The importance of the office (confined as it was to the highest class) must have been immense; there was no audit, no written law, no executive council.
Among the definitions of sovereignty may be quoted these: "That which decides in questions of war and peace, and of making or dissolving alliances, and about laws and capital punishment, and exiles and fines, and audit of accounts and examinations of administrators after their term of office" (Aristotle, Politics, 4.4.
William Westbury, who left New College, "transferring himself to the king's service," in May 1442, and appears in the first extant Eton Audit Roll1444-1445as headmaster, was probably such from May 1442.
In the earliest Audit Rolls after the restoration of the college in 1467 there are many entries of visits of Provost Westbury to "the lord of Winchester," which in January1468-1469were for "beginning the work of the church" "and providing money for them."
As no regular budget was attempted, as accounts were not kept, and as audit was unknown, the opportunities for fraud and embezzlement were endless.
These include the remuneration of the mayor, recorder audit and officers of the borough, overseers' expenses, the expenses of the administration of justice in the borough, the payment of the borough coroner, police expenses and the like.
Before each audit the auditor gives notice of the time and place appointed, and the council publish the appointment by advertisement.
Any owner of property or ratepayer may attend the audit and object to the accounts, and either on such objection or on his own motion the auditor may disallow any payment and surcharge the amount on the persons who made or authorized it.
The supervisor, two of the justices of the peace and the clerk constitute the township board, whose duty it is to settle claims against the township, audit accounts, and publish annually an itemized statement of receipts and disbursements.
The auditor is a district auditor appointed by the Local Government Board under the District Auditors Act 1879, and in respect of the audit the council is charged with a stamp duty, the amount of which depends on the total of the expenditure-comprised in the financial statement.
The auditors so appointed are charged with the duty of auditing the accounts of the treasurer, but they have no power of disallowance or surcharge, and their audit is therefore quite ineffective.
This is really the only way in which the validity of a payment by a borough council can be questioned, for, as will be seen hereafter, the audit in the borough is not an effective one.
The justiciar, chancellor and treasurer sat with certain other members of the council as the court of exchequer, not only to receive and audit the accounts of the royal revenue, but to give legal decisions on all questions connected with finance.
There is, however, a common court of appeal for the group as well as for Barbados, composed of the chief justices of the respective islands, and there is also a common audit system, while the islands unite in maintaining certain institutions of general utility.