Court of King's Bench: Plea Side: Declaraciones Files
Declaration files of the Court of King's Bench.
The declarations (declaraciones) which they contain, also sometimes referred to as narrations (narraciones), were bills containing the real causes of actions which had already for procedural reasons been begun by bill of Middlesex and latitat. The declarations efectively initiated most of the pleas found in the plea section of the court's plea rolls in KB 27, where the substance of their contents was enrolled as part of the entry, although they can supply additional details not available in the roll. Even more important, they record the commencement of the very numerous cases which never reached the stage of enrolment. They contain a wealth of material about many people living and many matters arising between 1549-1630, and have never previously been available for research.
The files begin as term files, one per term. Individual declarations were normally undated until Hilary or Easter term 1569; they then began to be dated at the bottom left-hand corner. From about 1576, two or more files began to be made up for some terms, and from 1578 the declarations in some files are numbered; from Michaelmas term 1581 such numbering is the norm, the first series in which this happened, later to be followed by the others. The number of bills in a file, taken from the number of the bill on the top, is given in the list; where the number given is in square brackets, the figure is supplied by adding the number which appears on a bill very near the top of the file, with the addition of whatever number of bills lie above it; or it represents the highest numbered bill in a partial file.
By 1591 there were typically 8-9,000 declarations being filed in up to ten files per year, making the files heavy and awkward to handle. Therefore, at Michaelmas that year, it was decided to to file them by the first letter of the plaintiff's surname. For five terms these arrangements were experimental, but then a pattern of 17 files per term, 14 for single letters with composite files for IJK, NO and EUVYQXZ, emerged. This pattern broadly continued until the files virtually disappear in 1630, and is still visible in the few surviving files from the second half of the seventeenth century.
Three files for Easter term 5 Chas I (D, G, EVQ) are among the miscellanea in KB 32/10
These files were begun in Easter term 1549, probably on the initiative of Richard Heywode, joint chief clerk of the court, to include declarations formerly filed in the Bille files.
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