Accessibility statement

Other court records

This research was conducted by Dr Arnold Hunt under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Goldberg in 2004 and funded by the University's Research Priming Fund.



Court of High Commission

DRC 3/1. Court book, 1571-2.
Court held in Carlisle Cathedral, under the presidency of the Bishop of Carlisle and other commissioners. Unbound folio volume, with proceedings recorded largely in English.

[Back to the top]

Carlisle consistory court

DRC 3/2. Court book, 1573-8.
DRC 3/3. Court book, 1632-8.
DRC 3/4. Court book, 1669-74.
DRC 3/5. Court book, 1682-6.
DRC 3/6. Court book, 1686-94.
DRC 3/7 et seq. Act books, 1707 to modern times.

DRC 3/49. Deposition book, 1663-84.
DRC 3/50-1. Deposition book, 1823-85.

Court held in St Mary's church, Carlisle, under the presidency of the vicar-general (latterly the chancellor) or his surrogate. The c16 and c17 act books record the type of case (defamation, matrimonial, et al) but give relatively little detail. Some also contain clergy calls (arranged by deanery) for synods in Carlisle Cathedral. The c18 act books (so-called 'Assignation Books') give brief details, names of witnesses, progress and result of cases. The c17 deposition book (DRC 3/49) contains answers to interrogatories (the interrogatories not given), mostly tithe and testamentary with a few defamation cases.

[Back to the top]

Episcopal visitation records

DRC 5/1. Court book, 1606-8.
DRC 5/2. Court book, 1664-8.
DRC 5/3. Court book, 1668-70.
DRC 5/4. Court book, 1670-81.
DRC 5/5. Court book, 1682-92.
DRC 5/6. Court book, 1704-25.
DRC 5/7-21. Court books, 1731-58
DRC 5/22 et seq. Visitation call books, 1731 to modern times.

DRC 5/126. Draft court books, 1669-1713.
DRC 5/128-131. Churchwardens' presentments, 1690, 1696-1717, 1734, 1737.

Court held in Penrith, Wigton, Carlisle and Appleby, under the presidency of the vicar-general (latterly the chancellor) or his surrogate. Standard format, predominantly sexual and matrimonial cases, recorded in a mixture of Latin and English. Until 1725, the court books also include calls (clergy and others); thereafter, calls are recorded separately. The earliest volume (DRC 5/1) also includes brief details of episcopal visitation charges and examinations of unlicensed clergy. Some cases from the c18 court books (so-called 'Correction Books') have accidentally crept into the Consistory Court act books, mostly for the visitations held at Carlisle where the chancellor presided in person. The early eighteenth-century court books are discussed in Mary Kinnear, 'The Correction Court in the Diocese of Carlisle, 1704-1756', Church History, 59 (1990), pp 191-206.

[Back to the top]

Other records

DRC 3/61. Formulary, in Latin and English, in a late c16 or early c17 hand, with many documents copied from Carlisle diocesan documents. Bound in contemporary vellum wrapper, with endpapers from a medieval manuscript (Old Testament commentary?).

DRC 3/62. Latin handbook on court procedure, with reference to the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the Court of Audience at Canterbury, and the Court of Arches, followed by copies of cases (mostly office promoted) extracted from the Richmond consistory court, 1604-7, and the Carlisle consistory court, 1628-9.

DRC 3/63. Precedent book containing bills (many from York, 1559-1617, including some relating to the Council of the North) and libels (mostly from Carlisle consistory court, 1630-33, including articles against Robert Browne, vicar of Stanwix, for fornication and neglect of duty, 1633). Also includes 'A Dialogue of Preparation for the lords supper' and notes on the interpretation of dreams (e.g. 'whether there be anie divine dreams', 'how diabolicall and divine dreames may be discerned').

[Back to the top]



Court of High Commsssion

EDA 12/1.  Court book, June 1543, unbound gathering, 12 ff.
EDA 12/2.  Court book, 1562-72, unbound volume, 138 ff.
EDA 12/3.  Court book, 1572-3, two unbound gatherings, 30 ff.
EDA 12/4.  Court book, 1562-3 and 1573, unbound gathering, 14 ff.

The first of these (EDA 12/1) clearly cannot relate to the High Commission, which was not established until the reign of Elizabeth, but as it is catalogued with the High Commission records it is convenient to mention it here.  It contains the proceedings of an unidentified court, possibly an episcopal visitation court, at Wigan.  The remaining volumes and fragments contain the proceedings of the High Commission court held in the bishop’s palace at Chester, recorded entirely in English.

It is possible that some of the cause papers catalogued with the consistory court papers (see 2.2 below) may relate to High Commission cases.

[Back to the top]

Chester consistory court

Before 1541 these records relate to the archdeaconry court of Chester, thereafter to the consistory court of the newly founded diocese of Chester.  In theory, the consistory court had jurisdiction over the entire diocese, but in practice, most Richmond cases went to the Richmond archdeaconry court, while some complex cases went directly to the York chancery court, so that the records of the Chester consistory court are chiefly concerned with Cheshire and South Lancashire (i.e. the former archdeaconry of Chester).  All the records are held at the Cheshire Record Office, Chester.

EDC 1.  Court books, 1502-4, 1512-15, 1524-5, then unbroken series 1531-1643 and 1660 to nineteenth century.  The c16 and c17 court books are large folio volumes (some as large as 600 ff), mostly in good condition internally but some in poor condition externally, disbound and with leaves detached at the beginning and end of the volume.  The c18 court books are slimmer folio volumes bound in thick paper wrappers, externally soiled but otherwise in good condition.  From 1778 the court books are supplemented by a separate series of minute books containing drafts and minutes of cases.

EDC 2.  Deposition books.  Ten volumes, 1529-74.  Answers to interrogatories, partly in Latin, partly in English, evidently taken down directly from oral testimony and covering the usual range of cases (fornication, tithes, defamation, testamentary, etc) but with an unusually large number of cases relating to pre-nuptial contracts, divorce, and other matrimonial matters.  Extracts from EDC 2/7, for the years 1561-66, were printed in F.J. Furnivall, ed., Child Marriages, Divorces and Ratifications, etc, in the Diocese of Chester (EETS, 1897).  EDC 2/10 is wholly devoted (93ff)  to depositions in a tithe case at Rochdale in 1549-50.  Some volumes in contemporary vellum covers (some, e,g, EDC 2/4 and 2/7, with fragments of medieval manuscript used as binder’s waste), others unbound and in poor condition.  Some volumes contain a few cause papers loosely inserted.

EDC 3.  Citation books, 1693 to nineteenth century.  These contain the usual range of official documents, including decrees, monitions, excommunications, absolutions, significavits, sequestrations.

EDC 4.  Caveat books, 1619-1791.

EDC 5.  Cause papers.  Begins with a small group of pre-1541 papers, thereafter arranged and catalogued in annual bundles, 1541-1641 and 1661-1758.  The number of cases per year varies from less than 20 to over 100.  Defamation and tithe cases predominate; all types of document are represented, including libels, depositions, responsions, sentences and (more rarely) bills of cost.  Very well catalogued (apparently based on Dr John Addy’s lists, but revised by another hand), with short notes giving the names of the parties involved and some indication of the nature of the case.  The papers up to 1641 have been microfilmed (originals not generally made available to researchers), while those after 1661 are outhoused (2-3 days’ notice required for consultation).

EDC 6.  Penances and excommunications, mostly 1700-86, but including some c17 papers relating to licensing of surgeons, midwives, parish clerks.  Though catalogued with the consistory court papers, much of this material appears to belong with the episcopal visitation records (see 2.5 below).  Other licensing papers, 1689-94, are to be found in EDC 9. 

