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Lord Chancellor's Court

PREVIOUS to coming to the particular divisions of this portion of our liberties, we deemed the above general remarks requisite; and we trust, that neither the inquisitive stranger, nor the minute inquirer into the principles of our constitution, will consider them uncalled for: but they have in some measure anticipated the notice of the COURT OF CHANCERY. It is the highest court of judicature in the kingdom, next to the parliament. The lord chancellor, who is called the lord high chancellor of England, sits as sole judge, and he is created by the mere delivery of the king's seal into his custody. When absent, his place is supplied by the master of the rolls. The court has now the assistance of a vice-chancellor. The court holds pleas of recognizances acknowledged in the chancery writs, writs of fieri facias, for the repeal of letters patent, writs of partition, &c.; and also of all personal actions by or against any officer of the court; and by acts of parliament, of several offences and causes. All original writs, writs for the election of members of parliament, patents for sheriffs, commissions of bankrupt, of charitable uses, and other commissions, as riots, lunacy, &c., issue out of this court, for which it is always open. Sometimes a supersedeas, or writ of privilege, has been here granted to discharge a person out of prison: it also considers the intention rather than the words of the law; equity being the correction of that wherein the law, by reason of its universality, is deficient. On this ground, therefore, to maintain a suit in chancery, it is always alleged that the plaintiff is incapable of obtaining relief at common law; and this must be without any fault of his own, as having lost his bond, &c., chancery never acting against, but in assistance of, common law; supplying its deficiencies, not contradicting its rules; a judgement at law not being reversible by a decree in chancery. This court gives relief for and against infants, notwithstanding their minority; and for and against married women, notwithstanding their coverture. In some cases a woman may sue her husband for maintenance; she may sue him when he is beyond sea, and be compelled to answer without her husband. All frauds and deceits, for which there is no remedy at common law, may be here redressed; as also unreasonable and deceitful agreements entered into without consideration.

The lord chancellor is removable at pleasure, which is not the case with the common law judges; and hence, from the situation held by him in the lords, his political identity with the ministers, &c., there is a new chancellor with every change of the king's advisers. In term time his lordship sits in Westminster hall during the vacation he holds sittings in Lincoln's-inn-hall. The late Sir S. Romilly, solicitor-general of Mr. Fox's administration, and member for Westminster, rose to his great celebrity by his eloquent and courageous pleadings in this court.

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819