Button v Wrightman

Reference: Button v Wrightman (1594) Poph 56

Also known as:
  • Button v Wightman
Also referenced as:
  • Cro. Eliz. 338

Court of Queen’s Bench ↗
Michaelmas Term, 1594

Before (the judges sitting on the bench)

The parties to the case

  • Mr John Button (the Plaintiff)
  • Mrs Etheldred Wrightman widow, and others (the Defendants)

Summary of the facts

In an ejectione firmæ [a writ of ejectment], between John Button plaintiff, and Etheldred Wrightman widow, and other defendants; for an house and certain lands in Harrow.  The case upon a special verdict was this; the Dean and Chapter of Christ’s-Church in Oxford were incorporated by King H. 8. by his letters patents, dated 4th November 38 H. 8. by the name of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ, &c. Oxford, of the foundation of King Henry the 8th and so to be called for ever; after which the said dean and chapter was seised in their demesne as of fee, of the said house and land, and so being seised by the name of the Dean and Chapter Ecclesiæ Cathedralis Christi in Accademia Oxon. ex fundatione Reg. H. 8. enfeoffed Edward, late Lord North thereof, by their deed, bearing date the 21st day of April, 1 E. 6. who afterwards died, and the now Lord North entred, and did let it to the plaintiff, who was ousted by the defendant, claiming the said house by a lease made by the said dean and chapter in the time of queen Elizabeth, for divers years yet to come, and whether his entry were lawful, or not, was the question, and all depends upon the mis-naming of the corporation: but it was found that the City of Oxford, and the University of Oxford were all one, and that the town of Oxford was made a city by the charter of King H. 8.


By Mr Justice Fenner —

The feoffment made to Edward Lord North, for the mis-naming of the corporation, was void, for that Accademia & villa de Oxford, are divers in name, and divers in nature, for the university is to the scholars and learned men there, and the town for the inhabitants, and the name of a place is a principal thing in a corporation, which in a new corporation ought to be precise, according to the very letter of the charter thereof: and therefore in the case of Chester it was agreed, that Cestria being omitted, the charter for the dean and chapter there had been void.

But by Chief Justice Popham, Mr Justice Clench, and Mr Justice Gawdy —

This is not such a mis-naming as to the place which shall make the feoffment void: for suppose it had been Decanus & Capitalis Ecclesia Cathedralis Christi in Civitate Oxon., it had been good, for Oxon. & Civitas Oxon. are one and the same.  So it is if an hospital to be erected by the name of the Hospital of S. Johns in S. Clements: and they make a grant by the name of the Hospital of S. Johns in the parish of S. Clements, it is good, for it appeareth to be the same: and here if a man will say, that it shall go to the University of Oxford, this every one conceives to be the town of Oxford, and so of Cambridge, and therefore in 8 H. 6. it was agreed to be a good addition for the place in an action personal, against such an one Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and so it is against J. Rector of the Parish Church of Dale, without any other addition for the place, yet the statute is, that it ought to be named of what town, hamlet, or place the party is.

And by Chief Justice Popham —

The place in a corporation may well he resembled to the sur-name of a man, and as a grant made by any persons Christian name, as John, Thomas, &. is not good, so in a corporation it is not good to say, dean and chapter, mayor and commonalty, and the like, without saying, of what place: and anciently men took most commonly their sur-names from their places of habitation, especially men of estate, and artizans often took their names from their arts, but yet the law is not so precise in the case of sur-names, and therefore a grant made by, or to John, son and heir of I.C. or filio juniori I.S. is good: but for the Christian name, this always ought to be perfect.

So in the case of a corporation, it sufficeth to have a sufficient demonstration of the place where the corporation is, albeit it be not by the precise words comprised in the charter: as in naming Accademia Oxon. pro Villa Ox. and it is common, of which I have seen divers charters, where a town was incorporated by the name of mayor, and commonalty of such a town, as Bristol, Exeter, and others, which afterwards have been made cities, and yet charters made to them, and grants made by them, by the name of mayor and commonalty of the city is good, but more preciseness is used in the body of the name of a corporation before the place to which they are annexed, and yet in them, that which is but an ornament to the name comprehended in the charter, shall not hurt the grant, as of Chapiter of S. George of Windsor, if it be of S. George the Martyr, and the like, the grant by such a name is good, because the martyr is but an addition of ornament to the name comprised in the charter, and it is no other but the same in re vera ↗. So here, if it had been Domini nostri Jesu Christi, because it is the same, and is but an ornament to the word Christ comprised in the charter, and so should it be also if it had been Christi filii Dei Salvatoris nostri, because it is but a true addition to the same; whereupon judgment was given for the plaintiff, as appeareth in the King’s Bench, Pasch. 35 Eliz. Rot. 258.

To erect an hospital by the name of an hospital, in the county of S. or in the bishoprick of B. and the like, is not good, because he is bound to a place too large, and uncertain: but a college erected in Accademia Cantabrig. or Oxon., is good, and some are so founded because it tends but to a particular place, as a city, town, &c.

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Orders of the court

Judgment was given for the plaintiff, and the defendant immediately brought a writ of error.