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry of Richmond: consistory court

For a brief history of the archdeaconry of Richmond, see James Raine, ed., Richmond Wills (Surtees Soc., 1853).  Of the pre-Reformation records of the archdeaconry, only one register book survives (now John Rylands Library, Lat. MS 333, commencing in 1442).  Three other volumes (Register B, commencing in 1361, Register C, 1390-99, and Register E, 1418-82) are known to have existed as late as 1680 (and are mentioned by Torre in his MS collections in York Minster Library) but are now apparently lost.  From 1541 the archidiaconal jurisdiction was exercised by a commissary of the bishop of Chester, who held his court at Richmond until 1709-10, then moved to Kendal, then to Lancaster in 1718 before finally moving back to Richmond in 1750.  The following records are mostly held at the West Yorkshire Archive Office, Leeds, with the exception of some of the court books and cause papers, which have been transferred to the Lancashire Record Office, Preston, where they relate to the western deaneries of the archdeaconry (Amounderness, Copeland, Furness, Kendal and Lonsdale).  References are to shelfmarks at Leeds unless otherwise stated.  The following classes have been excluded as not falling within my remit: RD/AP (wills and inventories) and RD/RB (marriage bonds and allegations).

RD/A.  Court books: 1543-8, 1570-3, 1577-9, 1580-1, 1578-86 (fragmentary), 1585-88, 1589-1605 (fragmentary), 1609-34, 1620-4, 1624-8, 1632 (fragmentary), 1637-8, 1641 (fragmentary), 1665-70, 1673-7, 1676-84, 1677-80, 1682-4, 1685-90, and then a complete run down to the nineteenth century.  Some of the c16 material, though catalogued with the court books, actually consists of cause papers or associated correspondence: e.g. RD/A/3g is a single bifolium containing an extract from the court books (19 Apr 1586) relating to an office promoted case, signed by the notary as a true copy of the original, and endorsed by the plaintiff with a note to his proctor.  RD/A/3b is a court book commencing 23 Sept 1579, but the fact that it is quarto-sized, unbound, with a number of corrections and cancellations, suggests that it may be a draft or private record retained by the notary for his own use.  Many of the c16 court books are bound in vellum wrappers with medieval MS fragments used as binder’s waste; these deserve study in their own right, as they may well derive from Yorkshire monastic libraries.  However, some volumes have now been rebound: e.g. RD/A/2 (the court book for 1580-1) is described in the handlist as ‘bound in two parchment leaves of 13th century Bible with rubrications’, but is now rebound in plain cloth, and the manuscript leaves have either been discarded or (one hopes) placed separately.  Extracts from the Richmond consistory court books for 1604-7 can be found in one of the precedent books at Carlisle (see 1.4 above).

The following are held at Preston (ARR/12): court books for the period 1709-19 when the court sat at Kendal, and for the period 1719-48 when the court sat at Lancaster.  The contents of the court books at Preston (predominantly tithe and defamation cases) are calendared in detail in a typescript handlist by Dr John Addy (available in the search room).

RD/AA.  Abstract books, containing brief notes of causes heard at each court day, 1742-6, 1763 to nineteenth century.  From a sampling of these volumes, it appears that they match the entries in the court books, with no additional information.

RD/AB.  Citations, 1635, 1664, 1670-1810 (4 boxes).  Some of the citations catalogued with the Richmond visitation records (see 2.4 below), now held at Preston (e.g. ARR/5, ARR/20, ARR/21), may prove on further examination to relate to the consistory court.

RD/AC.  Cause papers.  These have been divided into the following groups, very roughly sorted by date, subject and/or type of document:

RD/AC/1/1.  Various cause papers, mostly late c16 and early c17.
RD/AC/1/2.  Various cause papers, mostly late c16 and early c17.
RD/AC/1/3.  Various cause papers, mostly c18.
RD/AC/1/4.  Various cause papers, c16-c18.
RD/AC/1/5.  Various cause papers, mostly tithe cases, c16-c18.
RD/AC/1/6.  Various cause papers, mostly tithe cases, c16-c18.
RD/AC/1/7.  Various cause papers, mostly faculty papers, c18.
RD/AC/1/10 (sic).  Various cause papers, mostly faculty cases, early c19.
RD/AC/2.  Responsions, c16-c18.
RD/AC/3.  Interrogatories, c16-c18.
RD/AC/5/1-2.  Depositions, mostly late c16 and early c17.
RD/AC/6.  Exceptions, c17-c18.
RD/AC/2/1.  Faculties, c18.
RD/AC/2/2.  Faculties, 1820-40.

The papers are catalogued in a series of typescript handlists (available in the search room) entitled ‘Detailed Temporary Lists of Certain Classes compiled in the course of his research by Mr John Addy’.  These handlists are extremely thorough, with short notes on each document giving the names of the parties involved and some indication of the nature of the case.  They do not include notes on condition, although a sampling of the cause papers suggests that a number of documents are badly damaged, and in some cases little more than fragmentary.  In many instances, documents relating to the same case can be found scattered through more than one class, suggesting that the present arrangement does not reflect the original order of the papers.

A further collection of several thousand cause papers, mostly relating to the western deaneries, is held at Preston, having originally been part of the archive at Leeds.  These are divided into the following groups, roughly sorted by subject:

ARR/13/1.  Refusals to pay church assessment, 1710-31.
ARR/13/3.  Cases involving the clergy, one from 1611, the rest 1709-46 and 1830-2.
ARR/13/4.  Defamation cases, a few from 1593-4, the majority 1678-1750.
ARR/13/5.  Faculty cases, 1688, 1707-1826, including a number of church seating plans (e.g. no. 269, plan of Cartmel church 1726, and no. 274, plan of Whitehaven church 1746).
ARR/13/6.  Matrimonial cases, one from 1579, the remainder c17-c19.
ARR/13/7.  Pew disputes, 1705-46, 1829.
ARR/13/8.  Testamentary cases, one from 1530, a few late c16, the majority 1687-1771 and 1815-48.
ARR/13/10.  Tithe cases, some from 1572-1639, the remainder 1681-1738.
ARR/13/11.  ‘Miscellaneous’, e.g. disturbances during divine service, 1710-43, dispute over appointment of schoolmaster at Browedge, 1724-8.

Again, these are catalogued in a series of typescript handlists by Dr Addy, also extremely thorough (e.g. notes on defamation cases include a record of the words complained of).  The handlists record several cases where cause papers are divided between two locations, e.g. a case of recusant marriage in the house of Richard Sherburn of Stonyhurst, 1579, where the articles are at Preston (ARR 13/6/1/1) but the depositions are at Leeds (RD/AC/1/4).

RD/AF.  Faculty papers and monitions, 1711-1798.
RD/AQ.  Sequestrations, 1693-1834.
RD/AR.  Commissions of bishop’s commissary and surrogates, c18.
RD/AY.  Letters of proxy (i.e. appointing proctors to act in causes), c18.
RD/RA.  Registrars’ accounts, mostly c19 but with some earlier material, beginning with a general account book for 1680-94 and probate account book for 1697-1701.
RD/RF.  Faculty books, 1720 to nineteenth century.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry of Richmond: visitation records

These records have proved particularly difficult to assemble in a single list, partly because they are divided between two record offices (Leeds and Preston), and partly because they are mixed up with the Richmond consistory court records and cannot readily be disentangled.  In addition, Dr Addy’s lists of the material at Preston are in a less finished state than some of his other lists, and several classes listed by him (ARR/26-33) are not recorded elsewhere in the Record Office’s finding aids.

Court books (so-called ‘compert books’).  Those relating to the whole archdeaconry or solely to the eastern deaneries, 1663-1788, are at Leeds (RD/C), while those relating solely to the western deaneries, 1665-1793, are at Preston (ARR/2 and ARR/15).  Three volumes for the years 1677, 1749 and 1789 had found their way into the Chester diocesan registry, but have now also been transferred to Preston (DRCH/1-3).

