Quick Links
-Search Website
-Have A Question?
-Wallace News
-About This Site

Misinformation Alert!
Wallace Bio & Accomplishments
Wallace Chronology
Frequently Asked Questions
Wallace Quotes
Wallace Archives
Miscellaneous Facts

Bibliography / Texts
Wallace Writings Bibliography
Texts of Wallace Writings
Texts of Wallace Interviews
Wallace Writings: Names Index
Wallace Writings: Subject Index
Writings on Wallace
Wallace Obituaries
Wallace's Most Cited Works

Taxonomic / Systematic Works
Wallace on Conservation
Smith on Wallace
Research Threads
Wallace Images
Just for Fun
Frequently Cited Colleagues
Wallace-Related Maps & Figures

Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Illegal Enclosure of Roadside Strips (S373b: 1884)

Editor Charles H. Smith’s Note: A letter to the Editor printed on page three of The West Surrey Times and Guildford Gazette (Guildford) issue of 20 December 1884. Related to S370ab, S371a, S373c, and S373d. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S373B.htm

To the Editor of the "West Surrey Times."

     Sir,--Your readers will have seen, by your report of the proceedings of the last meeting of the Godalming Highway Board, that I have again brought up the question of the illegal enclosure of a portion of the public highway, and have sent to the Board a copy of a judicial decision which clearly defines the law and the public rights. As it is of the utmost importance that people should know what the law is I ask your permission to give it here. In the case of "The Queen v. The United Kingdom Telegraph Company," the defendants being indicted for encroachment, Baron Martin laid down the law in the following terms: "In the case of an ordinary and varying highway, although it may be of unequal width, running between fences, one on each side, the right of passage on each way, prima facie, and unless evidence to the contrary, extends to the whole space between the fences--the public are entitled to the use of the entire of it as the highway, and are not confined to the part which may be metalled and kept in order for the more convenient use of carriages or foot passengers."

     The ruling was appealed against, but was confirmed by the Court of Appeal, consisting of three judges, viz.: C. J. Cockburn, Crampton, and J. J. Blackburn; and it is therefore, beyond dispute, the law of the land. It is, moreover, expressed in the plainest language, and applies exactly and minutely to the case of hundreds of our old broad country roads, the great strips on each side of which have been and are yearly being enclosed by the adjacent landlords, and therefore stolen from the public.

     Yet the Chairman of the Godalming Highway Board, with this authoritative statement of the law before him (which, having been some time in possession of the legal adviser of the Board, with full references to the law books in which it is reported, may be taken as correctly quoted) coolly proposed that the same answer as before should be sent me-- "That no encroachment had been made on the property of the Board!" This means either one of two things--that the Court of Appeal was wrong as to the law, and that the Godalming Highway Board (or its chairman) is determined to set it right; or, that the Board is determined to abdicate one of its most important duties, and allow a valuable portion of the public property, of which it is the trustee and guardian, to be stolen with impunity. And if this is allowed now, it becomes an invitation to all landlords in the district to enclose and appropriate all similar public lands.

     I cannot, however, believe that in this matter the majority of the Board will adopt the advice of their chairman, or consent to neglect their plain duty for fear of having to enforce their right by legal proceedings. What, I would ask, is the use of Judges and Courts of Appeal if their clearest decisions are to be quietly ignored? And what is the use of having elected Boards to preserve and protect our public highways, if, when portions of these highways are illegally enclosed, they are afraid to take the necessary steps to recover the public property?

     I am, sir, yours faithfully,

Alfred R. Wallace.
Godalming, Dec. 15th, 1884.

*                 *                 *                 *                 *

Return to Home