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Old 18-04-21, 09:15
ElizabethHerts ElizabethHerts is online now
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Default Finding Chancery cases

Have any of you used Chancery cases in your research?

There were several such cases in my tree. One case was Stayt v Shepard. From the title you wouldn't know that it emanated from the will of Samuel Purser (married to my 3x-great-aunt Ann Jeffcoat).

The account of the Chancery case and many hours of long research before the days of the Internet are documented by Ronald Purser in his book "A Sense of Belonging", tracing his Purser family, and by association the Jeffcoat family, as three Jeffcoat women married into the Purser line.

He makes point that there must be many other Chancery cases that could reveal immensely interesting family stories - if only you could find them!

It's a shame there isn't a better indexing system for them, as many of these gems will remain on the shelves of the National Archives and not be viewed.

Last edited by ElizabethHerts; 18-04-21 at 09:18.
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Old 18-04-21, 09:37
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kiterunner kiterunner is offline
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Yes, I do hope that one of these days TNA will improve their index for them, or even digitise them. I did find details of one involving my family which was written up in a book.
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Old 18-04-21, 09:52
ElizabethHerts ElizabethHerts is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiterunner View Post
Yes, I do hope that one of these days TNA will improve their index for them, or even digitise them. I did find details of one involving my family which was written up in a book.
Apparently the Stayt v Shepard case "totals hundreds of pages". I don't know if the National Archives would be prepared to digitise them all. Mr Purser made notes of the various affidavits etc.
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Old 18-04-21, 11:55
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I've been fantasizing about Chancery cases being digitised recently!

The branch of my family I'm looking at at the moment (one of the few I've taken back pre-1700) were almost heroically litigious - it seems as if no Will could be written without a flurry of cases following it. I've set up a spreadsheet to try to sort them all out, but it would be so much easier if there were some details online!
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Old 18-04-21, 12:12
ElizabethHerts ElizabethHerts is online now
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One of my ancestor's will was contested and I eagerly purchased the documents from the RO. It was hugely disappointing in its dullness and didn't provide me with any useful information!

However, the Stayt v Shepard case yielded a huge family tree of complex relationships and intermarriages.
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Old 18-04-21, 12:15
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I have used Chancery records!

The reason Mum was interested in fh was the tale of "money lost in Chancery". When I finally found the case (completely by chance) none of the names were ones I knew.

There are lots of finding aids, and there has been a drive to get volunteers to index documents, but digitising the records would be extremely challenging. You may have ten or more documents attached together, ranging from a tiny strip, to documents several feet wide. I have photographed documents, often in six or more parts.

My retirement project is to work more systematically on Chancery documents, but it is a challenge, as not all the documents are stored together.
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Old 18-04-21, 12:57
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I found a chancery case, thanks to the much-mourned A2A site. I didn't find all of it, there were lots of bits missing, but I managed to get the gist of it. The case concerned the rightful ownership of one field which had appeared in a will of 1492(?). The case staggered on for 70 years in the ~1800s, three generations of litigants pursuing this tiny field! However, the bits I did find were extremely helpful, with heralds visitations etc. (The final judgment was that they should have half each.)

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Old 18-04-21, 13:34
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Another thing to bear in mind is that these documents were not looked after until they arrived at the PRO. They are often absolutely filthy, very difficult to handle, needing lots of weights to hold them down, and occasionally ultra violet lamps to read rubbed or faded handwriting.
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Old 19-04-21, 10:07
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Thank you for raising this, Elizabeth.

I have revisited some of the records I want to look at again. The same case in Chancery is scattered through C3, C4 and C78. There are also references in STAC and my ancestor is variously Ellis Grimes, Elice Grymes and Ellis Crymes.

Having just looked at some wills, his main first opponent fell sick and in his will mentions the business (which had cost him in 1565/6 about £200)
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