Cornwall England,Cornish politics,Cornwall tourist information,Cornwall County Council,Celtic Studies,Duchy of Cornwall,Duke of Cornwall,Prince Charles,Prince of Wales,cornwallgb

Cornwall England,Cornish politics,Cornwall tourist information,Cornwall County Council,Celtic Studies,Duchy of Cornwall,Duke of Cornwall,Prince Charles,Prince of Wales,cornwallgb



Cornwall England,Cornish politics,Cornwall tourist information,Cornwall County Council,Celtic Studies,Duchy of Cornwall,Duke of Cornwall,Prince Charles,Prince of Wales,cornwallgb



The following is a synopsis
on the Duchy of Cornwall



This is your page for Cornish events,
observations, comments, ideas
 Taumas Colliver

Dennis James

 Howard Curnow
  -excerpt from Tyr-Gwyr-Gweryn website...

 Jim Pengelly writes:


Facts about The Duchy of Cornwall


There is an obvious contradiction between what is
officially presented, and publicly perceived, as
"the Duchy of Cornwall" and what the Officers
of the Duchy of Cornwall submitted as conclusive
evidence to support the Duke's right to the
ownership of the foreshore, around Cornwall,
between high and low water mark back in
1856-57. This was in a case of private arbitration
between the Crown and the Duchy where the
Duchy successfully showed title to 'the soil of
Some of these 'official' views are given in the
650th Anniversary publication "The Duchy of
Cornwall"(1987) where we see such incredible
statements as :
" To confuse matters even more, the Duke owns
more land outside Cornwall than he owns in the
county. His Duchy is not the county and the
county is not the Duchy....... the largest part of
the Duchy that the visitor is ever likely to see is
the beach upon which he disports himself. The
Duchy owns less than three per cent of Cornish
land, only twelve per cent of its total land
holding."[Crispin Gill, Editor, Introduction p.14]
and :
" Many people confuse the Duchy with county,
but the two had, and have, different identities; only
about seventeen per cent of the land surface of the
county has ever belonged to the Duchy."
[Graham Haslam, Archivist 1987
Chapter 1, p.24] who also says on page 21 :
" On a spring day in 1337 Edward III created the
first English duchy. It was accomplished with all
the solemnity and dignity which could be
mustered; the King proclaimed the charter before
the nobility and commonality assembled in open
Parliament making his son and heir, Edward of
Woodstock, Duke of Cornwall. The origins of the
Duchy are not, as are so many other important
English institutions, obscured by the mists of time.
It did not grow, develop or evolve from modest
arcane features. On 16th March 1337 it did not
exist; on 17th March it did."
The Royal Duchy of Cornwall did evolve, in fact,
by augmenting the existing Cornish Earldom and
this was at a date prior to the 16th March 1337.
The First Duchy Charter, inappropriately called
'the Charter of Creation', dated 17th March 1337,
does, in fact, refer to the Duchy as having already
been created - as does a Patent creating the new
Earl of Salisbury dated 16th March 1337 - and
even states when : "..being in our present
Parliament, convened at Westminster, on Monday
next after the feast of St. Matthias the Apostle last
past, ...." The Officers of the Duchy, during the
arbitration over the foreshore, estimated this to
be: "The particular time of this investiture, that is
to say, that it preceded the 1st Duchy Charter, and
was on some day between the 24th of February,
the Feast of St. Mathias, and the 16th of March, is
demonstrated by the patent of creation of the Earl
of Salisbury, who, with others, was at that time
created Earl in honour of the Prince, as stated by
Lord Coke."
The original Act of creation is no longer in
existence but has been referred to extensively in
later Acts of Parliament. The following extract,
from these references, is very significant, "...that
the County of Cornwall should always remain as a
Duchy to the eldest sons of the Kings of
England... without being given elsewhere". The
Officers of the Duchy reinforced this point with
the following item - "Now in a Charter granted to
the first Duke by the King who created the Duchy,
we find part of the preamble as follows :-
"Considerantes itaque qualiter Comitatus
Cornubiæ jam Ducatus Cornubiæ nuncupatus
magnam a jam diu suorum jurium sustinuit
sectionem et desiderantes ipsum Ducatum
redintegrare et ejus jura recolligere sic dispersa."
There are two conclusions to be drawn from these
words, strongly confirmatory of what has been
previously stated ; first, that the Comitatus
Cornubiæ had a different meaning from the
expression County of Cornwall, taken as a division
of the kingdom for the purposes of civil
government ; the latter portion of the sentence
quoted, as well as the subject-matter of the Grant,
is entirely inconsistent with such a construction,
but entirely consistent with the view that the
comitatus was a great Honor or Lordship, from
which properties and rights (not in Cornwall)
previously appertaining to it had been severed.
And, secondly, which is the main point in this part
