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[divers bishops and monasteries had formerly the privilege of coining money, yet, as Sir Matthew Hale observes, this was usually done by special grant from the king, or by prescription, which supposes such grant (1), and therefore was derived from, and not in derogation of, the royal prerogative.
The denomination, or value for which the coin is to pass current, is likewise in the breast of the king; and, if any unusual pieces are coined, that value must be ascertained by proclamation. In order to fix the value, the weight and the fineness of the metal are to be taken into consideration together; and when a given weight of gold or silver is of a given fineness, it is then of the true standard, and called esterling or sterling metal (c), a name for which there are various reasons given, but none of them entirely satisfactory (a). Of this sterling or esterling metal, all the gold and silver coin of the kingdom must, by the 25 Edw. III. (1351) c. 13, be made (e) ; so that the
(6) 1 Hale, P. C. 191.
(c) Coivage Act, 1870, ss. 3, 16, 17. See also Weights and Measures Act, 1878, ss. 8, 34, 36, sched. 2. The standard of gold and silver has frequently varied, but is now thus settled, in accordance with what was provided by 56 Geo. 3 (1816), c. 68 :- The pound troy of gold, corsisting of twentytwo carats fine, and two of alloy, is divided into 46,* sovereigns, or into 461. 148. 6d. ; and the pound troy of silver, consisting of eleven ounces and two penny weights pure, and eighteen penny weights alloy, is divided into sixty-six shillings. (See Coinage Act, 1870, 1st sched.).
(d) See Spelm. Gloss. 203 ; and Ducange, III. 165. The most plausible opinion seems to be that adopted by these two etymolo gists, viz., that the name was
derived from the Exterlingi, or Easterlings, as those Saxons were antiently called, who inhabited that district of Germany, afterwards occupied by the Hanse towns and their appendages, and who were the earliest traders in modern Europe.
(e) The ascertainment of whether coin is of the proper standard is called pixing it; and there are occasions on which resort is had, for this purpose, to an antient mode of inquisition called the trial of the pyx, before a jury of members of the Goldsmiths' Company. (See Coinage Act, 1870, S. 12.) For information on this subject, see Archæologia, vol. xvi.; Ruding, Annals of the Coinage. The constitution of the Mint was remodelled in the year 1815, and again in 1870, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the time
[royal prerogative extends not to the debasing or enhancing the value of the coin, below or above the sterling value (f), though Sir Matthew Hale was of the contrary opinion (9). The king may also, by his proclamation, legitimate foreign coin, and make it current here (1), declaring at what value it shall be taken in payment, by comparison with the standard of our own coin (i) ; he may, moreover, at any time decry, or cry down, any coin of the kingdom, and make it no longer current (k).] But, though the regulation of the coinage thus forms part of the prerogative of the Crown, it is nevertheless a subject over which parliament also exercises a control; and since the Revolution, it is under the authority of parliament that the coinage has been in fact principally regulated (l).
[(12) The king is, lastly, considered by the laws of England as the head and supreme governor of the Established Church. To enter into the reasons upon which this prerogative is founded, is matter rather of divinity than of law ; it will be sufficient, therefore, to observe that, by the Act of Supremacy of 1534, it is enacted, that the king shall be reputed the only supreme head, on earth, of the Church of England, and shall have annexed to the imperial Crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof, as all jurisdictions, authorities, and commodities to the said dignity of the supreme head of the Church appertaining. This Act was repealed under Queen Mary ; but the Act of Supremacy passed in the first year of Elizabeth (1558) required the queen to be acknowledged as supreme in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as temporal. By virtue of this supremacy it is the king that convenes,
[prorogues, restrains, regulates, and dissolves all ecclesiastical synods, or convocations. This was, indeed, an inherent and antient prerogative of the Crown, as appears by the 8 Hen. VI. (1429) c. 1, and the many authors (both lawyers and historians) vouched by Sir Edward Coke (m). The convocations, or ecclesiastical synods, in England, differ considerably in constitution from the synods of other Christian kingdoms; these latter consisting wholly of bishops, while the English convocations (of which there are two, one for the province of Canterbury, the other for that of York) are more in the nature of parliaments, all the beneficed clergy having representatives therein, who share with the bishops and other dignitaries such rights as the convocations possess. This constitution is said to be owing to the policy of Edward the First; who at one and the same time let into these assemblies the inferior clergy, and introduced a method of taxing ecclesiastical benefices by consent of convocation (n).]