Churchwardens’ presentments.  Those relating to the eastern deaneries are at Leeds (RD/CB/8/1-10), loosely arranged in chronological order from the late c17 down to 1776.  Those relating to the western deaneries, 1690-1830, are at Preston (ARR/17), arranged by parish.  According to Dr Addy’s list, the documents at Preston were ‘assembled from items found with Eastern Deaneries records at Leeds and from a private deposit by A. Duxbury Esq. of Haverthwaite.  The file numbers are temporary; final numbers will be allocated when it is clear that the series is complete’.

Additional records at Leeds:
RD/CB/9.  Excommunications and absolutions, 1702-1809 (1 box).
RD/CB/10.  Penances, 1718-91 (5 boxes).

Additional records at Preston:
ARR/3.  Excommunications, 1703-66.
ARR/4.  Fee books, 1745-87.
ARR/5.  Citations, 1700-1716.
ARR/9.  Visitation fee books, 1814-20.
ARR/10.  ‘Various’, including a subscription book, 1717-25 (ARR/10/8) and two late c18 formularies (ARR/10/2-3).
ARR/11.  Marriage bonds and affidavits, 1648-1861 (mostly c18).
ARR/18.  Citations, 1687-1746.
ARR/19.  Visitation processes, 1718-35.
ARR/20.  Citations to executors, 1698-9.
ARR/21.  Further citations, 1710.
ARR/22.  Penances, 1665 and 1718.
ARR/23.  ‘Miscellaneous, found among the cause papers’, including a leaf from a c17 court book, several lists of recusants c. 1679, and a few pieces of correspondence addressed to the registrar at Lancaster c. 1720.
ARR/26.  Letters of request (i.e. requesting copies of testators’ wills), 1825.
ARR/28.  Bastardy certificates, 1708-39.
ARR/29.  Apparitors’ returns, 1727.
ARR/31.  Original returns for Compton Census, 1676, for Broughton, Kirkham and Preston.
ARR/32.  Miscellaneous accounts (probate accounts, apparitors’ accounts, etc).
ARR/33.  Small collection of correspondence of C.C. Church, rural dean of Copeland, 1806.

[Back to the top]

Episcopal visitation records

EDV 1.  Court books, 189 vols, 1554-65, 1588-1634, 1665-1781.  In the c16, many disciplinary cases seem to have been referred to a correction court held in Chester Cathedral, but by the c18 the court had established a regular circuit with sessions at Chester, Malpas, Middlewich, Stockport, Bolton, Blackburn, Chorley, Ormskirk, Wigan and Frodsham, conducted by the bishop’s commissary (for the c16 and 17, usually the chancellor; for the c18, usually the rural dean of Chester) and dealing with the cases arising on presentment from each deanery in turn.  Many of the c16 and c17 volumes are unbound, some in poor condition with leaves torn and crudely repaired with tape.  The c18 volumes (so-called ‘Visitation Call Books’, despite the existence of a separate series of call books) are bound in stiff paper wrappers, and are generally in good condition, with occasional items (mostly formal court documents, e.g. certificates, bills of cost) loosely inserted.  After 1733, all business is conducted in English.

EDV 2.  Call books, 107 vols, 1538, 1541-2, 1548, 1562, 1674, 1677, 1686, 1696, 1701 to nineteenth century.  Earlier volumes include schoolmasters, surgeons, physicians and midwives as well as clergy, and up to 1677 give full details of ordination, degree and licence.  Some visitation call books for 1608 have strayed into the cause papers (EDC 5/111), and a draft call book for 1738 is among the Registrar’s Papers (EDR 4).    Most of these volumes relate solely to deaneries in the former archdeaconry of Chester.  The volumes relating to deaneries in the archdeaconry of Richmond, 1670-1837, have been transferred to Leeds (ARR/16).  Another small group of call books covering the archdeaconry of Richmond, 1691-1811, including schoolmasters, surgeons, physicians and midwives, is also at Preston (DRCH/4-26), having been transferred from the Chester diocesan registry.  The call books at Preston were used by Dr Addy as the basis for his card index of c18 Richmondshire clergy (available in the search room at Preston), which includes details of family background, education, ordination, benefices and date of death.

EDV 3.  Call books for churchwardens and sidesmen, 106 vols, 1670-1844.  One volume (3/5) includes Richmond archdeaconry, but otherwise these volumes cover Chester archdeaconry only.  The remaining volumes relating to Richmond archdeaconry, 1670-1837, have been transferred to Preston (ARR/16).

EDV 5.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1637-8, 1667-8, 1698-1817.

EDV 7.  Sets of printed visitation articles, with detailed answers in manuscript.  1778, 1789, 1804, 1811, 1814, 1821, 1825.

EDV 9.  Visitation probate books, 1580-87, 1684-1700.  Now transferred to Preston, with microfilms at Chester (MF 5/37-9).  The c16 volumes include occasional office cases.

EDX.  Miscellanea, including visitation programme for 1592, commission for episcopal visitation 1637, commission to surrogate 1673, King’s Preacher’s certificates 1725, visitation expenses 1739, letters regarding state of church fabric and ornaments 1791-2.  No full catalogue; rough list only.

EDC 6.  Penances and Excommunications, mostly 1700-86, including visitation notices and associated correspondence (e.g. certificates of good character, testimonials, etc).

[Back to the top]

Other records

Records of the peculiar of Masham, within the archdeaconry of Richmond but attached to the prebend of Masham in York Minster.  These records are now in the West Yorkshire Archive Office, Leeds:
MP 1.  Visitation court book, 1745-71.
MP 2.  Citations, 1741-1847 (with some gaps).
MP 3.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1741-1847.
MP 4.  Penances, 1742-94.

‘Parish Bundles’.  A large collection of documents relating to particular parishes, chiefly clergy nominations, presentations, letters testimonial and dimissory, the majority c18 and c19 but including a scattering of earlier material.  The whole collection was originally held at Chester, but is now divided between three record offices.  Documents relating to parishes in the West and North Ridings of Yorkshire are held at Leeds (CD/PB) and documents relating to parishes in Lancashire are held at Preston (DRCH/37), while the residue remains at Chester (EDP).  These three collections (each containing several thousand items) are catalogued in typescript lists by Dr Addy, supplemented at Preston by more recent name and place indexes.

Administrative records.  As in other dioceses, the Chester diocesan registry accumulated a collection of precedents and other reference material, now in the Cheshire Record Office:
EDR/4.  ‘Registrar’s Correspondence’: 1 bundle of pre-1800 documents, 8 bundles 1800-44, the remainder post-1844.
EDR/5.  ‘Registrar’s Miscellanea’ (rough list only), including memoranda books 1717-21, 1729-36, 1750-69, 1783-89, 1809-10, 1814-20, annotated clergy list c.1760-90, particulars of benefices 1818-30.
EDR/6.  ‘Registrar’s Precedents’: 29 vols, mostly late c17 or c18, including precedent books for the dioceses of St Asaph, 1670-80 (6/1) and Chester, 1701-38 (6/2), a handbook of court practice for the London ecclesiastical courts, c. 1640 (6/3), two volumes of Chester consistory court papers bound up for use as precedents, 1640-1740 and 1670-1710 (6/10-11), and extracts from counsel’s opinions on the concurrent jurisdiction of the chancellor of the diocese of Chester and the commissary of the archdeaconry of Richmond, 1759, with copies of various c16 and c17 documents (6/6).

[Back to the top]



Court of High Commission

Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/D/SJB/7.  Court book, 1614-17, mostly relating to cases in Northumberland, but also including some in Durham.  Entirely in English, written at speed and often difficult to read; some cases recorded in considerable detail; also includes lists of attachments (for arrest) issued against individuals, but with no indication of their offence.

Durham Dean & Chapter Library, Hunter MSS.  Court book, 1628-39, and deposition book, 1626-38.  Printed in W.H.D. Longstaffe, ed., The Acts of the High Commission Court within the Diocese of Durham (Surtees Society vol. 34, 1858), with the omission of some cases relating to sexual misconduct (‘some, from their character, have been necessarily passed over in silence’: editor’s note, p. vii).

