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such his franchise are diminished. To remedy which, as the law has given no other writ, he is *therefore entitled to sue for da- [*237) mages by a special action on the case : or, in case of toll, may take a distress if he pleases ().
II. The disturbance of common comes next to be considered (3); where any act is done, by which the right of another to his common is incommoded or diminished. This may happen, in the first place, where ono who hath no right of common, puts his cattle into the land ; and thereby robs the caule of the commoners of their respective shares of the pasture. Or if one, who hath a right of common, puts in cattle which are not commonable, as hogs and goats ; which amounts to the same inconvenience. Bur the lord of the soil may (by custom or prescription, but not without) put a stranger's cattle into the common (c); and also, by a like prescription for common appurtenant, cattle that are not cominonable may be put into the common (d). The lord also of the soil may justisy making burrows therein, and putting in rabbits, so as they do not increase to so large a number as totally to destroy the common (e). But in general, in case the beasts of a stranger, or the uncommonable cattle of a com moner, be found upon the land, the lord or any of the commoners may distrain them damage-feasant (f): or the commoner may bring an action on the case to recover damages, provided the injury done be any thing considerable : so that he may lay his action with a per quod, or allege that thereby he was deprived of his common. But for a trivial trespass the commoner has no action : but the lord of the soil only, for the entry and trespass committed ( ) (4).
Another disturbance of common is by surcharging it; or putting more cattle therein than the pasture and herbage will sustain, or the party hath a right to do. In this case he that surcharges does an injury to the rest of the owners, by depriving them of their respective portions, or at least contracting them into a smaller compass. This injury (*238]
(e) Cro. Eliz. 876. Cro. Jac. 195. Lutw. 108. () 9. Rep. 112.
(6) Cro. Eliz. 558.
(3) As to rights of common in general, see the abridgment of the right was inconsideraante, 2 book, 32 10 35.
ble. IM Cieland's Rep. 373. One farthing (4) If catile escape into the common, and damages will sustain the verdict in such case. are driven out by the owner as soon as he has lb. and 2 East, 134. It has been held, that a notice, though the lord may have his action of claim of common for all the plaintiff's cattle trespass, yet the commoner cannot bring his levant and couchant on his land, was supported action upon the case, because sufficient feed. by evidence of a custom for all the occupiers ing still remains for him. But if cattle are of a large common field to turn cattle into the permitted to depasture the common, whether whole field when the corn was taken off, the ihey belong to a stranger, or are the supernu. number of cattle being regulated by the ex nerary carile of a commover, an action lies; tent, and not the produce of each man's land and it is not necessary to prove specific inju. in the field, although the cattle were not ac. ry; for the right of the coinmoner is injured tually maintained on such land during the by such an act, and if permitted, the wrong- winter. 1 B. & A. 706. In an action for dis. doer might gain a right by repeated acts of en. turbance of common, where the plaintiff slated Croachment. 2 Bla. Rep. 1233. 4 T. R. 71. that he was possessed of a messuage and land, 2 East, 154 I Saund. 346. b. And where by reason whereof he was entitled to the A., being possessed of a portion of a lammas right of common, and it appeared on the trial field over which a right of common existed that he was possessed of land only, it was part of the year, took down the customary held that the allegation was divisible, and the fost and rail fence, containing gaps through plaintiff entitled to damages pro tanto. 2 B. which the commoner's cattle might pass. & A. 360. See 15 East, 115. The declaraand built a wall with a single doorway, at tion must in all cases allege, that the plaintif which they might enter and return, it was held thereby could not use his common in so ampla that this was a disturbance of the common a manner as he ought to have done. 9 Co night, and an action was maintainable, though 113 a
by surcharging san properly speaking only happen, where the common is appendant or appurtenant (h), and of course limitable by law ; or where, when in gross, it is expressly limited and certain ; for where a man hath common in gross, sans nombre or without stint, he cannot be a surcharger. However, even where a man is said to have common without stint, still there must be left sufficient for the lord's own beasts (i); for the law will not suppose that, at the original grant of the common, the lord meant to exclude himself (5).
