, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 65-92
Date: 27 Apr 2011

Abolishing Some More Obsolete Crown Prerogatives

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Abstract

The Crown had many prerogatives (privileges) which other legal and natural persons did not have, due to the pre-eminent role of the sovereign. Some of these the Crown delegated to its subjects. That is, it franchised them, in return for money. In modern times—with the sovereign only having a formal role—it needs to be considered whether these Crown prerogatives should pass to the control of Parliament. Also, where they are obsolete, their abolition. A previous article has argued for the abolition of many obsolete prerogatives relating to the military. This article argues that the prerogatives of the Crown to levy pontage (a toll for the building, and repair, of bridges) and murage (a toll for the building, and repair, of town and city walls for defensive purposes) should be abolished. So too, the right of the Crown to waifs (stolen goods cast away by a thief in flight) and estrays (animals wandering in any manor or lordship whose owner is unknown). Also, that the prerogative of the Crown to unmarked mute swans in open water be restricted to the Thames—where it is only presently exercised. Finally, this article argues for the abolition of the palatinates of Lancaster, Chester and Durham—since the prerogatives once given to them by the Crown have now reverted to the same—and for the abolition of various long obsolete prerogatives given to the Cinque Ports.