[Back to the top]

Durham consistory court

Most of these records are with the main diocesan archive at Palace Green, where they are mostly catalogued under the prefix CCA (for court books) or CCD (for other items), but a few strays have found their way into the Durham Cathedral Muniments.  Extracts from many of the sixteenth-century court and deposition books are printed in James Raine, ed., Depositions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Courts of Durham (Surtees Society vol. 21, 1845).

DDR/EJ/CCA/1.  Court books, 1531-8 (fragmentary), 1567-72, 1576-89, 1595-1601, 1606-14, 1619-26, 1629-40, 1666 to nineteenth century.
The court was held in the Galilee chapel of Durham Cathedral, under the presidency of the chancellor or his surrogate.  Up to 1579, the court books contain a mixture of office and instance cases.  After 1579, ex officio mero cases are recorded in a separate series of court books (CCA/2, below), but in 1672 they reappear in this series, presumably because the declining number of cases made it unnecessary to keep two sets of court books.  From 1666 to 1734, testamentary cases are also recorded separately (CCA/1/16, 18, 20), but after 1734 (by which time they account for the great majority of the court’s business) they are reunited with the main series.  Two court books for 1576 (containing the usual mixture of office and instance cases, and the record of a clergy synod held in Durham Cathedral on 1 May 1576) are among the Durham Cathedral Muniments (DCD/D/SJC/V/1-2), as they relate to the Dean & Chapter’s sede vacante jurisdiction.

DDR/EJ/CCA/2.  Court books (ex officio), 1579-80, 1589-1618.
Proceedings in Latin, but with offences given in English (e.g. ‘she hathe committed fornication’, ‘he refused to pay 12d to the pore mans box for talkinge in the churche’).  Many of these cases seem to originate from churchwardens’ presentments, and are of the type that one would normally expect to find in visitation records.  Two additional court books from this series, for 1619-21 and 1662-72, are in the Durham Cathedral muniments (DCD/D/SJB/1-2).  By 1668 the court was dealing with only one or two cases per session (mostly clandestine marriages, with a smaller number of fornication cases).

DDR/EJ/CCA/3.  Court books, 1542-4 (fragmentary, only 9 ff) and 1561-70 (1 vol.).
These are apparently the sole surviving records of a consistory court held in Newcastle, dealing with cases from Northumberland: principally, it would seem, cases involving a large number of witnesses, to save them the journey to Durham.  The volume for 1561-70 is entitled ‘A Booke of actes and deposytions before the comissary of Newcastell’ and consists chiefly of depositions in testamentary cases, mostly concerning deathbeds and nuncupative wills.  Some extracts (usually only one or two depositions in any given case) are printed in Raine, Depositions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings, where this volume is identified as ‘Book B’.

DDR/EJ/CCD/1.  Deposition books (12 vols), 1565-95, 1599-1611, 1615-26 (with chronological overlap between volumes).  Depositions written in the hands of various court officials (often difficult to read, evidently written at speed from oral examination, with frequent deletions and corrections) and signed by deponents.  The usual mixture of cases: testamentary, matrimonial, tithe, defamation, etc.  CCD/1/6 includes one later case (a dispute between the minister of Tweedmouth and his parish clerk, c. 1665-1703).

DDR/EJ/CCD/2.  Unbound depositions (1 box), 1633-4, 1636-7, 1662-3, 1664-6.

DDR/EJ/CCD/3.  Cause papers.

DDR/EJ/CCD/5.  Drafts for citations, 1730s, 1770s-1790s.

DDR/EJ/CCD/6.  Citations, 1727, 1730-5, 1737, 1776, 1792, 1800-26.

DDR/EJ/CCD/7.  Monitions, 1731-4.  Other monitions can be found among the cause papers.

DDR/EJ/CCD/8.  Penances, 1668, 1711-22, 1731-7, 1760-1831, 1856.

DDR/EJ/CCD/9.  Excommunications, significavits, absolutions, 1720, 1724, 1731-3, 1735, 1767, 1776-77, 1789, 1811-12.

DDR/EJ/CCD/10.  Bills of cost, 1750-70.

DDR/EJ/CCG/1/1.  Statutes of the court, with table of fees, c16.  Printed in James Raine, ed., The Injunctions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings of Richard Barnes, Bishop of Durham (Surtees Society vol. 22, 1850).

[Back to the top]

Episcopal visitation records

The majority of these records are in the main diocesan archive (DDR) at Palace Green, with some eighteenth- and nineteenth-century material in the episcopal archive at Auckland Castle (also now deposited at Palace Green).  The sole exception is a small group of early seventeenth-century court books in the Durham Cathedral muniments.  These relate solely to parishes in County Durham, and might at first glance be thought to belong to the records of the Durham archdeaconry court; but further examination shows that the court was held under the presidency of the chancellor, rather than the archdeacon or his official, and had jurisdiction over parishes in the Dean and Chapter’s officialty as well as the archdeaconry.  At this period it seems to have been customary to keep two sets of visitation court books, one for Northumberland and the other for Durham.

Durham diocesan records:
DDR/EV/VIS/1/1.  Court book, 1577-87.
DDR/EV/VIS/1/2.  Court book, 1578-87.
DDR/EV/VIS/2/1.  Court book (Northumberland only), 1595-1601.
DDR/EV/VIS/2/2.  Court book (Northumberland only), 1601-8.
DDR/EV/VIS/2/3.  Court book (Northumberland only), 1608-9.
DDR/EV/VIS/2/4.  Court book (Northumberland only), 1609-18.
DDR/EV/VIS/1/3.  Court book, 1662-70.

Durham Cathedral muniments:
DCD/D/SJB/4.  Court book (Durham only), c. 1634-7 (fragments only, unbound in a modern folder; possibly part of SJB/5).
DCD/D/SJB/5.  Court book (Durham only), 1635-6.
DCD/D/SJB/6.  Court book (Durham only), 1637-8, with contemporary title ‘Liber Correctionum 1637’.

Durham diocesan records:
DDR/EV/VIS/4/1.  List of procurations collected at visitations, 1709-28.
DDR/EV/VIS/4/2.  Notes on visitations, 1732-51, including clergy call books, visitation itineraries, lists of livings and procurations.
DDR/EV/VIS/4/3.  Notes on visitations, 1751-8, including clergy call books, lists of livings and procurations.
DDR/EV/VIS/4/4.  Lists of visitation itineraries, preachers and expenses, 1754-74.
DDR/EV/VIS/5.  Visitation papers, 1668-1920.  This is the main series of visitation papers (63 boxes, though only a small proportion of this is pre-1850), and the only class of visitation records not yet fully catalogued.  Includes inhibitions, monitions, call books, presentments, returns to visitation articles.
DDR/EV/VIS/6.  A few documents relating to the episcopal visitation of Durham Cathedral, 1663.
DDR/EV/VIS/7.  Diocese books (so-called ‘specula’), 1793, 1814, 1827, 1838, 1858, listing all the livings in the diocese with the names of their patrons, incumbents and curates.  (Others are in the Auckland Castle records; see below.)

Auckland Castle records (now deposited at Palace Green):
AUC 1/64-80.  Returns to visitation articles, 1774, 1792, 1810, 1814, with a few odd returns for the 1730s, 1758 and 1811.
AUC 1/170-176.  Diocese books (so-called ‘specula’), c. 1750, c. 1780, 1793, 1809, 1827, 1861.
AUC/1/151-168.  Clergy call books, 1810, 1814, 1837 and later.

[Back to the top]

Dean & Chapter's court

All the records are in the Durham Cathedral Muniments (DCD) except where stated.  Pre-Reformation records relate to the Prior & Chapter's Officialty.  In the sixteenth century the court was held in St Oswald’s, Durham (moving to the Galilee chapel of Durham Cathedral c. 1600), or in St Mary’s Allerton for parishes in the peculiar of Allertonshire.

