Catalogue description High Court of Admiralty: Oyer and Terminer Records

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of HCA 1
Reference: HCA 1
Title: High Court of Admiralty: Oyer and Terminer Records

This series consists of oyer and terminer records of the High Court of Admiralty.

The documents are criminal records generated by the Admiralty Court from its statutory institution in 1535 to its transfer to the Central Criminal Court in 1834.

They include files of indictments, Acts or minutes of session, minute books, orders, proclamations, jury precepts, calendars of prisoners, notes of judgments, warrants for executions, bails, pardons, petitions, orders and warrants to transfer or produce prisoners, inquests, records of misdemeanours on the River Thames below London Bridge until 1700, and examination books. The last often concern civil cases in the 16th century, but the court was established in 1535 to suppress piracy and facilitate sentences of death by applying common law and jury verdict instead of civil law.

Sessions were called by commission of oyer and terminer in London. Many of the records are in Latin or in Latin and English until 1733. Piracy was often domestic in the 16th century but expanded overseas in the 17th century. Vice-Admiralty courts were commissioned in both cases, and some of their records are in this series. Other crimes dealt with were murder, sodomy and, especially from 1688 onwards, treason or taking foreign service, insurance fraud and abetting from on land.

Date: 1535-1834
Related material:

For formal adjournments see:

Warrants relating to executions are in HCA 55

For proceedings after 1834, see the Records of the Central Criminal Court CRIM




Warrants relating to arrests on ships are in HCA 38

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

Admiralty Sessions Court, 1535-1834

Physical description: 112 files and cases
Publication note:

A modern descriptive list and index of HCA 1/1-101 is available in the public areas. Please speak to staff at the enquiry desk for the precise location.

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research