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Court of Exchequer (Courts)

Nature of Source

Records from the Court of Exchequer which was originally a common law court but developed into an equity court from the 1640s. The court mainly dealt with disputes over land titles, manorial rights, bonds, debts and wills. Some common law cases were heard by the court. Other equity courts included the Chancery, the Court of Requests and the Court of Star Chamber.

The court's equity business was transferred to Court of Chancery in 1841. Earlier bill and writs from 1260 are recorded in the Exchequer available in series E 5 at TNA. Before 1223 the court was a part of the Curia Regis.

Under the far-reaching reforms of the Judicature Acts of 1873 and 1875, existing courts were combined into the Supreme Court of Judicature which was subdivided into the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Under the terms of the Acts, the King's/Queen's Bench, the Court of Chancery, the Court of Common Pleas and the Court of Exchequer became part of the High Court of Justice.

Where Found

The National Archives (E 13, Records of the Exchequer)
Society of Genealogists (Bernau Index: The records consists of a microfilm collection of around four and a half million slips, dealing with equity courts including the Court of Chancery, the Court of Exchequer, the Court of Requests and the Star Chamber. The information was extracted mainly but not exclusively from series C 11. The index was compiled between 1914 and 1929 by Charles Allan Bernau [1878-1961] one of the founders of the Society of Genealogists. An entry in the index contains the names of petitioners and defendants and the names of defendants and deponents with a reference number to the original National Archives document)
British Record Society (Founded in 1889, the society specialises in publishing indexes, calendars and transcripts of British public records. The society is best known for indexes to pre-1858 wills and Hearth Tax returns. Other indexes include marriage licences, inquisitions post mortem, chancery proceedings and Coram Rege Rolls. Also check with local Record Societies for indexes and calendars of material held at a local level. Volumes can be found at local libraries, family history societies, the British Library, TNA library, and the Society of Genealogists)
List and Index Society (The Society publishes records found in The National Archives, the British Museum, Scottish Record Office and others. The published records includes calendars of TNA's holdings of Lay Subsidy Rolls, calendars of Patent Rolls, Tithe Award Records. Publications in yellow binders or covers relate to TNA records whilst those in red relate to records from other sources)

Period Covered

1558 - Onwards

Further References

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006


Horwitz, Henry. Exchequer Equity Records and Proceedings 1649-1841: Public Record Office, 2001

Jacob, Giles. A New Law-Dictionary: Containing The Interpretation and Definition of Words and Terms Used in the Law: London, 1729 five editions (Some editions available to read online or download from Google Books and the Internet Archive)


Oates, Jonathan. Tracing Your Ancestors from 1066 to 1837: Pen and Sword Books, 2012


Websites (Guide to Ancient Petitions, Henry III-James I)

Online Databases

Equity Pleadings Database (Discover manorial, domestic and trading disputes, disputes over land purchase, apprenticeship agreements, marriage settlements and much more. Data from the Equity Pleadings database, which was produced with the support of the Transport History Research Trust, the Friends of The National Archives and the Pilgrim Trust, has now [September 2012] been incorporated into the catalogue. The series is searchable by person, place, subject, short title and piece reference) (Commonwealth Legal Information Institute: England and Wales High Court [Exchequer Court] Decisions, 1584-: Free searchable online access to core legal judgments, decisions and reports from the Exchequer Division of the English and Wales High Court. The Exchequer Court was a former superior court in Great Britain dealing with matters of revenue, now merged with the King's or Queen's Bench. Users can also browse court proceedings by titles or year)
Ancient Petitions, Henry III - James I (Details of petitions contained in TNA series SC 8 pursuing grievances which could not be resolved at common law, or requests for a grant of favour. Searches can be made directly in the TNA Discovery Catalogue with the reference for the petition or a general search within the series)