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Series Descriptions

Eastern District (cont.)

Nisi Prius Records and Postea,

(1 box)

{series #33.76} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by name of county, and thereunder chronologically by date of filing.

Records of cases heard in Courts of Nisi Prius. Most of the documents are entitled "Nisi Prius Records and Postea," a postea being an endorsement by the judge giving a brief summary of the proceedings. When a trial is decisive, postea are normally delivered to the attorney of the favored party for his signature, but often, when there is reason to question the verdict, postea remain in the custody of the court. Information provided by the records and postea includes date and place of trial; names of parties, attorneys, judges and jurymen involved; nature of case; an account of appearances, arguments, summons, and the striking (selection) of the jury; the verdict; and an assessment of damages and costs. Types of cases documented include debt, contract, dower, assault, adultery, bastardy, trespass, and ejectment cases. Other items sometime included are minutes, narratives, verdicts, subpoenas, affidavits, recognizances, reports of referees, lists of distringas, pleas and replications, bills of exception, and warrants in ejectment. Years included depend on the county, as follows: Berks (1764-1775), Bucks (1765-1771), Chester (1767-1773), Cumberland (1769), Lancaster (1768-1773). and York (1768-1775).

(44 cartons)

{series #33.78} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of filing.

Statements by Supreme Court justices of the reasons for the Court's judgment, finding or conclusion in a case (as opposed to a decision, which is the judgment itself). Information normally provided includes court term and case number; names of parties; original court of jurisdiction; argument date; nature of judgment; and name of justice who wrote the opinion. Most of the cases represented are appeals, such as Okie v. Kelly (1842) and The Commonwealth v. Darcy (1949). Some of the opinions appear in Pennsylvania Reports, and are marked with the corresponding volume number and page. Other materials accompanying the opinions may include paper books, and copies of dissenting opinions.

Paper Books (Printed Briefs Containing Case Summaries, Arguments and Interrogatories),
1857, 1866-1876.
(1 folder, 2 volumes)

{series #33.79} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically, with some overlap between the folder and the volumes.

A paper book contains a printed abstract of all the facts and pleadings of a particular case, compiled to enable a reader to obtain a full understanding of that case. Courts of error, upon argument, required that the judges be furnished with a copy of this book. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and their attorneys; court term and case number; and the nature of the case. Corporate litigants involved in the cases include the Maple Shade Oil Company, Watson Petroleum Company, Great Western Oil Company, Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, Catawissa Railroad Company, Clarion River Coal Mining Company, National Safety Insurance and Trust Company, Girard Mutual Coal Company, A.T. Stewart and Company, Dunkirk, Warren and Pittsburgh Railroad Company, the State Bank of Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the First National Bank of Mifflinburg, the Lycoming Fire Insurance Company, and the Lewisburg Centre and Spruce Creek Railroad Company. Other litigants include the Trustees of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church; the Overseers of the Poor for Mauch Chunk, Nescopeck, Wayne Township, Jersey Shore, Lewisburg, and West Buffalo the Supervisors of Cascade Township in Lycoming County, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as paupers and truants. Lower courts from which cases moved include the Orphans' Court of Lycoming County and the Courts of Common Pleas for Bradford, Lycoming, Union and Warren Counties.

Papers in Attainder Relating to Estates Forfeited by Treason,
[ca. 1778-1791].
(1 box)

{series #33.80} [Holdings]

Arranged randomly.

Commencing "proclamations" written by the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth stating the names of those people accused of high treason. Those accused were either discharged, outlawed or tried. If outlawed or successfully tried, their property was then appropriated by the Commonwealth. Types of documents filed include lists of persons who surrendered, or who were discharged, outlawed, or attainted of a capital crime; claims and decrees against forfeited estates; newspaper advertisements for the accused; recognizances; and an alphabetical listing of those suspected of high treason and capital crimes. (The actual court actions for claims against forfeited estates can be found in the series Claims Papers Relating Primarily to Forfeited Estates, 1778-1791 {series #33.29}.

Papers in Partition,
(2 folders)

{series #33.81} [Holdings]

Arranged randomly.

Papers relating to the division of lands, tenements, hereditaments, goods or chattels between several persons who are co-proprietors They may also deal with the division of real estate between coparcener, tenants in common, or joint tenants. According to a law of April 1799 entitled "An Act Concerning Writs of Partition," the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held original jurisdiction over granting and proceeding upon writs of partition. The writ could be issued out of the Supreme Court, or any of the County Courts of Common Pleas. By the Act of 1806 the jurisdiction over granting and proceeding upon these writs was enlarged to include Common Pleas. The documents contained in this series include writs de partition faciende, breves de partitione faciende, writs of partition, court orders for partition, summonses in partition, orders for sale, bills to perpetuate testimony, and inquest returns. Information provided about each case includes names of plaintiff, defendant, coparceners, wards, minors, Sheriff and inquisitors involved; location and dimensions of property; a description of improvements thereon; and the property's value. The process of how and when these writs were used can be traced through the Acts of Assembly. For further information, see the records of the various county Orphan's Courts.

