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HE law relating to the embankments of tidal rivers, generally called "Sewer Law," was built up gradually in one reign after another, and was founded partly on custom, partly on statute. This proved to be inconvenient, and about the year 1541 a comprehensive law was passed, which is the origin of the commissions in force to-day.

It was customary for lawyers of note to make a special study of sewer law, for it involved the safety and good government of many inhabitants, animals, and thousands of acres of grazing land in this island; and, being based upon numerous learned decisions in the superior Courts, it required much legal acumen to unravel and elucidate the various judgments.

Nearly eighty years after this Act was passed, Robert Callis, Sergeant-at-Law, and a native and Sewer Commissioner of Lincolnshire, took up the subject of the control of sea and river walls, and the management of sewers and channels for drainage. His discourses took the form of Readings or Lectures delivered at Gray's Inn. There he lucidly discussed the Statute (23 Hen. viii. cap. 5), and whilst explaining the position, he also brought much antiquarian lore before the Benchers and students, thereby gaining himself a name as a decided authority. His Readings were delivered in August 1622, but not published


until 1647; his book is now scarce, but a good copy is before me as I write.


The short, pithy, and quaint Preface runs as follows:'Amongst other decays in the Commonwealth, those of Bridges, Calceys, Havens and Ports are not of the least consideration as the gates that open and let in commerce, and the ways that convey and lead it through the kingdom; and it seemed to me to be of so publique a necessity, that I did conceive this learned piece upon the Law of Sewers would come seasonably abroad, and finde an entertainment sutable to the usefulness of it at this time, when the countrey is almost become unpassable by the late Troubles."

The learned jurist is doubtless referring to the Civil War which had then raged in England for five years, and during which, whilst men were occupied in fighting, walls, causeways, bridges, and many other things had, as he points out, fallen into lamentable decay. At all events, the discourse was justly commended as wise and valuable, and is a clear record of how matters stood at the commencement of the Commonwealth. It is also entertaining to the student as showing the use of many words little known in phraseology to-day. For he speaks of walls, banks, ditches, gutters, sewers, gotes, calcies, bridges; then of streams, mills, ponds, fishgarths, milldams, locks, hebbing-wears, hecks, floudgates, and other lets and impediments, and introduces many other quaint forms nearly lost from our language, and applied only to sewer or river use. He explains to his readers what the expressions "view and survey" mean, what are the duties of commissioners, juries, and surveyors, how presentments may be made, and how enforced. He interprets the meaning of calceys and goats, and deals particularly with the tenure of land. He tells that the Court of Sewers is both a Court of Justice and a Court of Record, because the Commissioners of Sewers are members of the ancient and renowned Court of Oyev and Terminer, which is a court of great esteem, power, and authority, so it was needless to erect a new court in this case. The powers of imprisonment, fine, and amerciament which it enjoyed were sufficient to make the court of immense importance, and led to its decrees being generally respected. Our author

*The Readings of The Famous and Learned Robert Callis, Esq., upon the Statute of 23 H., 8. Cap. 5 of Sewers: As it was delivered by him at Gray's Inn, in August. London, 1647 4to. 2nd Edition, enlarged, 1685, 4to.

says: "If one give evil language to Commissioners in Court, or disturb the peace there, or hinder the business of the Court in a turbulent fashion, he may be by them finel or committed to prison, or both, at the discretion of the Commissioners; for by 34 Hen. vi. fol. 24. in every case when a man is fined, he may be imprisoned, and by 19 Hen. vi. fol. 67. in every case where one is imprisoned he may be fined; and our law in express words gives the Commissioners power to set fines; and then by the opinion of the said books ex consequenti they may imprison."

These were stong powers to give the Commissioners, who thus acted as Justices, but it was doubtless wise and prudent, considering the great importance of their office and responsibilities. Passing on, Callis points out that it was a dnty for Commissioners" to make provision to resist the overflowing of the sea upon the large marsh grounds lying in the maritime countries, which commonly be the surest for soundness, the greatest for compass, and the best for profit of all the sheepwalks and commons of this Realm, which take prejudice and loss only by the rage of the sea." He also suggests that they should "provide also that the great fresh rivers and streams may have their passages made clear, and their walls, banks, and defences be repaired, kept and maintained, whereby the fair, delightful, pleasant and fruitful meadows and pasture grounds which lie in the greatest abundance upon or near the rivers, brooks and streams, may be preserved from the inundation of fresh waters which many times annoy them, to the great and inestimable damage of His Majesty's subjects which be owners and farmers thereof."

Navigation, then as now, was to some extent affected by the action of commissions, and Callis urges the great benefit of keeping the channels clear. He then draws the attention to the importance of bridges, calceys and ways, as noted by the statute. His book is full of information; should anyone incline to peruse it for himself he can hardly fail to be interested, and will feel he owes to Callis a great debt of gratitude for his lucid interpretation of a difficult question.

John Herne followed Callis, and gave a Reading in Lent term 1638, but he cannot approach his predecessor either in importance or authority.

Among engineers who were interested in sewer work, mention


must be made of Sir Hugh Myddleton, whose portrait is duced as a frontispiece. He was created a baronet by Ja and, in recognition of his enterprise and engineering sk customary fees were remitted. His second wife, by he had a family of ten sons and six daughters, w daughter and heiress of John Olmested, of Ingatestone, Myddleton is famous as the projector of the New River for the supply of London with water in 1613. In his days he was associated with his brother Robert in v Committees of Inquiry into matters connected with and finance. One of the first to which the brothers appointed was on the subject of a bill for explanation Statute of Sewers, which appointment testifies to the keen of the subject which those famous engineers possessed Hugh Myddleton patented an invention of his own for dr land, in 1621. He also accomplished the reclamation of a tract of land at Brading Harbour in the Isle of Wight. DAGENHAM BREACH.

Coming down to later times, we pass over many inund of less magnitude to describe a notable overflow in our c The breach which made Dagenham famous, and caused th or gulf on those levels, occurred on 17th December, 170 has left distinct evidence, visible to-day, of what happened nearly two hundred years ago.

From a manuscript kindly lent me by the late Mr. T Bird, I glean that this great misfortune was brought abo the neglect of an unqualified marsh-bailiff. It appears th the first instance, £30 or £40 if properly applied, would accomplished what subsequently entailed an immense o and necessitated a special Act of Parliament. A comp bailiff, named Thomas Elkins, had been dismissed bis of the previous year (1706). In his place, one Edward Os was preferred, who through neglect or ignorance, failed, own person, regularly to inspect the working of the and allowed it to fall out of repair. Thomas Moat, a carp of Rainham, employed by the said bailiff, by raising the s caused it to blow up. The first gap in the wall was n yards over, and so continued for fourteen or fifteen days Nicholas Garrett, a senior member of the Court, promised the Commissioners of Sewers should be summoned to Ilfor

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