Palatinate of Chester: Court of Great Sessions of Chester: Enrolments of Final Concords and Common Recoveries
This series contains enrolments of final concords and common recoveries, instruments which were the result of collusive cases brought in the court as a means of transferring land property by agreement, from the Court of Great Sessions of Chester. Each roll consists of a number of smaller rolls made up for particular sessions of the court, each one dealing with either fines or common recoveries. Each of them is headed with the date of the session and the statement that it consists of 'enrolments... of writs and other dependent documents for fines [or common recoveries] according to the form of the statute providing for this case'.
Justices were responsible for examining and signing each entry, upon pain of 40 shillings for failure to do so, and their signatures consistently appear. In practice many of the early entries at least were examined by the current prothonotary of Chester and Flint. The clerks doing the work were not entitled by the statute to any fee themselves.
The earliest material is from the session of April 1586, so there may once have been a little earlier material which has not survived. What was recorded was not simply the fine or recovery itself, but also, as the heading states, the preliminary process documents. A typical entry for a common recovery began with the full text of the initiating writ of entry super disseisin in le post, issued in the monarch's name at Chester; following that, the names of the fictitious pledges, among whom John Doo and Richard Roo were usually prominent; the writ of summons to warrant, and its return; the enrolment of the formal proceedings; and the warrants of attorney for each demandant, tenant and vouchee.
Entries of fines usually begin with the full text of the initiating writ of covenant, followed by the names of the fictitious pledges; the concord, the foot of the fine, with its endorsements noting the dates on which it was proclaimed in court; the payment for licence to concord; and the note of the payment of king's silver, or post-fine. The justices named in the fine were the justice of Chester himself, or his deputy, and the 'other justice'. The enrolment of a fine usually required at least one whole side of a rotulus; recoveries entries were generally of similar length, but could be shorter.
There are no enrolments later than 1703 although the maintenance of the rolls remained a formal statutory requirement until 1887. There had in any case been a considerable fall in the numbers of enrolments during the second half of the seventeenth century, so it may well be that they simply petered out shortly after 1700.
The act of 1584 (27 Eliz I, c 9) extended to Wales and the English palatinates the provisions of the act of 1580 (23 Eliz I, c 3) 'for the reformation of errors in fines and recoveries', the professed intention of which was to provide a safeguard for title to property against negligence or mistakes made by officers of the court in preparing these instruments. For an appropriate fee charged on a scale prescribed by the statute, the enrolled copies were as valid in law as the filed originals. The act provided for the establishment of an Office for the Enrolments of Fines and Recoveries.
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- CHES Records of the courts of the Palatinate of Chester, including the county of Flint
- Records of the County Court and Courts of Great Sessions for Chester and Flint
- CHES 32 Palatinate of Chester: Court of Great Sessions of Chester: Enrolments of Final Concords...