Catalogue description Palatinate of Lancaster: Court of Common Pleas: Writ Files

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Details of PL 20
Reference: PL 20
Title: Palatinate of Lancaster: Court of Common Pleas: Writ Files

The bulk of this series consists of original and judicial writs returned at the Palatinate Court of Common Pleas, and kept in sessional files by the Prothonotary of that Court. The series contains a nearly unbroken sequence of writs between 1462 and 1846 with three earlier files of 1434, 1440 and 1449.

Before 1811 jury panels endorsed with the verdicts were attached to some writs; thereafter these writs and jury panels were filed separately. Many writs bear a cross reference to the plea roll on which proceedings in the case were recorded.

Usually there were two sessions each year: one during Lent and the other near a Feast Day between July and September. For the purposes of this catalogue the sessions have been dated as Spring and Autumn.

Note: Until the end of Henry VIII's reign (1547) there is some overlap between this series and the series of indictments and other sessional documents maintained by the Clerk of the Crown ( PL 26). PL 20 contains some files relating to Crown business which would normally be found in PL 26 and conversely PL 26 contains some files of writs in common pleas and some bills of pleas which would usually be found in PL 20. A consolidated list of the two series up to the year 1546 has been prepared as a Supplementary Finding Aid to both. This is filed with PL 20 in the in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew. In it the common categories of documents are listed in the order of the session to which they relate. The categories are: Original and judicial writs many with jury panels attached; Writs of assize also with some jury panels attached (a few files contain jury panels without the associated.
Date: 1434-1846
Related material:

While the Palatinate was in abeyance between 1361 and 1377, pleas were heard at the Westminster Court of Common Pleas. Pleas covering this period, possibly also with some writs dating from 1351 to 1361, are held in CP 52

See also PL 26

Separated material:

Writs for years 1847 to 1868 remained in Preston for the purposes of current business when most of the Palatinate's records were transferred to the Public Record Office in 1873 but their present location is unknown. Sessions were held at Lancaster and Preston between 1351 and 1361, when Henry, Duke of Lancaster exercised palatinate powers, but the only surviving writs seem to be the few attached to plea rolls of sessions in:

DL 35


Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 399 boxes, bundles and files

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