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in the laws of Eadgar (A.D. 959-975) in connexion with the police organization of the kingdom. By this time the term Hundred, originally denoting certain personal relations of the inhabitants of a district, had probably acquired its territorial signification as a subdivision of the shire or kingdom to which it belonged. It had its hundred-gemüt, Its organiza which took cognizance of all matters, criminal and civil, arising within the hundred, and was attended by the thegns of the hundred and by the representative townreve and four men from cach township. The chicf cxccutive officer was the hundred-man or hundreds-caldor, who convened the hundred-yremøt. He was generally, and at first always, clcctive ; but as the personal gradually gave way to the territorial influence, he was in many places nominated by the thegn or other great man to whom the hundred belonged.
The division into Shires (a word originally signifying The Shire. mcrcly a subdivision or share of any larger whole) is very ancient, but the period at which it arose is uncertain. We have evidence that in Wessex the division into shires existed as early as the end of the 7th century, long anterior to the time of Elfred, to whom their institution has been popularly attributed. In the laws of Ini, King of the West Saxons (cir. A.1). 690), provision is made for the case of a plaintiff failing to obtain justice from his scirman, or other judge: if an ealdorman compound a felony it is declared that he shall forfeit his scir; and the defendant is forbidden secretly to withdraw from his lord into another scir. As Wessex gradually annexed the other, kingdoms, these naturally fell into the rank of shires; or where they themselves had arisen from the union of several early settlements, were split up into several shires on the lines of the old tribal divisions.1
On the various origin of the different historical shires or counties, see Pal. grave, Commonwealth, p. 116; and Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 109.
• The constitutional machinery of the shire represents either the national organization of the several divisions created by West Saxon conquest ; or that of the early settlements which united in the Mercian kingdom, as it advanced
Organiza- The government of the shire was administered concurtion and officers.
rently by an ealdorman, and the scir-gcrcfa, or sheriff. 'The Ealdor. The Ealdorman (the princeps of Tacitus and the comes of
the Normans) was originally clected in the general assembly of the nation ; but there was a constant and increasing tendency to make the office hereditary in certain great families. On the annexation of an under-kingdom, the caldormanship usually became licrcditary in the old royal house ; but in all cascs, down to the Norman Conquest, the consent of the King and Witan was required at cach devolution of the othce. Sometimes several shires llcre administered by one caldorman, but this arrange
ment did not involve an amalgamation of the separate The Sheriti. organizations of each shire. The Sheriff (or, as he was
termed after the Norman Conquest, viic-comes—a title apt to obscure his independence of the caldorman) was the special representative of the regal or central authority, and as such usually nominated by the King. He was judicial president of the scir-gemôt, or shircmoot, executor of the law, and steward of the royal demesne. At first the sheriff seems to have exercised co-ordinate authority with the ealdorman, but gradually the civil administration became almost entirely concentrated in the former, leaving to the latter, as his principal function, the command of the military force of the shire. Unlike the office of ealdorman, the sheriffdom, as a rule, never became hereditary. This circumstance was productive of important constitutional effects after the Norman Conquest, as the kings found ready to hand a machinery which enabled them to effectually assert the central authority in every shire, and
thus to check the growth of local feudal jurisdictions. The Burgh. The burlı, or town, was in its origin ‘simply a more strictly organized form of the township. It was probably in a more defensible position ; had a ditch or mound instead of the quickset hedge or “tun from which the township took its name; and as the "tun" was originally thc fenced homestead of the cultivator, the “burh" was the fortificd house and court-yard of the mighty man—thc king, the magistrate, or the noble.'
westward ; or the rearrangement by the West Saxon dynasty of the whole of England on the principles already at work in its own shires.'-Id. 110.
1°. It is probable, on early analogy, that the gerefa was chosen in the folkmoot; but there is no proof that within historical times this was the case, although the constitutionalists of the thirteenth century attempted to assert it as a right, and it was for a few years conceded by the Crown.'-Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 113
Other burhs' were gradually developed out of the village township, or were founded on the Folkland. In Iti organiza
110n. these the municipal authority was similar to that of the free township. The chief magistrate was the gerefa, in mercantile places the port-ercfo, in others the cvice or tungerefir, who presided in the burh-semôt, or meeting of all the freeholders of the burh. In the larger towns, which were made up of a cluster of townships or lordships, the organization inorc nearly resembled that of the hundred than that of the simple township.
