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A county palatine is an area ruled by a count palatine (or earl palatine, who may hold the higher title of duke) with special authority and autonomy from the rest of the kingdom. In feudal times, counts palatine exercised royal authority, and ruled their counties largely independently of the king, though they owed allegiance to him.

There are three counties of England that are today counties palatine: County Durham, Cheshire and Lancashire. In addition to these, Cornwall is generally considered as a county palatine because of its position in England as a duchy, which according to custom has more power and independence than a county.

Contents

History

Counties palatine were established in the 11th century to defend the northern (Scottish) and western (Welsh) frontiers of the kingdom of England. In order to allow them to do so in the best way they could, their counts were granted palatine ("from the palace", i.e. royal) powers within their territories, making these territories nearly sovereign jurisdictions with their own administrations and courts, largely independent of the king, though they owed allegiance to him.

Durham palatinate plaque.

The Counties palatine of Durham and Chester, ruled by the prince-bishops of Durham and the earls of Chester respectively, were established by William the Conqueror. Cheshire had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in the parliament of England until 1543,[1] while it retained some of its special privileges until 1830. The earldom of Chester has since 1301 been associated with the title of Prince of Wales which is reserved for the heir apparent to the throne or crown of the UK (though originally the throne of England).

As well as having spiritual jurisdiction over the diocese of Durham, the bishops of Durham retained temporal jurisdiction over County Durham until 1836. The bishop's mitre which crowns the bishop of Durham's coat of arms is encircled with a gold coronet which is otherwise used only by dukes, reflecting his historic dignity as a palatine earl.

Lancashire was made a county, or duchy, palatine in 1351 and kept many of its special judicial privileges until 1873. Although the dukedom of Lancaster merged into the Crown in 1399, it is to this day held separate from other royal lands, and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster. The title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is still used by a member of the cabinet. In Lancashire, the loyal toast is to "the Queen, Duke of Lancaster."

The king's writs did not run in these three palatine counties until the nineteenth century[2][3] and, until the 1970s, Lancashire and Durham had their own courts of chancery.[4]

There are two kings in England, namely, the lord king of England wearing a crown and the lord bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown… — William de St Botolph, 1302[5]

Other palatine counties

The county of Cornwall, although not normally reckoned a palatine county, has a similar status to Lancashire, in that royal lands in Cornwall are held by the Duchy of Cornwall, which belongs to the sovereign's eldest son, who inherits the title of Duke of Cornwall at birth, or at his father's or mother's accession to the throne.

At various times in history the following areas had palatinate status: Shropshire, Kent, the Isle of Ely, Hexhamshire in Northumberland, and, in Wales, the Earldom of Pembroke (until the 1536 union with England). There were also several palatine districts in Ireland, the most important of which was County Tipperary. In Scotland, the earldom of Strathearn was identified as a palatine county in the fourteenth century, although the title of Earl of Strathearn has usually been merged with the crown in subsequent centuries, and there is little indication that the status of Strathearn differed in practice from other Scottish earldoms.

In the colonies, the historic province of Avalon in Newfoundland was also granted palatine status, as was Maryland under Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Harris, B. E. (Ed.) (1979). page 98.
  2. ^ Yates (1856), pp3-5
  3. ^ Law Terms Act 1830
  4. ^ Courts Act 1971, s.41
  5. ^ Durham: Echoes of Power at British Library website
  6. ^ Hall, Clayton Colman (1910) (in English). Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633–1684. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 103. http://books.google.com/books?id=tNARAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA101&lpg=PA101&dq=grant,+cecilius+calvert&source=web&ots=ngVWKUtb8H&sig=aXEvBSr7kPrGIl5S4fOJGaZOdEc&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA103,M1. Retrieved December 4, 2008.  

