RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
LevelFonds
Order NoArches
ExtentRecords of over 10,000 cases
TitleCourt of Arches
Date14th century-20th century
DescriptionThe Court of Arches, the court of appeal of the Archbishop of Canterbury, dates back to the 13th century. In its heyday, from the Restoration to 1857, the court exercised a wide-ranging jurisdiction over marriage, probate and testamentary disputes, defamation, church property (rates, tithes, fabric of churches), and morals of the clergy and laity. In 1857, however, its jurisdiction in probate and matrimonial cases was removed. During the second half of the 19th century the court was the venue for disputes over ritualist practices. It continues to hear appeals in cases concerning church property and ecclesiastical discipline.

With the exception of 13 volumes, the very extensive archive of the Court of Arches dates from after the Restoration in 1660. Most of the court's medieval records were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The archive includes over 2250 process books (transcripts of proceedings in the lower court sent up to the Court of Arches on appeal), over 150 volumes of act books, depositions, personal answers, sentences, muniment books, and over a thousand 19th-century files. Also includes a variety of exhibits, including court books, probate accounts, churchwardens' accounts, rate books, letters, plans, mediaeval title deeds (e.g. Fineshade cartulary), etc.

The Court had jurisdiction througthout the Province of Canterbury, covering the greater part of England and, prior to the disestablishment of the Church in Wales in 1914, all of Wales.
AccrualsAccruing
ArrangementIn the registry of the Court documents were filed chronologically in separate series representing different types of document. Documents relating to any particular case are therefore usually found distributed through the various series which comprise the archive of the Court:

Act books, 1635-1773 (A 1-41)
Acts of Court, 1670-1818 ( Aa 1-99)
Assignation Books, 1663-1875 (Aaa 1-51)
Sentences, 1560-1797 (B 1-19)
Decrees, 1634-1799 (Bb 1-106)
Commissions in partibus, 1662-1805 (Bbb 1-1605)
Appeals, 1661-1803 (C 1-6)
Process Books, 1660-1893 (D 1-2369)
Pleas: libels, articles, allegations and interrogatories, 1660-1799 (E 0-48)
Personal Answers, 1661-1798 (Ee 1-11)
Depositions, 1661-1855 (Eee 1-61)
Muniment Books, 1554-1815 (F 1-12)
Exhibits, 1310-1915 (Ff 1-299)
Small exhibits, 1660-1799 (G 1-179)
Case Papers, 1800-1913 (H 1-998; Hh 1-51)
Administrative papers, 1800-1960 (Hhh 1-14)
Financial records (J, Jj, Jjj)
Records of proctors and advocates, 18th-19th century (K,Kk, Kkk)
Case Papers, 1914- (M)
Precedents and legal treatises, including Black Book of the Arches (N 1-7)

After 1800, the papers relating to each case were mainly filed together in bundles of Case Papers (series H, Hh, M). The series of depositions and process books nevertheless continued separately.

Fuller descriptions of each of the various series may be found at the series level description of the online catalogue.
AccessConditionsSubject to preservation status. Many of the records of the Court of Arches are too fragile for the originals to be made available. However, most of the major series, with the exception of the exhibits, are available in microformat.

Originals from the following classes of records are not produced and should be consulted in microformat:
A, Aa, Aaa (Act Books, Acts of Court, Assignation Books)
B (Sentences)
C (Appeals)
D (Process Books)
Ee (Personal Answers)
Eee (Depositions)
F (Muniment Books)
N 1 (Black Book of the Arches)

Some of the records, not yet available in microformat, will be assessed as suitable for production when they are ordered by a reader but may be too fragile to be made available for consultation.
LanguageUntil 1733 formal records (e.g. act books) were written in Latin. Some series (e.g. depositions, personal answers, process books) are in English.
FindingAidsExcept where otherwise noted, finding aids have been transferred to the Library's electronic catalogue.

PUBLISHED INDEX
J. Houston (ed.), 'Index of cases in the records of the Court of Arches at Lambeth Palace Library 1660-1913' (Index Library, vol. 85, 1972). This listed 10,412 cases for that period in alphabetical order of first plaintiff, and allocated a case number to each case in addition to the document references. The index states the names of the parties, the type of case, court of first instance, date of judgement where known and document references.

This index does not include certain categories of records, such as acts of court, assignation books, and decrees, where the information is available in the act books. Nor does it index all appointments of guardians ad litem for minors in receipt of legacies in wills proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, which were omitted unless litigation followed. It also omitted the records earlier than 1660 in series A, B, Bb, F, and all records in series Jjj, K, Kk, Kkk, L, M, N. Note that some indexing was done not from the records, but from internal indexes in the records compiled centuries ago by the registry clerks of the Court or from other old finding aids. Names of persons may therefore be indexed with spellings or styles no longer in current use. Also, in some cases (e.g. Eee 16, ff. 92-109: Bowes v Bowes), documents indexed centuries ago are now missing, and may have disappeared long before publication of this index.

