Abstract

This collection of previously unreported plea-side cases from the Court of Exchequer in the seventeenth century will be welcomed by legal historians. What we know about the growth of the common law in the early modern era has been largely derived from printed sources. The reality, however, is that a great many of the decisions of England's common law courts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were never reported. No official court reporting existed until well into the nineteenth century. For the most part in earlier times, judicial decisions were brought into print only when enterprising individuals (often young barristers or attorneys) attended court, took notes of the cases, and arranged for their publication. By the mid-seventeenth century, the three common law courts in England (King's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer) had a largely coextensive jurisdiction in non-criminal cases. The Court of Exchequer, however, maintained a dual jurisdiction-a common law (plea) side, and an equity side. The work of the equity side of the Court of Exchequer has been brought to light by Professor Bryson in his earlier work. In the present volume, he introduces us to the plea side of the court during the reign of Charles I, 1625 to 1648. This was a formative period in the common law, yet because there are no printed reports, much of what the court was doing on the plea side during this time has been a blank. Indeed no printed reports exist for

Document Type

Book

Publication Date

2006

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