Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/282

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268
PRECEDENCE


custom." Of the sovereign's will and pleasure the appropriate method of announcement is by warrant under the sign manual, or letters patent under the great seal. But, although the Crown has at all periods very frequently conceded special privileges of rank and place to particular persons, its interference with the scale of general precedence has been rare and exceptional. In 1 S40 it was provided by warrant from Henry 'VIII. that certain officers of the household therein named should precede the secretaries of state when and if they were under the degree of barons.' In 1612 James I. directed by letters patent, not without long and elaborate argument in the Star Chamber, that baronets, then newly created, should beranked after the younger sons of viscounts and barons, and that a number of political and judicial functionaries should be ranked between knights of the Garter and such knights bannerets as should be made by the sovereign in person “ under his standard displayed in an army royal in open war.”2 Four years later he further directed, also by letters patent, that the sons of baronets and their wives and the daughters of baronets should be placed before the sons of knights and their wives and the daughters of knights “ of what degree or order soever.” 3 And again in 1620 the same king commanded by warrant “ after solemn argument before his majesty ” that the younger sons of earls should precede knights of the privy council and knights of the Garter not being “barons or of a higher degree.” If we add to these ordinances the provisions relating to precedence contained in the statutes of several of the orders of knighthood which since then have been instituted or reconstructed, we shall nearly, if not quite, exhaust the catalogue of the inter positions of the sovereign with regard to the rank and place of classes as distinguished from individuals. Of “ancient usage and established custom ” the records of the College of Arms furnish the fullest and most trustworthy evidence. Among them in particular there is a collection of early tables of precedence which were published by authority at intervals from the end of the 14th to the end of the 15th century, and to which peculiar weight has been attached by many successive generations of heralds. On them, indeed, as illustrative of and supplementary to the action of parliament and the Crown, all subsequent tables of precedence have been in great measure founded. The oldest is the “Order of All Estates of Nobles and Gentry, ” prepared apparently for the coronation of Henry IV. in 1399, under the supervision of Ralph Nevill, earl of Westmorland and earl marshal; and the next is the “ Order of All States of Worship and Gentry, ” prepared, as announced in the heading, for the coronation of Henry VI. in 1429, under the supervision of the lord protector Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and the earl marshal, John Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. Two more are of the reign of Edward IV., and were severally issued by John Tiptoft, earl of Vllorcester and lord high constable, in 1467, and by Anthony Vllidvile, Earl Rivers and lord high constable, in 1479. The latest is commonly and shortly known as the “Series Ordinum, ” and was drawn up by a special commission presided over by jasper Tudor, duke of Bedford, it is presumed for observance at the marriage of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York in 1486. To these may be added the “Order for the Placing of Lords and Ladies, ” taken at a grand entertainment given by command of Henry VIII. at the king's manor-house of Richmond in 1520 by Charles Somerset, earl of Worcester, lord chamberlain of the household, to the French ambassador, Olivier de la Vernade, seigneur de la Batie; the “ Precedency of All Estates, ” arranged in 1594 by the commissioners for Quoted by Sir Charles Young from State Papers: published by Authority (4to, 1830), p. 623, in Privy Councillors and their Precedence (1850), p. 15. I

Patent Rolls, 10th jac., pt. x. mem. 8. It is commonly stated that the bannerets here referred to could be made by the prince of Wales as well as by the king. But the privilege was conferred by lames I. on Henry, the then prince of Vl/ales, only (Selden, Titles of Honor, pt. ii. p. 750).

°Ibid., 14th Iac., part ii. mem. 24; Selden, Titles of Honor, part 11. p. 752.