The published index also includes ancillary indexes as follows:
Index of other parties (i.e. those other than the first named in the main alphabetical index)
Index of alternative surnames (mainly maiden names of women involved in matrimonial or testamentary cases)
Index of testators
Index of places
Index of courts of first instance
Index of classes of case
Additional information from these ancillary indexes has been incorporated into the electronic catalogue records where necessary.

ADDITIONAL FINDING AIDS
Provisional catalogue of the records of the Court of Arches (typescript, by Jane Houston; based partly on work by Doreen Slatter), including pre-1660 material from the B series: B 1-3 (sentences, 1560-1640) and the F series: F 1A-7 (muniment books, 1554-1633). [The latter is not converted to electronic format.]

Supplementary card index to Court of Arches records [covering the assignation books, 1763-1875, and excommunication schedules, 1666-1725, not in the published index of cases (Aaa 33-50, G1-4)].

Card index of proctors and advocates, 1668-1862, in series Kkk 1-20 (also referring to A, Act Books, and Aaa, Assignation Books); there are also lists (chronological and alphabetical) of proctors and advocates in the Court of Arches, c1539-1755 (referring to Archbishops' Registers, Faculty Office muniment books, and Faculty Office fiats).

M. Barber, 'Process books of the Court of Arches. Supplementary list for use with the microfiche and the printed index' (typescript, 1981). Refers to series D and parts of H. This contains various corrections to the published index as well as details of the microfiche copies. It also includes (pp. 82-86) a supplementary list identifying lower courts from which sppeals to the Court of Arches were made for some cases where this was not identified in the published Houston index: this information has been incorporated into the electronic catalogue records. [There is also a card index to process books; this is not converted to electronic format as the essential information is duplicated elsewhere.]

Card index: miscellaneous legatees (Aa, Aaa, GO).

The 'supplementary series' (transferred from the Public Record Office in 1974) was listed by Melanie Barber, the cases arranged by the case numbers given in Jane Houston's published 'Index', together with a note of the additional records. A few cases documented in this supplementary series were not entered in the published 'Index': these were noted in the appropriate alphabetical order.

A project in 2018 provided new catalogue descriptions of Arches series Ee (answers by plaintiffs and defendants to allegations against them 1640, 1662-1798) and series Eee 1-10 (testimony by witnesses 1664-1713), including numerous corrections, enhancements of data, identifications of people and places, and, for the first time, details of witnesses. These corrections and identifications have not been carried forward to entries for the same suits in other series. This means that, when researching an Arches suit, series Ee and Eee are a good entry point.
PhysicalDescriptionSome series are bound and documents are referred to by folio references (e.g. Ee 3 f. 60). Other series comprise loose documents which are referred to by item numbers (e.g. B 3/6).
CreatorNameProvince of Canterbury; Court of Arches
AdminHistoryHISTORY AND JURISDICTION

The Court of Arches (named for the church of S. Maria de Arcubus [St Mary-le-Bow] where the court sat before the church was destroyed in the Fire of London in 1666) is the court of appeal for the Province of Canterbury. A precise date for the establishment of the court cannot be established, but by the time of Archbishop Pecham (1279) it was well established as a court of appeal for the province from diocesan and lower courts. (See I.J.Churchill "Canterbury Administration" (London: SPCK 1933) vol. 1 p.424 onwards for a discussion of the origins and early history of the court.)

Cases might come before the Court by way of a direct appeal from a definitive sentence, or by devolution through defect of justice either suffered or feared in a lower court, or by appeal for protection of the court of Canterbury. The majority of cases came on appeal from lower courts: consistory, commissary, archidiaconal and peculiar courts.

Until 1832 appeal from the Court of Arches lay with the High Court of Delegates, and thereafter with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Following the Court of Probate Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, the establishment of the Court of Divorce, Probate and Admiralty in 1858 removed at once two of the most important fields of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, matrimonial and testamentary cases.

Since the reorganisation of ecclesiastical courts by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963, the Court of Arches has no original jurisdiction but hears appeals from the diocesan consistory courts within the province of Canterbury in cases concerning matters such as church buildings or clergy discipline not involving doctrine, ritual or ceremonial.

PROCEDURE

A suit in the Court of Arches was initiated by an appeal from the lower court (Arches C) or by letters of request from the Ordinary reponsponsible for the inferior court, asking for the case to be heard directly by the Court of Arches (Arches G 5), or by direct transmission from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. In addition the Court could initiate suits of its own, for instance to correct malpractice on the part of the clergy. On these 'ex officio' cases, promoted on behalf of the judge, see below, 'Types of Cases Heard'.

All steps in every case were recorded by the officials of the court, in more or less summary form, in the Act Books (Arches A), the Acts of Court (Arches Aa), or the Assignation Books (Arches Aaa).

