16 June 2014

Digital Catalog for Appeals to the British Privy Council from the American Colonies

17 June 2014 update: I got a message from Mary Sarah Bilder, Professor of Law, Lee Distinguished Scholar, Boston College Law School, letting me know the correct title of this collection should have used the word Colonies, which I originally added in brackets, instead of Plantations. I made this correction in the post title. Professor Bilder included a link to an interesting article on an appeal related to the Phillips-Woodbridge duel in the June 2014 "Object of the Month" posted at the Massachusetts Historical Society: http://www.masshist.org/object-of-the-month. This background adds to what we can learn in the papers filed for the appeal.

Many sources used by historians are also useful to genealogists studying our family history.

Are you looking for the name of the wife of Thomas Parker who was in Virginia by April 1699? Have you considered court records in England? Thomas Starke of London appealed a ruling of the court in Virginia to the British Privy Council. Records of that appeal give us the name of Thomas Parker's wife Francillia who is executrix for Joseph Goodricke.1 If this case is from a burned Virginia county this information could be extremely useful to a descendant of Francillia Parker. We'd also be interested in the relationship between Francillia and Goodricke in case this could lead us to her maiden name.

The Legal History Blog posted about one of these new sources in "An Annotated Digital Catalogue to Appeals to the Privy Council". The post tells us over 800 cases were appealed to the British Privy Council from the colonies and about one-third of those cases came from what is now the U.S.2

Annotations added to the original papers (such as the legal briefs) link to other useful resources. In some cases only the register books have been found; in some cases the register books and the briefs filed for the appeal still exist. Links take you to digital images of the record books. Where the briefs are not available the entries in the record books may not give details of the case, but just state whether the original ruling was upheld or not. Some cases have pages and pages of briefs filed by both sides in the case.

The advice to students on how to use these resources will also be helpful to genealogists; definitions of the papers and processes help us understand the British legal system.

I can't wait to spend more time in this source.

1. Starke v Parker, Appeals to the Privy Council, Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, Virginia, Report No. 13_1699_00; digital index and images, Ames Foundation, Harvard Law (http://amesfoundation.law.harvard.edu/ColonialAppeals/index_new.php?report_no=13_1699_00 : accessed 16 June 2014). Images from the National Archives, London, England, may be used only for purposes of research, private study, or education; reproduction permission was granted for the Harvard website. Copyright laws in England are different than those in the U.S. Be sure you understand the laws applied to this source before using it.

2. Dan Ernst, "An Annotated Digital Catalogue to Appeals to the Privy Council," Legal History Blog, posted 12 June 2014 (http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/: accessed 16 June 2014).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Digital Catalog for Appeals to the British Privy Council from the American Colonies," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 16 June 2014, updated 17 June 2014 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2014, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

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