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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 134  2014  page 268

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

reinforcing the hierarchical structure of the church courts as cases that could not be settled at the level of the diocese were then being taken to the level of the province. Entry 49 is a good example of the formation of a citation and the elements that would be included. The parties involved are all named as well as the type of cause being disputed and the day on which the defendants are expected to appear. Citations are also much easier to date than some other records as the specific date on which it was delivered and the official who delivered it are given at the end.


Following the assessment of either the libel or articles in court it was up to the defendant to respond to each allegation that had been made in them. These would be known as responsions and tended to culminate in a document called an allegation which brought together all the facts that had been denied by the defendant.17 The marginalia of several of the entries of MS.F.4.12 shows some form of response to have been recorded directly on to the libel or articles. Phrases such as ‘credit’ or ‘non credit’ appear alongside some items indicating that the defendant either believes or does not believe what is set out by the plaintiff in each point.

Interrogatories and Depositions

From here on each contested point could be considered in the court through the submission of evidence, usually in the form of statements from witnesses. Part of the reason for the production of large quantities of records was due to the way in which evidence was heard. Witnesses would not be questioned openly in court as would be expected in a modern court trial, instead the statements of witnesses would be taken in private and written down verbatim.18 During this process depositions and interrogatories were produced, but there is some confusion amongst writers on the subject as to what each of these was and how they functioned. According to Woodcock interrogatories were questions produced by the proctor for either party and put to their own witnesses, with the answers then recorded as depositions. Another important point made by Woodcock is that there was no form of cross-examination, with each party having to rely upon their own witness testimonies to refute those of the opposition. This version of the process is agreed upon by both Colin Chapman and the guides produced by Nottingham University Manuscripts and Special Collections, although neither agrees that there was no form of cross-examination, arguing that interrogatories could be used by the defence to question the prosecution’s witnesses.19
   However, Purvis states that the original testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses were taken by asking them to answer for the statements laid

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