« PreviousContinue »
son of the princess Anne, dying, and with him all hopes of a protest ant succession in the right line failed; William, by the advice of parliament, had previously enacted, that no person professing the faith of the Latin church should ever be capable of inheriting, possessing, or enjoying the crown of these realms. In this dilemma, therefore, the entail of the crown expectant on the death of William and queen Anne without issue, was settled by statute 12 and 13 William III. c. ii., on the princess Sophia, dowager Electress of Hanover, and grand-daughter of king James I., and on the heirs of her body, being protestants.
On the death of the prince of Orange, queen Anne succeeded to the imperial crown, who died without issue, but surviving the princess Sophia of Hanover, the crown descended to her son and heir George I. ; to him succeeded his son George II. ; on whose demise, George III. succeeded in right of his father Frederic, prince of Wales : after a long and glorious reign, he was succeeded by his son George IV., who dying without issue, transmitted the crown to his second brother the duke of Clarence, our present sovereign, whom may God long preserve. The heiress presumptive is the princess Victoria, daughter of his late royal highness the duke of Kent, fourth son of George III.
Upon the whole view of this subject, it may be clearly seen, that the title to the crown is hereditary, though not altogether so absolutely so as formerly ; because previous to the Revolution, the crown descended to the next heir, without any restriction ; but since that event the descent is conditional, being limited to such heirs only of the body of the princess Sophia, as are protestant members of the church of England, and are married to none but protestants. From several changes in the line of succession, different common stocks have been thereby created. The first common royal stock was that of king Egbert; after him was William the Conqueror ; afterwards these two common stocks were united in the person of James I., which continued till the death of queen Anne; and now the common stock is the princess Sophia of Hanover.
The statute 6 Anne made it penal to dispute the constitutional power of the king with the advice of parliament to alter the succession : it is enacted “ that if any person, maliciously, advisedly, and directly shall maintain by writing or printing, that the kings of this realm, with the authority of parliament, are not able to make laws to bind the crown and the descent thereof, he shall be guilty of high treason; or if he maintain the same by only preaching, teaching, or advised speaking, he shall incur the penalties of a præmunire."
It is not to be imagined that king James II. destroyed the monarchy when he abdicated the throne, and thus dissolved the constitution ; for although a king may abdicate for his own person, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy, any more than the house of lords or house of commons can
renounce each its share of legislative authority. Neither was the placing of the prince of Orange upon the throne, making the monarchy elective. The necessity of the case obliged the convention to fix the crown somewhere: but they adhered to old constitutional principles, and enacted the succession of the crown ; so that they did not change the substance, but regulated the mode of succession, and described the persons who should inherit the crown for ever. The monarchy, therefore, is as purely hereditary now as it ever was.
The real fact, then, with regard to the constitution, both in its settled course and in all its revolutions, has ever been, and still is this ; that whoever came into possession of the crown, or however he came by it, whether by law or by force, the hereditary succession invariably continued.
It is worthy of observation, how carefully and delicately the convention parliament in 1688 disclaimed the assumption of any such abstract right as the people of England electing their sovereign, although the preamble to the Bill of Rights expressly declares, “ that the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons assembled at Westminster, lawfully, fully, and freely represent all the estates of this realm.” In the statute of W. and M., the parliament prays the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties, asserted and declared, are the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”
And in all the various changes of the succession to the crown, it has been the uniform policy of our legislators, to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an hereditary crown, an hereditary peerage, and a house of commons, and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties, from a long line of ancestors. And the chief excellency of the hereditary right of the kings of England is, that it is closely interwoven with those liberties that are equally the inheritance of the subject.*
ORIGIN AND DESCENT OF THE ROYAL FAMILY OF
Having given an historical account of the descent of the crown in England, from the consolidation of the heptarchy into one monarchy, under
Blackstone's Commentaries --Custance on the Constitution.
