Registrar of the High Court of Delegates: Sentences

Registrar of the High Court of Delegates: Sentences

Sentences recording judgments of the High Court of Delegates, mostly those in favour of the successful party, but also some drawn up by the losing party and not accepted by the court.

Held by:
The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:
Public Record
High Court of Delegates, 1533-1833
Physical description:
36 bundles and files
Custodial history:
The majority of the records which now form the series DEL 1 to DEL 8 were transferred to the Public Record Office at various dates between 1863 and 1923. They came from the registry of the High Court of Admiralty and its successor, the Admiralty registry of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court.
Administrative / biographical background:

After examination of the evidence in a case, the judges-delegate would proceed to judgement and sentence. In civil courts the sentences would be drafted by the parties, each drawing up a judgement favourable to their cause. These would be 'porrected' or handed to the judges and the successful party's sentence read out in court. The judges-delegate came to their decisions by simple majority and they were not required to give reasons for their decisions.

The porrected sentence accepted by the court would usually be identified by having the word 'justitiam' or 'sententiam' written into the text and the document would be signed by the judges and the successful party's advocates. Finally, the sentence would be endorsed by the court official in whose presence the sentence was delivered by means of a certificate of promulgation. It was not unusual for other documents to be attached to the sentences, such as schedules of penance or copies of disputed wills.

The regular practice of porrecting sentences appears to have ceased around 1755. Thereafter, the judges-delegate found for one or another party by means of a 'final decree or sentence'.

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