This series contains surviving depositions relating to cases heard on the King's Remembrancer's side of the Exchequer, taken by commissioners appointed by the Court of Exchequer, with associated documents. Local commissioners were appointed only when the witness to be examined lived outside a ten mile radius of London. The series includes both equity and revenue cases.
Depositions, or statements of witnesses, were answers to a pre-agreed set of questions known as interrogatories. The taking of these proofs followed the initial proceedings of the case in which the plaintiff and defendant set out the matter in dispute by the bill and answer process.
Disputes covered a wide range of topics: title, tithe and testamentary disputes; manorial customs and disputes over common lands; mining and minerals; commercial ventures both on land and at sea, including fraudulent insurance claims; and a wide spectrum of revenue matters of direct interest to the Crown, including customs evasion and maladministration by Crown officials.
Documents in this series include commissions, by which individuals were empowered to take evidence on oath from deponents. From 1726 commissioners themselves swore oaths of secrecy and impartiality. Certificates on how they had fulfilled the terms of their commission were sometimes also returned, which might highlight the degree of intimidation or obstruction that one or other party to the case imposed. Interrogatories were prepared in advance and agreed by the court. Finally, depositions record the name, residence, age and occupation of the deponent, as well as their evidence. The information given may reveal aspects of a life in service, of attitudes to women, of the effects of marital dispute or immoral living, of foreign travel, and of the effects of war. Returns occasionally include a map. Depositions may be of considerable value to the genealogist and local historian.
Most disputes in this series arose within England and Wales, but some cases also relate to Ireland, Europe, and the Americas.
Original finding aids are in E 501