Catalogue description Registrar of the High Court of Delegates: Act Books and Files of Original Acts

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Details of DEL 4
Reference: DEL 4
Title: Registrar of the High Court of Delegates: Act Books and Files of Original Acts

A series of act books, being the formal record of the proceedings of the High Court of Delegates, together with files of original acts.

The act books were the formal record of the court's business, covering every stage through which a cause passed, and were copied from entries in the assignation books, which were compiled while the court were sitting.

The act books record not only formal proceedings but also other information affecting the court's work (e.g. appointments of officials). The act books may also include copies of exhibits, usually found in the muniment books, and records of business transacted outside formal sittings.

Act book entries follow a common form, beginning with the names of the parties and their proctors, followed by a summary of the assignation (business to be transacted) and a statement of business actually done.

The act books (pieces 2-21 and 23-24) span the period 1601 to 1695. There are only five gaps in the sequence, the greatest being between 1650 to 1660. It appears that formal act books ceased to be kept from the end of the seventeenth century, their place being taken by the assignation books.

The series also contains files of original acts (pieces 22 and 25-29) spanning the period 1652 to 1758 with many gaps, and file for 1818. The main part of the sequence covers the eighteenth century, after the act books ceased to be kept. The relationship between these papers and the act and assignation books is unclear.

Date: 1539-1818

The act books are arranged chronologically according to law terms and court days.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

High Court of Delegates, 1533-1833

Physical description: 29 bundles and volumes
Custodial history: The majority of the records which now form the series DEL 1 to DEL 8 were transferred to the Public Record Office at various dates between 1863 and 1923. They came from the registry of the High Court of Admiralty and its successor, the Admiralty registry of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court.
Publication note:

See G I O Duncan, The High Court of Delegates (Cambridge, 1971), pp 220-222 for more information.

Unpublished finding aids:

All the volumes possess contemporary indexes, apart from those in pieces 1, 15 and 19. It is likely that these would have been indexed, but that the indexes had been lost at an early date. These volumes have nineteenth century indexes compiled by H C Rothery, registrar of the High Court of Admiralty (Return of all appeals…made to the High Court of Delegates… (Sessional Papers, House of Commons, 1867-1868), p xii).

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