Court book, 1435-56.  DCD Cap. Gen.

Court book, 1487-98.  DCD C.B. Pr. Off.

Court book, 1583-6.  DCD/D/SJC/1.  Office cases only, with reasons for presentment given in English (e.g. ‘he doth not come dewlie to the church but hath absented himself this whole monthe’, ‘they did not receyve the holie communion at michaelmas last’, ‘their church hath not a communion cuppe’), in the manner of an archdeaconry court book.

Court book, 1596-1606.  DCD/D/SJC/2.  Includes a few loose documents (e.g. a citation, f. 29).

Court book, 1608-17.  DCD/D/SJC/3.  Includes calls for clergy and churchwardens, 1611 (f. 50) and 1617 (f. 125).

Court book, 1617-20, 1634-8, 1661-71.  Dean & Chapter Library, Raine MS 130.

Court book, 1755-7.  Durham Diocesan Records, DDR/P/OFF/1/2.  Relates to a single case (James Robertson, curate of Holy Island, found guilty of adultery and suspended for three years).

Court book, 1769-87.  Durham Diocesan Records, DDR/P/OFF/1/1.  Relatively few cases, mostly for fornication.

Court book, 1831-7.  DCD/D/SJC/4.  Mostly concerning grants for augmentation of livings, and orders for church repairs.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of Durham

Relatively few records survive for the archdeaconries of Durham and Northumberland, apparently because many were destroyed in a fire in the Registry around the time of the Second World War.  Most of the surviving records therefore lie outside the main diocesan archive.

Court book, 1572-6.  Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/D/SJA/1.  Court held in St Nicholas’s church, Durham.  Mixture of office and instance cases; proceedings recorded in Latin, with occasional notes in English; the nature of the case is not always stated, but many of the instance cases appear to involve clergy and lay impropriators suing for recovery of tithes.  Includes a few loose documents (e.g. letter from defendant, f. 209, summary of churchwardens’ presentments, f. 134) and copies of official documents, including visitation articles for 1574-5 (f. 172) and a letter from the bishop to the two archdeacons, 1575, ordering them to present all persons who do not come to church or do not receive communion, to appear before him personally at Auckland Castle (f. 245).

Court book, 1685-7, 1691-7, 1701-5.  Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/D/SJA/3.  Contemporary title ‘Liber Actorum super Presentamenta’.  Office cases only (fornication, failure to attend church or to pay church rate, failure to bring children to be baptised), with lists of persons cited, 1694, 1701-5, and clergy and churchwardens’ calls, 1701-5.

Court book, 1697.  Dean & Chapter Library, Raine MS 81.

Court book, 1775-99.  Durham County Record Office, Aycliffe parish records; photocopy available in Palace Green search room (ASC Ref B1 CHU).  Mostly lists of clergy and churchwardens, with only a few presentments.

Visitation papers.  Durham Diocesan Records, DDR/A/VPD/1, box 1.  Very little pre-1900 material: churchwardens’ call list, 1724; clergy and churchwardens’ call lists, 1761; printed summons to clergy and churchwardens, 1775; then a gap until the returns to printed visitation articles begin in 1837.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of Northumberland

Court books, 1619-24.  DDR/A/ACN/A/1-2.  (One stray leaf of court proceedings for 1621 has found its way into a consistory court book, DDR/EJ/CCA/2/7.)

Court book, 1681-4.  Newcastle University Library, Special Collections, Robert White MSS.  Brief notes of presentments and excommunications for each parish.  Card index available in Special Collections search room.

Account of the parochial charities and chapels within the archdeaconry, compiled by Archdeacon Thomas Sharp and based on his visitation in 1723, with later additions c. 1742.  Auckland Castle papers (deposited at Palace Green), AUC/1/169.

Court book, 1792-3.  Unlocated, but extracts printed in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, 4th ser., vol. 2 (1925-6), pp 162-8, from transcript made by James Raine.

Court book, 1826-8.  Northumberland Record Office, Society of Antiquaries M16 B13.  Microfilm available at Palace Green.

Visitation papers.  DDR/A/VPL/1.  Includes a small group of c18 papers, e.g. account of fees received from churchwardens at the visitation in Easter 1718, clergy and churchwardens’ call lists, July 1761.

[Back to the top]

Other records

Act book coram episcopo, 1581-2.  Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/D/SJB/3.  This volume is the sole surviving record of a court held in the dining chamber of the bishop’s palace at Bishop Auckland, under the presidency of the bishop himself.  Though chiefly devoted to clerical institutions and resignations, it also includes a small number of office cases (e.g. a case against the curate of Ryton, presented for ‘huntinge & playinge at fotebawle in servise tyme’, ordered ‘non deserviat infra dioc dunelm’ without the bishop’s permission).

[Back to the top]

Precedent books

DDR/EJ/CCG/2/1.  Precedent book, c. 1580-1615.
DDR/EJ/CCG/2/2.  ‘Record of Cases which occurred in the Consistory Court of Durham’, compiled by Samuel Viner, principal surrogate 1780-1815, also including legal notes and opinions.
DDR/EJ/CCG/2/3.  Legal notes compiled by James Raine, principal surrogate, including draft of consistory court book 1825-6.

Dean & Chapter Library, Hunter MS 18.  Precedent book, 1540s-1570s, with some original cause papers bound in.
Dean & Chapter Library, Raine MS 123.  Precedent book owned by Dr Isaac Basire, official of the archdeacon of Northumberland, late c17.
Dean & Chapter Library, Raine MS 124.  Precedent book, thought by Raine to have been compiled by Robert Swift, chancellor 1561-78, but containing material down to early c17.  Includes statutes and tables of fees for the York and Durham courts, lists and valuations of benefices, legal opinions in tithe causes 1606-7, notes on the York High Commission Court.
Dean & Chapter Library, Howe MS 6.  Forms and precedents, including Latin and English guides to consistory court procedure, 1690s.
Dean & Chapter Library, Howe MS (unnumbered).  Precedent book, mostly for Durham consistory court, 1690s-1740s.

Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/T/YB.  Precedent book (the ‘York Book’), c. 1567-1599.
Durham Cathedral Muniments, DCD/D/EPB/1.  Bound volume of documents used as precedents, mid c16, from the Durham consistory court.  Contents include: articles against a group of Sedgefield parishioners involved in the Northern Rebellion, 1567; ‘Certain causes to be demandyd whether they be lawfull or no of maister Standenen’ (on a widow’s use of her late husband’s property) and the response (headed ‘Opinio’ and addressed ‘to mr doctor Benet’).

[Back to the top]

Sodor & Man

Sodor & Man


All these records are in the Manx National Heritage Library, Douglas, Isle of Man, having been transferred from the Diocesan Registry in several deposits between 1925 and 1996.  The best guide to the diocesan records is Anne Ashley, ‘The Spiritual Courts of the Isle of Man, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries’, English Historical Review, 72 (1957), pp 31-59, though not all the records had come to light at the time this article was written.  Some items from the 1925 deposit (MS 09756) and some items transferred more recently (and currently without an accession number) are still unsorted.

[Back to the top]

Chapter court

The chapter court went on circuit around the island three times a year (hence its alternative name of ‘circuit court’), visiting each parish in turn.  In essence, it was a visitation court, dealing with the correction of moral offences presented by the churchwardens, but there were two respects in which it differed from episcopal or archidiaconal visitations in other dioceses.  First, the parish clergy played a more prominent role in the process, collectively exercising judicial authority as a ‘chapter’ and sometimes legislative authority as a convocation.  Secondly, the chapter court was responsible for testamentary business, such as grants of administration and probate and the appointment of guardians for children, which formed by far the greater part of its activities.

