« PreviousContinue »
subjects of Great Britain. And, 4thly, by s. 3. all such statutes inade in England or Great Britain as concern the stile or calendar; and 5thly, all such clauses, &c. contained in any statutes made as aforesaid, as relate to the taking any oath or oaths, or making or subscribing any declaration or affirmation in this kingdom, or any penalty or disability for omitting the same; or, 6thly, which relate to the continuance of any office civil or military, or of any commission, or of any writ, process, or proceeding at law or in equity, or in any court of delegacy or review, in case of a demise of the crown, shall be accepted, &c. in this kingdom, according to the present tenor of the same respectively. From the vague or general terms in which this act is framed, it is not easy to say, with certainty, what English statutes were in the contemplation of its framer, or of the legislature in enacting it: but I have endeavoured, in several parts of these volumes, to point out such as appeared to me to be referred to by the respective clauses ; save as to those concerning commerce, which do not fall within the scope of this work. Though this statute is objectionable in point of form, it is to the honor of the Irish parliament, that in the same session in which they repealed one of Poyning's acts (10 Hen. 7. c. 4.) as inverting the English constitution, and intrenching on their independence, they followed the principle of the other
(10 Hen. 7. c. 22.) in adopting several English sta* Fide pre. tutes, that, by * “ a similarity of laws, they might & 22 Geo. 3. strengthen and perpetuate that affection and har.
mony which at all times ought to subsist between Great Britain and Ireland." The period, however, was but short between the recognition of the independence of the Irish legislature in 1782, and its extinguishment by merger in the parliament of Great Britain; the act of union, (39 & 40 Geo. 3.
amble to 21
C. 48. Ir.
c. 67. c. 67. Eng. and 40 Geo. 3. c. 38. Ir.) having provided by the third article, that the united kingdom should be represented in one and the same parliament, to be stiled “the parliament of the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.” The result of these prefatory observations is, that the common law of England and Ireland is the same; and as to the statute law, that many English statutes have been adopted in Ireland; and many also followed by acts of the Irish legislature, with little or no deviation. And it may be here also observed, that in several instances Ireland has taken the lead, the acts of the Irish parliament having been adopted or followed in England.
It had always appeared to me, from the time of Plan and oba my having first applied myself to the study of the ject of this
work. law, to be a desirable object to inquire and point out how far the Irish parliament, during six centuries that it legislated for Ireland, had pursued the steps of the parliament of England or Great Britain ; with what deviation the statutes of one country had been followed in the other, and what were the peculiar laws of England and Ireland respectively. The work of Mr. Eyre, which was published 30 years since, professed to have had this object in view, but it is a mere abridgment of the commentaries of Sir W. Blackstone, with a few notes refering to certain Irish statutes which are in pari materia with some of those English acts which are mentioned in the commentaries. The editors of the old abridgments of Irish statutes also professed to give tables of the English acts from which those of Ireland were taken : and Mr. Vesey's edition of the Irish statutes at large, contains marginal notes refering to several corresponding English acts, down to the reign of his present majesty; but it appeared to
me that each of these works was in this respect imperfect and inaccurate; no regular comparison be ing made by any of these gentlemen between the statutes of the respective countries. A compara-. tive view of the English and Irish statutes seemed, therefore, to be a great desideratum ; and this feeling I had, I believe, in common with every other member of the profession of the law in this country. The measure of a legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland, seemed to me to furnish an additional argument for the necessity of such a review, and an additional incitement to the undertaking; and the idea accordingly suggested itself to my mind, that my time could not be more profitably employed, than in the framing of such a digest and comparative view of the English and Irish statutes, as might not only be useful to the profession of the law, and to the public in general, but also assist the peers of parliament in the exercise of the appellate jurisdiction, direct the legislature in the formation and extension of their acts, and finally lead to the assimilation of the laws in the several parts of the united kingdom. A great portion of my time during several years was occupied in forming the groundwork of this extensive plan :: the operations of comparing and abstracting which such an un.. dertaking required, were of a tedious and laborious nature : but a principal difficulty consisted in the arrangement of the materials which I had collected for the execution of the work. The continual re
ference which I was in the habit of making to Sir Reasons for W. Blackstone's commentaries, for the English adopting
statutes relating to the several branches of the law, analytical urrungement. suggested to me the idea of arranging this digest
upon his plan; and I thought I could not render it more useful, or recommend it more to public favour,
than by making it an associate to the commentaries, and engrafting it on that valuable work, which, as Sir W. Jones observes, " is the most correct and beautiful outline that ever was exhibited of
any human science.” In adopting this arrangement, I am aware, however, that I may have some prejudices to encounter: All former abridgments of the English or Irish statutes have been uniformly alphabetical: but their authors all concur in observing, that “many statutes may for different reasons be placed under different heads;" and accordingly none of them agree in the choice of the titles under which they should be placed. Mr. Cay, in his abridginent of the English statutes, very justly remarks, that “ unless one consistent method be observed throughout in arranging the statutes under their proper heads, it is not easy to find them, or to make use of the abridgment.” It appeared to me, therefore, that the statutes should have a fixed and determinate arrangement, and that they should be classed in the order of scientific distribution, and not dispersed or collected according to the fancy of an author. It may, however, be objected, that to understand this analytical arrangement, a person must be first acquainted with the science of the law, and that the sphere of the utility of an abridgment so arranged must be of necessity, contracted. To obviate any such objection, I determined to annex an index to the con- Index or altents of the work, which should embrace the heads phabetical
table, annexunder which the statutes are ranged in other abridg-ed to the ments, and which I hope will be found to supply additional aids for the purpose of referring to the stiltutes upon any particular subject. But the plans of the other abridgments or digests of English or Irish statutes, appeared to me to be objectionable upon another ground, namely, that the statutes are arB 2
ranged chronologically, and abridged in the con-
tion, connexion, or relation between them.
have throughout the work introduced marginal
The distribution of this digest into chapters, cor-
work to which no statute could be referred. I have