Papers in Qui Tam Relating To Frederick Phyle and the Ship Preserverance,
(1 folder)

{series #33.82} [Holdings]

Arranged as a case file with all documents relating to Frederick Phyle as plaintiff and as many as twelve defendants.

Case papers relating to Frederick Phyle, who acted as an informer for the Commonwealth, and thus became the active plaintiff in actions against at least twelve defendants accused of being involved in the importation of British products during a period when this was illegal. The statutes involved in the proceedings were Chapter 815 (1778), "An Act for Regulating Navigation and Trade in this State," and Chapter 967 (1781), "A Supplement to the Act Entitled `An Act for Regulating Navigation and Trade in this State.'" A plaintiff is said to bring an action "in qui tam" when the action is under a statute which imposes a penalty for doing or not doing an act, and gives that penalty in part to the Commonwealth, or some charitable institution, and makes it recoverable by action. The plaintiff in action, in this case, Phyle, describes himself as well as the Commonwealth as suing in the action. Types of documents included in the file, relating to roughly twelve cases, include venires facias, special verdicts, claims, jury lists, stipulations, memorandums, praecipes, attachments, and bills of exception. Information provided includes names of defendants and nature of the charges and proceedings.

Partition Books,
1791-1857, 1861-1883.
(2 volumes)

{series #33.83} [Holdings]

Arranged randomly.

Partition is the division of lands, tenements, hereditaments, or goods and chattels between several persons who are co-proprietors. It may also be the division or real estate made between co-parceners, tenants in common, or joint tenants. According to a law of April 1799 entitled "An Act Concerning Writs of Partition," the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held original jurisdiction over granting and proceeding upon writs of partition. The writ could be issued out of the Supreme Court, or any of the County Courts of Common Pleas. The process of how and when a writ was used can be traced through these acts of assembly. The Partition Books contain copies of writs de paritione facienda and inquest returns. Information provided includes type and reason for the writ; names of plaintiff, defendant, sheriff, inquisitors, and neighbors involved; location and size of real estate; and maps of the property. Cases of interest may include "Samuel Grauenstine and Wife v. Isaac Mason et al." (volume 1, 242-259) and "Caleb Cresson v. Elliot Cresson" (volume 1, 331-337). More detailed information about this legal process can be obtained from the series Papers in Partition, 1798-1837 {series #33.81}, or from records of the office of the Clerk of the Orphan's Court from various counties.

Perpetuation of Testimony Dockets,
(1 volume)

{series #33.84} [Holdings]

Arranged randomly. The volumes are indexed by first vowel in surname of complainant.

Perpetuation of testimony refers to the transcribing of that testimony so that it can be read as evidence in a court. The entries in this volume were transcribed by the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court and document proceedings of equity in the form of complainants' declarations, calls of appearance by the court, and interrogatories of witnesses. The cases represented deal mainly with land titles and conveyances and information provided about them includes names of parties involved, and dates and locations of title transfers. The nature of the decision, however, is not revealed.

(3 folders)

{series #33.85} [Holdings]


These petitions were made to the Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Some reasons for the petitioning of the Court include the desire for a Special Court, for removal of a case to a United States Circuit Court, and for debtors to be released from jail in accordance to the Insolvent Debtors Laws of the Commonwealth. Other documents included with the petitions are depositions, affidavits, motions, commission and court returns, and a transcript of a lunacy proceeding. Information obtainable includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and creditors; personal and real estate involved; and information relating to foreigners and foreign vessels.

Petitions for Extinguishment of Ground Rent,
(1 folder)

{series #33.86} [Holdings]


These petitions were filed in order to discontinue the payment of rents. The holder of the indenture would then submit a formal document called an answer, and the Supreme Court would render a decision, some of which are filed within this series under the title "Orders of Court." Other documents filed include agreements to discontinue the cause, the estate documents of Catherine Hanchman, the bond of Henry Foster, and an agreement to pay the remaining debt. Information obtainable from this series includes date of indenture, names of those involved, location and description of grounds rented, and the price of rent.

Petitions to Execute Deeds,
(4 folders)

{series #33.87} [Holdings]


According to chapter DX in "Statutes at Large for Pennsylvania," a supplement to an act entitled "An Act for Taking Lands in Execution for Payment of Debts, and for Confirming Partitions in Several Instances heretofore Made," allows the purchaser of a property to apply to the Supreme Court or the appropriate Court of Common Pleas if the seller dies before the deed is granted. Documents contained within this series include the petitions for the deeds, answers, Sheriff's deeds, certificates of probate, affirmations, depositions, and petitions to execute contracts. Information provided includes names of petitioner, sheriff, original landholder, executors or administrators, heirs and tenants; and the dimensions, location and value of the property in question.

