Reports of Cases in the Court of Exchequer in the Time of King Charles II

William Hamilton Bryson, University of Richmond


This volume is an edition of the reports of cases from the Court of Exchequer during the reign of King Charles II, 1660 to 1685, which have been found to date. It includes a new edition of most of the reports already in print as well as all of those found only in manuscript. Several very long reports already in print are not included, but references to them can be found at the relevant places here. Also, it does not include the reports by Sir Thomas Hardres, which were first printed in 1693, nor the equity cases, which were published in Equity Cases in the Court of Exchequer 1660 to 1714, which were printed in 2007, volume 1 of this series.

The High Court of Exchequer evolved within the Exchequer department of the English government, the royal treasury, in the Middle Ages in order to determine legal disputes over the royal revenue. With the rise in international commerce by the English after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the Dutch navy in the middle of the seventeenth century and with the enactment of numerous excise and import taxes, the revenue side of the court became much more important in the time of King Charles II than it ever had been in the Middle Ages. Later in the Middle Ages, the Court of Exchequer began to hear common law disputes between private persons on the theory that this would assist in the collection of the royal revenue because the plaintiff was a debtor to the crown and, if he could collect his debts, he could then pay his own obligations to the king. In the middle of the sixteenth century, the Court of Exchequer developed an equity side of its jurisdiction so that it could grant equitable remedies as long as there was some connection to the crown and its revenue. In 1649, by means of fictitious allegations of jurisdiction that could not be challenged in court, the Exchequer extended its jurisdiction to all civil cases of common law and equity without limitation.