On receipt of an appeal an inhibition was directed to the lower court (Arches Bb) to stop any further litigation in the case. In many cases the inhibition would be accompanied by a monition to transfer the process, that is a full copy of all acts and documents relating to the case hitherto (Arches D). In some cases the process was used as the basis for the decision in the Court of Arches, with no further evidence consulted. The parties in the case were then cited to appear on a specified day (Arches Bb) to present or to answer charges through their proctors.

All allegations and evidence were given in writing as no verbal evidence was accepted. A proctor would produce the libel of appeal on behalf of the appellant in an instance case or articles of appeal in a case promoted or examined on behalf of the judge (Arches E, B, Bbb). The libels or articles enumerated all the facts and charges against the defendant who answered by submitted allegations in defence of his case (Arches E, Bbb). Subsequent allegations could be submitted by either party. In 'instance' cases the plaintiff might be required by the judge to answer articles (Arches E) based on the appellant's libel: these are the 'personal answers' recorded in section Ee. The evidence of witnesses other than the two parties is recorded in the written depositions (Arches Eee), in answer to the interrogatories (Arches E) again based on the clauses of the libel. Whenever the parties or witnesses were unable to give their evidence to the proctors in London, commissions 'in partibus' were issued to local clergy to take the answers to the articles or interrogatories and return the answers and depositions to the court (Arches Bbb). For further proof the judge might require original documents or copies of documents to be exhibited before the court (Arches F, Ff, G).

When sufficient evidence has been procured the judge would pronounce sentence (Arches B), assigning costs to be paid by the loser (Arches J). If the case were not finally decided an interlocutory decree, that is a temporary sentence, might be issued, or the case might be referred to the Court of Delegates or the Privy Council, or it might be stopped by a royal inhibition (Arches G 7-15).

In testamentary cases the judge decided the payment of legacies or fines, in matrimonial cases he pronounced the divorce or annulment, but in the cases involving defamation or morals a penance or excommunication might be imposed. Excommunication was also used to force contumacious parties or witnesses to appear before the court. Up to the eighteenth century writs 'de excommunicato capiendo' were issued against those not cowed by excommunication into obeying the court. The Act Books (Arches A) show that a large proportion of the cases never reached sentence, that is the appeal was rejected, or one of the parties had died, or the case was settled out of court, or that it had just been abandoned.

The court kept four terms, the Michaelmas term, the first term of the legal year, beginning at the end of October, the Hilary term, beginning after the feast of St. Wolstan, that is the 19th January, the Easter term, beginning two weeks after Easter, and Trinity term, beginning after the feast of the Trinity. Most terms consisted of four sessions each, while extra business was transacted on subsequent 'bye days'. Between sessions and terms the proctors carried out the orders given by the judge in court. Sentences were usually pronounced at the beginning of a term before further business was undertaken.

On law and procedure in the Court of Arches, see also:
Lawrence Stone, 'Road to divorce', 1990, pp. 183-197.
James Thomas Law, ed., 'Forms of ecclesiastical law; or, The mode of conducting suits in the Consistory Courts : being a translation of the first part of Oughton's Ordo judiciorum, with large additions ... 2nd ed. (London, 1844). Library copy at H5154.L2.
R.H. Helmholz, 'Roman canon law in Reformation England' (Cambridge, 1990). Library copy at H5151.H3.

TYPES OF CASE HEARD

The jurisdiction of the Court of Arches was in all matters pertaining to the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts in general. The cases are divided into two categories, the 'instance' cases between two parties, which included cases of defamation of character, and matrimonial and testamentary cases until 1858, and 'ex officio' cases prosecuted by, or on behalf of, the judge. The latter included cases of lay and clerical discipline, or 'correction', and parish affairs, that is church fabric, faculties, church rates, tithes, etc. The 'ex officio' cases are, however, not easily distinguished in the catalogue because they are entered under the name of the proctor or other person who prosecuted the case on behalf of the judge. There are also a few cases of officials of lower courts being sued for illegal practices, and proctors suing for the payment of their fees. we

Below is a list of all the categories of cases which came within the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts:
Matrimonial Cases:
Divorce or separation - 'a mensa et thoro' [not a full divorce in the modern sense but a legal separation from 'bed and board'; separated parties were not entitled to re-marry]: adultery; cruelty

Nullity of marriage - separation 'a vinculo' [a complete dissolution of the marriage]: consanguinuity, affinity or incest; impotence or frigidity; precontract or bigamy; lunacy; minority
Marriage contracts of 'sponsalita' (espousals)
Jactitation of marriage [asserting a claim to be married]
Restitution of conjugal rights

Testamentary Cases:
Subtraction of legacies
Probate
Administration
Exhibition of inventories

Defamation of Character

Lay Discipline:
Incontinence or correction of morals
Non attendance at church or Holy Communion
Brawling or misbehaviour in church or churchyard

Clerical Discipline:
Incontinence
Negligence
Dilapidations
Simony and disputed appointments
Ritualism