Bibliography

External links

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A county palatine was an area ruled by an hereditary nobleman possessing special authority and autonomy from the rest of the kingdom. The nobleman swore allegiance to the king yet had the power to rule the county largely independently of the king. County palatine jurisdictions were created in England in Norman times. On the European continent they have an earlier date. In general, when a Palatine-type autonomy was granted to a lord by the sovereign, it was in a district on the periphery of the kingdom, at a time when the district was exposed to unsettling behaviour from non-loyal armed people who could retreat beyond the borders and re-enter again. For the English sovereign in Norman times this meant Northern England, Wales, and Ireland. As the authority granted was hereditary, some counties palatine legally survived well past the end of the feudal period.

For the etymology of the word, see Palatine.

Contents

History in northern England

Counties palatine were established in the 11th century to defend the northern (Scottish) and western (Welsh) frontiers of the kingdom of England. In order to allow them to do so in the best way they could, their counts were granted palatine ("from the palace", i.e. royal) powers within their territories, making these territories nearly sovereign jurisdictions with their own administrations and courts, largely independent of the king, though they owed allegiance to him.


William the Conqueror founded the County Palatine of Durham, ruled by the prince-bishops of Durham and the Count Palatinate of Chester, run by the earls of Chester. Cheshire had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in the parliament of England until 1543,[1] while it retained some of its special privileges until 1830. The earldom of Chester has since 1301 been associated with the title of Prince of Wales which is reserved for the heir apparent to the throne or crown of the UK (though originally the throne of England).

As well as having spiritual jurisdiction over the diocese of Durham, the bishops of Durham retained temporal jurisdiction over County Durham until 1836. The bishop's mitre which crowns the bishop of Durham's coat of arms is encircled with a gold coronet which is otherwise used only by dukes, reflecting his historic dignity as a palatine earl.

Lancashire was made a county, or duchy, palatine in 1351 and kept many of its special judicial privileges until 1873. Although the dukedom of Lancaster merged into the Crown in 1399, it is to this day held separate from other royal lands, and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster. The title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is still used by a member of the cabinet. In Lancashire, the loyal toast is to "the Queen, Duke of Lancaster."

The king's writs did not run in these three palatine counties until the nineteenth century[2][3] and, until the 1970s, Lancashire and Durham had their own courts of chancery.[4]

There are two kings in England, namely, the lord king of England wearing a crown and the lord bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown…
—William de St Botolph, 1302, [5]

Other palatine counties

At various times in history the following areas had palatinate status: Shropshire, Kent, the Isle of Ely, Hexhamshire in Northumberland, and, in Wales, the Earldom of Pembroke (until the passing of the Laws in Wales Act 1535).

The county of Cornwall, although not strictly a palatine county, had a similar status to Lancashire, in that it was a duchy and, according to custom, a duchy had more independence from the sovereign than a county had. Technically today the royal lands in Cornwall are held by the Duchy of Cornwall and some royal powers in Cornwall are possessed by the sovereign's eldest son, the Duke of Cornwall.

In the history of Wales in the Norman era, the term most often used is Marcher Lord, which is similar to, but not strictly the same as, a Palatine Lord. Nevertheless, a number of strictly Palatine jurisdictions were created in Wales.

There were several palatine districts in Ireland, of which the most notable were those of the Earls of Desmond, and the Earls of Ormond in Tipperary -- the latter continued in legal existence until County Palatine of Tipperary Act 1715.

In Scotland, the earldom of Strathearn was identified as a palatine county in the fourteenth century, although the title of Earl of Strathearn has usually been merged with the crown in subsequent centuries, and there is little indication that the status of Strathearn differed in practice from other Scottish earldoms.

In the colonies, the historic province of Avalon in Newfoundland was also granted palatine status, as was Maryland under Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Harris, B. E. (Ed.) (1979). page 98.
  2. ^ Yates (1856), pp3-5
  3. ^ Law Terms Act 1830
  4. ^ Courts Act 1971, s.41
  5. ^ Durham: Echoes of Power at British Library website
  6. ^ Hall, Clayton Colman (1910) (in English). Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633–1684. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 103. http://books.google.com/?id=tNARAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA101&dq=grant,+cecilius+calvert. Retrieved December 4, 2008. 

Bibliography

External links


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