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Conservators of the Peace

court, conservator, common, law, judges, elected and foreign

CONSERVATORS OF THE PEACE, before the comparatively modern institu tion of justices of the peace, were officers who by the common law of England were appointed for the preservation of the pub lic peace. These conservators, whose powers were far inferior to those of modern justices of the peace, consisting almost entirely of the authority to take sureties for the peace and for good behaviour, were of several kinds. In the first place, certain high functionaries were general conservators by virtue of their offices. Thus the king, the lord chancellor or lord keeper, the judges of the Court of King's Bench, and the master of the rolls, were intrusted by the common law with the general conservancy of the peace through out the realm, as incidental to their several offices. Other officers again were conservators only in special places ; thus the judges of the common pleas and barons of the exchequer were conservators of the peace only within the precincts of their several courts. In like manner, judges of assize and jail delivery within the places limited by their commissions ; coroners and sheriffs within their several counties ; the steward of the Marshalsea within the verge of the king's household ; and constables and tithingmen within their hundreds or tithings, were all con servators of the peace at common law ; and all the officers above enumerated re tain their authority at the present day. But besides these official conservators there were others who were expressly intrusted with the charge of the peace, either by prescription, election, or tenure. Thus it is said that the owner of a manor might have prescribed that he and his ancestors, whose estate he had, were en titled to be conservators of the peace within such manor. So also as sheriffs were formerly elected, and as coroners still are elected, by the freeholders of the county, certain persons were, before the reign of Edward III., elected conservators of the peace in different counties. There were also instances in which lands were granted by the king to bold of him by knight's service, and also by discharging the duties of conservation of the peace within the county where the lands lie. Besides these, there were conservators of the peace appointed by letters-patent from the Crown, in eases of emergency, to de fend particular districts, where breaches of the peace were apprehended in conse quence of foreign invasion or intestine tumult. All the different kinds of con

servators of the peace above noticed, ex cepting those who have the duty cast upon them as incidental to other offices, were entirely superseded upon the establish ment of the system of justices of the peace, in the early part of the reign of Edward III. [JusncEs OF THE PEACE.] (See also full details upon this subject in Lain bard's Eirenarcha, book i., c. 3.) CONSERVATOR OF THE STAPLE, in the law of Scotland, an officer in the nature of a foreign consul, resident at Campvere, in the Netherlands. By the act 1503, C. 81, passed, as the preamble states, for the welfare of merchandise, and to provide remedy for the exorbitant expense of pleas in foreign courts, the conservator of Scotland was vested with a jurisdiction to do justice between merchant and merchant in the parts beyond sea, such merchants being the king's lieges, and the conservator exercising his juris diction by advice of at the least four mer chants, his assessors ; and it was further provided by the act, that no Scotch mer chant sue another before any other judge beyond sea, nor do in the contrary of the statute, under the penalty set down there in. By subsequent acts be was empowered to put the usury laws and other like laws in execution among the same merchants ; so that the conservator might be regarded as a commercial judge, with a civil and criminal jurisdiction over native Scotsmen beyond the realm.

From the chapter immediately follow ing that first above cited, wherein the con servator is required to come yearly home. or send a procurator for him, to answei all matters laid to his charge, we might suppose that appeal lay from him only to the king and council. But since the erec tion of the Court of Session, in 1532, he has been regarded as an inferior judge, and his court as an inferior court, which it is accordingly considered by Erskine in his ' Institutes,' b. i. tit. 4, sec. 32. In the case of Hoy v. Tenant, June 27, 1760, the Court of Session went still further, and held itself as the forum oriyinis of all Scotsmen, to have a cumulative jurisdic tion with the conservator.