The Statute of Quo Warranto,
made Anno 18 Edw. I Stat. 2 and Anno Dom. 1290.

How they shall hold their Liberties which claim them by Prescription or Grant. A Quo Warranto shall be pleaded and determined before Justices in the Eyre.

Quia brevia de quo Warranto & etiam judicia super placitis eorumdem brevium reddenda diutinam ceperunt dilationem eo quod Justic' in judiciis illis reddend' de voluntate domini Regis non fuerunt hucusque certiorati idem dominus ad Parliamentum suum post Pascha apud Westm' anno regni sui decimo octavo de gratia sua speciali & etiam propter affectionem quam habet erga Prelatos Comites Barones & ceteros de regno suo concessit quod omnes de regno suo quicumque fuerint tam viri religiosi quam alii qui per bonam inquisitionem patrie aut alio modo sufficienti verificare poterint quod ipsi & eorum antecessores vel predecessores usi fuerint libertatibus quibuscumque de quibus per brevia fuerint implacitati ante tempus Regis Ricardi consanguinei sui aut toto tempore suo & hucusque sine interruptione continuarunt & ita quod libertatibus illis non sint abusi quod partes adjournentur ulterius coram eisdem justic' usque ad certum diem & rationabilem infra quem dominum Regem adire possint cum recordo Justic' sub sigillo suo & redire & dominus Rex statum eorum affirmabit per literas suas. Et illi qui non poterunt seisinam antecessorum seu predecessorum suorum verificare modo quo predictum est deducantur & judicentur secundum legem communem. Et illi qui habent cartas regales secumdum cartas illas & earum plenitudinem judicentur.
Forasmuch as Writs of Quo Warranto, and also judgements given upon Pleas of the same, were greatly delayed, because the Justices in giving Judgement were not certified of the King's Pleasure therein; (2) our Lord the King, at his Parliament holden at Westminster, after the Feast of Easter, the eighteenth Year of his Reign, of his special Grace, and for the Affection that he beareth unto his Prelates, Earls, and Barons, and other of his Realm, hath granted, That all under his Allegiance, whatsoever they be, as well spiritual as other, which can verify by good Enquest of the Country, or otherwise, that they and their Ancestors or Predecessors have used any Manner of Liberties, whereof they were impleaded by the said Writs, before the Time of King Richard our Cousin, or in all his Time, and have continued hitherto (so that they have not misused such Liberties) that the Parties shall be adjourned further unto a certain Day reasonable before the same Justices, within the which they may go to our Lord the King with the Record of the Justices, signed with their Seal, and also return; and our Lord the King, by his Letters Patents, shall confirm their Estate. (3) And they that cannot prove the Seisin of their Ancestors or Predecessors in such Manner as is before declared, shall be ordered and judged after the* Law and Custom of the Realm; (4) and such as have the King's Charter shall be judged according to their Charters.
Preterea dominus Rex de gratia sua speciali concessit quod omnia judica que reddita sunt in placitis de quo Warranto per Justic' suos apud Westm' post Pascha predictum & pro ipso domino Rege si partes que amiferunt ad ipsum dominum Regem revenire voluerint tale habebunt remedium de gratia domini Regis sicut superius est concessum. Concessit etiam idem dominus Rex ad parcand' misis & expensis populi de regno suo quod placita de quo Warranto de certero placitentur & terminentur in itineribus Justic' & quod placita adhuc pendentia readjornentur in singulis suis Com' usque adventum Justic' in partibus illis, & quod interim post adjornationem sic factam remaneant sine die.
II. Moreover, the King of his special Grace hath granted, that all Judgements that are to be given in Pleas of Quo Warranto, by his Justices at Westminster, after the aforesaid Easter, for our Lord the King himself, if the Parties grieved will come again before the King, he of his Grace shall give them such Remedy as before is mentioned. (2) Also our said Lord the King hath granted, for sparing of the Costs and Expenses of the People of his Realm, that Pleas of Quo Warranto from henceforth shall be pleaded and determined in the Circuit of the Justices, and that all Pleas now depending shall be adjourned into their own Shires, until the coming of the Justices into those Parts.

* Read after the Common Law.

Another New Statute of Quo Warranto, Stat. 3. made the same Year to that Effect.a

Pur ceo brief qest dit quo Warranto establist nostre Seign' le Roi le jour de la Pentecost lan de son regne xviii. qe touz ceux qi cleiment avoir quite possession des fraunchises avant le temps le Roi Richard saunz interrupcion & ceo puissent monstrer per bone enqueste bien se joient de cele possession. Et si celle possession soit demaunde per raison nostre Seigd' le Roi le confermera per title Et ceux qi ount veuz chartres des fraunchises serrount les chartres ajuggez selconc la tenure & la fourme de mesmes celes chartres. Et ceux qi ount perdu lour fraunchises puis le Pasqe darrein & per levantdit brief en la fourme avant use en plee del avantdit brief eient restitucion de lour fraunchises perduz & derechief pledent selonc la nature de la presente constitucion.
Concerning the Writ that is called Quo Warranto, our Lord the King, at the Feast of Pentecost, in the eighteenth Year of his Reign, hath established, That all those which claim to have quiet Possession of any Franchise before the Time of King Richard, without Interruption, and can shew the same by a lawful Enquest, shall well enjoy their Possession; (2) and in case that such Possession be demanded for Cause reasonable, our Lord the King shall confirm it by Title. (3) And those that have old Charters of Franchise, shall have the same Charters adjudged according to the Tenor and Form of them. (4) And those that have lost their Liberties fith Easter last passed by the foresaid Writ, according to the Course of Pleading in the same Writ heretofor used, shall have Restitution of their Franchise lost, and from henceforth they shall have according to the Nature of this present Constitution.

a This is taken from the Secunda pars veternum Statutorum, and is inserted in the Editions of Mr. Justice Rastal, &c.

Side notes are omitted here, but can be read in the page images:
  1. Page 123
  2. Page 124


Several things should be noted in these statutes:

  1. These statutes are codifications of existing common law practices, albeit practices that had been used little if at all for a long time.
  2. Normally such a writ would be issued to one claimant to authority (his "franchise") at a time, but these statutes are notice that all of the grants of feudal privilege are being challenged at the same time.
  3. Since the judgments would be by judges appointed by the King, he was in a position to strip anyone of his feudal privileges, together with all the power and income that might come with them. 
  4. This was essentially a move to put all feudal lords on the defense, so that the King could remove any that opposed him or his policies, and confirm the obeisance of the rest.
  5. Despite this irregular use of the writ, it does serve to formally embed the common law pleading in the English constitution, which it does explicitly.
  6. Once established as a tool that could be used by a monarch, it also establishes it as a tool for use by the people when they become the sovereign, as happened upon adoption of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
  7. The two statutes, although adopted on the same day, and saying much the same thing, are in law Latin and law French, and the English translations were apparently done later. The differences are subtle but interesting, and seemed to be for somewhat different audiences.

It should also be noted that the original common law writs of quo warranto were demands on the party claiming authority, the respondent, who had the burden of proof, not petitions for relief from the court, other than declaratory., with the burden of proof on the petitioner.

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