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An Index to Wills Proved in the Court of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and to Such of the Records and Other Instruments and Papers of That Court

An Index to Wills Proved in the Court of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and to Such of the Records and Other Instruments and Papers of That Court

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Excerpt from An Index to Wills Proved in the Court of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and to Such of the Records and Other Instruments and Papers of That Court: As Relate to Matters or Causes Testamentary

The following Index has been made in obedience to the Act of Parliament, 23 and 24 Victoria, chapter 91, which relieved the University of Oxford from the necessity of surrendering possession of the documents to which the Index relates and transmitting them to the Registry of the Queen's Court of Probate.

Until the 12th of January 1858, when that Court was established, the University possessed the right of having Wills proved, Letters of Administration granted, and all questions arising in Testamentary Causes determined, in its own Court.

The origin of the power thus vested in the Chancellor of the University, like the origin of the University itself, is lost in obscure antiquity. The most reasonable supposition appears to be, that, being part of the Chancellor's spiritual jurisdiction, it was at first derived, with the rest of that jurisdiction, from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Diocesan of the University, and was conferred by him virtually, if not expressly, when he confirmed the election of each successive Chancellor, and admitted him to his office. Long usage, supported by papal and royal grants, seems to have given the Chancellor a prescriptive right to this jurisdiction long before the University was freed from the necessity of sending him to the Bishop for confirmation; and from the year 1368, when Pope Urban V granted that exemption-, the Chancellor entered on his office as soon as he was elected to it, and at once took in his own right and independently all kinds of jurisdiction which his predecessors had any way enjoyed before. At any rate it is observable, that the Bishops of Lincoln and Archdeacons of Oxford who at any time called in question the spiritual power of the Chancellor seem never to have denied him all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but only to have disputed its extent.

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