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Government of Royal Boroughs in Scotland.
BY a royal borough is in Scotland understood, an incorporation that hold their lands of the crown, and are governed by magistrates of their own naming. The administration of the annual revenues of a royal borough, termed the common good, is trusted to the magistrates; but not without control. It was originally subjected to the review of the Great Chamberlain; and accordingly the chap. 39. § 45. of the Iter Camerarii, contains the following articles, recommended to the Chamberlain, to be enquired into. "GifF there be an good assedation and "uptaking of the common good of the "burgh, and giff faithful compt. be ** made thereof to the community of the "Burgh; and giff no compt is made, he whom and in quhaes hands it is come, "and how it passes by the community." In pursuance of these instructions, the ... .- Chamberlain's Chamberlain's precept for holding the ayr, or circuit, is directed to the provost and bailies, enjoining them, " to call all "those who have received any of the *' town's revenues, or used any office "within the burgh, since the last cham"berlain-ayr, to answer such things as "shall be laid to their charge." Iter Comer, cap. i. And in the third chapter, which contains the forms of the chamberlain-ayr, the first thing to be done after fencing the court, is, to call the bailies' and serjeants to be challenged and accused from the time of the last ayr; er ~v-" * This office, dangerous by excess . of power, being suppressed, the royal boroughs were left in" a state of anarchy. There being now no check or control, the magistracy was coveted by noblemen and gentlemen in the neighbourhood; who, under the name of office-bearers, laid their hands on the revenues of the borough, and converted all to their own profit. This corruption was heavily complained of in the reign of James V".; and a remedy was provided by act 26. parL 1535, enacting, ist,:That none be qualified to be provost, bailie, or alderman, 'but but an indwelling burgess. 2dly, " That "no inhabitant purchase lordship out of "burgh, to the terror of his comburgess"es. And, 3dly, That all provosts, bai"lies, and aldermen of boroughs, bring "yearly to the chequer at a day certain, "the compt-books of their common"good, to be seen and considered by the "Lords Auditors, giff the fame be spend"ed for the common well of the burgh, "or not, under the penalty of losing their *' freedom. And that the saids provosts, "bailie's, and aldermen, warn yearly, "fifteen days before their coming to the "chequer, all those who are willing to "come for examining the said accounts, "that they may impugn the fame, in or"der that all murmur may cease in that "behalf." And to enforce these regulations, a brieve was issued from the chancery, commanding the magistrates to present their accounts to the exchequer, and summoning the burgesses to appear and object to the fame.
A defect in this statute made it less effectual than it was intended to be. Magistrates, to avoid the penalty, brought the count-books of their common good
to to the exchequer; but they brought no rental of the common good to found a charge against them. This defect was remedied by act 28. pad. 1693, containing the following preamble. "That the royal "boroughs, by the maleadministration "of their magistrates, have fallen under "great debts and burdens, to the dimu"nition of their dignity, and the dis"abling of them to serve the crown and *' government as they ought; and that "the care, oversight, and control of the "common good of boroughs, belong to "their Majesties by virtue of their prero"gative-royal; therefore, for preventing "the like abuses and misapplications in "all time thereafter, their Majesties sta** tute and ordain, That every burgh-royal "shall, betwixt and the first of November "next, bring to the Lords of Treasury "and Exchequer, an exact account of "charge and discharge, subscribed by "the magistrates and town-clerk, of their "whole public-good and revenues, and "of the whole debts and incumbrances "that affect the fame." This completed the remedy, by putting means into the hands of the Barons of Exchequer, to
The foregoing regulations are kept in observance. Every year a precept issues from the exchequer, signed by one of the Barons, addressed to the director of the chancery, requiring him to make out a brieve for every royal borough. The brieve is accordingly made out, returned to the exchequer, and sent to the several sheriffs, to be served in all the royal boroughs within their bounds, as directed by the statute. These brkves are accordingly so served by the sheriffs; and particularly it is a constant form in most of the royal boroughs, to issue a proclamation, fifteen days before the day named for appearance in exchequer, warning the inhabitants to repair there, in order to object to the public accounts of the town: and further, in order to give them opportunity to frame objections, the book and counts are laid open for these fifteen days, to be inspected by all the inhabitants.
We learn from the records of exchequer, that from the year 1660 to the year 1683, accounts were regularly given in