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PREFACE

THERE is, I believe, no official copy of these Ordinances extant: there are, however, but few and mere verbal discrepancies among the MSS. and editions I have seen.

There are, in print and in manuscript, earlier orders extant; but an attempt to determine how far Bacon altered existing practice, or for the first time fixed it, and how far he only collected rules previously dispersed, is a task for an historian of the Court of Chancery. A comparison of these Ordinances with the Aphorisms in the 8th Book De Augmentis will, I think, point out some of them as probably Bacon's own.

In Harl. MSS. 1576— in which volume are also some Orders of Lord Ellesmere-there are fifteen additional rules, which from the place in which they occur would seem to be Bacon's. As I should not have printed the original Ordinances had they not already been incorporated in the collected Works, so I omit these others. It may, however, be worth mentioning that the first few of them are for regulating or inaugurating a kind of creditors' suit inter vivos for enforcing a compulsory composition, where three-fourths of the creditors agree.

ORDINANCES

MADE BY

THE LORD CHANCELLOR BACON,

FOR THE BETTER AND MORE REGULAR ADMINISTRATION OF
JUSTICE IN THE CHANCERY.

TO BE DAILY1 OBSERVED, SAVING THE PREROGATIVE OF THE COURT.

No decree shall be reversed, altered, or explained, being once Decrees. under the great seal, but upon bill of review: and no bill of review shall be admitted, except it contain either error in law, appearing in the body of the decree without farther examination of matters in fact, or some new matter which hath risen in time after the decree, and not any new proof which might have been used when the decree was made: nevertheless upon new proof, that is come to light after the decree made, and could not possibly have been used at the time when the decree passed, a bill of review may be grounded by the special license of the court, and not otherwise.

2. In case of miscasting, being a matter demonstrative, a decree may be explained and reconciled by an order, without a bill of review; not understanding, by miscasting, any pretended misrating or misvaluing, but only error in the auditing or numbering.

3. No bill of review shall be admitted, or any other new bill to change matter decreed, except the decree be first obeyed and performed: as, if it be for land, that the possession be yielded; if it be for money, that the money be paid; if it be for evidences, that the evidences be brought in; and so in other cases which stand upon the strength of the decree alone.

4. But if any act be decreed to be done which extinguisheth

In some MSS. it is "duly."

the parties' right at the common law, as making of assurance, or release, acknowledging satisfaction, cancelling of bonds or evidences, and the like; those parts of the decree are to be spared until the bill of review be determined; but such sparing is to be warranted by public order made in court.

5. No bill of review shall be put in, except the party that prefers it enter into recognisance with sureties for satisfying of costs and damages for the delay, if it be found against him.

6. No decrees shall be made, upon pretence of equity, against the express provision of an act of parliament: nevertheless if the construction of such act of parliament hath for a time gone one way in general opinion and reputation, and after by a later judgment hath been controlled, then relief may be given upon matter of equity for cases arising before the said judgment; because the subject was in no default.

7. Imprisonment for breach of a decree is in nature of an execution; and therefore the custody ought to be strait, and the party not to have any liberty to go abroad, but by special licence of the lord chancellor; but no close imprisonment is to be, but by express order for wilful and extraordinary contempts and disobedience, as hath been used.

8. In case of enormous and obstinate disobedience in breach of a decree, an injunction is to be granted sub pœna of a sum; and upon affidavit, or other sufficient proof of persisting in contempt, fines are to be pronounced by the lord chancellor in open court, and the same to be estreated down into the hanaper, if cause be, by a special order.

9. In case of a decree made for the possession of land, a writ of execution goes forth; and if that be disobeyed, then process of contempt according to the course of the court against the person, unto a commission of rebellion: and then a serjeant at arms by special warrant: and in case the serjeant at arms cannot find him, or be resisted, or upon the coming in of the party, and his commitment, if he persist in disobedience, an injunction is to be granted for the possession; and in case also that be disobeyed, then a commission to the sheriff to put him into possession.

10. When the party is committed for the breach of a decree, he is not to be enlarged until the decree be fully performed, in all things which are to be done presently. But if there be other parts of the decree to be performed at days or times to

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