Church Affairs:
Non payment of tithes
Non payment of rates
Churchwardens - disputed elections; disputed accounts; failure to take oaths
Pews, disputed rights to
Faculties

In comparing the types of cases heard between 1660 and 1800, and those heard after that date, it is seen how the range of ecclesiastical jurisdiction was declining, especially during the nineteenth century. The incidence of some types of case, such as defamation of character and correction for immoral behaviour, declined of their own accord as public attitudes changed, and they were no longer thought to be a fit field for interference. On the other hand (following the Court of Probate Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857) the establishment of the Court of Divorce, Probate and Admiralty in 1858 removed at once two of the most important fields of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, matrimonial and testamentary cases. This transfer of jurisdiction over marriage and probate to the civil courts caused a dramatic fall in the number of cases heard. Between 1800 and 1858 some 860 cases were heard before the Court of Arches, between 1859 and 1900 only 136 cases were heard. The compulsory payment of church rates was abolished in 1868 and the payment of tithes in 1936. The increased use of letters of request [a procedure designed to bypass the inferior courts and avoid the expensive delays incurred in an appeal] illustrates the decline in the practice of ecclesiastical law. The majority of cases remaining within the court's jurisdiction were cases of disputed faculties, which had previously been a very small proportion of the cases heard, and cases of clerical discipline. During the nineteenth century three acts defined and elaborated the procedure for dealing with various aspects of clerical indiscipline and encouraged such cases to be submitted to the Court of Arches. The Church Discipline Act of 1843 and the Clergy Discipline Act of 1892 defined the procedure of appeal from local courts to the Court of Arches, and the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 set up a new system for the trial of cases of ritualism but the judge appointed under the act was the Dean of the Arches.

Throughout the period covered by these records between one third and one quarter of the cases came from London and the Home Counties. Up to 1800 nearly one third of the cases tried related to the probate of wills, about 11% to defamation of character, 4% to clerical discipline, divorce or separation 4% and the non-payment of rates or tithes 5% and 4% respectively. Other cases occupied a comparatively small proportion of the court's time. After 1800 cases of defamation are down to 1%, testamentary cases decline to 14% but cases of divorce are up to 25% and cases of clerical discipline up to 20%.

SENTENCES AND CONCLUSIONS IN ARCHES CASE

Proceedings in Arches cases might reach their conclusion in a definitive sentence by the judge. Alternatively proceedings might be stopped by a royal inhibition or because an out of court settlement had been agreed between the parties in the case. Litigants commonly went to court to force the defendant to arbitration; it was a tactical manoeuvre to obtain a settlement. Lawrence Stone found that only about one fifth to one half of all cases in 18th century ecclesiastical and civil courts ever came to sentence, and in the case of matrimonial suits in the Court of Arches 60% never reached sentence (see Lawrence Stone, 'Road to divorce', pp. 24-40).

The sentences in the archive of the Court of Arches are formal records following a set formula including a statement that one of the parties has proved his case and sometimes awarding costs. They do not record the Dean's judgements or any discussion of the legal issues. Draft sentences were submitted by the opposing proctors in each case; the Dean selected one of these. Lawrence Stone commented that since the Arches' archive may include draft sentences submitted by both proctors it is sometimes impossible to know which of the two the Dean favoured (Stone, 'Road to divorce', p. 197).

The conclusion of an Arches case might be followed by an appeal to the High Court of Delegates (or, from 1832, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council). Such appeals were common. On the Court of Delegates, see G. I O. Duncan, 'The High Court of Delegates (Cambridge, 1971); Library copy at OC 325.D8. Case records of the Court of Delegates, housed in the National Archives (ref DEL), may be traced through [Jesse Addams], 'A catalogue of processes in the registry of the High Court of Delegates from 1609 to 1823' [London, 1824]; Library copy at OC 325, and through the online catalogue of the National Archives. Records of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are also held at the National Archives (ref PCAP) and may be sought through the the online catalogue of the National Archives. It should be borne in mind that a case heard in a lower court as Jones v Smith may, after appeal by Smith, be heard in a higher court as Smith v Jones.

OFFICIALS

The Official Principal (ie. the judge) of the Court of Arches is the Dean of the Arches.

Deans of the Arches:
2009- Charles George
2001-2009 Sheila Cameron
1980-2000 Sir John Owen
1977-1980 Rev'd Kenneth Elphinstone
1972-1976 Sir Harold Kent
1971-1972 Walter Wigglesworth
1955-1971 Sir Henry Willink
1934-1955 Sir Philip Wilbraham Baker-Wilbraham
1903-1934 Sir Lewis Dibdin
1898-1903 Sir Arthur Charles
1875-1898 Lord Penzance
1867-1875 Sir Robert Phillimore
1858-1867 Stephen Lushington
1852-1858 Sir John Dodson
1834-1852 Herbert Jenner-Fust
1809-1834 Sir John Nicholl
1788-1809 Sir William Wynne
1778-1788 Peter Calvert
1764-1778 Sir George Hay
1758-1764 Sir Edward Simpson
1751-1758 Sir George Lee
1710-1751 John Bettesworth
1703-1710 Sir John Cooke
1689-1703 George Oxenden
1686-1688 Sir Thomas Exton
1684-1686 Sir Richard Lloyd
1672-1684 Sir Robert Wiseman
1660-1672 Sir Giles Sweit

I. Churchill, 'Canterbury Administration', lists Deans 1261-1504 (in vol. 2, pp.238-240).

The Treasurer's Book of Doctors' Commons includes a list of Deans 1512-1764 (MS 2080 f. 46).

