Catalogue description Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, Elizabeth I

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Details of STAC 5
Reference: STAC 5
Title: Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, Elizabeth I

This series contains documents submitted or generated in the course of judicial proceedings, mostly in equity, heard before the Court of Star Chamber during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). The series contains over 35,000 proceedings (although the number of suits is significantly less, as the constituent documents of a suit were often filed separately, or have perhaps just ended up separated). It also contains a few pleadings from other reigns, although the contemporary practice of dating bills of complaint helped to reduce the possibility of error.

Among the suits contained in this series are cases alleging perversion of justice, abuse of legal procedure, frivolous litigation, false imprisonment, or crimes unpunished, often because of corruption, at common law. Such cases might involve corrupt jury verdicts, perjury, improper procedure, and falsification of records either by officials of the court or by the interested parties, including forgery of bonds, wills, and deeds. Other criminal causes included allegations of murder, abduction, assault, and riot. Disputes arising from enclosure and religious differences are also represented.

When a current project to improve the cataloguing of these records is completed, each piece will be described as follows:

  • Short title, based on the surnames of a plaintiff and a defendant (usually but not always the first-named persons), in modernised spelling.
  • Case reference, consisting of SCEL (Star Chamber ELizabeth) and a number. These do not appear on the records themselves but were created to make it easier to virtually reassemble separate parts of a suit. Pieces which include the bill of complaint are described as the main entry; those which do not are described as subsidiary entries. Suits with case references starting with SCUC (Star Chamber Unknown Case ) lack a bill; such bills may be among the undescribed miscellanea in STAC 10.
  • Document type (e.g. bill, rejoinder).
  • Names of all plaintiffs and defendants.
  • County, subject matter and regnal year date are included where known.

These descriptions are based on data prepared for the Elizabethan Star Chamber Project; see the project's pages on the WAALT website. They incorporate and supersede both the original 4-volume catalogue created in the 1740s and indexes created in the 1960s and published in 4 volumes as PRO Supplementary Lists and Indexes IV.

Note: A project begun in 2019 is improving the cataloguing of these records. The National Archives is grateful to Dr Helen Good and Dr Amanda Bevan for allowing us to make use of their work to enhance the catalogue.
Date: c 1558-c 1603
Separated material:

Other proceedings of the Court of Star Chamber for the reign of Elizabeth I will be found in:


and STAC 7

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 982 bundle(s)
Access conditions: Open
Unpublished finding aids:

T G Barnes 'Fines in the Court of Star Chamber 1596-1641'. Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.

Administrative / biographical background:

By the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I, Star Chamber had become almost exclusively a criminal court. Records and procedure in Star Chamber under Elizabeth were essentially those that had operated since the latter years of Henry VIII.

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