Catalogue description High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Case Books (Printed Appeal Papers)

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Details of HCA 45
Reference: HCA 45
Title: High Court of Appeals for Prizes: Case Books (Printed Appeal Papers)

This series consists of case books of the High Court of Appeals for Prizes. Those from 1793 onwards have been catalogued in detail, thanks to a grant from the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation. As a result these appeals are now searchable by name of ship, master, nationality, lower court, captor, claimant, appellants, respondents, agents, as well as voyage, place, and cargo. Many relate to the slave trade.

These case books contain printed copies of prize appeal cases, some initially tried in the High Court of Admiralty, but most from the colonial Vice-Admiralty courts. Most of the printed appeals were from judgments made in the Vice-Admiralty courts of the Caribbean and the north-west Atlantic, from Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, St Kitts, St Vincent, Tobago and Tortola in the south, and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in the north. Other appeals came from the Mediterranean Vice-Admiralty courts (Malta, Minorca and Gibraltar), and from Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope.

Most cases refer to neutral ships or cargoes; some are for joint capture. There was a considerable time-lag between capture, decree in the original court, and decree in appeal. Four years from capture was quite usual; some cases lasted a decade. Delays were inevitable when papers on the ownership of vessels, freight and sundry cargo were held in various parts of the world.

The printed appeals outline the history of the capture, and the cases of appellants and respondents, with exhibits in appendices of depositions, examinations, ship's papers, bills of lading, correspondence etc given in full English transcript and the reasons for the decisions of the inferior courts printed in full (these can be lengthy).

From 1793, the outcome of the appeal is generally noted in manuscript on the case paper concerned. Although parties previously put in separate appendices of documents, by the mid 1790s these are ussually presented once in a joint appendix. Again from the 1793 onwards, there were clearly more United States printed appeals than from any other nation, with the northern Europeans next, including Denmark, Sweden, and Germany - that is, Prussiia, Hamburg, Bremen, Danzig, Lubeck etc.

This series is included in the Prize Papers Project: please be aware that pieces may be withdrawn from consultation for some months, for detailed cataloguing and digitisation. Although with prior warning we may be able to accommodate researchers, we cannot guarantee this and it cannot be done on Saturdays.

Date: 1750-1818


Related material:

Photostatic copies of some volumes relating to Prize Appeals for c1745 to 1752 in the New York Public Library are in PRO 31/17/36

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

High Court of Appeals for Prizes, 1533-1833

Physical description: 71 volume(s)

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