The usual remedies, for surcharging the common, are either by distraining so many of the beasts as are above the number allowed, or else by an action of trespass, boch which may be had by the lord : or lastly, by a special action on the case for damages ; in which any commoner may be plaintiff (.)). But the ancient and most effectual method of proceeding is by writs of admeasurement of pasture. This lies either where a common appurtenant or in gross is certain as to number, or where a man has common appendant or appurtenant to his land, the quantity of which common has never yet becn ascertained. In either of these cases, as well the lord, as any of the commoners, is entitled to this writ of admeasurement ; which is one of those writs that are called vicontiel (k), being directed to the sheriff (vicecomiti), and not to be returned to any superior court, till finally executed by him. It recites a complaint, that the defendant hath surcharged, superoneravit
, the common: and therefore commands the sheriff to admeasure and apportion it; that the defendant may not have more than belongs to him, and that the plaintiff may have his rightful share. And upon this suit all the commoners shall be admeasured, as well those who have not, as those who have surcharged the common; as well the plaintiff
as the defendant (2). The execution of this writ must be by a [*239] jury of twelve men, who are upon their *oaths to ascertain, un
der the superintendence of the sheriff, what and how many cattle each commoner is entitled to feed. (And the rule for this admeasurement is generally understood to be, that the commoner shall not turn more cattle upon the common, than are sufficient to manure and stock the land to which his right of common is annexed ; or, as our ancient law expressed it, such cattle only as are levant and couchant upon his tenement (m): which being a thing uncertain before adineasurement, has frequently, though erroneously, occasioned this unmeasured right of common to be called a common without stint or sans nombre (r); a thing which, though possible in law (0), does in fact very rarely exist (6). (h) See book II. ch.3.
(1) F. N. B. 125. (i) 1 Roll Abr. 399.
(m) Bro. Abr. l. prescription, 28. Ty, Freem. 273. iki 2 Inst. 369. Finch, L, 314.
(0) Lord Raym. 407. (5) The modern doctrine upon this subject strained, together with the commoners, from is somewhat different, for it is now held, that using the common at all during a part of the a prescription for a sole and several pasture, year. 1 Saund. 353. n. (2). See also 2 H. &c. in exclusion of the owner of the soil for Bl. 4. And it is said to have been clearly the whole year, is good, 2 Lev. 2. Pollexf. 13 held, that the commoners may prescribe to 1 Mod. 74. for it does not exclude the forc have common in exclusion of the lord for a from all the profits of the soil, as he is entitled part of the year 2 Roll. Abr. 267. L. pl. 1. to the mines, trees, and quarries. And though (6) The lord may distrain not only the cat. a man cannot prescribe to have common eo tle of a stranger, but also so many of a com. nomine for the whole year in exclusion of the moner's calile as surcharge the common. Jord, 1 Lev. 268. I Vent. 395, still the lord Bla. R. 818. Willes, 638. A commoner cag may, sy custom, be restrained to a qualified only distrain the cattle of a stranger, 1 Roil right of common during a part of the year. Ab. 320. 405. pl. 5. Yelv. 104. and not of the Yelv. 129. And it is said ine lord may be re. lord, 2 Buls. 117; nor where a coupon
(54) See Hov, n (54) at the end of the Vol. B. III.
(n) Hardr. 117.
If, after the admeasurement has thus ascertained the right, tho samo defendant surcharges the common again, the plaintiff may have a writ of second surcharge, de secunda superoneratione, which is given by the statute Westm. 2. 13 Edw. I. c. 8. and thereby the sheriff is directed to inquire by a jury, whether the defendant has in fact again surcharged the common contrary to the tenure of the last admeasurement: and if he has, he shall then forfeit to the king the supernumerary cattle put in, and also shall pay damages to the plaintiff (p). This process seems highly equitable : for the first offence is held to be committed through mere inadvertence, and therefore there are no damages or forfeiture on the first writ, which was only to ascertain the right which was disputed : but the second offence is a wil. ful contempt and injustice; and therefore punished very properly with not only damages, but also forfeiture. And herein the right, being once settled, is never again disputed; but only the fact is tried, whether there be any second surcharge or no :, which gives this neglected proceeding a great advantage over the modern method, by action on the case, wherein the quantum of common belonging to the defendant must be proved upon every fresh trial, for every repeated offence (7).
