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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 134  2014  page 270

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

intellectis ac plenarie et mature discussis’. Their structure differs greatly from other cause papers as they do not follow the item by item formula. Instead they are written out in one large paragraph, and are one of the shortest record types featured in MS.F.4.12 often only covering one side of a page. Unfortunately they are also the least useful for establishing information about a case as they are largely formulaic and full of extraneous language. They rarely give details of the punishment that was to be faced by the losing party, instead just describing who was deemed to be at fault and occasionally giving the type of punishment without any further details. Entry 12, for example, gives the verdict in the case of Mary Besbeeche, wife of Thomas, of the parish of Goudhurst against Alexander Courthoppe of the same parish. Besbeeche is the plaintiff in this case but the sentence explains that her claims have not been proven and consequently she is made liable for court costs and a lasting silence is imposed upon her with regard to the case. It does not however detail in anyway what her original claims were, or why they were not upheld.

Creator of MS.F.4.12

It is difficult to tell who the cause papers were originally produced by, be it the courts or the proctors to be presented to the court, and who owned them. An inscription on the recto of f.1 of ‘Sum ex libris Will[elm]i Pers[iv]all’ suggests initially that MS.F.4.12 belonged to an individual rather than the court itself. Such a collection of records could feasibly have been the working professional papers of an official of the court, such as a proctor. The lack of any order to them, and the fact that they clearly do not cover all the work of the courts for this period, lends credence to this assumption. However, whilst the inscription is clearly not a recent one, there is no evidence to support the idea of it being contemporary to the records. Private libraries and book collecting were not uncommon during this period and the volume could easily have belonged to a private owner such as William Perisvall [Percival], many years later.
   Further evidence suggests that at least some of the records were produced by the courts themselves. The reverse of entry 71 is labelled ‘copia libelli Sharpy c[ontra] Tolherst’, meaning that it is a copy of the original libel that would have been submitted to the court by the proctor.23 At least one other record is similarly labelled firmly placing them as products of the court itself. Whilst few are labelled as such there could be many more examples among the documents in MS.F.4.12. The nature of some records, such as depositions and sentences, means that they would have been produced by the court as usual practice, although copies could have been made to be given to the parties involved.
   Several different hands can be identified throughout and, by linking some of these, patterns begin to emerge between the records and the

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