Egbert; it may be interesting to many of our readers to know something of that illustrious house which swayed the sceptre of Scotland during its independence as a separate kingdom, which gave a sovereign to her more powerful rival, and the blood of whose stock circulates at this moment in the veins of almost every crowned head in Europe.
I shall not attempt to explore the regions of romance to trace the origin of the royal family of Scotland, which is said by Buchanan to have existed three hundred years before the incarnation of our blessed Saviour, the first of whom was Fergus the son of Ferquhard, a king of Ireland. There is a tradition, that a king named Hiber came from Egypt and settled in Spain ; from thence he passed over into Ireland. This monarch brought from Egypt a marble stone on which he was accustomed to sit ; which stone has ever since been used at the coronation of the Scottish sovereigns, from the time of Fergus to the time of John Baliol, when Edward I. of England carried it off among the spolia opima of the kingdom, being influenced by an old traditionary legend engraven on the stone itself :
Ni fallat fatum, Scoti quocunque locatum
Invenient lapidem, regnare tenentur ibidem. Fergus assumed the rampant lion as his arms, and which has been the royal arms ever since. From this courageous prince, historians enumerate twenty-five kings, who were idolaters, previous to Donald I., who was the first Christian prince in Scotland. From Donald to Achaius there were thirty-seven kings successively. In the year 809, Achaius entered into “league and alliance offensive and defensive, towards all and against all kings and princes, not excepting any, with king Charlemagne and the most Christian kings of France his successors to perpetuity.” From Achaius to Malcolm Canmore there were a succession of twenty kings Malcolm III. began his reign in the year 1061. He married Margaret, daughter of Edgar Atheling, the true heir in the Saxon line to the crown of England,-a princess of great beauty and many accomplishments ; by this happy marriage the foundation was laid for the present consolidation of the three kingdoms under one crown ; and through a long and illustrious posterity, their descendants succeeded by right of blood to the crown, of which saint Margaret's father was dispossessed by the Norman Conqueror, and restored to England the true line of her Saxon monarchs. Malcolm III. with his eldest son Edward, were slain before Alnwick castle. He was succeeded successively by his three sons, Edgar, Alexander I. and David I. His eldest daughter Matilda, commonly called Maud, married Henry I. or Beauclerc, of England; from whom descended the kings of England. Malcolm was succeeded immediately by his brother Donald VI. who usurped the crown on account of his nephew's youth. Duncan, bastard of the late king, dethroned him and seized the crown. Donald fled to the Hebrides ; but contriving to murder Duncan, resumed the reins of government. He reigned
so tyrannically, that the nobility recalled Edgar, third son, but the eldest surviving, of the late king Malcolm ; who being assisted by William Rufus, recovered his inheritance and shut Donald up in prison, where he died. This prince was the first in Scotland who was anointed with consecrated oil. His mother St Margaret obtained this favour from pope Urban II. In those days no public change or affair of importance could be undertaken without the pope's consent. He died in 1109, and was succeeded by his brother Alexander I., called the Strong, who died without issue, after a peaceful reign of seventeen years, in 1126. To him succeeded his brother David I. who married Matilda, daughter and sole heiress of the earl of Cumberland, Northumberland, and Huntingdon : by this alliance these earldoms fell to the crown of Scotland, under homage to that of England. By the countess of Huntingdon he had issue only one son, Henry, who died during his father's lifetime, but who left three sons, Malcolm, William, and David ; and three daughters, Adama, Margaret, and Matilda. After a reign of twenty-nine years, David I. died in 1151, and was succeeded by his grandson Malcolm IV., surnamed the Maiden from his chastity ; and never having been married, he died in 1163, and was succeeded by his brother, William the Lion, who died in 1214, and was succeeded by his son Alexander II. At the age of nine years, he married Joane, daughter of Richard I. of England, by whom he had no issue ; after her death he married Mary, daughter of the earl of Gowry, by whom he had one son. This king reigned thirty-five years, and died in 1249 ; his son Alexander III. mounted the throne, and married Margaret of England, daughter of Henry III., by whom he had two sons and one daughter; the sons, Alexander and David, died during their father's lifetime. Margaret of Scotland, his daughter, married the king of Norway, and had issue one daughter, commonly called the Maid of Norway, who was declared successor to the crown. Alexander III., a wise and valiant prince, died in 1283, leaving the crown to this infant.
