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Proceedings of the Court of Chancery, 1669-1679
Volume 51, Preface 33   View pdf image (33K)
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    The First Century of the Court of Chancery.   xxxiii

    the Governor, as Keeper of the Great Seal of the Province through whom all
    writs, processes, proclamations, pardons and patents were issued, his office was
    one of great importance and profit.

      The first mention of the Chancellor of Maryland is to be found in the com-
    mission by the Lord Proprietary, Cecilius Calvert, dated April 15, 1637, issued
    to his brother, Leonard Calvert, appointing him Governor, in which among
    numerous other offices conferred upon Leonard, we find those of “Chancellor,
    chief justice and chief magistrate “, and at the same time the Proprietary
    appointed a council of three with whom the Governor “from time to time
    advised “. That Leonard had held all these offices from the time of the settle-
    ment in 1634 until the date of the 1637 commission is certain, however, from
    the “instructions” given him, November 15, 1633 (Calvert Papers No. One,
    1889, 131).
      When the first Assembly met at St. Mary's City in January, 1637/8, the
    Governor presented to it for enactment” a body of laws “, forty-two in number,
    which had been prepared in England by the Proprietary. None of these were
    enacted, however, apparently because the Assembly claimed the right to initiate
    legislation. The text of these proposed laws has not been preserved, although
    the titles have been (Bacon's Laws of Maryland, 1765; Bills—1637/8). One
    of these, number 27, “A Bill for Civil Causes “, doubtless provided machinery
    for the establishment of law and equity courts. At the Assembly held the fol-
    lowing year, February, 1638/9, among some thirty-six bills introduced were
    four, which respectively provided for establishing a Court of Admiralty, a Court
    of Chancery, a Praetorian Court, and county courts. These bills, which had
    been prepared by the Assembly, passed two readings, but did not become laws,
    in this case because of Proprietary opposition, based on his claim to the sole
    right to initiate legislation. Even had not this question entered, it is unlikely
    that the Proprietary would have submitted to any form of interference by the
    Assembly in his charter rights to establish courts and control the administration
    of justice. Fortunately copies of these bills have been preserved, and we learn
    from the proposed “Act for the Erecting of a Court of Chancery “, that it was
    to be a court of record with authority similar to that of the Court of Chancery
    in England. The powers of the court were then enumerated in considerable
    detail. Under the act “all matters and causes whatsoever determinable in the
    high Court of Chancery in England and all matters and causes whatsover civill
    not provided for by any Law of this province * * * shall or may be finally
    heard and determined within this Province by and before the Chancellor of this
    Province and Councell of State “. The appointment of a clerk for recording was
    provided for; the Chancellor, Council and clerk were to form a court of record.
    This Court of Chancery was empowered “to issue and award all the same or
    the like writts grants pardons Commissions or edicts as may be issued or awarded
    out of the high Court of Chancery in England “, and to have all the powers
    “within this Province as the said Court of Chancery enjoyeth or may enjoy
    use or exercise within the Realm of England except where it is otherwise pro-
    vided by any law of this Province “. It was distinctly provided that all writs

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Proceedings of the Court of Chancery, 1669-1679
Volume 51, Preface 33   View pdf image (33K)
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