Plea Papers,
1780-1808 & undated.
(8 folders)

{series #33.88} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of plea.

Papers submitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in cases adjudged by that court, to be filed in the Supreme Court Dockets. Documents include pleas, pleas in partition, pleas in abatement, demurrers to replication, replications, replications and issues, replications and rejoinders, alterations of pleas, agreements of counsel, depositions, and a copy of a bond. The papers provide an interesting view of the types of laws and facts upon which pleas and responses were based. Specific information given about each case includes names of plaintiff and defendant and the types and dates of pleas entered. Of interest may be the case involving a deposition before the Mayor of Baltimore, and the undated document in the case of Robert Vance, Surviving Partner, etc. v. Andrew Caldwell, Surviving Partner, etc.

Power of Attorney Papers, Including Papers for Revolutionary War Soldiers,
(4 folders)

{series #33.89} [Holdings]


Documents granting power of attorney to third parties in cases depending in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Often called letters of attorney, such papers authorize a person to act as the agent or attorney of the grantor. Two types of powers may be granted. General power allows the appointed to act as he sees fit, while special power limits the appointed to only those powers specified in the letter. Other documents filed with the letters include warrants of attorney, releases of liens, extracts of patents, summonses, and releases. Information provided about each case may include names, addresses and townships of the plaintiff, defendant, appointed attorneys, and state officers involved and the dates and types of powers granted. Of interest may be those cases involving the Bank of Pennsylvania, the Delaware Insurance Company, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and appointees who were Revolutionary War soldiers.

Praecipe Papers,
(19 cartons)

{series #33.90} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically.

Praecipes and related papers filed in connection with cases brought before the Supreme Court. A praecipe is a written order, either in the form of an actual writ, or in the form of a mandate, issued by an attorney to the Prothonotary or Clerk of Courts, commanding that a writ be issued. Besides praecipes, types of documents found include verdicts, summons, rules, replications, motions, assignments of error, bills of exception, agreements, paper books, opinions, narratives, pleas, recognizances and amicable actions.

Proceedings in Lunacy,
(2 folders)

{series #33.91} [Holdings]


According to Section VI of Article V of the Pennsylvania Statutes at Large, the Supreme Court and the several Courts of Common Pleas shall have the power to care for those persons (and their estates) who are "non compotes mentis". This series contains the documents filed with the Supreme Court in connection with lunacy cases. Petitions were filed asking that a commission be established to investigate the defendant. The results of the investigation were filed as findings of an inquisition, and a committee of auditors was then be appointed to oversee the affairs of the defendant and his property, and submit a yearly report. Documents to be found in these files include petitions and affidavits, motions for commissions, writs de lunatico inquirendo, inquisition returns, admissions certificates, bonds of committees, reports of auditors, and committees' accounts. Information provided includes names of petitioner, defendant, committee members, inquisitors and deponents (witnesses); dates of petition, and assignment of commission; and the reason for the lunacy. Some cases have complete sets of documents from the original petition to the yearly auditor reports.

Prothonotary's Reports to the Chief Justice,
(1 carton)

{series #33.92} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Monthly report prepared by the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court. Information provided includes comparative statistics for the last four years and the previous month regarding undecided matters reported and number of visiting or retired judges; monthly breakdown for the classification of matters reported listed by district and judge; comments on cases being heard or that were undecided; total number of cases reported; totals for cases over six months old; report of judicial assistance; and a list of visiting or retired judges stating the days spent and the district served.

Recognizance Papers,
(15 folders)

{series #33.93} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of papers.

A recognizance is an obligation of record, which a party enters into before some court of record or magistrate, with a condition to perform some particular act. Failing to do so, the party (recognizor) is obliged to pay a specific sum to the court or to the other party involved in the case. The object of a recognizance is generally to secure the presence of a defendant to perform or suffer the judgment of the court. Types of recognizance papers filed include writs of error, writs returned to the court, writs for appearance, writs sur certiorari, writs for peace and good behavior, and writs for bail. Information provided includes name of plaintiff, name and residence of defendant, amount of recognizance, and duties required. Other documents are also found, such as distringas to nisi prius, exceptions to bail, orders of the court, and bonds. Of interest may be the final folder, which documents a United States Circuit Court (Third District) case, as well as one from within the Commonwealth involving a conspiracy charge.

Record of Attorneys Admitted to the Practice in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,
(3 volumes)

{series #33.94} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of attorney.