A typescript list of Court of Arches officials (proctors and advocates) c.1539-1755 is available in the Court of Arches catalogue in the Lambeth Palace Library reading room. References to officials are found in Arches Kkk [records of proctors and advocates], A [Act books], and Aaa [Assignation books] (see card index); Archbishops' Registers [ref: Reg]; Faculty Office muniment books [ref: F I]; Faculty Office fiats [ref: F II]. See also G D Squibb, 'Doctors' Commons: a History of the College of Advocates and Doctors of Law' (1977) [Library copy at OC 341.S7]; records of Doctors' Commons at Lambeth Palace Library [ref: DC]. MS 4255 provides a list of officials in archiepiscopal administration, including the Court of Arches, 14-18th century.
CustodialHistoryThe Archives of the Court of Arches were originally stored in Doctors' Commons, London, where the Court met from 1674 onwards. On the closure of Doctors' Commons under the Court of Probate Act of 1857, the records were stored temporarily in a well in St. Paul's Churchyard. Transferred to the custody of the Dean of Arches in Morton's Tower, Lambeth Palace, in 1865. Transferred for safe keeping during the War, 1939-45, to the Bodleian Library, Oxford (1941). Finally deposited in Lambeth Palace Library in 1953. Later deposits up to the 1980s; records continue to accrue for modern cases. [For provenance, see Library Records: LR K/1/14; LR L/14/11.]

See Commissioners on the Public Records 1801: Return of Registrar of the Court of Arches, App. L, p. 306, in Second Report, 1801.
Commissioners on the Public Records 1837: Return of Registrar of the Arches Court of Canterbury, App. L.2, pp. 263-5.

Supplementary records of the Court of Arches were originally stored in Morton's Tower, Lambeth Palace, with the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. These records passed to the Principal Probate Registry, Somerset House, in the mid-19th century, and were then transferred to the Public Record Office in the 1960s. The Court of Arches records finally returned to Lambeth Palace Library in 1974. Most of the records were repaired in 1990-2, with a grant from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. In 2002, the records were added to the archive of the Court of Arches, continuing the numbering of individual series, such as process books (D), exhibits (Ff and G), etc.

Further records were deposited in Lambeth Palace Library by the Guildhall Library in 1987 (see Lambeth Palace Library Annual Report 1987 p. 16): Bb 8a and 10b (2 large bundles of decrees, 1682-1684, 1687); G 179 (proxies, 1661-1670); D 2372 (process book Norman & Prankard vs. Salvidge, 1781); H149/8 (process book Fletcher vs. Fletcher, 1811).

Some stray, non-Arches material was transferred from Lambeth Palace Library during the 1950s and later (eg. L 16-19, papers of other courts, were transferred to the Public Record Office in 1963); some High Court of Delegates records transferred to Public Record Office in 1970s [five process books of the Court of Delegates so transferred are described in the series level entry for Arches D] and see Library files]; four process books of the London Consistory Court transferred to the Greater London Record Office in 1987.
AcquisitionPermanent deposit, administered by Lambeth Palace Library.
CopiesMicrofilms of various series (but not all series have been copied): Lambeth Palace Library MS Film 66-170. Some other series on microfiche.

Micropublications: The following categories of records are available on microfilm or microfiches at the Center for Research Libraries, 6050 south Kenwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA: the act books (A), acts of court (Aa), assignation books (Aaa), appeals (C), muniment books (F), personal answers and depositions (Ee, Eee), 2000 process books (D), sentences (B), and Black Book of the Arches (N1). Series Aa and Aaa were only filmed if there are no corresponding act books. The fiches of the process books are available for loan from the British Library Document Supply Centre, Boston Spa. The fiches of the process books are also available in the National Library of Australia, Canberra. Copies of the films and fiche were made available from Chadwyck Healey, Cambridge. The process books [D] were filmed in 1980 (by Mansell), and the other series [A, Aa, Aaa, B, C, Ee, Eee, F, N1] were completed in 1984.
RelatedMaterialARCHIVAL CONTEXT
The records of the Court of Arches form part of the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, which also comprise: Archbishops' papers (AP), Bishops' Meetings records (BM), Cartae Antiquae et Miscellaneae (Lambeth Charters) (CM), Convocation records (Conv), Faculty Office records (F), Lambeth Conference papers (LC), Temporalities records (ED and T), and Vicar General records (V). The records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (housed at the National Archives) are also part of the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury.

