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Lord High Constable

jurisdiction, scotland and england

CONSTABLE, LORD HIGH, OF SCOTLAND. In the twelfth century we have a list of eleven lord high con stables in Scotland. Sir Gilbert de Hay got the office in fee and heritage in the year 1314; since which time the con stable's staff, then put into his hands by Bruce, has remained in the Errol family.

The office and jurisdiction of the lord high constable of Scotland differ from those of the like officer in England. No formal distribution of the powers of the lord justiciar of Scotland, such as took place at the breaking up of the aula regis of England, was ever made in the former kingdom ; nor when in the course of years this happened, did the once large powers of the justiciar pass to the like officers in the one country as in the other. On the new modelling of the judicial polity of England by King Edward I., the con stable and mareschal were set over a court of chivalry, with jurisdiction in matters of honour and arms. But in these the constable of Scotland never had jurisdiction. His jurisdiction was of the nature of that in England, vested by 33 Henry VIII. c. 12, in the lord steward

of the king's household, or (in his ab sence) of the treasurer, comptroller, and steward of the Marshalsea ; for according to the Leges Male. II., he judged jointly with the mareschal in all transgressions committed within certain limits of the king's court. But even this jurisdiction seems to have been exercised in fact by the lord justiciar ; the constable only pro testing against the interference with his powers. In the reign of King Charles I., a commission was issued to inquire' into the nature and extent of the con stable's jurisdiction; and they reported that it extended to all slaughters and riots committed within four miles of the king's person, or of the parliament or privy council. No alteration was made at the Union ; and by the act 20 Geo. II. c. 43—which swept away so many other heritable jurisdictions—the office and jurisdiction of the lord high constable of Scotland were expressly reserved.