Catalogue description Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Cause Papers, Later Series

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Details of PROB 37
Reference: PROB 37
Title: Prerogative Court of Canterbury: Cause Papers, Later Series

Comprises papers relating to some late eighteenth century and some nineteenth century causes before the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The papers include such documents as allegations of plaintiffs, answers of respondents, depositions of witnesses, original wills and will drafts, inventories, and supporting exhibits such as account books, diaries, and personal notebooks. The series includes papers relating to the litigation about the wills of Sir John Soane and J M W Turner, including drawings attributed to the latter.

Date: 1783-1858

When some of the individual documents that constitute the bundles of papers in PROB 37 were first exhibited registry officials of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury assigned them registry numbers, and indexed them in the indexes to the Prerogative Court of Canterbury's main series of exhibits.

The main series of exhibits is PROB 31, the indexes to the exhibits are in PROB 33. However it would appear that the documents with registry numbers now in PROB 37 were either not placed in the PROB 31 bundles, or that they were removed from those bundles at a later date so that they could be bundled with some of the other documents relating to the same causes. It would seem that this was done in order to keep together many of the documents relating to a single cause.

It is not clear when the bundles that comprise PROB 37 were constituted. If the bundles were constituted during the lifetime of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury it is possible that documents were added to some of them from various series, including PROB 31, after the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury were transferred to first the Court of Probate, and then, in 1874, to the Principal Probate Registry of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice.

When an exhibit produced in a cause was returned to the exhibitant at the conclusion of the cause a paper bearing the relevant registry number would be inserted in the PROB 31 bundle where the exhibit would otherwise have been kept with a note to the effect that the exhibit had been returned. The absence of markers in the PROB 31 bundles for exhibits now in PROB 37 may suggest that these particular exhibits were removed from the bundles after the Prerogative Court of Canterbury had ceased to function.

There are entries in the PROB 33 indexes for documents which are not in the main series of bundles of exhibits now referred to as PROB 31, but in the bundles that constitute PROB 37

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1660-1858

Physical description: 1781 bundles and volumes
Unpublished finding aids:

Printed index of the persons whose estates were the subject of the litigation to which the papers in PROB 37 relate. This index can be used to identify the current PROB 37 references for documents indexed in PROB 33 and is available to researchers visiting the Public Record Office. A card index to inventories and executors' and administrators' accounts in PROB 31 and PROB 37 and this is available to researchers visiting the Public Record Office. The card index is in two parts: a personal name part and a place name part. Documents in PROB 37 are included in the personal name part, but omitted from the place name part.

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