This series contains the various series of registers of the Court of Requests, including both drafts and fair copies, sometimes for the same period. They begin in the reign of Henry VII, when most of the court's records, except depositions and affidavits, were in Latin. By early in the reign of Henry VIII they were nearly all in English. The earlier books, from the reign of Henry VII and the early part of that of Henry VIII, when the court was still very much a part of the king's council, contain varied material; later they developed into the several series of dedicated registers.
These dedicated registers consist chiefly of Affidavit Books, Elizabeth I to Charles I (vols. 119-149); Appearance Books, Henry VIII to Charles I (vols. 104-117); Commission Book, 1-16 James I (vol. 208); Note Books, Elizabeth I to Charles I (vols. 151-170); Order Books, Elizabeth I to Charles I (vols. 39-103); Order and Decree Books, Henry VII to Charles I (vols. 1-38); Process Books, Elizabeth I to Charles I (vols. 171-197); and Witness Books, Elizabeth I to Charles I (vols. 198-206).
Appearance books were initially recorded in the same registers as decrees and orders, but a series of separate appearance books had developed by 1520. They record the appearance of defendants, often through an attorney rather than in person, to answer petitions submitted by plaintiffs. They also include a record of the appointment of attorneys; sometimes they are separate entries, but on other occasions the appointment of an attorney was added later to an entry of the original appearance by the defendant in person.
Appearances by relatives or friends of defendants unable to attend are also recorded, sometimes with a marginal note that they had sworn that the defendant was genuinely unable to appear. Appearances continued to be recorded in Latin throughout the life of the court, although nearly all its other records were in English by the reign of Henry VIII.
The affidavits, which are given in full mostly relate to the service of process, especially the writs under the privy seal summoning defendants before the court. Some of them contain draft memoranda, which are often struck through, presumably after a fair copy was made, and are signed by the person making the statement.
Digital images of some of the records in this series are available through the Anglo-American Legal Tradition website. Please note that The National Archives is not responsible for this website or its content.