RELATED MANUSCRIPTS AT LAMBETH PALACE LIBRARY
MSS 691 and 712. Precedent books relating to the Court of Arches and other courts of the Archbishop of Canterbury. c.1616-c.1628.
MS 1154. Papers in the Arches case of Archbishop John Potter v Folkes and others 1737-9.
MS 1308. Statutes of the Archiepiscopal courts, 1587 and 1590.
MS 1748, Statutes of the Court of Arches 13-16th century, compiled in 1590.
MSS 1586-1589. Papers of Sir Lewis Dibdin, Dean of the Arches.
MS 2085. A precedent book for the ecclesiastical courts, primarily based on Arches cases 1597-99.
MSS 2451 and 4731, Copies of Francis Clerke's Praxis, on practice in the Court of Arches and other courts (another copy is Arches N 3).
MSS 2667-2668. Digests and reports of cases in the Court of Arches and other ecclesiastical courts 1709-19, 1726-42.
MSS 2873-2880. Papers of Sir George Lee, Dean of the Arches, including cause papers 1732-50 while a proctor in the Court of Arches.
MS 3340. Anthony J. Bevilacqua, `Procedure in the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England with its historical antecedents in Roman and decretal law'. Thesis, 1956.
MS 3404. Digest of ecclesiastical law and precedents, early 18th century.
MS 3416. Precedents and legal opinions in ecclesiastical law 1749-1809.
MS 4438, ff. 2-36. Proceedings in an Arches case concerning the Bishop of Bath and Wells 1601.
MS 4439. Proceedings in two cases in the Court of Arches, Wynne v Pigott 1608-11 and Smith and Mutton v Adam Dent, 1603-4. The first case is a transcript by Humphrey Baldwin, notary public, appointed a proctor in the Court 1603.
MS 5059. Papers in an Arches dilapidations case concerning John Hacket, Bishop of Lichfield, 1683.

RECORDS RELATING TO THE COURT OF ARCHES IN OTHER ARCHIVES
Berkshire Record Office. D/ED/050/1-12. William Trumbull's papers relating to eccesiastical cases 1594-1689.
Canterbury Cathedral Archives (ecclesiastical suit rolls and other papers 13th-15th cent.). On these, see 'The records of the medieval ecclesiastical courts. Part II. England. Reports of the Working Group on Church Court Records'; edited by Prof. Charles Donahue, Jr. (1994).
British Library (Add MS 27950: accounts of fees received for monitions, excommunications, decrees etc in the Court of Arches 1606-14).
British Library (Stowe MS 20): process in the Court of Arches for proving the marriage of Richard Sackville, 3rd Earl of Dorset, with Lady Anne Clifford in 1609. A transcript by Humphrey Baldwin, notary public, appointed a proctor in the Court 1603.
Bodleian Library, Oxford: Tanner MS. 427. Causes tried in the Court of Arches 1597-1604. 235 ff. On this manuscript see R.H. Helmholz, 'Roman canon law in Reformation England', pp. 138-9.
Bodleian Library, Oxford MS. Ashmole 1146, ff. 111v-115v. Customs and observances in the Court of Arches (copy at Lambeth Palace Library, MS Facsimile 4, ff. 80-8).
Bodleian Library, Oxford: MS. Arch. Pps. Bucks., c.264-265. Documents relating to cases in the ecclesiastical courts in London, 16-17th cent.
Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre (HD4/3). Two case books for cases in the Court of Arches: case concerning tithes in Stansgate Manor, parish of Steeple, Essex, 1568-69; case (breach of promise) William Barnes of Trumpington, Cambs., v Rose Ansell of Melbourne, Cambs. 1605-6. The latter is a transcript by Humphrey Baldwin, notary public, appointed a proctor in the Court 1603.
Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas (MS E181). Sir William Burrell: counsel's arguments and judge's decisions in 192 cases in the Court of Arches 1765-69.
Lincoln's Inn Library (Misc 147). Exton Sayer, reports of ecclesiastical cases in the Court of Delegates and Court of Arches c.1714-28.
National Library of Wales (Cardiff MS 4.103). Cause papers from the Court of Arches 1692-1739, 2 vols. Vol 1 opens with the case Wynne v Lloyd about seats in Ffestiniog church (formerly Phillipps MS 23760).
National Library of Wales. Papers concerning cases tried in the Court of Arches 1615-21 (so recorded in the COPAC database but without any manuscript reference).
West Sussex Record Office (Acc 5979/1-2). William Burrell, 'Reports of cases determined in the High Court of Admiralty' 1761-78. Burrell practised also as an Advocate in the Court of Arches; these reports of over 500 cases are said to cover ecclesiastical as well as Admiralty cases.

See also the list of ecclesiastical reports 1580-1640 in R.H. Helmholz, 'Roman canon law in Reformation England' (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 198-9.

