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of Holcraft and Gibbons, in hopes of finding some farther illc tration, but without success.

The charter then above-mentioned appears upon further enquiry to have been the foundation charter of Reading Abbey, and to have been granted by Henry I. in 1125. The words of it referred to by Chief Justice Popham, and upon which he founded his opinion, are as follow : “ Nec faciat milites nifi in facra vefte Cbrifti, ix que parvulos suscipere modeste caveat. Maturos autem jen discretes tam clericos quam laicos provide fufcipiat.This passage is likewise cited by Selden in his notes upon Eadmer, p. 206, and to illuftrate the word clericoshe refers to Mathew Paris for an account of a priest called John Gatesdene, who was created a knight by Henry III. but not until after he had resigned all his benefices, was he ought to have done,” says the historian, who in another place relating the disgrace of Peter de Rivallis, Treasurer to Henry III. (See p. 405, edit. 1640,) has clearly shown how incompatible it was that the clergy should bear arms, as the profession of a knight required ; and as a further proof may be added the well known ftory, related by the same historian, of Richard I. and the warlike Bishop of Beauvais. I conceive then that the word “ clericos" refers to such of the clergy who should apply for the order of knighthood under the usual restriction of quitting their former profeflion ; and from Selden's note upon the passage it may be collected that this was his own opinion; or it may poflībly allude to those particular knights who were considered as religious or ecclefiaftical, such as the knights of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, &c. concerning whom lee Ashmole's Order of the Garter, p. 49. 51.

With respect to the custom of ecclefiaftics conferring the order of knighthood, it certainly prevailed in this country before the conquest, as appears from Ingulphus, and was extremely disliked by the Normans; and therefore at a Council held at Westminster in the third year of Henry I. it was ordained, “ Ne Abbates faciant milites.See Eadmeri Hift. 68. and Selden's note, p. 207. However it appears that notwithstanding this prohibition, which may at the same time serve to show the great improbability that the order of knighthood was conferred upon ecclefiaftics, fome of the ceremonies at the creation of knights still continued to be performed by Abbots, as the taking the fword from the altar, &c. which may be seen at large in Selden's Titles of Honour, Part II. chap. v. and Dugd. Warw. 531, and accordingly this charter, which is dated twenty-three years after the Council at Westminster, amongit other things directs the Abbot, “ Nec faciat milites nisi in facra vejte Cbrifti," &c. Lord Coke's acquiescence in Popham's opinion is founded upon a similar misconception, and his quaint remark" que fueront milites cæleftes & milites terreftres,” can only excite a smile. The marginal quotation from Fuller's Church History, B. VI,

P. 352. “ Moe Sirs than knights” referred to in a former note by Sir J. Hawkins, certainly means -" that these Sirs were not knights,” and Fuller accounts for the title by supposing them ungraduated Priests.

Before I dismiss this comment upon the opinions of the learned Judges, I am bound to observe chat Popham's opinion is also referred to, but in a very careless manner, in Godbolt's Reports, p. 399, in these words: “ Popham once Chief Justice of this court said that he had seen a commission directed unto a bishop to knight all the parsons within his diocese, and that was the cause that they were called Sir John, Sir Thomas, and so they continued to be called until the reign of Elizabeth.” The idea of knighting all the parsons in a diocese is too ludicrous to need a serious refutation; and the inaccuracy of the assertion, that the title of Sir lasted till the reign of Elizabeth, thereby implying that it then ceased, is sufficiently obvious, not only from the words of Popham in the other quotation “ que est done al ascuns clerks cest jour,” but from the proof given by Sir John Hawkins of its existence at a much later period.

Having thus, I trust, refuted the opinion that the title of Sir was given to priests in consequence of their being knights, I shall venture to account for it in another manner.

This custom then was most probably borrowed from the French, amongst whom the title Domnus is often appropriated to ecclefiastics, more particularly to the Benedictines, Carthufians, and Cirtercians. It appears to have been originally a title of honour and respect, and was perhaps at firft, in this kingdom as in France, applied to particular orders, and became afterwards general as well among the secular as the regular clergy. The reason of preferring Domnus, to Dominus was, that the latter belonged to the supreme Being, and the other was considered as a subordinate title, according co an old verse :

Cæleftem Dominum, terreftrem dicito Domnum." Hence, Dom, Damp, Dan, Sire, and, lastly Sir; for authorities are not wanting to thow that all these titles were given to ecclesiastics : but I shall forbear to produce them, having, I fear, already trespafled too far upon the reader's patience with this long note.


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