Brief history of the Duchy of Cornwall
The official version of duchy history
Previous official versions of duchy history
Analysis of latest ducal claims
Suppression of Cornish identity
Duchy of Cornwall latest

The foreshoe dispute ended with a handwritten judgement sent to both governments. Dated June 10th 1857, and entitled, Original Award of Sir John Patteson, the documents main heading is as follows:

To the Right Honourable Robert Monsey Baron Cranworth Lord High Chancellor of England
--------------- and ----------------
The Right Honourable Thomas Pemberton Leigh Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall

The subsequent July 1st 1858 Articles of Agreement gave rise to the Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858. It terms of sovereignty; the Act confirmed that jurisdiction over Cornwall was shared between the government of the Duchy of Cornwall and the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland:

1. All mines and minerals lying under the seashore between high and low water marks within the said County of Cornwall, and under estuaries and tidal rivers and other places below high water mark, are vested in His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall in right of the Duchy of Cornwall as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Duchy.

2. All mines and minerals lying below low-water mark under the open sea, adjacent to but not being part of the County of Cornwall, are vested in Her Majesty the Queen in right of her Crown as part of the Soil and territorial Possessions of the Crown
Part reading: Cornwall Submarine Mines Act 1858 [statute in force]

The phrase ‘within the County of Cornwall’ denotes that the duchy’s soil and territorial possessions are de-limited to, and co-extensive with, the administrative area of Cornwall. Apart from the assessionable manors, duchy property can be brought and sold by the duchy as fee simple commercial real estate. However, as demonstrated by the Westminster government through the Treasury Solicitors application of bona vacantia, the Duke of Cornwall in right of his Duchy of Cornwall is the presumptive, absolute and ultimate owner of all the soil and territorial possessions of Cornwall. Therefore, the ‘owners’ of land and property in Cornwall hold their possessions not from the UK Government, but from the Duchy Government.(16)

After the foreshore dispute was resolved, many other Acts of Parliament were rushed into law to take account of the legal and constitutional situation that had been declared by Parliament in 1337 and re-affirmed by the arbitration ruling. These Acts were designed to allow the Prince of Wales, in his more powerful capacity as Cornwall's Head of State, to perform that role on an equal footing with the other Head of State whose rights were already enshrined in legislation.

All the provisions of the said Act of the ninth year of King George the third now applicable to Her Majesty, her Heirs and Successors, shall be extended and be applicable to the Duke of Cornwall, in like manner as if the same were re-enacted and the Duke of Cornwall were throughout mentioned or referred to where the “Kings Majesty” or “His Majesty” is in the said Act mentioned. Section I, Duchy of Cornwall Act 1860 [23 July]

In 1973 the Westminster government’s own constitutional experts recommended that, when describing Cornwall, the designation ‘Duchy of Cornwall’ should be used. In the Royal Commission’s own words: The creation of the Duchy of Cornwall… …established a special and enduring relationship between Cornwall and the Crown. Use of the designation on all appropriate occasions would serve to recognise both this special relationship and the territorial integrity of Cornwall.(17)

In the 1980’s, calls were made for Cornwall to have its own European Parliament voting constituency. In 1988, the Government’s Boundary Commission held a two-day public enquiry into the matter. When the results of that enquiry were published, Assistant Commissioner, G.D.Flather QC, recorded that he could only find Cornwall’s: de facto, if not de jure, joinder with England.(18)

The Tamar Bridge Act 1998 states that the laws of England and Wales do not necessarily apply to the Duchy of Cornwall: - Section 41. Nothing in this Act affects prejudicially any estate, right, power, privilege, authority of exemption of the Crown, including [without prejudice to the general law concerning the applicability of statutes to the Duchy of Cornwall] the Duchy of Cornwall and in particular nothing in this Act authorises the Authorities to take use, enter upon or in any manner interfere with any land or herediments or any rights of whatever description

On 4th January 2005 the office of The Crown Estate wrote: The Crown Estate has no holdings within the boundaries of Cornwall. Foreshore and other property that would in most counties be the property of The Crown Estate are, in Cornwall, not owned by The Crown Estate. The analogous owner in Cornwall is the Duchy of Cornwall.(19)

