This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol1 Introduction To The Study Of Law Legal History", by Albert H. Putney. Also see: Popular Law-Dictionary.
The growth of the extraordinary or equitable jurisdiction of the Chancery Courts was always viewed with jealousy by the common law judges, and at times openly resisted. No other claim made by the equity judges was so extremely distasteful to the common law judges as their attempts to interfere by injunctions in proceedings before other courts. In 22 Edward IV, Chief Justice Hussey advised the attorney for a plaintiff who had been enjoined from trying to collect his judgment, to proceed with execution regardless of such injunction, promising to release him on habeas corpus if he were committed for contempt of court. Upon this occasion the Chancery judges were compelled to give way.
During the reign of Henry VIII, a barrister was indicted in the Court of the King's Bench under the statute of praemunire for seeking such an injunction in the Chancery Court. The final result of the action is not recorded.
•The contest on this point reached its climax in the reign of James I. The question, after having been argued with great ability by Chief Justice Cole and Chancellor Ellesmere, was finally referred to the King, by whom it was referred to a commission with Lord Bacon at its head. The decision of this commission was in favor of the contentions of the Court of Equity.
An illustration of the interference of equity courts in cases before Common Law Courts is found in the case of Clayborne vs. RoyIn, B. 1574, Cal. 342.
The Mayor of Lynn had punished the defendant for incontinence, on which she brought an action against him for false imprisonment; the mayor filed a bill for an injunction. To what head of jurisdiction this application was addressed does not appear. The matter was referred to three masters. They reported that, although it appeared not to them that there was sufficient proof made before the plaintiff, late Mayor of Lynn, whereby he should justly proceed to the punishment of the defendant in such sort as he did, yet they found too much likelihood of evil behavior and suspicion of incontinency testified by some witnesses against the defendant, that they thought it very convenient that the actions should be stayed, which the defendant had commenced at the common law, and thereupon this court to take such further order between the parties as to the same shall be thought meet; and an injunction was awarded accordingly.
This authority to issue injunctions of this character was about the last new power obtained by the Courts of Equity. What may be called the formu-lative period of equity came to an end about the beginning of the seventeenth century, and new actions could no longer be created by the authority and will of the judges themselves.
At the time of the establishment of the English colonies in America, the equity courts had reached their full development and existed as a distinct system of courts, independent of, but auxiliary to the common law courts, and as such were carried over in America.