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principles of equity and justice, are, in the fulness of experience, wisdom, and public virtue, raised to the high privilege, but most onerous duty, of presiding over every determination of the superior courts, where the lives and properties of all classes in society may be brought under their decisions.
The title of Judge is not usually given to any one, however high his judicial duties, if these be consist. ent with his continuing to practise at the bar; even the Recorder of London is not regarded as one of the Judges. But the eminent individuals who preside in the Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts at Doctors' Commons, and the members of the Court of Session in Scotland, are always spoken of as Judges. In Ireland, the judicial system is not materially different from that which prevails in this part of the United Kingdom; but the quantity of business to be transacted in the latter being much greater than in the former, the common law courts in Ireland are composed of only four Judges each, and in that country there are no vice-chancellors, nor any bankruptcy court, analogous to that which exists in England.
There is a judicial committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain, which forms a court of appeal in certain cases, and the house of Lords discharge judicial functions of the highest nature ; yet the members of neither assembly receive in ordinary discourse the appellation of Judges.
It is of course known to every reader that anciently the Monarch administered justice in his own person ; for obvious reasons that would, in modern times, be alike improper and impracticable; but the appointment of Judges is necessarily vested in the Crown, and until the reign of William III. their commissions continued only during pleasure. So circumstanced, they could not be considered to enjoy that perfect freedom of judgment and independence of character, without which they cannot be espected to fulfil the high trusts committed to their charge, in a manner honourable to themselves or satisfactory to the suitors in their respective courts. By the 13 William III. cap. 2, they were raised above dependence on the government of the day, and by the 1 George III. cap. 23, they were enabled to retain their seats on the bench, notwithstanding any demise of the Crown.
So far as wealth can effect such an object, the ample incomes which they enjoy place them amongst the highest classes of society; the rank assigned to them renders their position still more dignified, while this object is further promoted by their being selected from amongst the most distinguished mem. bers of a learned and honourable profession. They are almost wholly removed from the influence of pecuniary cares, the hopes and fears of patronage, the temptations of ambition, or the fever of political strife. Endowed with every quality that can command veneration, they are a body separated, as it were, from society at large, to perform duties so dignified and momentous as to be invested by general consent with a character that almost approaches the sacredness of religion. From the hour that Judges were made really independent, the confidence of the people in the pure administration of justice has never been materially disturbed ; and the consideration which these eminent persons enjoy in society is much greater than even that which emanates from the high stations assigned to them by the strict rules of precedence.
Judges can only be removed when both houses of parliament concur in addressing the Crown, praying such removal. A Judge may, in like manner as any other public officer, be impeached before the house of Lords by the house of Commons.
The peculiar duties, powers, and emoluments of each of the high judicial officers, the nature of their appointments, and the qualifications rendering them eligible, will be found under their respective heads.
In England, the following judicial officers are comprehended under the term Judges :The Lord Chancellor
1 The Vice-Chancellors
3 The Master of the Rolls
Queen's Bench and the Puisne Justices of
chequer, and the Puisne Barons of that
Pleas, and the Puisne Justices of that
1 Judge of the Prerogative and Arches Courts.....
1 In Scotland
The Lord President of the Court of Session I
The Lord Justice Clerk
Permanent Lords Ordinary..
1 6 5
The Lord Chancellor......
Queen's Bench, and 3 Puisne Justices
Pleas, and 3 Puisne Justices ....
chequer and 3 Puisne Barons .....
LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR.
Beam round th' acknowledg’d father of the laws;
The Meropolis, part ii. This distinguished functionary, whose authority is declared by statute (5 Eliz. cap. 18,) to be exactly the same as that of " lord keeper," holds his office during the pleasure of the Crown, being created by the will of the Sovereign, and not necessarily by patent or writ. The mere delivery of the king's great seal into his custody, constitutes him Lord Keeper, but as Lord Chancellor he usually receives letters patent in addition. The origin of the name is according to Sir Edward Coke “a cancellando," on account of his power of cancelling the king's letters patent when they are granted contrary to law. The office is very ancient, and said to be derived from the Roman empire, thence transferred to the Roman Church, and thus arose the chancellor of a diocese.
The Lord Chancellor is, by prescription, Speaker of the house of Lords, and by virtue of his office a member of the privy council. He appoints all justices of the peace, though usually upon the recommendation of the lords lieutenant of the several counties. He is patron of all the livings in the gift of the Crown rated below the value of twenty pounds a year. He is the visitor of all hospitals and colleges of royal foundation; the general guardian of all infants, idiots, and lunatics, and the highest judicial officer in the kingdom. When royal commissions are issued for opening the session, for giving the royal assent to bills, or for proroguing Parliament, the Lord Chancellor is always one of the commissioners, and reads the royal speech upon the occasion. When the Sovereign opens or closes the session in person, the Lord Chancellor stands on the right of the throne, and hands to the Monarch the speech opening or terminating the annual labours of the legislature. In his person the Lord Chancellor enjoys considerable protection, for it is high treason for any one to put him to death, it being considered that during the execution of his office, he is the immediate representative of the Sovereign.
As the mere delivery of the great seal to the custody of this functionary is the mode of his appointment, so the resumption or resignation of that instrument constitutes the Chancellor's dismissal or retirement.