The Doctor and Student (1518)

Christopher St. Germain

Of the sixth ground of the law of England

The sixth ground of the law of England standeth in divers statutes made by our sovereign lord the king and his progenitors, and by the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in divers parliaments, in such cases where the law of reason, the law of God, customs, maxims, ne other grounds of the law seemed not to be sufficient to punish evil men and to reward good men. And I remember not that I have seen any other grounds of the law of England, but only these that I have before remembered. Furthermore it appeareth of that I have said before, that oft times two or three grounds of the law of England must be joined together, or that the plaintiff can open and declare his right, as it may appear by this example. If a man enter into another man’s land by force, and after make feoffment for maintenance to defraud the plaintiff from his action; in this case it appeareth that the said unlawful entry is prohibited by the law of reason: but the plaintiff shall recover treble damages, that is by reason of the statute made in the eighth year of king Henry VI, cap. 9. And that the damages shall be cessed by twelve men, that is by the custom of the realm. And so in this case three grounds of the law of England maintain the plaintiff’s action.

And so it is in divers other cases that need not to be remembered now. And thus I make an end for this time to speak any farther of the grounds of the law of England.

Doct. I thank thee for the great pain that thou hast taken therein. Nevertheless, forasmuch as it appeareth that thou hast said before that the learned men of the law of England pretend to verify that the law of England will nothing do, De attempt against the law of reason, nor the law of God, I pray thee answer me to some questions grounded. upon the law of England, how, as thou thinkest, the law may stand with reason or conscience in them.

Stud. Put the case, and I shall make answer therein, as well as I can.