RepositoryCheshire Record Office
LevelSection (Sub-fonds)
ReferenceEDC
TitleConsistory Court records
Date16th century-20th century
DescriptionCases were broadly either office, instance or office promoted. Office cases (initiated by the office of the bishop) were the ecclesiastical equivalent of criminal jurisdiction and included moral offences, absence from church, failure to follow official doctrine, unlicensed teaching, performance of illegal marriages etc. Instance cases (initiated at the instance of one private individual against another) were the equivalent of civil jurisdiction, and included defamation, tithe, pew, matrimonial and testamentary disputes. Office promoted cases were "office" cases by nature (eg performance of clandestine marriages) but which were "promoted" by an individual rather than the "office"of the bishop.
LocationParts of this collection held offsite - consult staff
Administrative HistoryThe Consistory Court was established in 1541. Until the 19th century, the jurisdiction of the court covered the moral and religious conduct of the clergy and laity, the maintenance of the fabric and furniture of church buildings and matters relating to tithe, probate and matrimony.
In theory the jurisdiction of the court extended to the whole diocese. However, the existence of the commissary court of the archdeaconry of Richmond attracted most cases from the archdeaconry, and disputed cases tended to be referred directly to the archbishop's court at York, rather than to Chester. Thus the Consistory Court records relate mainly to the Archdeaconry of Chester, ie Cheshire and Lancashire south of the River Ribble.
Tithe causes were removed from the court's jurisdiction by the Tithe Commutation Act 1836. Testamentary and matrimonial causes were transferred respectively by the Court of Probate Act 1857 and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 to new secular courts. The effect of the Ecclesiastical Courts Act 1855 and the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 was to confine the court's role to matters of disputed faculties and clergy discipline.
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