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OF THE ADMIRALTY.
By the Admiralty is understood the Office and Jurisdiction of the Lord High Admiral of Great Britain, or of the Lords Commissioners for executing that office.
The first title of Admirai of England was granted by a patent of Richard II. to Richard Fitz-Allen, Earl of Arundel and Surrey; for those who before enjoyed this office were simply termed Admirals, though their jurisdiction seems to have been as large; especially in the reign of Edward III., when the Court of Admiralty was first erected.
The Lord High ADMIRAL has the management of all maritime affairs in, and the government of the Royal Navy, in its various departments ; with power of decision in maritime cases, both civil and criminal. He judges of all things done, in British shipping, upon or beyond the sea, in every part of the world; upon the sea-coasts, &c. By him the Flag. Officers, Captains, and Lieutenants of the Navy, are commissioned ; all Deputies for particular coasts ; and Coroners to view dead bodies found on the sea-coasts, or at sea, are appointed. He also appoints the Judges for his Court of Admiralty, and may imprison, release, &c.
But in Ports and Havens, being within the body of a County, the Admiral has no jurisdiction, excepting that, between high and low water-mark, the common law and the high Admiral have jurisdiction by turns, one upon the water, and the other upon the land, according to the tide.
By a statute of Richard II. the Admiralty hath cognizance of the death or maiming a man committed in any ship riding in great rivers, below the bridges thereof, near the sea.
But if a man be killed on any arm of the sea where the land is seen on both sides, the Coroner is, by common law, to inquire of it, and not the Admiral ; for where the county may inquire, the lord admiral. has no jurisdiction.
The Lord High Admiral has power, not only over the seamen serving in his Majesty's ships of war, but over all other seamen, to arrest or impress them for the service of the state ; and if any of them run away without leave, he hath power to make a record thereof, and certify the same to the Sheriffs and other Magistrates, who may cause them to be taken and imprisoned. The Admiral has also power to arrest ships for the service of the state.
To the Lord High Admiral formerly belonged all penalties for transgressions at sea, on the sea-shore, in ports and havens, and all rivers below the first bridge from the sea ; the goods of pirates and felons condemned or enslaved, sea-wrecks, goods floating on the sea, or cast on shore, (not granted to Lords of Manors adjoining to the sea,) and a share of lawful prizes; also all great fishes, commonly called rogal fishes, except whales and sturgeons.*
By the act 2 William and Mary, c. 2. “ All the authority, power, and jurisdiction, lawfully vested in the Lord High Admiral, shall be had, enjoyed, exercised, and executed, by the Commissioners for executing that office, to all intents and purposes, as if the said Commissioners were lord high admiral of England.”
A VICE-ADMIRAL is an officer appointed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Several of these officers are established in different parts of the British empire, with Judges and Marshals under them, for executing jurisdiction within their respective limits. Their decrees, however, are not final; an appeal lying to the High Court of Admiralty in London, or to the King in Council.
The Judge of the ADMIRALTY presides in court as the deputy of the Lord High Admiral.
The Court of ADMIRALTY is a sovereign court held by the Lord High Admiral, or Lords of the Admiralty, in whose official name or names suits are prosecuted. Here cognizance is taken in various maritime affairs, civil and criminal. The Admiralty has jurisdiction where the common law can give no remedy; and has cognizance of all causes arising wholly upon the sea. All crimes committed on the high seas, &c. are cognizable in this court only, before which they must be tried by judge and jury. But, in civil cases, the mode is different, the decisions being all made according to the civil law.† From the sentences of the judge an appeal lies, in ordinary course, to the King, in Chancery, to be determined by the delegates or persons named in the King's commission, wbose sentence shall be final. Appeals from the Vice-admiralty courts in America and elsewhere may be brought before the Court of Admiralty in England, or before the King in Council; but, in case of Prize vessels taken in time of war, in any part of the world, and condemned in any Courts of Admiralty or Vice-admiralty as lawful prize, the appeal lies to certain commissioners of appeals, consisting chiefly of the Privy Council, and not to the judges delegates ; and this by virtue of Treaties with Foreign Nations, by which particular courts are established for the decision of this question, Whether lawful prize, or not? For this being a question between subjects of different states, it belongs entirely to the law of nations, and not to the municipal laws of either country to determine.
