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The private side of Elizabeth emerges in objects such as the locket ring which opens to show portraits of Elizabeth and Anne Boleyn, side by side, but which closed gives no indication of the hidden, and perhaps painful, family link it depicts. At the other end of the scale we see the maps which indicate the mental world of the time: In this section the existing Elizabethan collection of the National Maritime Museum finds a perfect setting, and books, maps, charts and scientific instruments all testify to the extraordinary achievements of the Elizabethan seafarers.

This had a human side too: This echoes the appearance of more straightforwardly religious heirlooms in the exhibition, the possessions of Mary, Queen of Scots, lent by the descendants of the recusant families of the time who, in defiance of the authorities, treasured them as relics, and passed them down to future generations. The iconography of Elizabeth is perhaps more well-known, but still fascinating, and thankfully there are more measured claims made here for its significance than sometimes appear. The splendour of some of the portraits contrasts well with some of the more homely artefacts of life at court; the slightly crude stove-tile with the royal cipher, and the sturdy candle-sconce which bears the royal coat of arms.

Court of Common Pleas

The reappearance of these royal arms in a painted triptych from a Suffolk parish church reinforces how the Elizabethan religious settlement, whatever its doctrinal ambiguities, sought to replace traditional religious imagery with more politicized royal emblems. The doors of this triptych, when closed, reveal a selection of biblical texts denouncing the use of religious images, showing the close accommodation possible between royal propaganda and puritan convictions. No doubt the problem with any exhibition these days is how to marry the views of the historical experts with the views of those responsible for marketing and public relations.

It seems a shame, however, that this wonderful exhibition should have to delve at all into such facile distortions. It should not have to sentimentalize, or dramatize what is already so obviously extraordinary. It does not patronize the general public with too much over-simplification, and assumes, reasonably enough, that anyone whose imagination is fired by these exhibits might well be prepared to think more deeply about them.

The inclusion of transcripts of key documents in the exhibition brochure is a good indication of this, and the whole is supported by the superb catalogue which accompanies the exhibition, edited by Susan Doran. This has essays by a range of Elizabethan experts, which manage to be clear and concise enough for the non-specialist without losing any of the historical depth — it also has an array of beautiful illustrations, meticulously referenced and explained. There is, fortunately, too broad and varied an array of historical evidence here to let glib generalization eclipse historical veracity, and the messages conveyed by this exhibition manage on the whole to be informative without being dogmatic or sensationalist.

The exhibition runs until 14 September at the National Maritime Museum: Duchhardt Mainz, , pp. The article compares English and Scottish responses to the union of the crowns in following the accession of James VI and I, examining the reluctance of the English to rethink their ideas on sovereignty, and the problems inherent in an 'imperfect union'. Click here for more information about the journal, including a list of forthcoming articles. In June , just after the accession of James I, the Venetian ambassador in London was chatting to Lord Kinloss, a Scottish nobleman and royal confidant.

Kinloss mentioned the anxieties the king endured before coming to the English throne, but added 'by a Divine miracle all has gone well'. James himself was convinced that his safe arrival on the throne formerly occupied by Queen Elizabeth was literally God-designed, in order to bring the two realms of England and Scotland closer together. However, for all the talk about miracles, the reality was more prosaic.

In the early hours of 24 March , Elizabeth I died at Richmond. The 'Virgin Queen' made no explicit provision for an heir, fearing that she might encourage faction within her kingdom.

Yet James VI of Scotland was smoothly proclaimed as the new king. There was no opposition, but equally no immediate celebration. The London diarist John Manningham slyly noted that the proclamation was met with 'silent joye, noe great shouting', although there were bonfires and bell-ringing that evening as the announcement sank in. Three days later in Edinburgh, the king himself received the news with exultation. Yet in English law James's claim was uncertain.

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Since , foreigners were forbidden to inherit English lands, which might block James from inheriting the Crown and its estates. The parliamentary succession statute of mentioned no heir after Elizabeth and her children if any , while the will of Henry VIII debarred his Scottish relatives from the throne. More recently a statute of insisted that if any claimants should conspire against Elizabeth, all their legal rights were forfeited.

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Mary Queen of Scots had been executed in for her involvement in Catholic assassination plots against Elizabeth. As Mary's son and potential beneficiary of her actions, was James compromised?

Exempt from the aliens statute, Arbella might be a serious contender. Isabella was dangerously close at hand in Brussels, and James was agitated by the possibility that she might re-assert that claim and urge English Catholics to rise and support her. However, James had the great advantage of being a proven monarch.

