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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/0549
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1660-1920
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 1.83 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Court of King's Bench x Court of Queen's Bench
Court of Exchequer
Court of Bankruptcy


Administrative/Biographical history:

Until 1841, the legal status of being a bankrupt was confined to traders owing more than 100 (this was reduced to 50 in 1842). Debtors who were not traders did not qualify to become bankrupt, but stayed as insolvent debtors, who were held responsible for their debts but unable to pay them, they remained subject to common law proceedings and indefinite imprisonment, if their creditors so wished. The legal definition of 'trader' came to include all those who made a living by buying and selling and included all those who bought materials, worked on them and then re-sold them. Those who wished to qualify as bankrupts, and thus avoid the awful fate of an insolvent debtor, sometimes gave a false or misleadingly general description of their occupations: "dealer and chapman" was very common.

The Bankruptcy Act of 1571 allowed commissioners of bankrupts to be appointed; so that a bankrupt could discharge his debts by sale of his assets, and then begin trading again with his debts cleared. The bankrupt's creditors would petition the Lord Chancellor to allow a commission of bankruptcy. These Commissioners were independent assessors who would decide whether the debtor was eligible for bankruptcy proceedings, and oversee the sale of his assets and repayment of his creditors. In 1832 the Court of Bankruptcy was established.

Source of information: The National Archives Research Guide "Legal Records Information 5: Bankrupts and Insolvent Debtors: 1710-1869" (available online).


Scope and content/abstract:

Legal documents presented to Bankruptcy Courts, including mortgages, assignments, leases, abstract of title, wills and probates, grants, copies of court rolls, admissions, releases, conveyances, agreements, covenants to surrender, letters of administration, deeds of partnership, bills of costs, indentures of fines and marriage settlements; all for premises in Middlesex. Also records of pleas before the King's Bench, Queen's Bench, the Court of Exchequer and the Exchequer of Pleas; all for Middlesex.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Bundles 01 - 81: Bankruptcy Court documents; Bundles 82a - c: King's Bench, Queen's Bench, the Court of Exchequer and the Exchequer of Pleas.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1956.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
November 2009 to February 2010

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