Catalogue description Duchy of Lancaster: Court of Duchy Chamber: Pleadings, Depositions and Examinations, Series I

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Details of DL 3
Reference: DL 3
Title: Duchy of Lancaster: Court of Duchy Chamber: Pleadings, Depositions and Examinations, Series I

This series consists largely of documents authorising the collection of evidence in equity proceedings heard before the Court of Duchy Chamber, as well as the evidence itself.

Commissions were issued authorising the leading men of the locality in which a dispute occurred to enquire into the matter at variance by examining witnesses, sometimes with the aid of pre-determined lists of questions known as interrogatories.

The answers given by those questioned by the commissioners were called depositions. These record the name, place of residence, age and occupation of the deponent, and are thus of interest to family and social historians.

Supporting evidence, such as copies of inquisitions into lands and extracts from court rolls, might also be found in this series, together with original pleadings of the court which were required by the commissioners to reach a settlement.

A few commissions were issued to investigate the state of lands, woods, churches and other properties of the Duchy.

Date: c1485-c1558

The items in each volume are arranged in an alpha-numerical sequence according to the first letter of the plaintiff's name.This system is followed even when the document is from the defendant; it is still arranged according to the name of the plaintiff in the suit.

Related material:

Other depositions of the Duchy Chamber can be found in:

DL 4

DL 48

Separated material:

A number of maps have been extracted from the records now in DL 3 by the clerks of the Duchy Council at various times from the seventeenth century. Some of these may now be found in:

DL 31

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 82 volume(s)
Publication note:

The records in this series are calendared in the second of three indexed volumes known as Ducatus Lancastriae (Record Commission, 1823-1834), which contain indexes.

Administrative / biographical background:

Equity procedure and documentation in the Court of the Duchy of Chamber

Like other equity courts the Court of Duchy Chamber broadly followed the procedures of the royal Chancery at Westminster. Suits before the court were initiated by a complaint in the form of a written petition from one party (plaintiff) alleging some wrongful action on the part of another party (defendant). The defendant replied with a statement of his own known as an answer. Further statements could be made by both parties. These claims and counterclaims are known collectively as pleadings.

From the reign of Elizabeth I and thereafter the court (the Duchy Council) determined these disputes on the basis of evidence brought before it in the form of written depositions. These were answers, given by witnesses, to a series of question known as interrogatories, prepared by each party in the dispute. Assumed to be impartial, specific depositions provide details about a dispute which may not be clear from the biased claims of the parties alone. Witnesses were usually required to give their evidence before local men who were authorised to take their testimonies.

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