Emerging from his long minority, he steadily gained control over both the Scottish kirk and the nobility. His flexible but tenacious pursuit of his aims revitalised Scottish kingship. As Edinburgh steadily extended effective government into the distant Highlands and Western Islands, James enjoyed a rising reputation in Europe. Among the Englishmen turning northward as Elizabeth aged was the young earl of Essex, after her favourite, who secretly committed himself to James. By , however, Essex had lost Elizabeth's favour and after a chaotic revolt in London he was tried and executed.

This was a blow to the king's hopes. Essex was popular, and as a privy councillor he was an ideal informant on English policy. Now James had to start again, rebuilding his party of supporters at the English court. Fines issued by the court were recorded on the Exchequer memoranda rolls, held in record series E The record series E and E also contain some accounts of fines.

See our State Papers guides and section 5 of our guide to Privy Council records for advice on searching within these records. See Publications of the Selden Society for more details. An analytical guide to serial publications and Part 2 of the same publication. For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday Discovery is a catalogue of archival records across the UK and beyond, from which you can search 32 million records. Patented textile pattern by Christopher Dresser.

All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3. Skip to Main Content. Search our website Search our records. How to look for Court of Star Chamber records How can I view the records covered in this guide? View online How many are online? Order copies We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally. Visit us in Kew Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free. Pay for research Consider paying for research. Why use this guide? What was the Court of Star Chamber?

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How the court worked and the records it produced 4. How to search for records of proceedings 5. How to search for judicial and administrative records 6. How to search for records of court fines 7. Other related records 8. Records held elsewhere 9. The kinds of cases brought before the court included the following, though as every case needed to allege violence for the court to hear the case, there is a reasonable chance that some allegations were fabricated: The common law system was an improvement on what had gone before, but it was still slow, highly technical — making procedural mistakes that could ruin a case all too likely — and vulnerable to corruption, especially when juries were used.

Fortunately, those who felt they had been failed by the common law system could still petition the King with their grievances. This dealt only with civil disputes, for example property and contract cases, and applied the law of equity — even-handedness or fairness. But as the years went by, the Court of Chancery began to be known for the same problems it had been set up to combat: Also, the Lord Chancellor was free to give whatever ruling he liked in a Chancery court, unbound by the law — which made it almost impossible for lawyers to advise their clients correctly.

It was not until that there was any change to the nearly year-old assize courts. By the Law Terms Act of that year, the Court of Great Sessions was abolished and the Welsh counties and Chester were brought into the general circuit system.


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Shortly afterwards, the new Central Criminal Court was set up, unifying the administration of justice in London and surrounding areas. In , Parliament passed the Judicature Act which merged common law and equity. Although one of the Divisions of the High Court is still called Chancery, all courts could now administer both equity and common law — with equity to reign supreme in any dispute. Criminal appeal rights remained limited until the establishment of a Court of Criminal Appeal under the Criminal Appeal Act The Court of Criminal Appeal sat for nearly 60 years, until its existence as a separate body was ended by the Criminal Appeal Act Its jurisdiction passed to the Court of Appeal.

Crown Courts as we know them today were not actually established until , and then only in Liverpool and Manchester. These courts also took over the quarter sessions work in their cities. The Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions, , led to the abolition of courts of assize and quarter sessions and the establishment of a new Crown Court to deal with business from both, under the terms of the Courts Act And until , the Lord Chancellor was part of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

This latest major change to affect the judiciary has been described as the most significant since Magna Carta.

History of the judiciary

For the first time an express statutory duty is placed on the Lord Chancellor and other Ministers of the Crown to protect the independence of the judiciary. For the first time in its 1,year history, the judiciary is officially recognised as a fully independent branch of the government. Tell us what you were looking for.

About the judiciary The judiciary, the government and the constitution The justice system Who are the judiciary? Courts and Tribunals Judiciary About the judiciary History of the judiciary. History of the judiciary The judiciary, the government and the constitution The justice system Who are the judiciary? An ancient system When you see a judge or magistrate sitting in court, you are actually looking at the result of 1, years of legal evolution.

A real ordeal Justice for the Anglo-Saxons and even after the Norman invasion of was a combination of local and royal government. The earliest judges During this period judges gradually gained independence from the monarch and the government. Growth of independence During this era bribes and payments were common, but even so, in the middle of the 13th century the judiciary was openly accused of corruption.