High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Assignation Books, Series I

HCA 43
High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Assignation Books, Series I

This series consists of assignation books (series I) of the High Court of Appeals for Prizes.

The assignation books are in practice the minute books of the court, containing notes of the cases that came before the court in each session and the action taken on them. The date of the session is followed by the names of the persons before whom the cases were heard. These might be some of the Commissioners of Appeals in Prize, but more frequently cases were heard simply before a surrogate in his chambers. The details of each case were entered, beginning with the name of the vessel and that of the master, followed by the summary of the assignation (the business to be transacted) and the names of the proctors representing the parties. Below that was written a statement of the business actually done, and what action was decided.

The early assignation books were kept untidily, and were written at speed while the court was sitting. The information written therein and in the minutes or drafts of Acts were written up as fair copy in the Act books. The Act books ceased to be kept in 1713, however, and not long afterwards the assignation books became the neat, indexed, definitive record of the courts' business.


'Series I' of the assignation books is a general series, irrespective of the nationality of the prize, running from 1689 to 1783. In 1779 four separate series of assignation books were begun, each dealing with a specific adversary; these are shown as subseries in the catalogue. These subseries were not all continued, however: the French, Spanish and American subseries ended in 1802, 1793 and 1796 respectively. Only the Dutch subseries continued. Each subseries is in chronological order.

Related Material:
Later assignation books are in HCA 44
Held by:
The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:
Public Record
High Court of Appeals for Prizes, 1533-1833
Physical description:
38 volume(s)
Unpublished finding aids:
Notes on this series are available in printed form at the Public Record Office.

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