Cited by Sir Charles Young, Order of Precedence, with Authorities and Remarks, p. 27 (London, 1851).

executing the office of earl marshal; and the “ Roll of the King's Majesty's most Royal Proceeding through London ” from the Tower to Whitehall on the eve of the coronation of James I., also arranged by the commissioners for executing the office of earl marshal. On many isolated points, too, of more or less importance, special declaratory decisions have been from time to time propounded by the earls marshal, their substitutes and deputies; for example, in 1594, when the younger sons of dukes were placed before viscounts; in 1625, when the rank of knights of the Bath and their wives was fixed; and in 1615 and 1677, when the eldest sons of the younger sons of peers were placed before the eldest sons of knights and of baronets. It is from these miscellaneous sources that the precedence among others of all peeresses, the eldest sons and their wives and the daughters of all peers, and the younger sons and their wives of all dukes, marquesses and earls is ascertained and established. And further, for the purpose of proving continuity of practice and disposing of minor questions not otherwise and more conclusively set at rest, the official programmes and accounts preserved by the heralds of different public solemnities and processions, such as coronations, royal marriages, state funerals, national thanksgivings and so on, have always been considered to be of great historical and technical value.5

1.-General Precedence of Men.

The sovereign; (1) prince of Wales; (2) younger sons of the sovereign; (3) grandsons of the sovereign; (4) brothers of the sovereign; (5) uncles of the sovereign; (6) nephews of the sovereign;6 (7) ambassadors; (8) archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England; (9) lord high chancellor of Great Britain or lord keeper of the great seal; (ro) archbishop of York, primate of England;7 (11) prime minister; (12) lord high treasurer of Great 5 Selden, Titles of Honor, pt. ii. p. 753.

6 The precedence of the members of the royal family depends on their relationship to the reigning sovereign and not on their relationship to any of the predecessors of the reigning sovereign. It is provided by 31 Hen. VIII. c. IO that no person, “ except only the King's children, ” shall have place “ at the side of the Cloth of Estate in the Parliament Chamber, " and that “ the King”s Son, the King's Brother, the King's Nephew, or the King's Brother's or Sister'sSons, ” shall have place before all prelates, great officers of state and peers. Lord Chief justice Coke was of opinion that the king's nephew meant the king's grandson or nepos (Institutes, vol. iv. ch. 77). But, as Mr Justice Blackstone says, “ under the description of the King's children his grandsons are held to be included without having recourse to Sir Edward Coke's interpretation of nephew ” (Commentaries, vol. i. ch. 4). Besides, if grandson is to be understood by nephew, the king's grandson would be placed after the king's brother. The prince of Wales is not specifically mentioned in the statute “ for the placing of the Lords "; but, as he is always, whether the son or the grandson of the sovereign, the heir-apparent to the Crown, he is ranked next to the sovereign or the queen-consort. W ith the exception of the prince of Wales, all the male relations of the sovereign are ranked first in the order of their degrees of consanguinity with him or her, and secondly, in the order of their proximity to the succession to the Crown; thus the members of the several groups into which the royal family is divided take precedence according to their own seniority and the seniority of their fathers or mothers, the sons of the sons or brothers of the sovereign being preferred to the sons of the daughters or sisters of the sovereign among the sovereigrfs grandsons and nephews. 7 By 31 Hen. VIII. c. IO, the king's vicegerent “ for good and due ministration of justice in all causes and cases touching the ecclesiastical jurisdiction ” is placed immediately before 'the archbishop of Canterbury. The office of vicegerent or vicar-general was then held by Thomas, Lord Cromwell, afterwards earl of Essex, together with that of lord privy seal, and it was never conferred on any other person. By the Act of Union with Ireland the archbishops of Ireland had place next to the archbishops of England, and if consecrated before and not after the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland they retain this position under the Irish Church Act of 1869. At the coronation of William IV. the lord chancellor of Ireland walked next after the lord chancellor of Great Britain and before the lord president of the council and lord privy seal. In Ireland, if he is a peer he has precedence between the archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, and if he is not a peer after the archbishop of Dublin. But, except in the House of Lords, the precedence of the lord chancellor of Great Britain or the lord keeper of the great sea-l is the same whether he is a peer or a commoner. The lord keeper has the same precedence as the lord chancellor under 5 Eliz. c. 18. But the last appointment to the lord keeper ship was that of Sir Robert Henley, afterwards Lord Henley, lord chancellor, and earl of Northington, in 1757, and the office is not likely to be revived.