Court books, 1560, 1565-8, 1571-82, 1595, 1609-11, 1627-35.  The early court books are very brief and fragmentary, consisting of little more than the names of persons presented to the court (mostly for fornication) and orders for penance (in Latin up to 1580, e.g. ‘3 dies in foro et 3 dies in ecclesia’, thereafter in English, e.g. ‘iii dayes at the crosse before easter’).  After 1580 the records start to become more detailed, and record a number of instance cases, mostly tithe and defamation, in the form ‘X complaineth against Y’ (e.g. ‘William Harrison complayneth agaynste John Christyn in a playnte of wrongfullie withholdinge, detayninge & takeinge of the tythe of one quarter of land to the valew of 40s & this he is redie to verifye’).  Some of the court books are interspersed with a large number of original wills and inventories, and after 1600 the court books are incorporated into the series of episcopal and archidiaconal wills (see below), with the exception of a few strays.  Many of the c16 court books are in extremely poor condition, and in urgent need of conservation.

Register of wills, 1575-7.  This seems to represent a short-lived attempt to record the testamentary business of the court separately from its disciplinary activities.  The wills are abstracted in full (excluding preambles), occasionally interspersed with other material, e.g. an agreement of 5 July 1576 between a husband and wife ‘that thei will lyve quietlie together as man & wiffe oughte to doe & thereto have geven their handes & putt pledge betwixte them both that thei will lyve & agree together & yf thei doo nott to forfytt 40s to my lords use’.

Wills, arranged in two series: episcopal wills, 1600-1884, and archidiaconal wills, 1628-1884 (reflecting the division of administrative responsibility between the bishop and archdeacon, each of whom presided for six months of the year).  (MS 10216)  These are essentially a continuation of the court books (see above), with brief notes on presentments and penances interspersed with original wills and inventories and loosely bound together in annual bundles.  By the 1630s the presentments are more detailed (e.g. ‘for makeing up a gappe of a ditche on the Sabboth, enioyned to confesse his error at the vicar his discretion’, ‘for draweing corne on the Sabbath daye, enioyned to doe one sonday pennance’) and the court styles itself a ‘correction court’ (‘curia correctionis’) in common with visitation courts in other dioceses.  Some items of correspondence are included, e.g. the archidiaconal wills for 1629 include a letter from Bishop John Philips to his vicar-general complaining that ‘the people are growen so insolent and refractarie they will not regarde our Ecclesiasticall Censure’.

Presentments, 1640-1, 1659, 1667 to nineteenth century.  (MS 10194)  Annual volumes of churchwardens’ presentments bound together and annotated with outcomes of each individual case (e.g. ‘Promised Reformation’, ‘To acknowledge his fault & ask forgivenes in Church’, ‘Reconciled in Court’).  For the c17 they consist of annual bundles of documents loosely sewn together, but by the early c18 they form a more orderly series of records, bound in contemporary brown paper wrappers with the title ‘Presentments’, and seem to have constituted the main record of disciplinary business in the chapter court, complementing the libri causarum (see below) which constituted the main record of disciplinary business in the consistory court.

Minute Books, 1781-88 (with a few loose documents 1799-1802) and 1849-54.  These include minutes of both chapter and consistory courts (chiefly the former).  Purely testamentary business: lists of persons deceased, wills proved and administrations granted in the chapter court, and claims heard in the consistory court against the estates of persons dying intestate.  Some inserted material, mostly petitions, with a few original wills (apparently nuncupative wills taken down from oral dictation and signed by witnesses).

[Back to the top]

Consistory court

Up until the mid-seventeenth century there was no clear distinction between the circuit and consistory courts, but by the end of the seventeenth century the consistory court had established itself as a central court (usually held in the church of Kirk Michael, near the bishop’s palace) dealing with disputed cases (i.e. instance cases, as they would be called elsewhere) and serious disciplinary offences.  Certain types of offence (e.g. divorce, adultery, incest, witchcraft, sabbath-breaking, refusal to receive communion) were automatically reserved to the bishop’s jurisdiction and tended to go straight into the consistory court.

Libri Causarum, 1627-34, 1659 to nineteenth century.  (MS 10194)  These constitute the main record of the court’s activities.  For the most part they are not a formal record of proceedings, but a series of cause papers (e.g. depositions, sentences, bills of cost) filed with incoming correspondence (e.g. petitions endorsed by the bishop with his decision, or orders for penance endorsed by clergy and returned to the registry to certify that penance has been duly performed).  For the early eighteenth century, when Bishop Thomas Wilson’s powers were at their height, the records are exceptionally full and detailed, including a lot of episcopal correspondence.  By the 1770s the bishop had ceased to preside in person, and the court no longer handled disciplinary cases.  But the records, though now confined to instance cases, are still very extensive, with many surviving cause papers (e.g. in defamation cases, the petitions specify the offending words together with a good deal of background information).

Petitions, mostly c17 and c18.  (MS 09756)  This material has apparently been extracted or accidentally separated from the libri causarum, and is now arranged in alphabetical rather than chronological order, by names of petitioners.  As well as petitions, it includes a certain amount of other correspondence, e.g. (under ‘L’) a pastoral letter from Bishop John Philips to ‘all men & women, sonnes and daughters of my kinde friends and neighboures in my Diocesse of this Isle’, 3 Dec. 1628, warning all disorderly persons to reconcile themselves to the church or face excommunication.

Fines, 1718-97.  (MS 09756)  Records of fines levied on offenders (from 1750 in the form of annual accounts, which may provide a useful way to chart the decline in the court’s activities).  1 box, with other unsorted records, including a bundle of late c17 and early c18 consistory court material, and a folder of petitions (mostly from offenders convicted of card-playing).

‘Ecclesiastical prison cases’, c18.  (MS 09756)  2 boxes, unsorted, mostly petitions for release from prison.  Again this material may have been extracted or accidentally separated from the libri causarum.

Miscellaneous papers, c17.  1 box, unsorted and in very poor condition.  One leaf of consistory court material has the title ‘Lib. Causarum pro 1632’, and the collection as a whole seems to consist of the fragmentary remains of several early c17 libri causarum (e.g. petitions) mixed with stray wills and inventories.

Orders on Claims, arranged in two series: episcopal (1750-1891) and archidiaconal (c.1775-1873).  (MS 10194)  Certificates recording monies paid to creditors out of the estates of deceased persons,  Bound together in annual bundles, usually with the title ‘Book of Claims’ or ‘Claims & Orders thereon’.

Orders of Court, 1786-1845.  (MS 10194)  Orders to pay monies to creditors out of the estates of deceased persons.  Folio volumes, bound in contemporary brown paper wrappers with the title ‘Book of Orders’.

Abstract Books, 1821-59.  Two volumes, containing lists of cases heard at each court session, with names of opposing parties and occasional brief notes on proceedings (e.g. ‘Executors sworn’, ‘Award given in’, ‘Withdrawn’).  By the 1850s the court was dealing with a very small number of cases, and there is no record of any court session after 22 Dec. 1859.

[Back to the top]




Most of these records, with the notable exception of the Nottingham archdeaconry papers, are in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, York.  Extensive descriptions can be found in David M. Smith, A Guide to the Archive Collections in the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research (Borthwick Texts & Calendars 1, 1973; also available online as a PDF file), and I have therefore confined myself to a fairly brief summary of the records, except where (as with the cause papers) they have been significantly rearranged since 1973.

[Back to the top]

Court of High Commission

HC.AB.  Court books, 1562-1641.

HC.CP.  Cause papers, c. 1560-1641.  Removed from the main series of cause papers (see below, 5.5) and now kept separately, though a few High Commission cause papers still remain in the main series (e.g. CP G. 3281).  Catalogued in Papers of the York Court of High Commission: a listing and guide to the Research Publications microfilm collection (Research Publications Ltd, 1988), with a historical introduction by W.J. Sheils.

[Back to the top]

York Chancery court

Chanc. AB.  Court books, 1525-1640, 1667-1855.

