Catalogue description Chancery: Certificates of Statute Merchant and Statute Staple

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Details of C 241
Reference: C 241
Title: Chancery: Certificates of Statute Merchant and Statute Staple

Certificates issued under the Statute of Acton Burnell, the Statute of Merchants and the Statute of the Staple authorizing the issue of process for the recovery of outstanding debts.

The certificates of statute merchant and statute staple contain much information. They usually provide the name of the lord chancellor; the name of the staple or borough court, together with the names of its mayor and clerk; the name of the debtor, his place of residence, status or profession; the name of the creditor, and his residence, status or profession; the date when the debt was registered, the date it was due for repayment, and the date when the certificate was sent to the chancellor; and the amount of the debt, the sheriffs who were to enforce it, and sometimes too the date for a hearing.

Some of these records were formerly included in C 47 and C 202

Date: 1284-1639
Related material:

Other extents for debts are in:

C 131

Recognizances of statute staple are in C 152

C 239

Enrolments of recognizances are in LC 4

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 416 bundle(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

By the Statute of Acton Burnell 1283, amended in the Statute of Merchants 1285, Edward I provided for the formal registration of mercantile debts and a new system for their recovery. Debts could now be registered before a number of borough mercantile courts presided over by the mayor and a clerk appointed by the Crown.

Upon default of a debt, proceedings could be taken locally if the debtor and his goods were found within the town jurisdiction; if not, a certificate of the debt was to be delivered into Chancery for the issue of due process returnable into the courts of Common Pleas or King's Bench. The certificate was a certified extract of the register of recognizances.

The Statute of the Staple 1353 extended the system of registration to the newly created staples and offered a new system of recovery. If the defaulting debtor or his chattels and lands were not found within the jurisdiction of the staple, a certificate of the debt deposited by the creditor in Chancery authorized the issue of process for the imprisonment of the debtor and the seizure of his chattels and lands.

Certification under statute staple was not only cheaper, but it entailed less delay, since a writ of capias et extendi facias issued from Chancery immediately (without waiting for the sheriff's return), and so the debtor did not have the benefit of the three month period of grace, available under statute merchant, to sell his goods.

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