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.