Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

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Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (baptised 21 March 1714 – 18 April 1794) was an English lawyer, judge and Whig politician who was first to hold the title of Earl of Camden. As a lawyer and judge he was a leading proponent of civil liberties, championing the rights of the jury, and limiting the powers of the State in leading cases such as Entick v Carrington. He was the son of John Pratt.


Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden
  • A good corroborating chain, if they fail in the last link, the whole will fall to the ground.
    • Wilkes v. Wood (1763), Lofft. 12.
  • Gentlemen, I speak for myself as well as for you: I never read anything about what may come before me in a Court of Justice; I keep my mind free from everything of the kind. There is often a necessity for me to look into the law: but I never suffer my mind to be biassed by reports, or such papers or pamphlets as are written with a view to pervert justice.
    • Wilkes' Case (1763), 19 How. St. Tr. 1410.
  • The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances, where it has not been taken away or abridged by some public law for the good of the whole. The cases where this right of property is set aside by private law, are various. Distresses, executions, forfeitures, taxes etc are all of this description; wherein every man by common consent gives up that right, for the sake of justice and the general good. By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass. No man can set his foot upon my ground without my license, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing; which is proved by every declaration in trespass, where the defendant is called upon to answer for bruising the grass and even treading upon the soil. If he admits the fact, he is bound to show by way of justification, that some positive law has empowered or excused him. The justification is submitted to the judges, who are to look into the books; and if such a justification can be maintained by the text of the statute law, or by the principles of common law. If no excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.
    • Entick v. Carrington. 19 Howell’s State Trials 1029 (1765). Constitution Society. Retrieved on 2008-11-13.
  • Taxation and representation are inseparable... whatever is a man's own, is absolutely his own; no man has a right to take it from him without his consent, either expressed by himself or representative; whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury; whoever does it, commits a robbery; he throws down and destroys the distinction between liberty and slavery.
    • Speech in the House of Lords, on the taxation of Americans by the British parliament, 7 March 1766; as reported in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1990), 2nd edn., p. 60.

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