RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
Alt Ref NoArches F
Extent14 volumes
TitleMuniment Books
DescriptionMuniment books of the Court of Arches, compiled between 1554 and 1815. In these volumes are entered copies of documents produced in evidence and exhibited before the Court. Many of the documents are much earlier than the cases in which they were produced and some are medieval.
From the 1570s onwards the dates when documents were exhibited in court are usually given. Until the late 17th century these dates are recorded in relation to the preceding saint's day or festival observed by the court. On these, see the note below.
Unlike the exhibits filed in the series Arches Ff, these documents were not retained by the court, but were copied into the muniment books and the originals returned to their owners. From the 1570s onwards dates are usually given on which documents were copied and returned, often with receipts signed by the owner, his proctor, or both.
From the 17th century receipts are sometimes found for documents which were returned to their owners without being copied into the muniment book, usually because the text was annexed to a commission sent out for the collection of depositions by witnesses. Such commissions (see Arches Bbb) were returned to the Court and hence the text was preserved elsewhere in the Court records.
Also included are wills and administrations relating to proctors and advocates, probate being granted by the Court of Arches. The Court could also grant probate in other wills disputed in cases before the Court; a number of such grants are found in the muniment books, especially from the late 17th century onwards.
From the late 17th century onwards the muniment books were used increasingly for the registration of a variety of other documents produced by the court, including appointments of court officials, grants of probate or letters of administration, excommunications, sequestrations of benefices, grants of faculties or licenses, and especially receipts for legacies paid via the court in testamentary cases and sometimes for alimony in divorce cases. From 1700 clerks articled to serve proctors in the court were also registered in the muniment books.
The surviving volumes were compiled in the years 1554-1588, 1624-1631, 1635-1815.

The Court of Arches sat during four law terms in the year, each consisting of several sessions. Each term was broken up by holidays (saints' days and festivals) observed by the court.
See CR Cheney 'Handbook of dates' (London, 1978) for a list of saints' days and festivals (pp. 40-64) and an account of legal chronology (pp. 65-74). The latter includes a note on the terms of the Court of Arches (pp. 73-74).
Fuller information is contained in Thomas Oughton, 'Ordo judiciorum...' (London, 1728), pp. 3-7.
In the muniment books of the Court of Arches the dates on which documents were exhibited are given, until the late 17th century, by reference to the preceding saint's day or festival observed by the Court, in the form, eg. 'prox. Botolphi 1583' [ie. proximo die juridico post festum Sancti Botolphi]. In a rare example where the usual calendar date is also given [Arches F 5 f. 191], we find 'prox Scholastice 12 Feb. 1587', ie. 12 Feb. 1588 new style, the feast of Scholasticae Virginis being on 10 Feb.
Thomas Oughton (p. 4) gives the following list of saints' days and festivals observed by the Court:
Hilarii 12 Jan
Wolftani 19 Jan
Conversionis Pauli 25 Jan
Purificationis [BVM] 2 Feb
Blasii 3 Feb
Scholasticae Virginis 10 Feb
Valentini 14 Feb
Cinerum Feb
Matthiae 24 Feb
Cedde 2 March
Perpet. et Felicit. 7 March
Gregorii 12 March
Annunciationis 25 March
Quinden. Paschae 15 April
Alphegi 19 April
Marci Evangelistae 24 April
Inventionis crucis 3 May
Dunstani 8 May
Ascensionis May
Trinitatis June
Corp. Christi June
Bonifacii 5 June
Barnabae 11 June
Botolphi 17 June
Johannis 24 June
Petri et Pauli [often found as 'comemorationis pauli', 30 June] 29 June
Thomae 7 July
Swithin 15 July
Margaretae 20 July
Annae 26 July
Fidis 6 Oct
Edwardi 13 Oct
Lucae Evangelistae 18 Oct
Simonis et Jude 28 Oct
Animarum 2 Nov
Martini 11 Nov
Edmundi regis 20 Nov
Catharinae 25 Nov
Andreae Apostoli 30 Nov
Conceptionis Mariae 8 Dec

In addition, Gordiani [10 May] is sometimes found in the muniment books (eg. F3A ff. 75, 197; F4 f.162).
AccessConditionsConsult in microformat
AdminHistoryOnly the contents of the volumes from 1661 were included in the published index of cases edited by Jane Houston.
This was supplemented by a rough typescript description of the contents of volumes 1A-7.
Both of these finding aids have been replaced by the recataloguing of the entire series of Arches F in 2019-20.
CopiesMicrofilm (F 1-12, 1554-1815; also Hhh 13, 1815-1850): MS Film 163-9
RelatedMaterialArches Hhh 13-14 continue this series of muniment books, covering the period 1815-1960.
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2022