A record of attorneys admitted before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sitting in the Middle, (1876-1969), Eastern, and Western Districts (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), (1924-1969). Information includes name and residence of the attorney; the date of admission; and the name of the individual who made the motion for admittance. For additional information see Records of the Supreme Court, Middle District Admission of Attorneys Dockets, 1876-1969, {series #33.131} or the Records of the Superior Court, Admission of Attorneys Dockets, Middle District, 1896-1969, {#38.14} and Admission of Attorneys Docket for Philadelphia, Harrisburg & Scranton Districts, 1947-1969, {series #38.44}.

Records Relating to French Spoliation Claims,
(1 box)

{series #33.189} [Holdings]


Records believed to be maintained by the Honorable Leonard Myers, a Philadelphia attorney, U.S. Congressman, and Commissioner of the Court of Claims. Included is correspondence relating to the status of spoliation claims and/or fee payment, as well as copies of petitions, motions, decisions, congressional reports, and pamphlets relating to french spoliation claims used as research in presenting cases to the U.S. Court of Claims. Claims were made under the terms of an act approved January 20, 1885, allowing the U.S. Court of Claims to examine and determine the validity of cases made by United States citizens (or their representatives) seeking remuneration for their property seized (spoliations) by French warships and privateers during the undeclared naval war with France (1797-1801) and the XYZ Affair. The XYZ Affair was a diplomatic episode in which the French attempted to bribe United States delegates into diplomatic agreements, mainly in response to the Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain, viewed negatively by the French. Mr. Myers represented the interests of the Insurance Company of Pennsylvania, personal estates, and individuals.

Refunding Bonds,
(1 folder)

{series #33.95} [Holdings]


These documents are by form recognizances, originally filed with the Supreme Court. What distinguishes them from the papers in the series "Recognizances" is the fact that they were later refunded. There is no additional notation upon them as to the process or reasons for the refund. Only the filing date is added to them, noting the time when they were filed as "Refunding Bonds." Information provided includes names of the bonded, who they were bound to, and the names of the deceased persons involved; the cash amount of the bond; and its date and conditions. Of special interest are two cases, the first being "The United States v. the United States Bank," and the other, "The Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania v. the Executors of the Rev. Doctor Joseph Pilmore," (1826).

Registration Certificates of Law Students,
(14 cartons)

{series #33.96} [Holdings]

Arranged numerically by certificate number, assigned chronologically by date of registration.

Certificates attesting to an applicant's intention to begin studying law, approved by the State Board of Law Examiners, and sent to the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Information shown on certificates includes name of applicant; county of residence; judicial district; date of registration; certificate and application numbers; and the signature of the board chairman. Also included are related letters and personal descriptions giving age and birth date of applicant; law school to be attended; name of preceptor; and sometimes, the preceptor's address. For further information see the series Admission in Absentia Papers, 1955-1968 {series #33.1}, Applications for Certificates of Admission to the Supreme Court, 1951-1957, 1965-1966 {series #33.14}, Admission of Attorneys Dockets, 1742-1935 {series #33.2}, and the Registers of Law Students, 1903-1971 {series #33.97}.

Registers of Law Students,
(7 volumes)

{series #33.97} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of registration.

A record of persons registered as law students with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Information listed includes name, address and age of applicant; name and address of the student's preceptor; name of law school to be attended; registration certificate number and filing date; application number; number and date of Prothonotary's certificate; and the exit number and date.

Revolutionary War Soldiers' Claims and Related Papers,
(6 folders)

{series #33.98} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of claimant.

Indexed externally, alphabetically by surname of pensioner.

Petitions for veterans' pensions submitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. According to the Statutes at Large for 1785, these petitions were normally filed in the local county Orphans' Court. By law, the Court required substantial proof of the disability. At least one commanding officer and the surgeon who was affiliated with the soldier had to file depositions with the court affirming the soldier's service record and attesting to the wound. Once the Orphans' Court decided upon the case, it was sent to the Comptroller-General for permanent recording. The Assembly required the court to revise their proceedings every year. The entire process was revised in 1787 when, by an act of the assembly, the Supreme Court became the overseeing authority, and was given authority to review any pension case necessary in its regular sessions, or on circuit in the counties. By law, applications for pensions were only allowed within three years of the two acts. Thus, a veteran or widow could only file a claim from 1785 through 1790. Information provided by the applications may include name, rank and regiment of soldier; residence; occupation; and age. The depositions normally show name of commanding officer; the battle fought in; and the type of wound received. Other documents sometimes included are commission and enlistment papers. Related information may be found in the Orphans' Court Dockets for the respective counties. See also the following related State Archives series, and the online name index to the Revolutionary War pensioners documented therein:

Rules of Reference and Reports of Referees,
(2 cartons)

{series #33.99} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by date of appearance, except for documents from the years 1783-1809, which are arranged alphabetically by name of plaintiff.

