Legal papers relating to King James II and the Anglican Church

Scope and Content

Manuscript volume containing transcripts of legal papers, 1686, mainly relating to the attempts of King James II to increase his powers as the Supreme Head of the Anglican Church, including papers appointing the Lords Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, 17 Jul 1686, and their proceedings against Henry Compton, Bishop of London, 9 Aug-6 Sep 1686; proceedings in the Court of King's Bench against Sir Edward Hales, Baronet, 1686, (where the judges found in favour of the king's power to excuse individuals from the Test Oath); observations on the case of customs cited in the Reports of Sir Edward Coke...of divers resolutions and judgments (W Lee, London, 1658), 1686; and notes on proceedings in the Court of King's Bench against Samuel Johnson, [1686].

Administrative / Biographical History

The Court of King's Bench was formerly one of the superior courts of common law in England. King's, or Queen's, Bench was so called because it descended from the English court held coram rege ("before the monarch") and thus traveled wherever the king went. King's Bench heard cases that concerned the sovereign or cases affecting great persons privileged to be tried only before him. It could also correct the errors and defaults of all other courts, and, after the close of the civil wars of Henry III's reign (1216-72), it mainly tried criminal or quasi-criminal cases. In 1268 it obtained its own chief justice, but only very gradually did it lose its close connections with the king and become a separate court of common law. The Court of King's Bench exercised a supreme and general jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases as well as special jurisdiction over the other superior common-law courts until 1830.


Single item.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Part of the Goldsmith's Library of Economic Literature, initially collected by Herbert Somerton Foxwell and presented by the Goldsmith's Company to the University of London in 1903.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Manuscript quarto. Bound in quarter-morocco.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Smith as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


All of the above proceedings, with the exception of the commentary on the work of Sir Edward Coke, have been printed in volume XI of A Complete Collection of State Trials (Longmans and Co, London, 1809-1828), compiled by T B Howell.