The records in this series consist of pleadings in equity cases initiated in the court of Chancery.
They often comprise the plaintiff's bill of complaint only, but the defendant's answer and other documents in the process, including the plaintiffs's replication to the answer, are also filed in many cases.
By the reign of James I, the bill gave the plaintiff's name, rank in life, occupation and place of residence.
Matters in dispute include inheritance, lands, trusts, mortgages, debts and marriage settlements.
The first 44 bundles (6782 entries) of this series is searchable by names of first named plaintiff and one or more defendant, place and subject, thanks to the work of the Friends of The National Archives in inputting the descriptions from manuscript finding aids available at The National Archives. The rest of the series mostly has only the surname of the fist named plaintiff and surname of one defendant. Some entries have the full name of the first named plaintiff. Document type, and some improved dates have been added from OBS 1/388-392. This work was completed in 2016.
In addition, the opportunity was taken to add four codes to help researchers identify causes brought by different types of litigant, as follows:
- By gender: SFP for sole female plaintiff, and JFP for joint female plaintiffs - where the bill was filed in the name of females only. [Sole here does not imply femme sole, although many female litigants were widows or spinsters]. This is not completely to be trusted, as it omits a widow acting for infant sons but includes a widow acting for infant daughters.
- By corporate body: CBP brings up monastic houses, colleges, London companies etc.
- By unincorporate body - a group acting in a joint interest: UBP will produce churchwardens, parishioners, copyholders, manorial tenants, inhabitants etc.
These codes (SFP, JFP, CBP, UBP) can of course be used with other search terms.
For the related bill books arranged alphabetically under the plaintiffs' names see: IND 1/2136 - IND 1/2151; Cause Books for the Six Clerks can be found in IND 1/4105 - IND 1/4207