Catalogue description High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Papers

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Details of HCA 42
Reference: HCA 42
Title: High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Papers

This series comprises papers of the High Court of Appeals for Prizes, ususlly in manuscript.

The spine of each appeal is the copy of process in the lower court, received in London from the relevant prize jurisdiction (the Vice-Admiralty Courts and the High Court of Admiralty). As well as documents filed during the course of the appeal, the appeals can contain exhibits and ship's papers, passed on from the lower courts. (In some appeals from the High Court of Admiralty, this type of exhibit remains in whole or part in HCA 32).

Among the wide variety of documents passed on from the lower courts for the appeal are abstracts, accounts of damages, acts, allegations, answers, appeals with protocols, appraisements, attestations, bills of lading, citations, claims, commissions, depositions, examinations, exemplifications of restitution with affidavits annexed; inhibitions, interrogatories, journals of proceedings, letters from envoys, letters of attorney, libels, monitions, passports, petitions, proceedings of Vice-Admiralty courts abroad, process, registrars' reports, relaxations, reports, sentences, ships' papers, translations, and other documents.

There is also a set of duplicate printed appeals, still folded and never bound, from 1793 to 1833.

Date: 1689-1833

The series is divided into subseries, each subseries containing appeal papers from a particular war. Within each war, papers are arranged alphabetically by ship names.

For the first five wars, HCA 42/1-165, the description shown in the catalogue is the initial letter of the ship names; this is shown either at piece level or at item level. This is being improved as part of the Prize Papers Project.

For the War with France 1793-1802, the Napoleonic War 1803-1815 and the War of 1812 there are two sequences:

  • HCA 42/166-524: manuscript appeal papers from the High Court of Admiralty and the many colonial Vice-Admiralty prize courts, dated by the date of filing the appeal in London. These papers usually comprise copies of process from the court appealed from, but some have been found to contain original ship's papers and even mail in transit. This source can be especially valuable for evidence of the slave trade. About half of these also have printed appeals, and brief descriptions have been applied back to these manuscript papers, although the actual documents have not been described. Work is currently being undertaken on the remainder of the manuscript appeals of these wars.
  • HCA 42/526-574: a smaller collection of loose printed appeals, in the folded format as given out to the parites, lawyers and judges. These have been sorted, cleaned and catalogued: they appear to have been surplus copies left in the office. A further bound set of surplus papers is in PCAP 13, but the main set of printed appeals, bound in order of hearing, is in HCA 45, and has the fullest descriptions. These loose printed appeals have generally be given the same dates as in HCA 45.

This improvement work has been undertaken as part of the Prize Papers Project, by the Prize volunteers in Collection Care. The William Nelson Cromwell Foundation kindly provided funding in 2018-2019 for editorial work on the descriptions of the printed appeal papers, and for a further ongoing project on the manuscript appeal papers from 1793 onwards.

Related material:

Parallel material is in DEL 2

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

High Court of Appeals for Prizes, 1533-1833

Physical description: 574 bundle(s)
Unpublished finding aids:

Notes on this series are available in printed form at the Public Record Office.

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