The City of WESTMINSTER.50


The third Term beginneth six or seven Days after Trinity Sunday, and endeth the Wednesday Fortnight after.

The fourth is Michaelmas Term, which beginneth the ninth of October, if it be not a Sunday, and endeth the 28th of November.

And here is to be noted, that the Kings of this Realm have used sometimes to sit in Person in the King's Bench, namely, K. Edw. IV, in the Year 1462, in Michaelmas Term, sat in the Kings Bench 3 Days together, in the open Court, to understand how his Laws were ministered and executed.

Kings of this Realm have sate on the King's Bench in Westminster Hall.

Within the Port, or Entry into the Hall, on either Side, are Ascendings up into large Chambers, without the Hall adjoining thereunto; wherein certain Courts be kept, namely, on the right Hand, is the Court of the Exchequer; a Place of Account for the Revenues of the Crown. The Hearers of the Account have Auditors under them; but they which are the Chief for Accounts of the Prince, are call'd Barons of the Exchequer. Whereof one is called the Chief Baron. The greatest Officer of all is called the High Treasurer of England. In this Court are heard those that are Delators (or Informers) in popular and penal Actions, having thereby Part of the Profit by the Law assigned unto them.

Court of the Exchequer.


The Great Officers, and Judges, and other Ministers of this Court, are thus set down by the Great Lawyer.

First, The Lord Treasurer of England: Which Office he hath by the Delivery of a White Staff, at the King's Will and Pleasure: Formerly by Delivery of Golden Keys. II. The Treasurer of the Exchequer: This Office he hath by Letters Patents. III. Chancellor of the Exchequer, that keepeth the Seals. IV. Capital Baron, and the other Barons. V. The Under Treasurer. He nameth the two Praisers of all Goods, seized, or not customed, and ordereth whether the Party shall have them at the Praise or not. He appointeth the Steward, Cook, and Butler, for the Provision of the Star Chamber; and in the Vacancy of the Treausrer, doth all Things in the Receipt that the Treasurer doth.

Great Officers of this Court.

Coke's Instit. p. 104.

J. S.

The Office of the Lord Treasurer appeareth by his Oath, that standeth in eight Articles. 1. That well and truly he shall serve the King and his People, in the Office of Treasurer. 2. That he shall do Right to all manner of People, poor and rich, of such Things as concern his Office. 3. The King's Treasure he shall surely keep and dispend. 4. He shall truly counsel the King. 5. The King's Council he shall layn [an old French Word, to hide] and keep. 6. He shall neither know nor suffer the King's Hurt, nor his Disheriting, nor that the Rights of the Crown be decreas'd by any Means. 7. That he may not let it, he shall make Knowledge thereof clearly and expresly to the King. 8. He shall do and purchase the King's Profit in all that he may reasonably do.

The Lord Treasurer's Office. Ubi supra.

Other Officers of this Court be these: I. The Chamberlains of the Exchequer: To this Office belongeth one of the Door-keepers of the Receipt. II. Comptroller of the Exchequer. III. Remembrancer, of the King, of the Treasury, of the First Fruits IV. Clerk of the Pipe. V. Five Auditors of the King's Revenue. With many other Officers.

Other Officers of the Exchequer.

There is a Court of Equity in the Exchequer Chamber. The Judges of this Court are the Lord Treasurer, the Chancellor, and the Barons of the Exchequer.]

Court of Equity.

In this Court [of Exchequer] if any Question be, it is determined after the Order of the Common Law of England by 12 Men; and all Subsidies, Taxes, and Customs, by Account: For in this Office, the Sheriffs * of the Shire do attend upon the Execution of the Commandments of the Judges, which the Earl * should do, if he were not attending upon the Prince in the Wars, or otherwise about him. For the chief Office of the Earl was, to see the King's Justice to have Course, and to be well executed in the Shire, and the Prince's Revenues to be well answered, and brought into the Treasury.

*Vice Comites.


If any Fines and Amerciaments be extracted out of any of the said Courts upon any Man, or any Arearages of Accounts of such Things as is of Customs, Taxes, and Subsidies, or other such like Occasions; the same Sheriff of the Shire doth gather and is answerable therefore in the Exchequer.

As for other ordinary Rents of Patrimonial Lands, and most commonly of Taxes, Customs, and Subsidies, there be particular Receivers and Collectors, which do answer it into the Exchequer.

This Court of the Exchequer hath of old Time (and as I think, since the Conquest) been kept at Westminster; notwithstanding, sometimes removed thence by commandment of the King for a Time, and after restored again; as namely, in the Year one thousand two hundred and nine, King John commanded the Exchequer to be removed from Westminster to Northampton, &c.

On the left Hand, above the Stair, is the Dutchy Chamber. Wherein is kept the Court for the Dutchy of Lanchaster, by a Chancellor of that Dutchy, and other Officers under him.

Dutchy Court.

The Chancellor is assisted by his Majesty's Attorney of that Court; and two Judges of the Common Pleas advise them for Matter of Question of Law. The Rolls and Records of this Court's Proceedings are in the Custody of the Clerk of the same, to whose Office they do appertain. But the King's Evidences, Leases, and Grants of the Dutchy Land, as well his Possession and Copy-hold, as Fee-simple, and Fee-ferme, are in the Keeping of the Auditors, who are divers, but two most principal; one whereof for the Lands of the Dutchy on this Side Trent, and another for the Lands beyond Trent. There be divers Surveyors also for the Dutchy Lands, for the Survey of them.]

Officers thereof.

J. S.

Attorn. Academ. p. 227.

Then is there in another Chamber, the Office of the Recipts of the Queen's Revenues for the Crown.

Office of Receipt.

Then is there also the Star Chamber. Where, in the Term Time, every Week, once at the least, which is commonly on Fridays and Wednesdays, and on the next Day after the Term endeth, the Lord Chancellor, and the Lords and other of the Privy Council, and the two Chief Justices of England, from nine of the Clock, 'till it be eleven, did sit. [But this Court is now dissolved.]

Star Chamber.

This Place is called the Star Chamber, because the Roof thereof is decked with the Likeness of Stars gilt. There were Plaints heard of Riots, Routs, and other Misdemeanours. Which if they were found by the King's Council, the Party Offender was censured by these Persons, which spake one after another; and he was both fined and commanded to the Prison.

It was so called, either by Derivation from the old English Word Steoran, which signifieth to steer or rule, as doth Pilot of a Ship; because the King and Council did sit here, as it were, at the Sterne, and did govern in the Ship of the Commonwealth. Some derive it from Stellio, which signifies that starry and subtil Beast so called. From which cometh the Word Stellionatus, that signifieth Consenage; because that Crime was chiefly punishable in this Court by an extraordinary Power, as it was in the Civil Law. Or, because the Roof of this Court was garnished with gilded Stars, as the Room itself

Why termed the Star Chamber.

J. S.

Lambert. Archie.