*There is yet another disturbance of common, when the owner [*240] of the land, or other person, so encloses or otherwise obstructs it, that the commoner is precluded from enjoying the benefit to which he is by law entitled. This may be done, either by erecting fences, or by dri ving the caule off the land, or by ploughing up the soil of the common (9). Or it may be done by erecting a warren therein, and stocking it with rabbits in such quantities, that they devour the whole herbage, and thereby destroy the common. For in such case, though the commoner may not destroy the rabbits, yet the law looks upon this as an injurious disturbance of his right, and has given him his remedy by action against the owner (r) (8). This kind of disturbance does indeed amount to a disseisin, and if the ammoner chooses to consider it in that light, the law has given him an assise of novel-disseisin, against the lord, to recover the possession of his common (s). Or it has given a writ of quod permittat, against any stranger, as well as the owner of the land, in case of such a disturbance to the plaintiff as amounts to a total deprivation of his common; whereby the defendant shall be compelled to permit the plaintiff to enjoy his
(p) F.N. B. 126. 2 Inst. 370. (9) Cro. Eliz. 198. overcharges the common, by putting in cattle tained a specific injury. For the lord is entithat are not levant and couchant, can another tled to what remains of the grass, and there. commoner distrain the surplus, at least be- fore may consume it himsell, or license anfore admeasuremeni. 3 Wils. 287. 2 Lutw. other to depasture it. 4 T. R. 73. 2 Mod. 6. 1238. 4 Burr. 2426. But where the right of Willes, 619. common is limited to a certain number of cattle, (7) In New-York these ancient actions seem without any relation to the quantity of land to be abolished, (2 R. S. 343, $ 24,) as well as which the commoner possesses, and he puts the other real actions mentioned in this chap. in a greater number, perhaps another com- ter: the actions on the case, however, still moner may distrain the supernumerary cattle. remain. 4 Burr. 2431. It seems clear that a claim of (8) It is the policy of the law not to allow corninon pleaded by an inhabitant, as an inha. commoners to abale, except only in few cases, bitant merely, is bad : it must be pleaded for an action will best ascertain the just mea. either in the name of a corporation for the sure of the damage sustained. But if the benefit of the inhabitants, or in a que estate. lord erect a wall, gate, hedge, or fence round 6 Co. 69. b. 4 T. R. 717. 1 Saund. 346. f. the common, to prevent the commoner's catile n. (g). But if the defendant be lord of the from going into the common, the commoner manor, or one who puts his cattle on the com- may abate the erection, because it is incon. mor. with the lord's license, the commonersistent with the grant. 1 Burr. 259.6 T. R sannot maintain an action, unless he has sus. 485.
(r) Cro. Jac. 195.
common as he ought (t). But if the commoner does not choose to bring à real action to recover seisin, or to try the right, he may (which is the easier and more usual way) bring an action on the case for his damages, instead of an assise or a quod permittat (u).
There are cases indeed, in which the lord may enclose and abridge the common ; for which, as they are no injury to any one, so no one is entitled to any remedy. For it is provided by the statute of Merton, 20 Hen. III. c. 4. that the lord may approve, that is, enclose and convert to the uses of husbandry (which is a melioration or approvement), any waste grounds,
woods, or pastures, in which his tenants have common appendant [*241] to their estates ; provided he leaves *sufficient common to his
tenants, according to the proportion of their land (9). And this is extremely reasonable : for it would be very hard if the lord, whose ancestors granted out these estates to which the commons are appendant, should be precluded from making what advantage he can of the rest of his manor ; provided such advantage and improvement be no way derogatory from the former grants. The statute Westm. 2. 13 Edw. I. c. 46. extends this liberty of approving, in like manner, against all others that have common appurtenant, or in gross, as well as against the tenants of the lord, who have their common appendant; and farther enacts, that no assise of novel-disseisin, for common, shall lie against a lord for erecting on the common any windmill, sheephouse, or other necessary buildings therein specified: which, sir Edward Cokie says (w), are only put as examples ; and that any other necessary improvements may be made by the lord, though in reality they abridge the common, and make it less sufficient for the commoners. And lastly by statute 29 Geo. II. c. 36. and 31 Geo. II. c. 41. it is particularly enacted, that any lords of wastes and commons, with the consent of the major part, in number and value, of the commoners, may enclose any part thereof, for the growth of timber and underwood (10), (11),
III. The third species of disturbance, that of ways (12), is very similar in its nature to the last : it principally happening when a person, who hath a right to a way over another's grounds, by grant or prescription, is obstructed by enclosures, or other obstacles, or by ploughing across it; by which means he cannot enjoy his right of way, or at least not in so commodious a manner as he might have done. If this be a way annexed to (t) Finch, L. 275. F. N. B. 123.
(6) 2 Inst. 476.
(u) Cro. Jac. 195.