of the case, that the Ducatus Cornubiæ entirely
corresponded with what had been the Comitatus
Cornubiæ in every respect except in name."
The First Charter was only intended as an
enumeration as to what comprised the Duchy in
terms of possessions and rights for the reason it
states: ".. lest hereafter in any wise it should be
turned into doubt, what or how much the same
Duke, ........... ought to have in the name of the
Duchy aforesaid, we have caused all things in
kind, which we will to pertain to the same Duchy,
to be inserted in this our charter......."
The enumeration was deemed to be necessary
because some earlier grants of certain rights and
possessions away from the whole could be
construed as a severance from the former
Earldom and thus the simple phrase of "Earldom
now a Duchy" was not considered sufficient in
itself to prevent the existence of any 'doubt'.
Hence the purpose of the enumeration was to
reaffirm and bring all things back together again
under the honor of the Duchy.
It should be noted that the first item to be
enumerated in the first Duchy Charter was, in
fact, the "vicecomitatus" of Cornwall "with the
appurtenances" and the right, according to
custom, of appointing the Sheriff of Cornwall.
This can only be construed as confirming the
grant of both the territory and Government of
Cornwall to the Duke. In both the Duchy and the
former Earldom the Sheriff was the officer of the
Earl or Duke and not the officer of the King as is
the case elsewhere. The next enumerations
identified the rights, revenues and possessions
within Cornwall followed by those things which
were located outside Cornwall and yet still part of
this territorial honor.
All things enumerated were inextricably linked to
the honor known as the Duchy of Cornwall with
the words: "...we do by this our present charter,
for us and our heirs, annex and unite to the
aforesaid Duchy, to remain to the same for ever,
So that from the same Duchy they may at no time
be in anywise separated..." The reason for this
limiting clause was in order to protect the Duchy
from future predatory monarchs. How about
predatory parliaments?
There are those who have argued that because
items 'were enumerated' that only those items
specifically mentioned actually passed to the
Dukes. This was more than adequately shown, by
the Officers of the Duchy not to be the case! The
Duchy Rights to the Foreshore being a clear
example of the fallacy of such a superficial view
and one which - together with the first item
enumerated - is also immediately at odds with the
bizarre views expressed in 'the anniversary'
publication regarding how much land was ever a
part of the Duchy! How can the British (alias
English) Government, and others, say that the
Duchy is only a landed estate and has nothing to
do with what they, and their puppets,
ignominiously refer to as 'the county'? Perhaps
the Duchy, and the Crown, Establishments could
be invited to make a public statement about this
and other matters within this site?
The 2nd and 3rd Duchy Charters had the effect of
transferring away from the Crown all Crown
rights and fees in Cornwall which, for what ever
reason, had not been parcel of the former
Earldom, except those classified under Royal
Jurisdiction (treason, ecclesiastical patronage etc.),
and which clearly illustrates the full extent, and
intent, of the Honor known as 'The Duchy of
Cornwall'. The Officers of the Duchy, in 1856, had
no hesitation in stating that the Duke was
"quasi-sovereign within his Duchy". A Duchy
which they so adequately revealed was the whole
territory of Cornwall. Contrary to the official
propaganda, and high level lies from those who
still dominate us, the Duchy is 'Cornwall' as
shown and not merely the private estates of the
The reasons for the creation of the Honor of
Duchy of Cornwall were given, inter alia, as:
"the restoration of old ones", viz. the Honor (of
Cornwall) "over which a while ago Dukes for a
long time successively presided as chief rulers"
.....and, "desiring that places of note of the same
kingdom should be adorned with their pristine
honors". Another reason given being that "...
lands subjected to our dominion, may be more
securely and fitly defended against the attempts of
enemies and adversaries......" It must be noted
that the king was not referring to the time when
Cornwall had its most powerful Earls, Richard
and Edmund, but referred to the time prior to the
subjugation of Cornwall by Athelstan.
The Officers of the Duchy were able to bring to
the arguments many extant documents which
clearly indicate that the focus of the grant was not
merely a collection of estates but was a territorial
grant as is obvious from the following extract
from their evidence: "About 60 years after the
creation of the Duchy, we find in the Charter of
1st Henry IV. to Prince Henry, the eldest Son of
that King, as follows : "We have made and created
Henry our most dear first-begotten Son, Prince of
Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester, and
have given and granted, and by our Charter have
confirmed to him the said Principality, Duchy, and
