Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/532

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517
PROW—PROXY

it is possible that in creating them the Crown was imitating the ecclesiastical organization in which the provost figured, notably in the chapters. The royal provosts had at first a double character. In the first place they fulfilled all the functions which answered locally to the royal power.. They collected all the revenues of the domain and all the taxes and dues payable to the king within the limits of their jurisdiction. Doubtless, too, they had certain military functions, being charged with the duty of calling out certain contingents for the royal service; there survived until the end of the ancien régime certain military provosts prévéts d'épée (provosts of the sword) who were replaced in the administration of justice by a lieutenant. Finally, the provosts administered justice, though certainly their competence in this matter was restricted. They had no jurisdiction over noblemen, or over feudal tenants (hommes de jief), who claimed the jurisdiction of the court of their over-lord, where they were judged by their peers-the other vassals of the same lord. Neither had they jurisdiction over the open country, the plat pays, where this belonged to local seigneurs; and even in the towns over which they were set their jurisdiction was often limited by that of the municipal courts established for the benefit of the burgesses. The second characteristic of the old provosts was that their office was farmed for a limited time to the highest bidder. It was simply an application of the system of farming the taxes. The provost thus received the speculative right to collect the revenues of the royal domain in the districtpunder his jurisdiction; this was his principal concern, and his judicia functions were merely accessory. By these short appointments the Crown guaranteed itself against another danger: the possible conversion by the functionary of the function into a property. Very early, however, certain provost ships were bestowed en garde, i.e. the provost had to account to the king for all he collected. The prévolés en ferme were naturally a source of abuses and oppression, the former seeking to make the most of the concession he had bought. Naturally, too, the people complained. From join ville we learn how under St Louis the provost ship of Paris became a prévété en garde. At the death of Louis XI. the prévétés en ferme were still numerous and provoked a remonstrance from the States-general of 1484. Their suppression was promised by Charles VIII. in 1493, but they are again referred to in the grande ordqrmarzce of 1498. They disappeared in the 16th century, by which time the provosts become regular officials, their office being purchasable. Other transformations had previously taken place. - The creation of the royal baillis reduced the provosts to a subaltern rank. Each bailli had in his district a certain number of provosts, who became his inferiors in the official hierarchy. When appeals were instituted (and this was one of the earliest instances of their introduction) the provost, the sphere of whose competency was limited, was subject to an appeal to the bailli, though his judgment had hitherto been without appeal. Moreover, in the r4th century they had ceased to collect the revenues of the royal domain, except where the prévézfé was en ferme, and- royal collectors (receveurs royaux) had been appointed for this purpose. The summoning of the feudal contingents, the ban and arriére-ban, had passed into the hands of the baillis. Thus the provosts were left for their sole function as inferior judges for non-nobles, the appeals from their sentences going to the baillis, who also had jurisdiction in the first instance over actions brought against nobles and in cases reserved for the crown judges (cas royaux). This corresponded to a principle which had also applied in the chief feudal courts in the 13th and 14th centuries, where a distinction was made between judicial acts which could be performed en prévété, and those which had to be performed in a solemn assize (a5sise); this did not, however, always imply the existence of a superior and an inferior official, a provost and a bailli. T he provost in the exercise of his legal functions sat alone as judge, and he alone exercised the judicial authority at his tribunal; but he had to consult with certain lawyers (avocats or procurers) chosen by himself, whom, to use the technical phrase, he “summoned to his council ” (appelarl d son conseil). In 1578 official counsellors (conseillers-magistrates) were created, but were suppressed by the ordormance of Blois of 1579. The office was restored in 1609 by a simple decree of the royal council, but it was opposed by the parlements, and it seems to have been conferred in but few cases.

The “ provosts of the marshals of France, ” mentioned above, were non-legal officials (ojiciers de la robe courts) forming part of the body of the maréchaussée which was under the arrcien régime what the gendarmerie was after the Revolution. Their original function was to judge offences committed by persons following the army, but in the course of the 14th and 15th centuries they acquired the right of judging certain crimes and misdemeanours, by whomsoever committed. They became stationary, with fixed spheres of authority, and the offences falling within their competency came to be called cas prévétaux. These were, the worst crimes of violence, and all crimes and misdemeanours committed by old offenders (repris de justice), who were familiarly known as the gibier des prévéts des maréchaux (gaol-birds). Theirs was really a kind of military jurisdiction, from which there was no appeal; but the provost was bound to associate with himself a certain number of ordinary judges or graduates in law. The provost of the marshals did not himself judge what was a cas prévétal; this had in each case to be decided by the nearest bailliage or presidia court. The presidia judges also dealt with cas prévotaux in concurrence with the provosts of the marshals., (J. P. E.)


PROW, the fore-part of a ship, the stem and its surrounding parts, hence used like “ keel,” by metonymy, of the ship itself. It was in old naval parlance applied to the battery of guns placed in the fore gun-deck. The Fr. proue and cognate forms (Ital. prua, Port. and Span. proa, of which the English is an adaptation) represent Lat. prora, itself adapted from Gr. πρῷρα, formed from πρό, before, in front. From this word must be distinguished an obsolete “ prow,” brave, valiant, now only surviving in “' prowess,” and representing O. Fr. prou, mod. preux, from the first part of Lat. prodesse, to be profitable; the same source gives “ proud.”


PROXY (short for “ pro curacy ”), a term denoting either (1) a person who is authorized to stand in place of another, (2) the legal instrument by which the authority is conferred. Proxies are now principally employed for certain voting purposes. A proxy may in law be either general or special. A general proxy authorizes the person to whom it is entrusted to exercise a general discretion throughout the matter in hand, while a special proxy limits the authority to some special proposal or resolution. Formerly a peer could give his vote in the British parliament by proxy, by getting another peer to vote for him in his absence, temporal peers only being privileged to vote for temporal, and spiritual peers for spiritual. This voting by proxy in the House of Lords was an ancient custom, often abused, In Charles II.'s reign the duke of Buckingham used to bring twenty proxies in his pocket, and the result was that it was ordered that no peer should bring more than two. In 183O to 1867 inclusive proxies were only called seventy-three times; and on the 31st of March 1868, on the recommendation of a committee, a new standing order was adopted by which the practice of calling for proxies on a division was discontinued. In English bankruptcy proceedings creditors may vote by proxy, and every instrument of proxy, which may be either general or special, is issued either by the official receiver or trustee. Under the Bankruptcy Act of 1869 very great abuses of the system of proxies arose (see BANKRUPTCY), and were investigated by a select committee of the House of Commons. The committee recommended the abolition of general proxies; and though their recommendation was not carried out, the Bankruptcy Acts of 1883 and 1890 put considerable restrictions on the use of general proxies. Ashareholder in a limited liability company may vote by proxy, and regulations to that effect prescribing the requirements, are usually embodied in the articles of association. A proxy to vote at a meeting must, by the Stamp Act 1870, bear a penny stamp. In the United States, proxies are further used for voting purposes in political conventions.

In the early practice of the admiralty courts in England a