OTHER ECCLESIASTICAL COURTS
Lambeth Palace Library also holds ecclesiastical court records for the Archbishop's peculiars (ref: VH).
Records of other ecclesiastical courts are held locally, including records for the Province of York held at the Borthwick Institute (see online catalogue and images: http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/causepapers).
PublnNotePRINTED REPORTS OF CASES

Joseph Phillimore, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the Arches and Prerogative Courts of Canterbury and in the High Court of Delegates : containing the judgments of the Right Hon. Sir George Lee'. 2 vols (London, 1832-3). Copy at H5155.P4. Records Arches and other cases 1752-58, with an appendix on a few cases 1724-33.

Joseph Phillimore, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the ecclesiastical courts at Doctors' Commons, and in the High Court of Delegates' 3 vols (London, 1818-27). Copy at H5155.P4. Records Arches and other cases 1809-21.

Jesse Addams, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the ecclesiastical courts at Doctors' Commons and in the High Court of Delegates' 3 vols (London, 1822-26). Copy at H5155.A3. Reports Arches and other cases 1822-26.

John Haggard, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the ecclesiastical courts at Doctors' Commons, and in the High Court of Delegates' 4 vols (London 1829-33). Copy at H5155.H2. Records Arches and other cases 1827-33.

W.C. Curteis, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the ecclesiastical courts at Doctors' Commons' 3 vols (London, 1840-44). Copy at H5155.C8. Records Arches and other cases 1834-44.

J.E.P. Robertson, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the ecclesiastical courts at Doctors' Commons' 2 vols (London, 1850-53). Copy at H5155.R6. Records Arches and other cases 1844-53.

Thomas Spinks, 'The ecclesiastical and admiralty reports : being reports of cases heard before the Arches and Prerogative Courts of Canterbury and the Consistory Court of London respectively, the High Court of Admiralty and the Admiralty Prize Court' 2 vols (London, 1855). Copy at H5155.S6. Records Arches and other cases 1853-55.

James Parker Deane, 'Reports of cases decided in the Ecclesiastical Courts at Doctors' Commons' vol 1 [no more published] (London, 1858). Copy at H5155.C2. Records Arches and other cases 1855-57.

W. Ernst Browning, 'The law reports. High Court of Admiralty and ecclesiastical courts : reported by Ernst Browning; edited by James Redfoord Bulwer' 4 vols (London, 1867-75). Copy at OC326.B7. Records Arches and other cases 1865-75.

John Haggard, 'Reports of cases argued and determined in the Consistory Court of London, containing the judgements of the Right Hon. Sir William Scott' 2 vols (London, 1822). Copy at H5154.H2. Records cases in the Consistory Court of London 1789-1821, some of which went on appeal to the Court of Arches.

All of the above reports were republished in 'The English reports', 178 vols (Edinburgh and London, 1900-1932). Vols 161-167 cover 'Ecclesiastical, Admiralty and Probate and Divorce'.

OTHER REPORTS AND DIGESTS

Edwin Maddy, 'Digest of cases argued and determined in the Arches and Prerogative Courts of Canterbury...,' (London, [1835]). Copy in the Sion College collection A 97.5 / M 26.

Alfred Waddilove, 'A digest of cases decided in the Court of Arches, the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, the Consistory Court of London : and on appeal therefrom to the judicial committee of the Privy Council' (London, 1849). Copy at H5155 (W2).

Sir Robert Phillimore, 'The principal ecclesiastical judgments delivered in the Court of Arches, 1867 to 1875' (London, 1876). Copy at H5155 (C.2).

MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE CASES

Given the scandalous nature of the evidence in these cases, many were widely reported in the popular press:

'Trials for adultery, or, The history of divorces : being select trials at Doctors Commons, for adultery, fornication, cruelty, impotence, &c. from the year 1760, to the present time ... taken in short-hand by a civilian'. 7 vols (London : Printed for S. Bladon ... 1779-1780).

'A new and compleat collection of the most remarkable trials for adultery, &c : From the time of Henry VIII. to the present period' (London : printed for J. Fleeming, 1780).

'A new collection of trials for adultery: or, General history of modern gallantry and divorces. Containing a variety of the most remarkable trials, heard and determined in the courts of Doctors' Commons ... from the year 1780, to the present time ... By a civilian of Doctors' Commons, etc.' ('A new volume. A new and complete collection of the most remarkable trials ... from ... 1780, to ... 1802 ... By R. Gill, Esq. and a civilian of Doctors' Commons, etc'.). 2 vols (London : printed for the proprietors, sold by J. Gill 1799, 1802).

For further bibliography, see Lawrence Stone, 'Road to Divorce: England 1530-1987' (Oxford, 1990),
p. 250, footnote 64.

OTHER SOURCES

Other printed source include reports on individual Arches cases. For example:
'Arches-Court Law. Being some late proceedings therein, argued and adjudged. Containing three remarkable cases, viz. I. The case of Mrs. Weld, who libelled her husband for impotency. II. The case of Mrs. Leeson and Lord Fitz-Maurice, relating to a marriage contract ... III. The famous Jew-case, between Mr. Jacob Mendes Da Costa and Mrs. Catherine Da Costa Villa Real ...' (London, 1735).

