Catalogue description Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, Charles I

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Details of STAC 9
Reference: STAC 9
Title: Court of Star Chamber: Proceedings, Charles I

This series contains proceedings and proofs in equity heard in the Court of Star Chamber during the reign of Charles I. Some proceedings from the reign of James I are also included.

The series is incomplete, and most records belong either to the first three years of the reign, or to the last three years of the court's operation before its abolition in 1641.

Under Charles I, the business of Star Chamber declined from about 800 bills a year to only 300, as the court became less attractive to litigants. At the same time, the proportion brought directly on behalf of the Crown rose. Some of these official prosecutions were undoubtedly fiscal: for example, those brought concerning offences against the Lenten laws. Others were more for the public benefit, including prosecutions for the corrupt manufacture or fraudulent sale of goods. The political trials of 1637 for which Charles's Star Chamber stands condemned in popular mythology were unrepresentative.

Suits brought by private plaintiffs ranged over those main categories of offence or injustice discernible as Star Chamber matter from the mid-sixteenth century: for example, riot, combination, forgery, conspiracy and perjury. Disputes concerning title to land, tithes, property or privilege continued to underpin some alleged offences.

Records and procedure in Star Chamber under Charles I were much the same as those that operated during the reign of his father.

Date: c1603-c1649
Related material:

A Star Chamber rough minute book, 1636-1638, can be found in Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS C 827; Notes of cases, 1625-1628, 1632, 1633, 1634 and 1638, are in the British Library, Lansdowne MS 620, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS A 128, British Library, Additional MSS 48057 and 11764, fos 42, 117, and British Library, Harleian MS 4022; Treatises on jurisdiction and procedure are in the British Library, Hargrave MS 404; A book of 'Cases in the Star Chamber during the reign of Charles I by an eminent practicioner in that court, formerly a member of Gray's Inn' is in Havard University Law School Library, L MS 1128; Estreats and reviews of fines, breviates, cause lists, and notes by individual councillors and judges of the court are in Huntingdon Library, Ellesmere MSS 7878-7916, and Huntingdon Library, Hastings MSS Legal Boxes 5, 7, 8.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 2 bundle(s)
Publication note:

T G Barnes ed, List and Index to the Proceedings in Star Chamber for the Reign of James I, 3 vols (Chicago, 1975), iii H E I Phillips, 'The last years of the Court of Star Chamber, 1630-1641', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fourth Series, xxi (1939), 103-132 Some now lost case files are preserved in J Rushworth, Historical Collections (London, 1680), ii, Appendix

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.

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