(9) See 2 book, p. 34. note.
part of the soil for building, if the exercise of (10) As the lord may approve, leaving a the right be immemorial. 5 T.R. 417. n. But sufficiency of common, the commoner abates a custom for the lord to grant leases of the an erection at the peril of an action. A per. waste, without restriction, is bad in point of son seised in fee of the waste may approve, law. 3 B. & A. 153. although he be not lord. 3 T. R. 445. But The cultivation of common lands, and the there can be no approvement against the te- enclosure and management of them, are now nants of a manor, who have a right to dig carried on under private acts of parliament, gravel in the wastes, and take estovers, 2 T. subject to, and adopting the regulations laid R. 391. vor against common of turbary. I down in the 13 Geo. III. c. 81. and 41 Geo. Taunt. 435. And although the lord may ap. III. c. 109. which are incorporated into all prove against common of pasture, by 20 H. special enelosure acts. II. c, 4. 5 T. R. 411, yet there may be other (11) Common of pasture of lands is left in rights of common against which he cannot ap- New-York without any statutory provisions prove. 6 T. R. 741. . A custom for tenants io similar to those mentioned in the text. approve by the lorrl's consent, and by present. (12) As to private ways in general, see an nient of the humaga, does not restrain the te, 2 book, 35 to 37. Also Com. Dig title lord's right to approve. 2 T. R. 392. (n). The Chemia. lord may, with consent of the homage, grant
nis estate, and the obstruction is made by the tenant of the land, this brings it to another species of injury; for it is then a nuisance, for which an assise will lie, as mentioned in a former chapter (x). But if the right of way, thus obstructed by the tenant, be only in gross (that is, annexed to a man's person and unconnected with any lands or *tene- [*242] ments), or if the obstruction of a way belonging to a house or land is made by a stranger, it is then in either case merely a disturbance: for the obstruction of a way in gross is no detriment to any lands or lene. ments, and therefore does not fall under the legal notion of a nuisance, which must be laid, ad nocumentum liberi tenementi (y); and the obstruction of it by a stranger can never tend to put the right of way in dispute : the remedy therefore for these disturbances is not by assise or any real action,ss but by the universal remedy of action on the case to recover damages (2),
IV. The fourth species of disturbance is that of disturbance of tenure, or breaking that connexion which subsists between the lord and his tenant, and to which the law pays so high a regard, that it will not suffer it to be wantonly dissolved by the act of a third person. To have an estate well tenanted is an advantage that every landlord must be very sensible of; and therefore the driving away of a tenant from off his estate is an injury of no small consequence. (So that if there be a tenant at will of any lands or tenements, and a stranger either by menaces
and threats, or by unlaw. ful distresses, or by fraud and circumvention, or other means, contrives to drive him away, or inveigle him to leave his tenancy, this the law very justly construes to be a wrong and injury to the lord (a), and gives him a reparation in damages against the offender by a special action on the case.
V. The fifth and last species of disturbance, but by far the most considerable, is that of disturbance of patronage (13); which is an hindrance or obstruction of a patron to present his clerk to a benefice.
This injury was distinguished at common law from another species of injury, called usurpation ; which is an absolute ouster or dispossession of the patron, and happens when a stranger, that hath no right, presenteth a clerk, and he is thereupon "admitted and insti- [*243] tuted (6). In which case, of usurpation, the patron lost by the common law not only his turn of presenting pro hac vice, but also the absolute and perpetual inheritance of the advowson, so that he could not present again upon the next avoidance, unless in the mean time he recovered his right by a real action, viz. a writ of riyht of advowson (c).66 The reason given for his losing the present turn, and not ejecting the usurper's clerk, was that the final intent of the law in creating this species of property being to have a fit person to celebrate divine service, it preferred the peace of the church (provided a clerk were once admitted and instituted) to the right of any patron whatever (14). And the patron also lost the
(z) Ch. 13. p. 218. (y) F. N. B. 183.
(a) Hal. Anal. c. 40. 1 Roll. Abr. 108.
(3) Hale on F. N. B. 185. Lut. 111. 119.
(13) See in general, Mirehouse on Adrow. sion and institution, came in by a judicial act, ons, and ante, 2 book 22, notes 3, 5, 6, as to and the law presumes that the bishop who has advowsons, rights of presentation, &c. the care of the souls of all within his diocese,
(14) And this preference of the peace of the for which he shall answer at his fearful and church to the litigated rights of patrons, was final account (in respect of which he ought to held to prevail in all cases without any regard keep and defend them against all herelics, and to infancy, corerture, or any such like disabi. schismaties, and other ministers of the devil), fity of the patron. For it was a maxim of the will not do or assent to any wrong to be done common law, “that he who came in by admis. to their patronages, which is of their earthly
Vol. II (55) See Hov. n. (55) at the end of the Vol. B. II. (56) Ibid. (56) B. III