High Court of Admiralty Examinations, 1536-1641

The High Court of Admiralty was established between 1340 and 1360 and it was probably set up to deal with the problems of piracy and spoil. It was stated that as an ‘Admiralty Court’ it was not bound by the rules of common law, but must administer “Equity and the Law of the Sea”

The work of Reginald G. Marsden is the best introduction to the early history of this court (‘Select Pleas in the Court of Admiralty’. Selden Soc., vols., Vi and XI, 1894 and 1897)

As with any court, cases were heard involving plaintiffs and defendants. Documents relating to any case, examinations and depositions of witnesses were studied by the court or its employees and decisions made. Appeals may or may not have been presented.

“Most of the surviving records of the court are clasified in a series of documents separate from civil and prize cases. This includes a wide range of material such as commissions of oyer and terminer, warrants, indictments, lists of gaol delivery, letters, minutes and examination books running from 1537-1776, which contain the depositions of the accused person, complainents and witnesses. Much of the material conerns the activities of pirates at sea, or of ‘aiders and abettors” ashore, but there are other cases concerning theft, murder or manslaughter, sodomy and mutiny.”(A Calendar of Material relating to Ireland, from the High Court of Examinations, 1536-1641″ Ed. John C. Appleby. Publ. Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1992. ISBN 1 874280 03 7)

The High Court of the Admiralty was probably set up to deal with the problems of piracy & spoil, it was not bound by the rule of common court. This is an index to the names of people found in the documents of that court. The following is an index to the names found in the High Court of Admiralty Index and the page numbers.