Catalogue description Palatinate of Chester: Courts of Great Sessions of Chester and Flint: Crown Books

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Details of CHES 21
Reference: CHES 21
Title: Palatinate of Chester: Courts of Great Sessions of Chester and Flint: Crown Books

This series contains crown books kept by the prothonotary of Chester, who was also the clerk of the crown. These books are the equivalent of the crown books kept by the clerks of assize for the assizes held in ordinary English counties. The earliest item in the series is a crown book for the Flint Court of Great Sessions for 1532 to 1533. The main run of Chester books is complete from 1560 to 1711, after which there is a gap until 1757, from which date there is a broken run of crown books for Chester and Flint jointly running to the date of the abolition of the court in 1830.

The principal contents of the books are lists of prisoners tried. The entries were often annotated later with the outcome of the case, noting, for example, whether the prisoner pleaded not guilty and put himself on a jury ('po" for 'ponit se super patriam'), and if so whether he was judged guilty or not ('cul" for 'culpabilis', or 'non cul" for 'non culpabilis'); the Latin terms are replaced by English equivalents after 1733, when indeed the language of the books comes to be entirely in English.

Lists of those indicted of trespass rather than felony by juries, and including presentments by petty juries or the grand jury, of such matters as failure to keep the roads in repair; and of those indicted before coroners, as a result of inquests held by them, including suicides and the victims of accidents, also regularly appear. There is also information about pledges, lists of jurors and local constables, and some recognizances are also entered. The amount of detail about each item, sparse in the earlier volumes, increases markedly in the later ones. The later volumes also include a section for crown side rules made in each session.

Date: c1532-c1831

The books are arranged chronologically under sessional headings, followed by subheadings for particularly categories of business. The Chester/Flint volumes have separate sequences of pages for each county, one beginning at either end of the book.

Separated material:

The gap between 1711 and 1757 is partly filled by a crown book now in the Chester Record Office, ref CR63/2/13.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 8 volume(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

The crown side of the Court of Great Sessions was the equivalent of the crown side of assizes, and the court was often loosely referred to as 'the assizes'.

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