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.