The records in this series consist of pleadings in equity cases initiated in the court of Chancery.
They comprise bills and answers, often with replications and rejoinders attached, together with writs and sometimes an office copy of the bill. Some bear annotations of process in court.
The documents are identical in nature and date range to those in C 2., referred to as Series I.
C 3 comprises in its original arrangement some 502 bundles of bills and answers, of which 102 bundles were indexed at the Tower of London as 'miscellaneous Chancery proceedings'. Work conducted by the Public Record Office from the 1890s in calendaring all these records also added further material.
The series is searchable by name, place and subject, thanks to the work of the Friends of The National Archives in inputting the descriptions from the printed calendars published between 1896 and 1909 as Chancery Proceedings Series II. Document type, the names of extra defendants (in the format [unknown] Bloggs), and some improved dates have been added from OBS 1/237-240.
In addition, the opportunity was taken to add four codes to help researchers identify causes brought by different types of litigant, as follows:
- By gender: SFP for sole female plaintiff, and JFP for joint female plaintiffs - where the bill was filed in the name of females only. [Sole here does not imply femme sole, although many female litigants were widows or spinsters]. This is not completely to be trusted, as it omits a widow acting for infant sons but includes a widow acting for infant daughters.
- By corporate body: CBP brings up monastic houses, colleges, London companies etc.
- By unincorporate body - a group acting in a joint interest: UBP will produce churchwardens, parishioners, copyholders, manorial tenants, inhabitants etc.
These codes (SFP, JFP, CBP, UBP) can of course be used with other search terms.
Related parts of pleadings may also be found in C 2, and in C 4 - C 10.