Side by side with the town constitution, and to a certain The Guilus. extent influencing its development, was the organization of the municipal guilds. The ancient municipal guilds (so called from gildan, to pay or contribute) were voluntary associations for ccclcsiastical or secular purposes, analogous to our modern clubs. By some the guilds have been regarded as an inheritance from the Roman municipal con stitution ; but an uninterrupted Roman descent can nowhere, in England, be traced. The similarity to be found in the oldest municipal denominations and institutions on both sides of the German Ocean points rather to a common origin in the ancient heathen sacrificial guilds, in which the common banquet, the cradle of many a political institution,' formed a leading feature. The suppression of these devil's guilds (deofol-gild), as they were termed in the Christian laws, proving extremely difficult, they were for the most part continued with the substitution of Christian for heathen ritcs. Some guilds had for their principal
i Stubbs, Const. llist. i. 92.
object the mutual defence of their members and the preThe frith- servation of peace; and by the laws of Ini and Ælfred, in gild.'
case of homicide of or by one of the members, the guildbrethren were to share in the receipt or payment of the
dergile? The mer But the form of guild which cxcrcised the most permachant-guild.
ncnt and extensive influence on the town constitution was the merchant-guild, ceapmannc gild,' or hansa, to which all the traders of the town utrc, as a rulc, obliged to belong At first independent of tlic governing body of the town, the merchant-guild gradually coalesced with it, monopolizing the rights which had originally belonged to all the frec inhabitants. But the process was a very slow onc, and though it began prior to the Norman Conquest, its principal development proceeded during the two centuries following that event. “In the reign of Henry II.,' says Professor Stubbs, there can be little doubt that the possession of a merchant-guild had become the sign and token of municipal independence ; that it was in fact, if not in theory, the governing body of the town in which it was allowed to exist. It is recognized by Glanvill as identical with the communa of the privileged towns, the municipal
corporation of the later age.'? The City of The City of London has always occupied an exceptional London.
position, and though it has never stood to the rest of England in the same peculiar relation as Paris to the rest of France, it has just claims to be regarded, even in very early times, as 'a member of the political system.'3
In the 'Judicia civitatis Lundoniae,' drawn up under King Ethelstan (A.D. cir. 930) by the bishops and reeves belonging to London, and confirmed by the pledges of the 'frith-gegildas,'is preserved a complete cxle of a 'frith-gild' of the city of London, with minute directions for the pursuit and conviction of thieves, the exacting of compensation, and the carrying out of the dooms which Ethelstan and the Witan had enacted at Greatley, Exeter, and Thundersfield. -Thorpe, Anc. Laws and Inst.; Select Chart. 65.
: Const. Hist. i. 418.
3 Hallam, Vidd. Ages, iii. 24. (12th Edit.) According to Roger Hoveden, the citizens of London, on the death of Ethelred II., joined with a portion of the nobility in raising Eadmund Ironside to the throne. They concurred, say the Saxon Chronicle and William of Malmesbury in the election of Harold I.; and in later times they took an active part in the civil war between Steph n
Whilst the constitution of ordinary towns resembled that Its con. of the hundred, the constitution of London was analogous analogous to that of the shire. From time immemorial the City has to that of
the shire. been divided into wards, answering to the hundreds in the shire, cach having its own wardmoot, answering to the hundred court, and its clected caldorman. The chief municipal court—the general assembly of the citizens—was called the His-things, whence the modern nainc Husting, a term derived probably from the Danes, and signifying a court or assembly in a house as distinguished from one held in the open air. Side by side with the jurisdiction of the several wardmouts, landowners, both sccular and ccclesiastical, possessed their exclusive sokens or jurisdictions within the city and its outlying liberties. These private sokens gradually give way before the increasing power of the citizens; but while they existed, the inclusion of an aristocratic cleinent within the municipality doubtless added much to its power and influence, until the citizens were strong enough to hold their own as a purely commercial community.
Towards the close of the pre-Xorman period the two chief officers of the city, the representatives of the civic unity of the various wards, townships, parishes, and lordships of which it was composed, were the Port-reeve and the Bishop It is to these two that the charter of William Charter of the Conqueror confirming to London the laws which it had the Conenjoyed under King Eadward is addressed : William the London. King greets William the bishop and Gosfrith the port-reeve,
and Matilda. They sided with the barons in their contests with the Crown, and assisted in deposing Longchamp, the chancellor and justiciar of Richard I. The mayor of London was one of the twenty-five barons empowered to maintain the provisions of the Great Charter.
1. The word port in port-reeze is the Latin “porta" (not portus), where the markets were held, and although used for the city generally, seems to refer to it specially in its character of a mart or city of merchants. The port-geresa at Canterbury had a close connexion with the “s ceapmanne gild ;” and ihe same was probably the case in London, where there was a cnihten-gild, the estates of which were formed into the ward of Portsoken. From the position assigned to the port-reeve in this writ, which answers 10 that given to the sheriff in ordinary writs, it may be inferred that he was a royal officer who stood to the merchants of the city in the relation in which the bishop stood to the clergy ; and if he were also the head of the guild, his office illustrates very well the