Catalogue description Records of Vice-Admiralty Courts

Details of Division within HCA
Reference: Division within HCA
Title: Records of Vice-Admiralty Courts

Records of the Vice-Admiralty courts and colonial courts of Admiralty relating to the administration of Admiralty jurisdiction in the Crown's overseas colonies and dominions, and the maritime counties of England and Wales.

Records of proceedings in Vice-Admiralty courts as were forwarded to the High Court of Admiralty are in HCA 49. Prize commissions, letters patent and warrants relating to Vice-Admiralty courts are in HCA 59

Date: 1593-1956
Related material:

Other records relating to Vice-Admiralty courts will be found in:

Cuttings from Lloyds List concerning prize cases in Vice-Admiralty courts, 1914 to 1919, are in CO 837

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 2 series
Administrative / biographical background:

Anciently, many seaport boroughs had courts of Admiralty but, except in the Cinque Ports, their jurisdiction was abolished by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. Abroad, Vice-Admiralty courts were established from the early part of the 17th century, acting under commissions from the Crown authorising governors of colonies to exercise such powers as in England appertained to the Lord High Admiral. Subsequently they were regulated by various statutes, the last of which was the Vice-Admiralty Courts Act 1863. This Act was repealed by the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act 1890 under which Admiralty jurisdiction outside the United Kingdom was subsequently exercised, though nowadays on a greatly reduced scale following the grant of independence to many former colonies.

Appeals from decisions of Vice-Admiralty courts lay variously to the High Court of Admiralty, the High Court of Appeals for Prizes and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Appeals from colonial Courts of Admiralty in the exercise of their civil jurisdiction lie to any local court of appeal and thereafter to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which also hears appeals in prize causes.

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