When a case was entered into a Supreme Court docket, but not settled, the parties involved often agreed to have the case referred. The commencing document was an Agreement to Refer, and once this was filed, the Court made notice of this agreement, and appointed the appropriate people as the referees The documents in these files are entitled Rules of Reference, or Rules of Reference and Reports, and bear statements of the referees' decisions. Also included with the rules may be writs of partition or scire facias. Information provided about each case includes names of plaintiff, defendant and referees; amounts of debt and restitution; court term; filing date of referral; and date of arbiter's decision. Of special interest is the case involving Benjamin Franklin.

Rules to Take Depositions,
(3 folders)

{series #33.100} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of rule.

When a party in a cause is fearful of losing the testimony of a material witness, or if the witness lives outside of the locality where the hearing is to take place, an application must be made to the court for the witness to be examined by an appointed commission. The statement, or deposition, then taken from the witness may be used as evidence before the court. Documents found in these files include agreements to take depositions, agreements to a commission to examine witnesses, nominations to commissions, and interrogatories. Information provided about each case may include names of plaintiff, defendant, witnesses, attorneys, and commission members; residence of witness; type of plea or case; and date returnable. Of special interest are the cases involving Robert Morris, Mark Bird, and Michael Hilligas, Esq., Treasurer of The United States. Also of interest may be the fact that commissions were sent to New York, Delaware, Virginia, and as far away as Massachusetts and London. For related materials, see the Supreme Court records entitled Commissions, 1810-1817 {series #33.30} and Depositions, 1781-1825 {series #33.37}.

Scire Facias Papers,
(8 folders)

{series #33.101} [Holdings]

Documents are grouped by filing dates, but generally are not arranged.

Writs issued from the Supreme Court, commanding a defendant to show cause why a judgment should not be carried out, or why an individual, not originally involved in the suit but affected by it, should not be made a party to the judgment. In some instances, a writ of scire facias could begin a new action, such as if it was issued against bail, or a case of replevin. In other instances, such as in a revival of judgment, it acted as a continuation. The forms that this writ takes vary with its purpose. Purposes of writs in these files include revival of judgment, post annum et diem, sur recognizance, sur mortgage, against garnishee and against special bail. Information obtainable includes names of plaintiff, defendant, Sheriff and surety, amount of surety, and nature of case. Other types of papers filed include foreign attachments, garnishee bonds, minutes, and a Nisi Prius jury list. Of particular interest are the cases involving Edward Shippen (1797), Stephen Girard (1799), The Bank of Pennsylvania (1803), The Bank of North America (1803), and Rubicam and Simm (1817).

Scire Facias Sur Recognizances,
(1 folder)

{series #33.102} [Holdings]


Writs for the purpose of continuing or commencing the execution of a judgment which has lapsed, or has not been obeyed. In this case, the person who had promised to support the defendant (debtor) in a recognizance must pay to the plaintiff (creditor) the stipulated amount, since the defendant has failed to abide by the recognizance, or the decision of the Court. The writs are thus continuations of older actions. Information obtainable includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and bondsman; original plea; and amount owed. Also included in this file are writs of scire facias to revive judgment, and writs of scire facias against garnishes. See also the records entitled Recognizance Papers, 1754-1823 {#33.93}.

Settlement of Accounts Case Papers,
(1 box)

{series #33.103} [Holdings]

Arranged as case files, and thereunder grouped chronologically.

The Office of the Comptroller General was created by "An Act for Methodizing the Department of Accounts of the Commonwealth and for the More Effectual Settlement of the Same" (Statutes at Large for Pennsylvania, Chapter CMLXX). The duties of this office entailed the settling and liquidation of claims against the Commonwealth and the keeping of records of men indebted to the state. First, the Comptroller General would determine the credibility of the debt. After his decision, the creditors petitioned the Supreme Court for relief. Account cases represented in the files involve the recovery of debts for and against the Commonwealth. Types of documents filed include examinations, depositions, records of audit settlements, narratives, recognizances, repeals of recognizances, and letters from the Comptroller. Of special interest is the file of Robert Morris. Other cases of interest include Stocket and Wharton v. John Mitche.., and the Commonwealth v. Conrad Ihrie. Also represented in the files are a case of an attainted estate, in which the debtor has not enough to pay all of the claimants; a case against the Comptroller General by the state; and a case of fraud by a public official. For further information see Miscellaneous Accounts, Including Records of Transactions Involving the Commonwealth and the United States, 1782-1809 {series #4.38} and Letter Book, Accounts, and Related Records of the Auditors of Accounts for the State, 1777-1784 {series #4.29} both records of the Comptroller General.

