Catalogue description Records of the Court of Requests

Details of REQ
Reference: REQ
Title: Records of the Court of Requests

Records of the Court of Requests from around 1492 to 1642 relating to civil jurisdiction in poor people's matters.

Books of the court are in REQ 1. Proceedings are in REQ 2 and REQ 3. Documents relating to Shakespeare are in REQ 4

Date: c1492-1642
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Court of Requests, 1483-1642

Physical description: 4 series
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

in 1859 Chapter House, Westminster

Custodial history: The records were removed from the Palace of Westminster to the Chapter House, Westminster in 1732.
Administrative / biographical background:

The Court of Requests, first mentioned in the patent rolls in 1483, began as an informal committee of the King's Council 'for the expedition of poor men's causes'. It exercised a civil jurisdiction comparable to the criminal jurisdiction of the Court of Star Chamber. Though eventually it dealt with almost every kind of complaint for which 'request and supplication' to the sovereign sought an equitable remedy, it remained primarily a poor person's court; and an order in Chancery of 1588, followed by further ordinances of 1618-1619, expressly referred all poor complainants to the Court of Requests. It dealt occasionally with such criminal matters as civil disturbance and forgery, and late in the 16th century was exercising a wide Admiralty jurisdiction. It was presided over by the Lord Privy Seal, assisted by Masters of Requests.

The Court of Requests continued to sit until 1642, but it was not revived at the Restoration. However, Masters of Requests continued to be appointed at late as 1680.

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