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Country code GB
Repository code 234
Repository National Records of Scotland
Reference AC
Title High Court of Admiralty
Dates 1557-1830
Access status Open
Location
Description Contents

AC1 Acta Curiae Admirallatus Scotiae 1557-1561/2

AC2 Diet Books - vols 1-36 1654-1659; 1702-1830

AC3 Roll Books - vols 1-10 1790-1830

AC4 Receipt Books - vols 1-21 1721-1827

AC5 Responde Books - vols 1-10 1706-1830

AC6 Precept Books - vols 1-3 1702-1754

AC7 Decreets - vols 1-106 1627-1830

Index to Decreets vol 107 1627-1830

Inventory to Decreets vol 108 1822-1830

AC8 Decrees in Absence - Nos 1-7614 1702-1830

AC9 Processes in Foro - Nos 1-6944 1703-1830

AC10 Summary Warrants - Nos 1-2524 1703-1830

AC11 Bonds of Caution - Nos 1-3370 1702-1830

AC12 Lists of Bonds of Cautions & Receipts 1827-1830

AC13 1-4 Commissions and Deputations 1718-1830

AC13/5 Inventory of Commissions granted by Lords of Admiralty Nos 1-41;
memorial regarding appointment of Admiralty clerk No 42
1693-1701; 1717

AC14/1 List of Procurators names who paid licenses 1820-1828

AC14/2 Petitions & Warrants admitting
Procurators Nos 1-30
1829-1830

AC15/1 Memorandum Book 1787-1825

AC15/2 Record of Summary Cases 1827-1830

AC15/3 Consignation Book 1773-1830
Level Fonds
Admin history The ancient heritable office of High Admiral of Scotland carried with it an extensive civil and criminal jurisdiction. The interference of the lately constituted Court of Session with the exclusive right of the Admiral to hear and decide maritime causes was the subject of a remit by Parliament in 1554; and although the decision is not recorded, it would appear that his right to decide all such causes, in the first instance at least, continued to be recognised, the Court of Session having a right of review. See the Act 1661, c.87, where it is provided that decisions given in the Admiral as well as other courts during the usurpation might be brought in question before the Court of Session "in the same form" and manner as was formely established by the law and "practick of this kingdom."

The jurisdiction included the determination of all actions relating to maritime contracts, salvage, demurrage, &c., and in criminal matters, cases of piracy and mutiny, and other crimes committed on the high seas or within the limits of the Admiral's office. By common law a considerable jurisdiction in mercantile causes, not properly maritime, was also, much to the hardship of suitors, allowed to the Admiralty Court.

The Act 1681, c.82, ratified an Act, passed in 1609, conferring on the Court of Admiralty the power of summary execution upon all its decreets, and declared that the High Admiral, as His Majesty's Justice-General upon the Seas, had the sole privilege and jurisdiction in all maritime and seafaring causes, civil and criminal, and that the High Court of Admiralty was a supreme court to whose review all inferior courts were subject. The Court of Session was limited to review by suspension or reduction. Among the rights exercised by the Court were the issue of Letters of Marque and Safe Conducts or passes to go abroad.

The Admiral had the right of nominating deputes as judges of the High Court.

Clause 19 of the Treaty of Union provided for the continuance of the Court of Admiralty in Scotland, with the same powers and subject to the like review of its judgments, until the Parliament of the United Kingdom should make such regulations and alterations as should be judged expendient for the whole kingdom. The Court accordingly continued to exercise its functions down to 1830, when, by the Court of Session Act 1 William IV., c.69, it was abolished, and the original jurisdiction in all maritime civil causes and proceedings conferred on the Court of Session, actions not exceeding a certain value being brought in the first instance before the Sheriff Court. The Circuit Courts (Scotland) Act 1828 (9 Geo. IV., c.29) had already declared the cumulative jurisdiction of the High of Court Justiciary to extend to all crimes and offences competent to the Court of Admiralty; and the Act of 1830 conferred a similar jurisdiction both in civil and criminal causes on the Sheriff Courts within their respective districts. As directed by the 26th section of the Act of 1830, the Records and Warrants of the Court of Admiralty, other than those relating to suits actually depending, were transmitted for preservation to the Lord Clerk-Register.

A volume entitled "Acta Curiae Admirallatus Scotae" is the only extant early record deposited in the National Archives of Scotland. It contains the Acts of the Court sitting at Edinburgh and Leith under the presidency of the Vice-Admirals from 6th September, 1557, to 11th March, 1561/2, the office of High Admiral being then held by the Earl of Bothwell.

The Processes comprising AC8, AC9, AC10, AC11, AC15, and AC17, have been chronologically listed and are being alphabetically arranged.
Publication note See Mowat, Sue and Graham, Eric J, 'High Court of Admiralty Scotland records 1627-1750' [CD] (Dunfermline, 2005) (available in NRS library)
Format Text
Language English
 

National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; tel +44 (0) 131 535 1314; email: historical_enquiries@nrscotland.gov.uk