Chanc. CP.  Prior to 1800, Chancery cause papers are in the main series (see below, 5.5), but after 1800 they can be found in this separate class.  Many pew disputes; some clerical discipline cases (e.g. Chanc. CP 1820/1, case against Revd Thomas Cotterill for using his own unauthorised version of the metrical psalms); tithes; brawling in church and churchyard; matrimonial and divorce (e.g. Chanc. CP 1803/3, Lees v Lees, a case of marital breakdown recorded in immense detail).

[Back to the top]

York Consistory court

Cons. AB.  Court books, 1417-30, 1484-8, 1497, 1503-1641, 1661-1855.  Some late medieval court books (1371, 1371-5, 1426-7) are in York Minster Library.  Prior to 1503 the series is very incomplete, but thereafter the surviving run of court books is almost unbroken.

Cons. CP.  Prior to 1800, Chancery cause papers are in the main series (see below, 5.5), but after 1800 they can be found in this separate class.  Chiefly defamation cases; also divorce, restitution of conjugal rights, non-payment of church rates, non-payment of tithes.

[Back to the top]

York Exchequer court

Exch. AB.  Court books, 1548-72, 1591-1607, 1628-1857.

Test. CP.  Cause papers relating to testamentary disputes, 1700-1850, extracted from the main series (CP I; see below, 5.5).  Most of these relate to Exchequer cases, though the Chancery, Consistory and Dean & Chapter’s courts are also represented.  Typescript handlist and index (name, place, occupation) in search room.

[Back to the top]

Records relating to more than one court

Abs. Bk.  Abstract books for all courts, 1634-1924.  Lists of cases, with names of plaintiffs and defendants and occasional notes on the progress of a case (e.g. ‘ad idem’, ‘prohib.’).  A sampling of these volumes suggests that many, perhaps most, are day-books kept by individual proctors, recording only those cases in which they were involved, rather than all the cases coming before the courts.  A comparison of one volume, for 1636-7, with the corresponding Chancery court book (Cons. AB 73) suggests that the abstract book contains no information that cannot also be found in the court book.

Cav. Bk.  Caveat books, 1521-1653, 1662-73, 1680-1752, 1778-1859.

Cit. Bk.  Citation books for all courts, mostly combined in a single series of volumes, 1611-1695, but with three volumes solely devoted to Exchequer business, 1624-92.

Cit.  Citations, arranged in a single chronological series covering all courts, 1595-1857.  42 boxes in all, but relatively little of this is pre-1700.

Com. Bk.  Commissions books for all courts, 1611-83, recording commissions to clergy (e.g. to grant probate, to swear witnesses and executors).

CP.  Main series of cause papers, arranged chronologically as follows:
CP. E.  1301-99.  Listed in D.M. Smith, Ecclesiastical Cause Papers at York: the Court of York 1301-1399 (Borthwick Texts & Calendars 14, 1988).
CP. F.  1400-99.  Loose documents housed in folders within stiff board portfolios; rolls housed in boxes as separate series (CP. F. Rolls).  Listed in D.M. Smith, The Court of York 1400-1499: a handlist of the cause papers and an index to the archiepiscopal court books (Borthwick Texts & Calendars 29, 2003).
CP. G.  1500-99.  Mostly arranged chronologically, but with a group of papers at the end (CP. G 3295 et seq.) out of chronological order.  Listed in J.S. Purvis’s handlists (photocopy available in search room), which include names, places, type of document (articles, interrogatories, etc.), usually subject, occasionally short extracts of interest.
CP. H. 1600-99.  Listed in J.S. Purvis’s handlists.
CP. I.  1700-99.  Listed in J.S. Purvis’s handlists.  Testamentary cases moved to separate class (see 5.4 above); the remainder are principally defamation cases, also including tithe cases (declining in number by late c18), adultery/fornication (fairly uncommon), divorce/cruelty (also fairly uncommon but increasing in late c18).

Trans. CP.  Cause papers in appeal cases.  Listed in W.J. Sheils, Ecclesiastical Cause Papers at York: files transmitted on appeal 1500-1883 (Borthwick Texts & Calendars 9, 1983).  In a few cases these can be correlated with files of cause papers surviving in other dioceses, e.g. Cheshire RO, EDC 5/1607 (Mainwaring v Trussell & Eccleston, 1607), Lancashire RO, ARR 13/7/23 (Harrison v Muggall, 1725).

Fac. & Fac. Bk.  Faculty papers (1621-1950) and Faculty books (1737-1948).

[Back to the top]

Proctors’ papers

DR. C&P.  Diocesan Registrar: correspondence and working papers.  Miscellaneous collection of notes, lists, legal papers, forms and precedents, including private as well as official papers, evidently ‘stored together in the registry without any attempt at segregation’ (Guide, p. 45).

Prec. Bk.  Formularies and precedent books.  49 vols, including one c14 formulary, otherwise late c16 onwards.

[Back to the top]

Episcopal visitation records

Court books, 1567 to nineteenth century.  Listed in detail in the Borthwick Guide, pp 62-85. 

The following visitation court books for the archdeaconry of Nottingham are held in Nottingham University Library:

AN/A 6.  Archbishop Piers, court book 1590-1.
AN/A 8.  Archbishop Piers, court book 1594.
AN/A 10/1.  Archbishop Hutton, court book 1595-6.
AN/A 11.  Archbishop Hutton, court book 1600.
AN/A 13 & 24.  Archbishop Hutton, court book 1604.
AN/A 13 & 24.  Archbishop Matthew, court book 1607.
AN/A 23.  Archbishop Matthew, court book 1615.
AN/A 46.  Archbishop Neile, court book 1640.

Another visitation court book for the archdeaconry of Nottingham, 1687, is held in the Borthwick (D/C. SV. V/CB) among the records of the Dean & Chapter’s sede vacante jurisdiction.

[Back to the top]

Dean & Chapter's court

D/C.AB.  Court books, 1387-1494, 1503-24, 1529-41, 1554-60, 1567-1634, 1661 to nineteenth century.
D/C. Abs.Bk.  Abstract books, 1681-1834.
D/C. Cit. & Cit.Bk.  Citations, 1641-1845, and citation books, 1661-4 and 1674-86.  Another citation book for 1665-74 is in York Minster Library.
D/C. Cit.N.  Citation notes, c17 to c19.
D/C. CP.  Cause papers.  Listed in K.M. Longley, Ecclesiastical Cause Papers at York: the Dean and Chapter’s Court, 1350-1843 (Borthwick Texts & Calendars 6, 1980).
D/C. Fac.  Faculty papers, 1674-1832.
D/C. Seq.  Sequestrations, 1675, 1742 (2 items).

D/C. V/CB.  Visitation court books, 1638-40 (Nottinghamshire peculiars), 1670 (fragment), 1671-2 (fragment).
D/C. V/C.  Calls, 1618, 1714, 1722.
D/C. V/Cit.  Citation mandates, 1677, 1687, 1697.
D/C. V/AE.  Visitation articles, 1664, 1705.
D/C. V/Ch.P.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1616-1778.
D/C. V/Co.C.  Citations, 1682-1763.
D/C. V/Exc.  Excommunications, 1716-62.
D/C. V/Pen.  Penances, 1666-1778.
D/C. V/Inj.  Printed injunctions, 1705.
D/C. VP.  Visitation process, 1513-14, including proceedings against Thomas Dalby, archdeacon of Richmond.
D/C. V/Misc.  Visitation papers, 1663-70.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of York

Y.V/CB.  Court books, 1598, 1613, 1664-1836.
Y.V/C.  Call books, 1698 to nineteenth century.
Y.V/Exh. Bk.  Exhibit books, 1720-1847.
Y.V/Cit.  Citation mandates, 1708 to nineteenth century.
Y.V/Ch.P.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1677-1835.
Y.V/Ch.D.  Churchwardens’ oaths and declarations, 1780 to nineteenth century.
Y.V/Co.C.  Citations, 1696-1834.
Y.V/Exc.  Excommunications, 1682-1803.
Y.V/Pen.  Penances, 1600-1819.
Y.V/Ret.  Visitation returns, 1721, 1723-31.
Y.V/Misc.  Visitation papers, c17 to c19.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of Cleveland