Sheriff's and Coroner's Bonds and Recognizances,
(1 folder)

{series #33.104} [Holdings]


According to chapter 1458 of "Statutes at Large for Pennsylvania" (1790), "before any commission shall be granted to the Sheriff or Coroner of the city and county of Philadelphia, or of any county in this state, he shall enter into a recognizance before the president and supreme executive council, or before commissions by them for that purpose..., which recognizances shall be in the nature and effect of judgments obtained in the supreme Court and shall bind the lands, tenements, and hereditaments of the said Sheriffs and Coroners in the same manner as such judgment to the amount of the security by law required in each county." The purpose of these recognizances was as insurance against misconduct of the bonded officials. Documents found within this file include bonds, recognizances and commission reports, all of which were filed with the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court. Information provided includes names of Sheriffs, Coroners, sureties and commissioners involved and the amount of the bond. Officials from the following counties are represented: Bedford, Berks, Bucks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Lancaster, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Philadelphia and York. See also the records entitled Recognizance Papers, 1754-1823 {series #33.93}, Scire Facias Papers, 1768-1819, {series #33.101} and Scire Facias sur Recognizance Papers, 1796 {series #33.102}.

Sheriff's Deed Books and Lists of Attorneys Admitted,
1796-1876 (Lists 1742-1776, 1778-1809 only).
(2 boxes, 7 volumes)

{series #33.105} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by court term, and thereunder by date of entry.

Transcriptions of land property conveyances, originally taken in execution upon an estate or in a suit by virtue of a writ of fieri facias and sold at public auction by writ of venditioni expinas. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, grantee, and the Sheriff involved; date of deed poll; property location, size, boundaries and names of neighbors; and date grant was received.

Special and Privy Verdicts Papers,
1775 and undated
(1 folder)

{series #33.106} [Holdings]


This folder contains one dated document, a "Special Verdict," which, instead of giving a general finding for one party or another in a case, sets forth a specific finding for each issue or fact in question. The other documents, all undated, include "Privy Verdicts," which were delivered privately to a judge by the jury, and also a draft record on removal in the Circuit Court of the United States. Information obtainable includes names of plaintiff, defendant and jurors involved, the finding of the jury, and the amount awarded. See also the record series Cases Stated File, 1783-1793 & undated {series #33.25}.

Special Assignment Dockets,
(1 carton)

{series #33.107} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by term, and thereunder numerically by docket number.

Special judicial assignments granted by the Supreme Court to sitting and retired judges. Information given on docket includes names of judges affected and the location, reason, and length of special assignment. Reasons for a special assignment may include change of venue, participation in additional legal programs, and mostly disqualification of a judge from a case.

Stipulations of Counsel for Extension of Time to File Briefs,
(1 box)

{series #33.108} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by filing date.

Papers submitted by attorneys to obtain an extension of the time limit within which briefs for a case may be filed. Information provided includes court term and case number; names of parties; and dates of stipulation, confirmation, extension, and compensatory extension for the other party. This information is normally noted in the Court Dockets as well.

(5 folders)

{series #33.109} [Holdings]

Each folder arranged chronologically by original date of case.

A suggestion is a conveyance of information, applied to those cases where, during the pendancy of the suit, some matter of fact occurs which puts a stop to the suit in its existing form. Such occurrences can include the death, marriage, or insolvency of one of the parties. The fact is normally announced to the court by the counsel of the opposite party, or is simply entered upon the record. Once the fact is admitted, if true, the court issues the proper order thereupon. If false suggestions are made, particularly in the case of wills, they generally amount to fraud. Information provided by the suggestions includes names of original plaintiff and defendant, their attorneys, any new parties, case numbers which appear to relate to numbers on trial lists, and the date of filing. Other documents among the suggestions include assignments of judgment, substitutions of appearance, and writs of scire facias.

Transcripts of Record,
[ca. 1786-1820].
(2 folders)

{series #33.110} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of plaintiff.

Copies of docket entries which are certified by the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. These copies would be sent along to the next level in the judiciary system. This could have been the High Court of Errors and Appeals. Materials copied include deeds, answers, pleas, interrogatories, agreements and judgments. Information typically provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, attorneys, and the Prothonotary; their occupations, type of pleas entered, amount of debt involved, and the judgment of the court.

Transferred Case Dockets,
(1 box, 3 volumes)

{series #33.190} [Holdings]

Grouped chronologically by year of court term, thereunder arranged chronologically by date appeal was docketed. This order results in dockets being arranged numerically by docket number.
Indexed internally alphabetically by case name.

Transfer dockets of the Eastern District of the Supreme Court for cases appealed from the Western District and the Middle District. The type of information provided is the docket number, the title of the case, the date originally argued, the court and court term from which appealed, the name of the judge in the lower court, the date on which the appeal was allowed, the date the notice of appeal was docketed, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the attorneys for the appellant and the appellee, and a brief record of the filings and proceedings.