Earldom, that he may preside there, and by
presiding, may direct and defend the said parts.
We have invested him with the said Principality,
Duchy, and Earldom, per sertum in capite et
annulum in digito aureum ac virgam auream juxta
A further point of constitutional interest and
importance, already mentioned under 'Cornish
Milestones' is the legal fact that Cornwall was
considered as distinct from England and the
Crown. It is sad indeed that a Cornish historical
perspective is wilfully denied by Anglocentric
retrospective superficiality. Likewise, to call the
creation of the Duchy of Cornwall an "English
institution" based, as it was, on contemporary
continental lines, or alternatively to reflect
Cornwall's status prior to subjugation, is arrogant
and dismissive. Are we to assume, also, that the
Principality of Wales is an "English institution".
It is an overwhelming fact of history that
Cornwall, as a British Province, whether as the
Earldom of Cornwall or the Dukedom of
Cornwall, never merged in the Crown in the
absence of an Earl or Duke but was, and is, held
'ut de honor' [Comitatus or Ducatus] 'in manu
regis existente'.
Another point worthy of mention and discussion -
and there are many! - is the statement, in the
aforesaid 'anniversary' publication, that: "
Richard's son, Edmund,succeeded to the Earldom
in 1272, but he died eight years later and the
estates according to law reverted to the Crown.."
[Graham Haslam, Archivist 1987 Chapter 1, p.23].
This is incorrect on three important points! The
first point being; that Edmund actually died in the
28th year of the reign of Edward the First (1272 -
1307) - "on the morrow of St Michael, in the 28th
year ending". This makes Edmund's death circa
1300 AD and, in truth, twenty eight years as Earl
of Cornwall. The second point being; that it was
the 'Earldom of Cornwall' - NOT "the estates" -
which passed to Edward the First. The third point
being; that whilst the territorial possession did
pass to the King "according to law" this should
not be construed as simply "reverted to the
Crown" like some homeless escheat. It passed to
the King as a true inheritance because the King
was Edmund's next heir (his cousin) - a line of
succession which prevailed up to the creation of
the Duchy. The whole of the archivist's statement
gives a clear indication of the subjectivity and
questionable treatment given to the subject!
The Duke of Cornwall in his Foreword to the
650th Anniversary publication "The Duchy of
Cornwall (1987)" states that " The Duchy is
above all else a landed estate and will continue to
be so". In my opinion the Rights of the Cornish
to be seen to be Cornish - not English! - is implicit
in the creation of the institution which gives him
his title and it is a sad day indeed, for democracy,
when a future king shows such little respect for
the Rights of his subjects. The constitutional
chicanery which has hidden from view the true
status of the Duchy of Cornwall has also wilfully
removed the institution which enshrines our
Cornish Rights, without affording any form of
compensatory political accommodation. This is a
situation which cannot be allowed to continue and
some measure of redress and accountability must
be demanded.
Considering that there was a principal focus
during the 19th Century to diminish the integrity
and impact of the Duchy of Cornwall, it does not
require much of an imagination to appreciate that
the last thing that the Crown, or Paliament,
wanted was an in-depth legal debate into what
comprised the honor known as the Duchy of
Cornwall. It is my opinion that the case of
arbitration, referred to above, was contrived by
the Crown in order to ensure a compromise which
whilst giving - because it was known to be
incontestable! - the award between high and low
water marks to the Duchy, awarded the most
beneficial portion - that of mining beyond the low
water mark - to the Crown. Had the whole matter
been decided simply upon 'legal ownership' then it
is most probable that both properties would have
been found in favour of the Dukes of Cornwall in
right of the Duchy. The value, however, to the
Cornish people was in the form and depth of the
Duchy argument.
Given that the 'official' view of the Duchy of
Cornwall seems to be built upon rather dubious
foundations and that this can be shown to have
consequences which are sinister and repugnant to
the rights of the Cornish people within their own
territory, then there is an urgent need for an
external agency to intercede on behalf of the
Cornish people! With the inexorable tendency
towards a form of British Republican State, it is
imperative, therefore, that the real truth about the
marginalisation - to use a euphemism! - of the
Cornish people is subjected to the deepest possible
academic and judicial analysis before Cornish
Rights are irrevocably swept aside by 'English'
political and constitutional change. It is indeed
ironic that the so-called 'Mother of Parliaments'
should have learnt the art of democratic debate
through the existence of the Duchy of Cornwall!!


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