C.V/CB.  Court books, 1632, 1634, 1641, 1701-87.
C.V/C.  Calls, 1788 to nineteenth century.
C.V/Exh, Bk.  Exhibit books, 1681, 1684, 1712-1820.
C.V/Cit.  Citation mandates, 1670 to nineteenth century.
C.V/Ch.P.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1769-1832.
C.V/Ch.D.  Churchwardens’ oaths and declarations, 1802-1915.
C.V/Co.C.  Citations, 1788-1823.
C.V/Exc.  Excommunications, 1706-96.
C.V/Pen.  Penances, 1808 (only 1 item).  Other penances and excommunications can be found in the court books.
C.V/Misc.  Visitation papers, c17 to c19.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of the East Riding

ER.V/CB.  Court books, 1663, 1665, 1670-91, 1694-1885.
ER.V/Exh.Bk.  Exhibit books, 1663, 1715-1863.
ER.V/Cit.  Citation mandates, 1721 to nineteenth century.
ER.V/Ch.P.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1672-1834.
ER.V/Ch.D.  Churchwardens’ oaths and declarations, 1728 to nineteenth century.
ER.V/Co.C.  Citations, 1671-1827.
ER.V/Exc.  Excommunications, 1669-1792.
ER.V/Pen.  Penances, 1692-1803.
ER.V/Ret.  Visitation returns, 1720-5.
ER.V/Misc.  Visitation papers, c17 to c19.

[Back to the top]

Archdeaconry court of Nottingham

The records of the archdeaconry of Nottingham form one of the largest and most complete church court archives in the northern province, with extensive runs of court books, cause papers and churchwardens’ presentments from the late sixteenth to the late eighteenth century.  All the records are held in Nottingham University Library, where they are catalogued under the general classmark AN.  A typescript handlist is available in the Special Collections reading room, supplemented by an online catalogue of the presentments.  The following list includes all the records except for the marriage bonds (MB 1-280) and marriage licence books (ML 372-3), and some nineteenth-century documents (articles, declarations and processes) post-dating the transfer of the archdeaconry into the diocese of Lincoln in 1837.

AN/A 1-82.  Court books, 1565-1643, 1662-1835.  Court held in St Peter’s church, Nottingham (and in the sixteenth century, sometimes in the judge’s own house), under the presidency of the archdeacon’s official or his surrogate.  The court dealt with both instance and office cases (thus, in effect, functioning as a consistory as well as an archdeaconry court) and these two sides of its activities were sometimes recorded in separate volumes, as at Durham.  For example, there are two distinct sets of court books for 1565-89 (office cases surviving from 1565, instance cases from 1576), for most of the 1620s and 1630s, and for most of the 1660s and 1670s.  However, this arrangement was not consistently observed, and many volumes contain a mixture of office and instance cases.  By the eighteenth century, it was customary to keep a draft court book (or ‘Journal’) as well as the more formal court book (or ‘Register’), and these are often preserved together.  A number of archiepiscopal visitation court books, 1590-1640, are also included in this series; and these are listed with the main collection of visitation records at the Borthwick (see above, 5.6).

AN/AC 83-100.  Account books.  A miscellaneous collection, mostly c18 and c19, including the account book of John Tibberd, deputy registrar, 1603-29 (AC 83) and an account book of procurations and synodals received annually, 1782-1825 (AC 93).

AN/C 101-165.  Citations, 1590-1605, 1607-9, 1611-40, 1661-97, 1702-69.  Later citations, 1771-1856, are catalogued with the visitation papers (V 378).

AN/CL 166-178.  Call books (clergy and churchwardens).  Nottingham deanery: 1606-42, 1663-1854.  Bingham deanery: 1610-42, 1663-1859.  Newark deanery: 1613, 1625, 1663-1859.  Retford deanery: 1610-42, 1663-1859.

AN/E 179-96.  Excommunications and absolutions, 1573-6, 1591-6, 1599-1608, 1627-38, 1669-1768.

AN/EX 197-200.  Exhibit books, 1717-82, 1810.

AN/IM 201-214.  Induction mandates, 1556-1606, 1608-26, 1628-40, 1660 to nineteenth century.  A list of inductions down to 1696 (name, date, parish) is Appendix B of the typescript handlist.

AN/LB 215-245.  Cause papers, 1560s, 1575-9, 1581-92, 1596-1623, 1625-41, 1662-1791.  Though catalogued under the general heading of ‘Libels’ these include cause papers of many different types: e.g. libels, interrogatories, responses, depositions, bills of cost.  The number of files for any given year varies widely, from one or two to over a hundred (but averaging about thirty), with each file containing one or more documents relating to a particular case.  At present they are virtually uncatalogued, with no list or index of names.  A random sampling of the sixteenth-century papers suggests that nearly all relate to instance cases, covering the usual range of litigation (tithe, testamentary, matrimonial, defamation), though there are also a few churchwardens’ presentments.

AN/L 246-249.  Lists of clergy, 1660-1722, 1751, 1779, 1837, 1842.

AN/M 252-281.  Miscellaneous.  Includes ‘case books’, 1619-20 (M 253, not seen but apparently a stray from the main series of court books); correspondence between Sir Edward Lake (official) and John Coombes (registrar), 1653-67; Compton Census returns, 1676; Southwell synod minute book, 1757-70; registrar’s letter book, 1830-35.  Also includes some material identified in the handlist only as ‘miscellaneous papers’: from a random sampling, these appear to be mostly commissions to surrogates.

AN/P 282-291.  Precedent books.  11 vols, late c16 to early c19.  The earliest of these, and the most important, are three volumes apparently compiled and/or owned by John Tibberd, deputy registrar and notary public: P282 (copies of documents from the archdeaconry of Nottingham, c. 1590), P283 (copies of documents from the archdeaconries of Berkshire, c. 1590, and Nottingham, c. 1590-1620, with a few legal opinions and notes on medicine and astrology) and P284 (bound volume of original cause papers from the archdeaconries of Essex and Nottingham, c. 1630).

AN/PB 292-351.  Churchwardens’ presentments, 1587, 1589, 1596, 1598-1643, 1663-1756.  Arranged in annual bundles, with separate series for the four deaneries of Nottingham, Bingham, Newark and Retford.  At present (Jan 2004), there is a detailed online catalogue of all presentments down to 1643, and this is being extended to cover the later documents as well.

AN/PN 352-370.  Penances, 1590-95, 1602, 1607-41, 1662-65, 1668-1794.  See A.C. Wood, ‘Nottinghamshire Penances (1590-1794)’, in Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire, vol. 48 (1944), pp 52-63.

AN/PV 374-375.  Parochial Visitation Books.  2 vols, 1718-29 and 1730-36.  List of parishes, with detailed notes on repairs to be made to the church fabric and items to be bought for use in church (e.g. Bible, Book of Homilies, hearse cloth, alms basin, font cover).

AN/V 376-380.  Visitation papers.  Small collection, including 1585 visitation articles (printed in A.C. Wood, ‘The Nottinghamshire Presentment Bills of 1587’, in Thomas M. Blagg, ed., A Miscellany of Nottinghamshire Records, Thoroton Society Records Series, vol. 11, 1945), other papers 1580-90, list of visitation preachers 1755-1832, citations 1771-1856.

[Back to the top]

Records of peculiar jurisdictions

Records of the peculiar of Southwell, within the archdeaconry of Nottingham but under the personal jurisdiction of the archbishop of York.  These records are now in the Nottinghamshire Archives Office:
Court books, 1563-95, 1660-1851.
Presentments, c16-c17.
Penances, excommunications and absolutions, c16 to c18.

[Back to the top]