Catalogue description Records of the Crown Court

Details of Division within PL
Reference: Division within PL
Title: Records of the Crown Court

Records of the Palatinate of Lancaster's Crown Court relating to criminal jurisdiction.


  • Assize rolls, etc, PL 25
  • Depositions, PL 27
  • Indictments files, coroners' files, etc, PL 26
  • Recognizances, PL 45
  • Miscellaneous records, PL 28

Date: 1357-1970
Related material:

For records of the Northern Assize circuit, see Records of Justices of Assize, Gaol Delivery, Oyer and Terminer, and Nisi Prius Division within ASSI

Separated material:

Few records of the early years of the Palatinate have survived. When Henry, Duke of Lancaster died in 1361 the King ordered his executors to deliver to the royal Exchequer all the records of the duke's justices. What remain of the early records of the Crown Court have been dispersed.

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Palatinate of Lancaster, Crown Court, 1351-1361

Palatinate of Lancaster, Crown Court, 1377-1875

Physical description: 5 series
Administrative / biographical background:

The business of the Crown Court was similar to the business of the Crown side of the Court of King's Bench at Westminster. It was the superior court of criminal jurisdiction and dealt with more serious offences, including those remitted by the justices of the peace. Its judges delivered Lancaster gaol, received coroners' inquisitions and dealt with indictments concerning felonies such as murder, treason, trespass and riot. It also dealt with the possessory assizes during the 15th and 16th centuries. The court also supervised local administrative matters, for example acting upon presentments concerning failure to repair highways and bridges.

In the charter establishing the Palatinate the correction of error and pardoning of the life and limb of offenders was reserved to the Crown. This was exercised through the Court of King's Bench at Westminster. In its turn the Crown Court acted as a superior court to lower courts within the county.

The chief officer of the Crown Court was the Clerk of Crown Pleas, or Clerk of the Crown, who was appointed by the Chancellor of the Duchy. He had custody of the records of the court, made out writs of process, and was responsible for all practical arrangements for the court's sessions. The clerk could also be commissioned as an associate justice. From the 15th century the clerk was a lawyer. The clerk's office was at Preston (although the Crown Court sat at Lancaster) and, from the mid 19th century, Liverpool and Manchester.

In 1873 the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (36 and 37 Victoria, c66) abolished the common law and criminal jurisdictions of the Palatinate of Lancaster. From 1875 the Crown Court was absorbed into the Northern Assize circuit and its clerk became the clerk of assize.

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