All deans and archdeacons are members of the convocation of their province ; each chapter sends one proctor or representative ; and in the province of Canterbury the beneficed parochial clergy send two proctors for each diocese; but on account of the small number of dioceses in the province of York the beneficed clergy of that province elect two proctors for each archdeaconry; and the metropolitan chapter there elects two proctors instead of only one. There are two distinct houses of either convocation, of which the archbishop and bishops form the upper house, and the deans, archdeacons, the proctors for the chapters, and the proctors for the parochial clergy the lower (0). The convocations, however, can make no canons, or even confer for that purpose, without licence from the sovereign ; nor can they make any repugnant to the
(on) 4 Inst. 322, 323. See also 25 Hen. VIII. (1534), c. 19.
(n) Gilb. Hist. of Exch. ch. 4.
bendaries not being able to vote
common or statute law. And none of their canons bind the laity unless they pass both houses of parliament (p). Although, till the 15 Car. II. (1663) c. 10, the beneficed clergy continued formally to tax themselves in convocation, they have not done so since that time; it being now judged more advantageous to include them in the money bills passed by the commons, and to allow them on the other hand to vote for members of parliament, a privilege that did not before belong to them; and they have long ceased to exercise any legislative power (9).
[From this prerogative, of being the head of the Church, arises also the king's right of nomination to vacant bishoprics, and to certain other ecclesiastical preferments, a subject which will more properly be considered when we come to treat of the Church (r); it is sufficient at present to observe, that this right now rests upon the 25 Hen. VIII. (1534) c. 20.
As head of the Church, the king is likewise the ultimate court of appeal (dernier ressort) in all ecclesiastical causes, the Judicial Committee of his Privy Council now hearing all such appeals (s).]
(p) As to the canons of convo. cation passed in 1603, see Middle. ton v. Crofts (1736), 2 Atk. 650 ; and as to the canons of 1640, see Elphinstone V. Purchas (1870), L. R. 3 Adm. and Eccl., at p. 83.
(g) As to convocations, see
4 Inst. 3:22 ; Gilb. Exch. ch. 4; Burn, Eccl. Lan, Conroc. ; Com. Dig. Convoc. ; Hallam, Constit. Hist. vol. 3, pp. 236, 324 (3rd edit.).
(r) Vide post, bk. iv. pt. II. ch. J. (8) Vide sup. p. 471.
OF THE ROYAL REVENUE.
WE now proceed to examine the king's fiscal prerogatives, or royal revenue, which revenue, although formerly under the control of the lord treasurer and now under that of the lords commissioners of the treasury (a), has always been more immediately under the management of the exchequer (), an establishment of very remote antiquity (c), consisting of two departments, namely, the receipts department,—for collection of the revenue,—and the judicial department,—for the administration of justice. The exchequer establishment has, however, been re-constituted by divers modern Acts of Parliament, more particularly by the 4 & 5 Will. IV. (1833), c. 15 (d), and the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act, 1866 ; and it is now regulated by the Inland Revenue Regulation Act, 1890.
[The revenue of the Crown is either extraordinary or ordinary. The king's ordinary revenue is such as has either subsisted time out of mind in the Crown ; or else has been granted by parliament by way of purchase or exchange for such of the king's hereditary revenues as were found inconvenient to the subject.
When we say that the ordinary revenue has subsisted time out of mind in the Crown, we do not intend it to be understood that the Crown is at present in the actual possession of the whole of this revenue, much of it being at this day in the hands of subjects, to whom it has been
(a) 4 Inst. 103.
(d) Repealed in 1866 (29 & 30 Vict. cc. 25, 39, 82).