Records of the High Court of Delegates
Records of the High Court of Delegates and its successor, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and other civil law courts relating to the hearing of appeals from church courts, the High Court of Admiralty in instance causes and the Court of Chivalry and the Courts of the Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Records of the High Court of Delegates are in the following classes:
- acts DEL 4
- assignation books DEL 6
- case books DEL 7
- cause papers DEL 2
- depositions DEL 3
- exhibits (wills, etc.) DEL 10
- miscellanea DEL 8, DEL 11
- muniment books DEL 9
- processes DEL 1
- sentences DEL 5
The court's records are in English from 1651 to 1660 and from 1733. Outside these periods, Latin is used for formal records; depositions, personal answers, exhibits and extracts from documents are in their original language.
Re-arrangement of DEL records in 1974:
In 1974, DEL 2 and DEL 8 were thoroughly examined and their contents re-arranged and re-listed. DEL 2, in particular, was subject to a complete overhaul, as it was extremely difficult to use and was not complete, cause papers being split between DEL 2 and DEL 8. This exercise resulted in a number of internal transfers between DEL series and some renumbering of pieces, the main changes being:
- DEL 1/737-740 were transferred into the series from pieces in the range that formerly bore the numbers DEL 2/98-119.
- DEL 1/741-742 were transferred into the series from DEL 8/74-87.
- DEL 2, which had originally been numbered 1-119 was renumbered 1-170. [There is not necessarily any correlation between the old and new piece numbers. A conspectus of old and new numbers does not appear to have been compiled at the time; it was thought that published references to old numbers could be traced using the cause titles].
- DEL 3/24 was transferred from DEL 2 (former location unclear).
- DEL 4/27-29 were transferred into the series from pieces in the range that formerly bore the numbers DEL 2/98-119.
- DEL 5/36 was transferred from the same source.
- DEL 8/64 had some items added from DEL 2 (original location unclear).
- DEL 8/88-96 were transferred into the series from pieces in the range that formerly bore the number DEL 2/98-119.
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 1833-
Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division, 1873-1970
In the middle ages, appeals from the High Court of Admiralty were made to the King in Chancery who appointed judges delegate to hear them. When Henry VIII broke with the Pope a similar system was introduced under the Submission of Clergy Act 1533, following the Ecclesiastical Appeals Act 1532, in place of the practice whereby final appeals from the ecclesiastical courts, principally in matrimonial and testamentary causes and matters of church discipline, had gone to Rome. As a consequence of these acts there emerged a High Court of Delegates, which was constituted on the occasion of each appeal by a special commission, under the Great Seal, directed to judges delegate appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
In addition to dealing with appeals from the church courts, such as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the High Court of Delegates also heard appeals from judgments of the High Court of Admiralty in instance causes. It also exercised an appellate jurisdiction from the Court of Chivalry and the Courts of the Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Notwithstanding the Judgment of Delegates Act 1566, which provided that definitive judgments and sentences of the Delegates in civil and maritime causes should be final, commission of review were occasionally granted on petition to the King in Council.
In February 1833 by the Privy Council Appeals Act 1832, the jurisdiction of the High Court of Delegates passed to the King in Council and, later in the same year, under the Judicial Committee Act 1833, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Under the latter act the jurisdiction of the High Court of Appeals for Prizes was also transferred to the Judicial Committee.
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