• But the perquisites are now, on every new commission being made out, resigned by some deed or writing to the crown. Hence, as the admiralty has jurisdiction, where a ship founders or is split at sea, over the goods that become flotsham, jettison, or jetsham, and lagan, and is to determine what are so, the King may claim such goods when a ship perishes and the owners are unknown.
Flotsham goods are those floating upon the sea after a ship perishes ; jettison or jetsham, those thrown overboard to lighten a ship; and lagan means those heavy enough to sink when thrown overboard, but which have a buoy attached to them that they may be found again.
Čaptures made prior to a declaration of hostilities, a practice too common in modern warfare, are termed droits of admiralty, and are not given as lawful prize to the captors, but are, in fact, claimed and applied as droits (rights) of the King; yet & proportion, determined by order in council, is generally allowed, according to circumstances.
+ The common law is the established law of one particular country; but the civil law, which may be considered as the law of nations in general, is that code which has been compiled from the best laws of Rome and Greece, and which were observed throughout the Roman dominions for about 1200 years.
The Admiralty is said to be no court of record, by reason of its proceeding according to the civil law.
Every Court of Admiralty in Europe is governed by the civil law; and sentences of any Admiralty in another kingdom are to be credited here, that ours may be credited there ; but if any person be aggrieved by any sentence, or interlocutory decree, that has the force of a definitive sen. tence, he may petition the King, who may cause the complaint to be examined, and if he finds just cause, may send to his Ambassador, where the sentence was given, to demand redress; and upon failure thereof, will grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal : Raym. 473.
By act of the 39 Geo. III. all offences committed upon the high seas, out of the body of any county, are declared to be offences of the same Dature respectively, as if they had been committed upon shore. Hence all offences committed on the high seas are now heard and determined before a jury, as at common law.
And, by the 45 Geo. III. c. 72. a session of Oyer and Terminer, and gaol delivery, for the trial of offences committed on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England, shall be held twice, at the least, in every year at the Justice-hall, in the Old Bailey, London, (except during the sessions for London and Middlesex,) or at such other place as the Admiralty, by an order in writing, shall appoint.
Offences committed out of the realm may be alleged to be committed in any county in England, in the same manner, to all intents, as if actually done or committed within the body of such county. 45 Geo. III. c. 72. See also 46 Geo. III. c. 54. by which all offences committed on the seas may be tried in any of his Majesty's islands, by virtue of the king's commission, and the same power is extended by 5 Geo. IV. c. 113. to offences committed in Africa against the laws for abolishing the Slave Trade. See also as to some offences, 58 Geo. III. c. 38.
The Admiralty has jurisdiction in cases of Freight, Mariners' Wages, and breach of Charter-party, (if the penalty be not demanded,) although made within the realm ; and likewise in cases of building, repairing, and victualling ships, &c. so as the suit be against the ship, and not against the parties only. 2 Cro. 216. See Seamen and Seamen's Wages, Chap. III.
By authority of the Admiralty, the majority of part-owners may send a ship upon a voyage to sea, as shown in Chap. I. against the consent of the rest ; but if the ship be lost, the loss will fall upon the adventurers, and they must answer to the non-consenting owners accordingly. In this case the Admirally takes stipulation in nature of recognizance ; that court is at all times open for applications from part-owners to restrain the sailing of ships without their consent, until security given to the amount of their respective shares ; but, as has been previously observed, where the shares are not ascertained, the Admiralty Court has no jurisdiction ; but the Court of Chancery will exercise a concurrent jurisdiction by injunction, till the share of the party complaining be ascertained, and security given to the amount.
If any one be sued in the Admiralty contrary to certain statutes of 13 & 15 Richard II. he may have a supersedeas to cause the judge to stay proceedings, and also have an action against the party suing.
No ship can be arrested by Admiralty process without regular suit. Salk. 31, 32.