HC Deb 05 March 1863 vol 169 cc1069-71

said, he rose to call attention to two Circulars addressed to the Chief Constable of the county of Hants, dated respectively, Whitehall, 27th of August, 1860, and Whitehall, 9th of January, 1861, on the subject of Treasure Trove. The first order required the police to put in force an antiquated and obsolete law, and the second order annulled the first, as not being the most convenient way of dealing with the matter, and concluded by a virtual promise that the public should receive full information as to the course the Government would pursue in regard to the question. Unfortunately, that promise had not been fulfilled. The noble Lord at the head of the Government himself did not exactly comprehend the law in. regard to Treasure Trove, for he had appropriated an ancient British relic found on one of his estates.


said, it was quite true that about two years ago some workmen, when digging a drain in a meadow on one of the farms he had bought a few years previously, found a torque, one of those ancient British ornaments of gold which were worn as necklace or bracelet. He got it back from the person who had purchased it from the man who discovered it, the value being about £8. He had an investigation made of the original grant of the farm several centuries ago, and ascertained that it conferred on the grantee all the Treasure Trove on the property. He therefore felt entitled to keep the relic in question, and his hon. Friend had, no doubt, seen it when exhibited in the South Kensington Museum.


said, it was by no means an obsolete or absurd law that when an article of gold or silver, belonging to an unknown owner, was found, it should be held to be the property of the Crown. The rights of the Crown in that respect were not, however, rigidly enforced. The articles found were usually returned to the person who was declared to have the best claim to them, or, if they were of historical or antiquarian interest, they, were deposited in the British Museum or some local collection, and their intrinsic value was paid to the finder or the person who had the best claim to the relic. What the Treasury desired was to obtain speedy information of the discovery of any treasure trove. The circular to which the hon. Baronet had alluded was issued some years ago, and was intended to instruct the finders of any treasures how to communicate with the Crown on the subject. That circular was subsequently withdrawn, because it laid claim to antiquities which were not exactly treasure trove and did not belong to the Crown, and because it directed a reference to the wrong tribunal in cases of disputes. The draught of another circular was prepared, but so many difficulties beset the subject that it was not deemed advisable to issue it. If occasion should arise for a new order, it would, of course, be made; but there appeared to be no necessity for one at present.

Back to