Catalogue description Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings before 1714, Collins

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Details of C 6
Reference: C 6
Title: Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings before 1714, Collins

The records in this series consist of 75,174 sets of pleadings in equity suits initiated in the court of Chancery.

They often comprise the plaintiff's bill of complaint only, but the defendant's answer and other documents in the process, including the plaintiffs's replication to the answer, are also filed in many cases. Records in the same suit can appear over multiple references, if they were filed at different times.

The start of a suit, the bill, gave the plaintiff's name, rank in life, occupation and place of residence.

Matters in dispute include inheritance, lands, trusts, mortgages, debts and marriage settlements.

Data from the Equity Pleadings database, which was produced with the support of the Transport History Research Trust, the Friends of The National Archives and the Pilgrim Trust, has now (September 2012) been incorporated into the catalogue. These entries, for C 6/360/1 to C 6/419/121, are fuller than usual, and give discursive descriptions of subject. However, the records from C 6/420/1 to C 6/610/98 (c 55,000 entries) are much more poorly described.

Overall, previous catalogue data was supplemented by the addition of document type (bill, answer etc) from OBS 1, which makes it easier to identify separated parts of the same case.

The series is searchable by name, place, and subject for most of the series, but only by short title for the last third.

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 hospitals, colleges, London companies, trading 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.

For the related bill books arranged alphabetically under the plaintiffs' names see: IND 1/2136- IND 1/2151; Cause Books for the Six Clerks can be found in IND 1/4105 - IND 1/4207

Date: c1625-1714
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 611 bundles and files
Administrative / biographical background:

The series is named after John Collins, who was one of the six clerks from 1716 to 1753.

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