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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/0589
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives - click here to see details of the physical location of collection
Date(s): 1701-1783
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.16 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Court of King's Bench x Court of Queen's Bench
Court of Exchequer
Court of Common Pleas
Court of Chancery


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Court of Common Pleas was founded by King Henry II to hear common pleas (matters between subject and subject). It was the only Court where personal actions of account, covenant, debt and detinue could be heard. The Court also had jurisdiction to review and change the decisions of older courts. From 1187 the Court sat at Westminster. The Court was headed by a Chief Justice, working with a team of lesser justices (between three and eight in number at various times) and a large number of clerks. The Court was abolished in 1875.

The Court of King's Bench (or Queen's Bench, depending on the monarch) was founded circa 1200 to hear common pleas, although it came to specialise in pleas of special interest and concern to the king, such as those which involved his own property interests, or breach of his peace, or an error of judgment by another royal court. By 1675 the King's Bench was the highest court of common law in England and Wales, with jurisdiction over both civil and criminal actions. Civil business was conducted on the 'Plea Side' and criminal business on the 'Crown Side'. It was absorbed into the High Court in 1875 (source of information: The National Archives Research Guides "Legal Records Information 34" and "Legal Records Information 36").

The Court of Exchequer originated after the Norman Conquest as a financial committee of the Curia Regis (the King's Court). By the reign of Henry II it had become separate, and was responsible for the collection of the king's revenue as well as for judging cases affecting the revenue. By the 13th century the court proper and the exchequer or treasury began to separate. The court's jurisdiction over common pleas now steadily increased, to include, for example, money disputes between private litigants. A second Court of Exchequer Chamber was set up in 1585 to amend errors of the Court of the King's Bench. These were amalgamated in 1830 when a single Court of Exchequer emerged as a court of appeal intermediate between the common-law courts and the House of Lords. In 1875 the Court of Exchequer became, by the Judicature Act of 1873, part of the High Court of Justice, and in 1880 was combined with the Court of Common Pleas (source of information: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008).

The Lord Chancellor and his deputies sat in the Court of Chancery to hear disputes about inheritance and wills, lands, trusts, debts, marriage settlements, apprenticeships and so on. As an equity court, Chancery was not bound by the stricter rules of common law courts. Please see The National Archives Research Guides "Legal Records Information 22", "Legal Records Information 42" and "Legal Records Information 28" for more information (all available online).


Scope and content/abstract:

Legal proceedings for various courts, 1701-1783, including Exchequer proceedings, Common Pleas proceedings, Queens Bench proceedings, and Chancery proceedings. The court cases relate to debts, damages, disputes over wills and inheritance, perjury, assault and theft.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Documents in chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Gifted to the Archive in January 1956.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
November 2009 to February 2010

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