thousands of my tribe concentred now in me?”
The Last of his Race. DIGNITIES are said to become extinct when they cease to exist as portions of the hereditary nobility without being forfeited, dormant, or in abeyance. When titles are granted with remainder to the heirs male of the body of the person first ennobled, they become evidently extinguished by his death without issue. But when ancient dignities have been enjoyed by members of extensive families for any series of years, it becomes a very difficult matter to say, absolutely, that the honours have become extinct, or that no legal representative exists, who would be entitled to bear the hereditary dignities of the family. Peerages are presumed to be extinct until the contrary is proved, in all cases where the public records of the country render such a presumption warrantable ; but in the absence of uniform and authentic registrations respecting the junior and collateral branches of large families, full occupation is found for those members of the legal profession, who direct their attention to peerage law. Since no lapse of time can be urged as an objection against claims to peerages, their being