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forged charter, where names might be taken from pedigrees, BOOK persons are liable to be brought together, who lived in dif
A remarkable circumstance of recent occurrence, shows the absolute necessity of submitting charters to this scrutiny, even though they appear to rest upon the highest authority. The late Rev. Dr. Adam Clarke, keeper of the Forged
charter to public records, was deceived by the copy of a pretended Liverpool. charter from Henry the Second to the people of Liverpool, granting to that town the privileges of a sea-port in 1173. The learned gentleman, thinking it an important document, as it was commonly believed that the earliest charter to Liverpool was granted by king John, in the ninth year of his reign, transcribed the copy, and his transcript fell into the hands of Mr. Baines, who, supposing that Dr. Clarke had found the original among the government records, inserted it in his account of that town, at the same time remarking, that the new sea-port seemed to have been of so little importance in 3 John, that its name did not appear in the sheriff's return in the Chancery Roll of that year.* It was afterwards discovered that an attorney of Liverpool, possessing as little honesty as intellect, had fabricated the charter for the purpose of imposing upon Mr. Troughton, a person who was entirely ignorant of charters, their language, style, and circumstances, and by whom it was innocently published in a sort of history of the town. The fact was intimated to Mr. Baines before the completion of his own history of Liverpool, but it does not appear in what manner so experienced and learned a man as Dr. Clarke, came to be deceived. Mr. Baines gives the following account of this curious affair:“ Having received an intimation from a profesional gentleman in Liverpool, that the charter in question was of dubious origin, we have felt it our duty to investigate the facts, and the inquiry has resulted in the conviction that the pretended charter is an
Hist. Lanc., Vol. IV., p. 57, note ş.
entire fabrication. Not to mention the bad Latin, Et quod homines de Lyrpul quondum vocant,' which is no unusual occurrence, however, in mediæval compositions, it appears that there was no such person as Robert, bishop of London, the first witness to this charter, in the reign of Henry II.; and it further appears, that on an examination of the papers of the ingenious fabricator after his death, a few years ago, the original charter was found amongst them, containing several erasures, made evidently with the design of giving to the fraud an air of plausibility. These circumstances were doubtless unknown to Dr. Adam Clarke, and, in the absence of that knowledge, the charter obtained in his estimation a character for authenticity, to which it was not entitled."'*
The fabrication of false charters and acts, which has been charged, if not proved, against the monks of the eleventh century, early directed the attention of diplomatists to the characteristics by which they might be detected. Yet, the importance of charters alone, as authenticating history, may, perhaps, have been exaggerated : that a false charter sometimes contains a true fact, and that a genuine charter may contain a false fact, are observations of Bollandian, quoted by Mabillon,t who adds as a commentary, that the writers of charters often fail in their historical recollections, while forgers are more accurate in their statements. I The case of the charter of Henry the Second, just mentioned, is, however, an exception, and justifies the precautions recommended by Dr. Hickes. The diplomatic doctrine of dates, considered among the tests of the authenticity of writings, and as a means of separating the spurious from the genuine, has been disposed in a series of general and particular rules, deduced from the extensive researches and
Ibid., p. 184; and p. 185, note *. + “ Falsa charta continet veram aliquando expositionem, vera falsam. (Tom. II., p. 331.)”—De Re Dipl., Tom. I., p. 231.
“ Fit enim sæpe ut chartarum conditores in commemoranda vetere historia hallucinentur: contra vero falsarii rem accuratius enarrent.-Ibid.
unrivalled experience of the Benedictine authors of the Noureau Diplomatique, which must be consulted when the date alone is insufficient to determine the question.
Rules of General dates, in diplomatic language, are such as, without dates.
specifying the year, announce only the reign of a
2. Though the Roman laws disapproved of public acts, in which the day and consulate were not inserted, the requisition of this formality in ages when those laws were no longer obligatory, would have produced great inconvenience.
3. General and remarkable dates afford no reason for suspicion by either their generality or singularity.
4. The omission of one or more dates, as the place, day, month, or year, should not excite a suspicion of those diplomas, in which the deficiency appears.
5. Dates are not to be required in charters, though the latter contain historical notices.
6. Chronological indications, occurring singly and separately, give no reason for even a suspicion, on the solidity of which reliance can be placed.
7. A charter would be convicted as spurious by a singular date, if it were morally impossible it could have been employed, or if dates at that time were inviolably uniform.
8. Dates, of which the formulæ bear no analogy to those which are observed in the age in which the charter containing them was granted, render it very suspicious, particularly if those dates are consonant with a posterior age.
9. From the erroneous dates of copies no conclusion can be formed against the authenticity of charters.
10. An error in the date of originals is not a sufficient reason to regard them with suspicion.*
11. The authenticity of a charter is not affected by the date Regnante Christo.
12. Dates of the reigns of French kings often differ among themselves.
13. To deem a charter false because the date does not quadrate with the true epoch of the reign, is a judgment founded on an illusory rule.
14. A legitimate ground for suspicion may be found in differences in the reigns of the emperors and kings, when it shall be established that their regnal years were computed from a single epoch.
15. The regnal years of the emperors and kings can seldom be reconciled but by accounting as the first year of the reign that in which it began, so that the opening of the civil year make the commencement of the second
of the reign.
16. To reconcile the dates of reigns, it is necessary to consider whether an ancient writer be speaking of a year commenced but unfinished, or of a year complete and elapsed.
17. The strongest arguments against the authenticity of a charter, deduced from differences in regnal dates, generally form a slight probability, or none at all.
18. Great reliance is not to be placed upon erroneous dates, whether of the incarnation, the indiction, or the reign, if the errors are only of one or two years, according to our manner of computation.
19. It is not to be laid down as a principle, that there have been many false charters, of which the chronological
* See Mabillon, de Re Dipl., p. 221. Les Euvres de M. Cochin, Tom. VI., p. 262, 263. Défense des Droits de l'Abbey de St. Ouen, p. 173. Note of the Benedictines.
notes are true ; it is sufficient to say that they are found in charters of this kind.
20. If transcripts, and particularly printed copies are under consideration, there are many genuine diplomas, of which the chronological indications are inaccurate; if originals, we must not advance that there have been many, but some only.
21. Additions of dates, whether true or false, particularly when they are of posterior usage, and made either in copies or originals, ought not to degrade such compositions to the rank of false or spurious charters.
22. A charter is not to be regarded as spurious, because the date is mentioned differently by two authors.
23. A date in Arabian ciphers, in printed copies, though Roman numerals only were used when the instrument in which they are found was composed, cannot prejudice it, unless the conformity of the copy with the original be indubitable.*
24. Charters are not to be rejected on account of the unknown dates of remote age.
25. Deeds of the same time and place are not to be regarded as false, when their dates are different.
26. It is common to find slight differences in the most ancient monuments. This principle may be adopted as a rule, notwithstanding the conflicting opinion of the père Gernon, who concludes that slight errors in dates proceed
• Dr. Wallis is of opinion that Arabian characters must have been used in England as long ago as 1050, if not in ordinary affairs, at least in mathematical computations, and astronomical tables. He mentions an inscription on a chimney in the parsonage house of Helendon, in Northamptonshire, where the date is expressed by Mo. 133, instead of 1133; and Mr. Luff'kin furnishes a still earlier instance of their employment, in the window of a house, part of which is a Roman wall, near the market-place in Colchester, where between two carved lions, stands an escutcheon with the figures 1090. The only instance of the use of Arabian ciphers, with which I have met in our early records, occurs in 1283:
“ Johe's le Marescall’ r. s. gum f. et fac, serv. mil." -Palgrave's Parl. Writs, Vol. I., p. 232.