On his death a regency was formed and the Maid of Norway brought home, but she sickened and died, and left the kingdom a prey to almost the greatest calamity that can befall a kingdom, especially in a rude and warlike age-a disputed succession.
As we before noticed, the earldom of Huntingdon was brought to the crown of Scotland by the marriage of David to Matilda, countess in her own right of Huntingdon, whose only son, Henry, prince of Scotland, dying before his father, his two sons, Malcolm and William, succeeded to the throne, of whom the line failed in the person of Alexander III. David, the youngest son of Henry, became earl of Huntingdon, and left two daughters, Margaret and Isabella of Huntingdon. Margaret the eldest daughter, married John Baliol, earl of Galloway, whose son without doubt was the true heir to the crown; Isabella of Huntingdon married Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, had a son also of the same name, Robert Bruce, who again had the celebrated Robert the Bruce, lord of Annandale, who
being grandson of the youngest, pretended to have a precedency to his cousin, John Baliol, who was the son of the eldest daughter. Besides these two, there were other ten competitors for the crown. Unhappily for the peace and tranquillity of the nation, the competitors agreed to submit their claims to the arbitration of Edward I. of England, at whose mercy the Scottish nation was now laid prostrate ; Edward summoned the barons of the north of England, amongst whom were Baliol and Bruce, with all the Scottish clergy and nobility to meet him at Norham castle in Northumberland, where Edward openly asserted his supremacy over the crown of Scotland as lord paramount. The candidates were mute with astonishment at this unexpected usurpation; at length one more courageous than the rest, replied “ that concerning this claim of feudal supremacy over Scotland, no determination could be made ; while the throne was vacant.” Edward was not of a temper to bear this procrastination, and sternly answered, “by holy Edward whose crown I wear, I will vindicate my just rights, or perish in the attempt." A day, however, was granted for consultation, which was extended to three weeks, as the candidates could not come to any agreement. Over-awed by his power or won by his bribes, the competitors, to their eternal disgrace, recognised Edward I. as lord paramount of Scotland. The umpire decided in favour of John Baliol, who swore fealty to Edward, and was crowned at Scone in the year 1292. John was compelled to do homage to Edward, and to answer to appellants in the courts at London, and there not by his advocate, but in person ! Notwithstanding the humiliating degradation in which Edward held the Scottish king, the latter seems to have governed the kingdom with great prudence, and moderation ; but indignant at the insults daily offered to himself and the independence of his kingdom, John renounced his allegiance and declared war against England. Edward defeated Baliol and took military possession of the kingdom, sent him and his son Edward prisoners into England, and declared the crown forfeited to its lord paramount in the year 1296. long protracted and gallant warfare, Robert the Bruce gained the decisive battle of Bannockburn; and thereby seated himself securely on the Scottish throne. The battle was fought on the 24th June, 1314, and for ever vindicated the independence of the kingdom. On the 26th April, 1315, parliament assembled at Ayr, and solemnly recognised Robert's title to the crown, and swore allegiance to him and his heirs ; and to prevent the horrible calamities which the late disputed succession had occasioned to the country, they settled the order of the descent of the crown. Robert married first, Isabella, daughter of Donald, earl of Marr, by whom he had a daughter, Marjory, who married Walter Stewart, and " by that knot” brought the crown into that illustrious family. His second wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Aymer de Burgh, earl of Ulster, by whom he had three daughters, Margaret, Matilda, and Elizabeth ; and one son, David, by whom he was