Many such sources may be found in the Lambeth Palace Library printed books catalogue via keyword searches, especially using the terms 'Arches' and 'Court of Arches', and via classmark searches, especially of class H5155.
SOURCES FOR THE COURT OF ARCHES AND ITS RECORDS

Doreen M. Slatter, "The Records of the Court of Arches", 'Journal of Ecclesiastical History', vol. iv no. 2 (Oct 1953), pp 139-153.

Doreen M. Slatter, "The study of the records of the Court of Arches", 'Journal of the Society of Archivists' 1 (1955), pp 29-31.

Jane Houston (ed.), 'Index of cases in the records of the Court of Arches at Lambeth Palace Library 1660-1913' (Index Library, vol. 85, 1972).

Melanie Barber, "Records of the Court of Arches in Lambeth Palace Library", 'Ecclesiastical Law Journal' (Jan. 1993), pp. 10-19.

'The records of the medieval ecclesiastical courts. Part II. England. Reports of the Working Group on Church Court Records'; edited by Prof. Charles Donahue, Jr. (1994). Surveys surviving documentation on the Arches and other courts for the medieval period.

'Select cases from the ecclesiastical courts of the province of Canterbury, c.1200-1301', ed. Norma Adams and Charles Donahue (Selden Society 95, 1981) [Lambeth Palace Library, OB5.(S3)].

F. Donald Logan, "The Court of Arches in the Church of Arches', 1251-1666", in 'St Mary-le-Bow: A History', ed. Michael Byrne and G. R. Bush, pp. 153-168.

F. Donald Logan, 'The Medieval Court of Arches' (Canterbury and York Society, vol. 95, 2005);
Irene J. Churchill, 'Canterbury Administration (1933), i. pp 424-469.

T. E. James, "The Court of Arches during the 18th century: its matrimonial jurisdiction", 'The American Journal of Legal History', vol. 5 (1961), pp. 55-66.

'Report of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission', 1883.

Account by Sir Lewis Dibdin of the administrative history of the Court and the custodial history of its records in 'The Guardian', 16 Jan 1914, pp 83-84.

OTHER PUBLICATIONS BASED ON ARCHES RECORDS

Lawrence Stone, 'Road to Divorce: England 1530-1987' (1990). Copy at MQ876.S8.

Lawrence Stone, 'Uncertain Unions: Marriage in England 1660-1753' (Oxford, 1992). Copy at MQ615.S8. Case studies based on the Arches cases.

Lawrence Stone, 'Broken lives. Separation and divorce in England 1660-1857' (Oxford, 1993). Copy at MQ876.S8. Case studies based on the Arches cases.

Junko Akamatsu, "Gender, Power and Sensibility: Marital Breakdown and Separation in the Court of Arches, 1660-1800" (thesis submitted for the degree of PhD in the Faculty of Arts, University of London, 2009). Copy at OC330.A5.

Junko Akamatsu, "Revisiting Ecclesiastical Adultery Cases in Eighteenth-Century England", 'Journal of Women's History' Volume 28, Number 1, Spring 2016, pp. 13-37; available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/613010

Melanie Barber, "Records of Marriage and Divorce in Lambeth Palace Library ", 'Genealogists' Magazine', vol 20, 1980, pp. 109-117. [photocopy shelved with marriage indexes in Lambeth Palace Library Reading Room]

B. G. Bouwens, 'Wills and their Whereabouts' (1951): refers to the Arches muniment books as sources for testamentary information, p. 50.

J. C. Cole, "The building of the second palace at Cuddesdon ...", 'Oxoniensia, vol. 24 (1959), pp. 49-69. Concerns documents of the Court of Arches, 1669.

Elizabeth Foyster, 'Male Honour, Social Control and Wife Beating in Late Stuart England', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series (1996) VI, pp.215-224; 'Manhood in Early Modern England: Honour, Sex and Marriage' (Longman, 1999); 'Marrying the experienced widow in early modern England: the male perspective', in S. Cavallo and L. Warner, eds., Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Longman, 1999); 'Silent witnesses? Children and the breakdown of domestic and social order in early modern England', in A. Fletcher and S. Hussey, eds., Childhood in Question (Manchester University Press, 1999).

Stephen W. Jones, "Montgomeryshire cases in the Court of Arches: a genealogist's guide" (2 parts), 'Record: Journal of the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society', 8-9 (1997) [Lambeth Palace Library Z664.L2 6.34a-34b]

'Index to the probate accounts of England and Wales', by P. Spufford et al. (British Record Society, Index Library vols. 112-13). Includes 93 accounts in the archive of the Court of Arches, 1555-1733.

Show related Persons records.

Related name records
CodeNameDates
164Province of Canterbury; Court of Arches
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