1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Conservator

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CONSERVATOR (Lat. conservare, to preserve), one who preserves from injury, a guardian or custodian. In the middle ages the title of conservator was given to various officers, such as those appointed by the council of Würzburg in 1287 to protect the privileges of certain religious persons, the guardians of academic rights in the university of Paris, certain Roman magistrates as late as the 16th century, or the conservator Judaeorum who was enjoined to look after the Jews of the county of Provence in 1424. By the 2 Henry V. there was appointed a conservator of truce and safe conducts in each English seaport “to enquire of all offences done against the king’s truce and safe conducts, upon the main sea, out of the liberties of the cinque ports.” In Scotland the conservator of the realm (c. 1503) had jurisdiction to settle the disputes and protect the rights of Scottish merchants in foreign ports or places of trade. In England the conservators of the peace (custodes pacis) were the precursors of the modern justices of the peace. Stubbs traces their origin to the assignment of knights, in 1195, to enforce the oath to preserve the peace which Richard  I. ordered to be taken by all persons above the age of 15. By the 1 Edward III. conservators of the peace were appointed for each county to guard the peace and to hear and determine felonies. The office was reconstituted by the parliament of 1327, and its powers were extended in 1360. From the sovereign and the lord chancellor down to the justice and the village constable, all who have to do with the repression of crime are included within the general term of conservators of the peace. As commonly used nowadays in England, the term conservator is applied only to the guardian of a museum or of a river (see Thames).