To bring matters up to date, in March of 2007 the UK Government ‘Treasury Solicitors’ legal department stated: The Duchy of Cornwall comprises the County of Cornwall.(20)

Referring back to the 1828 Rowe v Brenton Trial at Bar; during the case the defence, which consisted of the Attorney General for England, the Solicitor General for England and the Attorney General of the Duchy of Cornwall, stated: by the terms of the 1337 Duchy Charter: the King has no power to alter the disposition of it, the Prince of Wales has no power to alter, by the slightest degree, the disposition of it. Whatever was the nature and condition of this property, at the time the grant was made, that property must at this day continue, as so far as title and interest are concerned, in the same situation as it stood at that period.(21)

Yet in 2008 the Duke of Cornwall’s website, which has a section entitled The History of the Duchy, makes no mention of the above facts, judicial declarations, arbitration evidence, Letters Patent or acts of parliament. Instead, without any reference material to support the claim, the duchy reverses its previous stance. Now Prince Charles says his duchy is merely a 'private estate' created solely for the purpose of providing an income for the heir to the throne.

For an insight into the duke’s reasons for manipulating history, see Our Future is History. [2002] and Scat t’Larrups.[2008]

1. Foreshore case, Shaw & Sons 1858. Preliminary Statement by Duchy of Cornwall p.8
2. Charter Roll 9th July 16 Edw.III. No.4 [by writ of Privy Seal].
3. Acts of the Council of the Black Prince 18th August 1354
4. Acts of the Council of the Black Prince 16th July 1351
5. Parl.Rot.vol.4.p.140; Parl.Rot.vol.5.p.553; Mem.Scacc.Rot.16. See p.7, Scat t’Larrups? 2008.
6. Google: Records of the House of Commons: Library: Manuscripts Collection: HC/LB/1/4 7. 'A discourse or relation both of the Ancient and Moderne Estate of the Principalitie of Wales, Duchie of Cornewall and Earldome of Chester, penned and collected by Mr Serjant Doddridge oute of Recordes of the Tower of London and by him presented to the Kings Majestie at Hampton Courte in January anno Domini 1603'. The first published edition of this work appeared in 1630.
8. 11 Jan 1606: 8 Co Rep 1A; 77 ER 481; [1606] EWHC Ch J6.
9. See www.lawindexpro case law database. Also see for example p.209 of Constitutional and Administrative Law by Hilaire Barnett 1995 [Barnett, Taylor and Francis Group]. The case was also quoted in the full legal opinion of Michael Shrimpton for the recent ‘Metric Martyrs’ case. See also Para.112 of Jackson-Jackson & Others v HM Attorney General [House of Lords] 13 Oct 2005.
11. Foreshore dispute. Observations of behalf of the Crown by way of reply to the statement ….of the Duchy of Cornwall. Printed by Eyre & Spottiswoode for HMSO February 1856. Item 6 of Duchy item by item response.
12. Foreshore dispute. Observations of behalf of HRH the Duke of Cornwall on the further documents brought forward by the Officers of the Crown. Part 1, p.16. April 1857.
13. Foreshore dispute. Preliminary Statement by the Duchy of Cornwall. May 1856 p.10.
14. Foreshore dispute. Preliminary Statement by the Duchy of Cornwall. May 1856 p.9.
15. See website of the High Sheriff’s Association
16. For a full explanation of Land Law issues in Cornwall, see Chapter 1, Scat t’Larrups? 2008.
17. Royal Commission on the Constitution 1969 - 1973, Volume I, Report (Cmnd 5460)
18. The Report by Assistant Commissioner G.D.Flather QC upon the Local Enquiry held by him on 12th and 13th July at Bodmin, Cornwall into the proposed Cornwall and Plymouth, Devon European Parliamentary Constituency 1988.
19. Letter to Colin Murley, Cornish Stannary Parliament.
20. Treasury Solicitors form BV C1 Version 2. Section 11: Jurisdiction (Part v).


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