Catalogue description Court of King's Bench: Plea Side: Declaraciones Files

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Details of KB 152
Reference: KB 152
Title: Court of King's Bench: Plea Side: Declaraciones Files

Declaration files of the Court of King's Bench.

The declarations (declaraciones) which they contain, also sometimes referred to as narrations (narraciones), were bills containing the real causes of actions which had already for procedural reasons been begun by bill of Middlesex and latitat. The declarations effectively initiated most of the pleas found in the plea section of the court's plea rolls in KB 27, where the substance of their contents was enrolled as part of the entry, although they can supply additional details not available in the roll. Even more important, they record the commencement of the very numerous cases which never reached the stage of enrolment. They contain a wealth of material about many people living and many matters arising between 1549-1630, and have never previously been available for research.

Date: 1549-1630

The files begin as term files, one per term. Individual declarations were normally undated until Hilary or Easter term 1569; they then began to be dated at the bottom left-hand corner. From about 1576, two or more files began to be made up for some terms, and from 1578 the declarations in some files are numbered; from Michaelmas term 1581 such numbering is the norm, the first series in which this happened, later to be followed by the others. The number of bills in a file, taken from the number of the bill on the top, is given in the list; where the number given is in square brackets, the figure is supplied by adding the number which appears on a bill very near the top of the file, with the addition of whatever number of bills lie above it; or it represents the highest numbered bill in a partial file.

By 1591 there were typically 8-9,000 declarations being filed in up to ten files per year, making the files heavy and awkward to handle. Therefore, at Michaelmas that year, it was decided to to file them by the first letter of the plaintiff's surname. For five terms these arrangements were experimental, but then a pattern of 17 files per term, 14 for single letters with composite files for IJK, NO and EUVYQXZ, emerged. This pattern broadly continued until the files virtually disappear in 1630, and is still visible in the few surviving files from the second half of the seventeenth century.

Related material:

Declarations earlier than Easter term 1549 were files in the Bille files now in KB 147

Separated material:

The series is very full until 1630, when it comes to an abrupt but almost complete end, due to some apparently unrecorded act of destruction. A few later files do survive for various dates, but there is no prospect of finding substantial runs of files surviving from after 1630. A few files later than 1630 do survive, for various dates and letters, between Easter term 1667 and Hilary term 1684, and are now in KB 32/7-8.

Three files for Easter term 5 Chas I (D, G, EVQ) are among the miscellanea in KB 32/10

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Latin
Physical description: 2597 file(s)
Restrictions on use: 3 working days notice to produce
Accruals: Further, so far unidentified, files are likely to be found among unsorted miscellanea and added to the series, while many loose declarations which have been separated from their files exist among unsorted miscellanea; they will at some stage be assembled and made generally available.
Administrative / biographical background:

These files were begun in Easter term 1549, probably on the initiative of Richard Heywode, joint chief clerk of the court, to include declarations formerly filed in the Bille files.

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