Catalogue description Court of Common Pleas, and Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Common Pleas Division: Examinations of Witnesses
|Title:||Court of Common Pleas, and Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Common Pleas Division: Examinations of Witnesses|
Examinations ordered by the Court of Common Pleas subsequent to an Act of 1831 (1 Wm IV, c 22), which empowered it to order the examination of witnesses before a master or prothonotary where they were within its jurisdiction, or by commission if they were outside it.
Interrogatories often survive with those examinations taken overseas, but not for those conducted in London. The examinations taken in London are wanting for the years between 1850 and 1860. Most of the examinations are relatively short, but some are longer and written into small books, often signed by a shorthand writer. There are a few examinations made by the prothonotaries before the abolition of their offices in 1837, together with a list of interrogatories taken before the prothonotaries between 1832 and 1837, annotated with the date each was received and when it was delivered into court.
Original documents supporting or illustrating statements, such as bills and posters, newspapers, and in one case even specimens of iron, are also found with the examinations, also often referred to as depositions. The examinations also have some of the characteristics of series of court exhibits, although with far less varied material. Many of those examined were either seafarers or British residents overseas, in many parts of the world.
For related affidavits see J 6
The series continues after in the King's Bench Division of the High Court having absorbed the Common Pleas Division in 1881 in J 17
|Held by:||The National Archives, Kew|
|Legal status:||Public Record(s)|
Court of Common Pleas, 1194-1875
Supreme Court of Judicature, Common Pleas Division, 1875-1880
|Physical description:||26 bundle(s)|
|Administrative / biographical background:||
Before 1837 the examinations taken in London were conducted by the prothonotaries, and after that by the masters who succeeded them, usually at their offices in Sergeants Inn, and were signed by them. Latterly, however, they were often not sworn before the masters themselves nor in their office, although they were usually taken by barristers in other buildings in the vicinity of Chancery Lane, especially the inns of court, and they continued to be filed by the masters, who by then often supplied the authorisation for them to be taken.
Examinations taken abroad or outside London under commission are filed with the commissions themselves and the interrogatories, and are physically much larger filings. They became more numerous as time went on, so the bulk of documents after 1860 is much greater than before 1850. The examinations are also more frequently referred to or labelled as 'depositions', the term most often used in other courts for written evidence taken on oath, later in the century.
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