Trial Lists,
1783-1794, 1798-1828.
(21 folders)

{series #33.111} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of session.

Lists of trials and argument cases which were used as an "in-house" method of controlling the daily or term-by-term operations of the Supreme Court. For each case, the following information was recorded: term entered, names of attorneys and parties, action or case number, and types of papers filed or actions taken (e.g. type of writ issued, whether the record was returned, whether bail was granted or an appearance made, whether a narrative was submitted, and the type of plea entered). A much more structured way of compiling and controlling this information was instituted after 1800. Related documents filed include Trial Lists for Philadelphia County, Lists for Special Jury Trials, Nisi Prius Lists, Lists of Jurors for Nisi Prius, Distringas, and an Estreat List for September 29, 1781 to April 10, 1782. Some lists may mention the county in which the cause was originally heard.

Trial Lists of County Causes,
(9 folders)

{series #33.112} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of list.

Lists of court cases brought before various county courts in Pennsylvania kept by the Supreme Court for reference and tracking purposes. Some lists are entitled "Lists of Arguments in Actions Removed from the Different County Courts of Common Pleas in the State of Pennsylvania (except that of Philadelphia City) to the Supreme Court," while others bear the title "Lists for Philadelphia County Actions." These lists follow the development of cases from the county courts to the highest state level. Information provided includes names of parties and attorneys involved, court term entered, case number or type of action, form of writ, type of plea entered, and whether record returned, bail or appearance made, or a narrative entered.

Trustee Petitions,
(2 folders)

{series #33.113} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of petition.

Petitions submitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in accordance with the Act of the General Assembly (1825) entitled "An Act to Prevent the Failure of Trustees." According to this act, the Supreme Court was to have power to grant relief in equity in all cases of transfer insofar as regarded the appointment of trustees due to death, infamy, lunacy, or the inability or refusal of the original trustee(s) to fulfill their duties, or in cases where the estate was not conveyed in the first place. According to law, persons with an interest in an estate or trust could petition the court which would appoint the trustees. Besides the petitions, documents filed include copies of wills, court orders, citations, renunciations and statements. Information obtainable includes names of petitioner, decedent, original and newly nominated trustees, and attorneys involved; reasons the trusteeship was transferred; and the location and value of the real and personal property making up the estate.

Verdict Papers,
1804-1812 & undated.
(7 folders)

{series #33.114} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by term and case number.

Written verdicts which were delivered privately to the judge by the jury, known also as "privy verdicts." Other types of documents found include agreements, cases stated, and a rule to show cause. Information provided includes date of verdict, signatures of jurors, amount awarded, and to whom. Of particular interest are the cases involving the Bank of North America (1804) and the Lancaster and Susquehanna Insurance Company (1812).

Warrant of Attorney Dockets,
(1 box, 7 volumes)

{series #33.115} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of judgment.

A warrant of attorney is more specific than a letter or power of attorney, in that it is addressed to one or more attorneys authorizing them to appear in any court or in some specified court on behalf of a client to confess judgment in an action of debt, and contains a stipulation not to bring any writ of error or file a bill in equity. The defendant confessing judgment may also enter this warrant without an attorney by filing it with the Prothonotary. The Warrant of Attorney Dockets contain records of those cases in which such a warrant was entered and judgment confessed. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, and warranted attorney(s); amount of debt; notations of other papers filed; and date of confession of judgment. Some dockets contain actual warrants.

Writs of Ad Quod Domnum,
(1 box)

{series #33.116} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically.

Writs issued from the Supreme Court to a County Sheriff, directing him to assess, with the help of a jury, the total damage to a particular person's property incurred by the development of a highway or canal. After the issuance of the writ, a notice of valuation was drawn up for the holder, and after the inspection, a report was filed. Besides writs, notices and reports, other documents in these files include certificates of a struck jury, soldiers' pension claims, appraisals, and extracts of inquisitions. Most of the cases represented involve the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Navigation Company, which was given jurisdiction to survey the waters of the Tulpehoccon, Quitapahilla and Swatara, in the counties of Berks and Dauphin (Tulpehoccon, Heidelberg and Lebanon townships), to effect a navigation canal between the Schuylkill and Susquehanna serviceable by roads and tracks. From 1794-1795, the cases concern another company, Delaware and Schuylkill Navigation, which was working on the construction of a similar canal between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers in Philadelphia County. Information generally provided for each case includes names of property holder, sheriff, jurors and company involved; the location, and description of the property inspected; and a valuation of damages.

Writs of Error,
1785-1804, 1828-1861, 1865-1866.
(13 cartons)

{series #33.117} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of return.

