Catalogue description Records of the Court of King's Bench and other courts

Details of KB
Reference: KB
Title: Records of the Court of King's Bench and other courts

Records of the court of King's Bench and related courts from 1194 to 1987 relating to litigation in which the state has an interest.

The records have been divided into Crown Side records and Plea Side records.

The following series numbers have not been used: KB 38, KB 40 - KB 100, KB 108, KB 110, KB 117, KB 120, KB 129 - KB 132, KB 142 and KB 143.

Date: 1194-1987
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Court Coram Rege, 1200-1270

Court of Kings Bench, 1200-1875

Supreme Court of Judicature, Kings Bench Division, 1901-1952

Supreme Court of Judicature, Queens Bench Division, 1875-1901

Supreme Court of Judicature, Queens Bench Division, 1952-

Physical description: 174 series
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

Court of Kings Bench

Publication note:

For the general history of the court within the legal system, see J H Baker, An introduction to English legal history (third edition, London, 1990). The court's bureaucracy is surveyed by C A F Meekings, 'King's Bench files', in J H Baker, ed., Legal records and the historian (London: Royal Historical Society, 1978). An important practitioners' manual is J Trye, Jus filizarii: or, the filacer's office in the Court of King's Bench (London, 1684) Some verbatim reports of proceedings in the court, though in exceptional cases only, can be found in A complete collection of state trials..., ed. T B Howell (London, 1816). Selected cases from 1272 to 1422 are transcribed and translated in Selden Society volumes LV, XLVII, XLVIII, LXXIV, LXXVI, LXXXII, and LXXXVIII, edited by G O Sayles, whose introductions are extremely valuable for the early history of the court. J H Baker's introductions to Selden Society volumes XCIV and CII contain similarly important details of the court in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

Administrative / biographical background:

Under Henry II innovations in law and legal procedures prompted clearer organisation of the ways in which the judicial functions were discharged. Sometimes, as in 1178, judges accompanying the king to hear cases and (if necessary) to refer decisions direct to the king. This development did not establish a distinct and permanent court, but it did establish the principle of pleas heard regularly and formally within the king's immediate purview, even if not always in his actual presence (coram ipso rege), rather than by the itinerant justices, by the somewhat separate departmental jurisdiction of the Exchequer, or by the incipient common Bench (Court of Common Pleas) based at Westminster.

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