The Chancery Court handled civil disputes for all of England and Wales. Its records are now held at the National Archives of the UK (TNA) (formerly the Public Records Office, or PRO, and Historic Manuscripts Commission) and begin in the late 14th century. In 1875 this court became the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice. Therefore, records for the Chancery Court exist from the late 14th century to 1875. This database is an index to the Chancery Court proceedings, which consist of bills of complaint, answers, replications, and rejoinders, from 1386-1558. The bill of complaint was what initiated the equity suit and was given by the plaintiff. The defendant would then provide an answer. The court process then allowed for a replication by the plaintiff, followed by a rejoinder from the defendant. Occasionally, the court allowed for further pleadings, and other times the pleadings did not even get that far.
Although difficult to search through, Chancery Court records are rich in genealogical information. This index of more than 286,500 individuals who were involved in the Chancery Court proceedings between 1386 and 1558 makes searching for your ancestors among these records much easier. For each individual found within this index you will find a specific reference to the location of their name in the original records, found at TNA.
This database was compiled by Rosanna Hamilton and gathered primarily from the Lists of Early Chancery Proceedings, part of the PRO Lists and Indexes series. For more information about this data consult the 10 volume Lists of Early Chancery Proceedings series, which was reprinted by Kraus Reprint Corporation in 1963.