Writs issued from or to the Supreme Court. Some (1785-1804) were returnable to the High Court of Errors and Appeals while others were directed to district and county courts. These writs ordered lower court judges to send the record of a case to the appropriate appellate jurisdiction, in order that the higher court might correct an error in procedure, in law, or possibly in fact if that fact would affect the decision. Besides the writs, pleas, copies of wills, depositions and Register's Court appeals can be found in these files. Information provided about each case includes names of defendant, plaintiff, executor, and various family members or assignees for estates; real and personal property involved; amounts of debts; the legal basis for the appeal; and its associated statement about the case.

Writs of Habeas Corpus and Petitions, 1771-1863.
(2 cartons)

{series #33.118} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of filing.

The petitions were originally made to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, requesting that he issue a writ of habeas corpus which would then allow the petitioner to appear before the court to inquire into the legality of his confinement. Information provided by the petitions and their accompanying writs includes names of petitioner (detainee), reason for detention (including robbery, desertion, going AWOL, and not re-enlisting after being paid to do so), filing date, and action taken by the court. Other documents filed include manumissions, paper books, memoranda, processes, enlistment papers, and witness lists. Individuals named may include those in charge of jails and workhouses, military commanders of the Revolution, and a Vice Council of France. Most of the cases represented relate either to military affairs or slave holdings. Of special interest are documents from the state of Rhode Island. A related series is Writs of Habeas Corpus for Black Slaves and Indentured Servants, 1784-1787, {series #33.119}. Many of the writs provide such information as name of slave, place of residence, name of master, type of crime, and sometimes particulars concerning the slave's familial relationships, occupation, and purchase.

Writs of Habeas Corpus for Black Slaves and Indentured Servants,
(2 folders)

{series #33.119} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of writ.

This series was separated out from Writs of Habeas Corpus and Petitions, 1771-1863 {series #33.118}. The documents were filed with the Supreme Court, Eastern District, and contain diverse data that vary with each writ. Many of the writs provide the slave's name, place of residency and name of master. In some instances familial relationships are depicted and particulars are entered about where the slave worked and when he or she was purchased.

Writs of Inquiry,
(12 folders)

{series #33.120} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically.

A writ of inquiry was akin to an actual inquisition, and was issued on behalf of the plaintiff in a case where the defendant had let the proceedings go by default (i.e., refused to confess that the amount claimed in the plaintiff's declaration was correct), and an interlocutory judgment had been given for damages not readily calculable. The plaintiff would begin the process by submitting a praecipe to the court, which would then issue the proper writ of inquiry to the Sheriff of the county where the vendue had been laid, requiring him to enlist twelve inquisitors, and act as judge in a jury trial to assess the damages. Included in these files are writs, inquisitions, wills, copies of bills, land drawings, replications, pleas, narratives, demurrers to evidence and articles of agreement. Information provided includes names of plaintiff, defendant, Sheriff, and inquisitors involved, the nature of the action, the type of property damaged, and amount of damage calculated.

Writs of Removal,
(4 cartons)

{series #33.121} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of writ.

There is no document actually entitled "Writ of Removal." Rather, various types of writs were used to remove cases from inferior courts to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania depending on the circumstances. Types of writs in these files include habeas corpus, certiorari and error. Other documents found include bills of exception, grand jury inquests, judgments of the Mayor's Court, and summonses. Information provided by these documents includes names of plaintiff, defendant, mayor and aldermen (of Philadelphia), and grand jury inquisitors involved; the original cause; the inferior court; and the reason for removal. Inferior courts mentioned include the Court of Common Pleas, the Mayor's Court of Philadelphia, and the District Court for the City and County of Philadelphia. For laws dealing with the process of removal, see Statutes-at-Large for Pennsylvania, 1799.

Writs for Valuation of City Lots,
(3 folders)

{series #33.122} [Holdings]

Writs issued out of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in accordance with Section VII of Chapter 1142 of Pennsylvania Laws, to persons claiming a right to city land because of their status as rightful owners of property which had already been appropriated or developed by the city. However, a claimant could only petition the Court for such a writ after a decision within the Supreme Executive Council by the president or vice president. The writs directed the appropriate Sheriff to appoint a twelve man jury to assign to the claimant "as much of the said unappropriated lots within the city as shall, in their judgment, equal in value to the lots claimed. Included with the petitions may be writs, inquests, and decrees of the council. Information normally provided includes names of claimant, original purchaser of property (from whom claimant was usually descended), other family members involved, neighbors, inquisitors, and sheriff; location, description and dimensions of property in question; and the date it was purchased and for what price. Of particular interest is the case involving the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania (1799). For further information, consult records held by the Division of Land Records, such as original purchases or warrants.

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