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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 134  2014  page 264

A History of the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Diocese of Canterbury, 1566-86, based on the
   Cause papers bound within the Volume MS.F.4.12. By Karen Rushton

Official Records Produced by the Courts

Each court kept records of their business which can be particularly useful when investigating their proceedings. They provide the basis of the majority of studies into the different courts as the main tools from which to determine how they functioned, the sorts of cases they heard and the details of individual cases. An understanding of the format of the official records is clearly essential to formulating an understanding of the courts as well as an appreciation of what a record such as MS.F.4.12 can offer. Court records can be said to ‘fall into two clearly defined classes – the Act Books and the Cause Papers’.1
   Act Books detailed all the business of the court for any particular session. They could comprise entries for each individual proceeding by including the names of the plaintiff, the defendant, and often the proctor (the lawyer representing each party). Other entries might include the admission of officials to the court and the granting of licences. Whilst Act Books might be useful in tracking the types of case heard, the numbers of different case types and the officials of the court the entries themselves could be very brief and often excluded individual’s names. Nevertheless, long series of Act Books have survived for many of the courts including those at Canterbury, making them a valuable source for tracking their fortunes.
   Cause papers are much more detailed and follow the ‘progress of an action through the courts’.2 Papers were produced for each element of the process and by charting each step in more detail one might hope to be able to gain from them more information on the individuals involved in a case as well as the method in which it was dealt with. However, as useful as this record type should theoretically be it is very rare for all the records relating to one lawsuit to survive. In fact very often only one paper will survive if any at all. There is only one case referred to within MS.F.4.12 for which there is more than one entry – entries 25, a libel, and 28, a depositions, both referring to the same defamation case.
   The series of cause papers listed in Canterbury Cathedral Archives only begin in 1595, after the period of MS.F.4.12, with only one or two individual papers relating to an earlier period. Consequently, the only records of the cases featured in MS.F.4.12 that will be found at Canterbury are likely to be within the Act Books, making MS.F.4.12 an apparently unique source for the details of cases arising in this period.

The Diocese of Canterbury

The twenty years covered by MS.F.4.12 saw three Archbishops of Canterbury and two Archdeacons. Matthew Parker being the first (1559-1575) followed by Edmund Grindal (1575-1583) and John Whitgift (1583-1604). The

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