Catalogue description Assizes: Home, Norfolk and South-Eastern Circuits: Miscellaneous Books

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Details of ASSI 34
Reference: ASSI 34
Title: Assizes: Home, Norfolk and South-Eastern Circuits: Miscellaneous Books

The series contains miscellaneous books of the Home, Norfolk, and South-Eastern circuits. Includes civil cause books, 1673 to 1768; certificate books, 1876 to 1890; cost and account books, 1791 to 1890; clerk of indictments entry books, 1774 to 1827; postea books, 1769 to 1862; a presentment book, 1768 to 1804; process books, 1773 to 1863; judges calendars, 1887 to 1923; costs books, 1959-1970; and a rule book, 1737 to 1741, being a record of nisi prius cases referred to arbitration. Prior to 1876 most of the records relate to the Home Circuit but there are some of the Norfolk Circuit including an entry book of proceedings under commissions of gaol delivery, 1742 to 1746.

Cause books and postea books generally record the names of the parties to the cause, the names of their legal representatives, the nature of the cause, the verdict, and the amounts of any damages and costs awarded. However, the distribution of these items of data between the two types of book varies. Posteas were the means by which verdicts in civil actions heard at nisi prius were transmitted to the central courts in which the actions had originated, and the postea books bear the signatures of the legal representatives of the successful parties, acknowledging receipt of the posteas for onwards transmission.

The instruction books of the Circuit run in two series from 1783 to 1827. The relationship between the two series has not yet been ascertained. The instruction books record the names of accused parties, details of the charges against them, and figures for prosecution and other fees, and for witnesses' costs, case by case. The instruction books also detail the distribution of rewards in individual cases. The extant cost books of the Home Circuit cover 1861 to 1878. For each crown case they provide the names of the witnesses called, the names of the places they travelled from, how long they attended the court, and the sums of expenses that they were paid.

The process books record indictments to be tried, and the consequent issue of writs to sheriffs, most commonly of venire facias juratores, to cause a jury to be summoned so that the charge could be tried, and of capias, to produce accused persons not in custody.

The South Eastern Circuit books record the division of the High Court in which the case originated, the name of the judge before whom the case was heard and the date of the hearing, the verdict of the jury, and the judgment. They bear the signatures of the lawyers receiving the different certificates. Some of the books have related items of associate's correspondence between their leaves.

Date: 1672-1970

Under the headings of the different circuits the records of civil proceedings are described before those of crown proceedings. The heading miscellaneous is used for those records that cannot with certainty be assigned to any particular circuit, and for an account book of the Court of Common Pleas, that was probably kept with the records of the Home Circuit.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 85 volume(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

Home Circuit Civil cases were referred to the assizes by the central courts, and, after November 1875, by one of the divisions of the High Court. They are usually known as nisi prius cases. Cause books and postea books are two of the major types of records of civil causes in this series. Their functions and relationship to one another, and to the extant civil minute books of the Home Circuit, changed during the period covered by this series, and where two of these types of records survives for a given date it is advisable to examine both of them.

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