Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies:
An Annotated Digital Catalogue
compiled by: Sharon Hamby O’Connor and Mary Sarah Bilder
with the assistance of: Charles Donahue, Jr.

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Access to the database is most easily obtained by using one of the search engines or clicking on one of the lists of contents given at the bottom of this page. There are many live links on this page (gray); they cannot be seen on some mobile devices but can be seen by hovering over them

In the century before the creation of the Supreme Court of the United States, the British Privy Council heard appeals from the 13 colonies that became the United States and from the other ‘American’ colonies in Canada and the Caribbean. This catalogue focuses on all currently known colonial cases appealed to the Privy Council from the future United States, a number totaling nearly one-third of the more than 800 heard from the Americas. For the appeals from the 13 colonies, the catalogue provides links to original documents in England and the United States. Most significantly, the site includes images of surviving briefs filed in 54 of these appeals. Known as ‘printed cases’, these briefs provide the ‘reasons’ for the appeals.

Preliminary lists of appeals from Canada (pdf) and from the Caribbean (pdf) are also included. A brief list of printed cases for the Caribbean found in the British Library, the Law Library of Congress and the Law Library at Columbia University (pdf) may provide a beginning for similar study by interested scholars.

Current complementary international projects address previously unpublished Privy Council cases from a somewhat later period and colonial appeals from India and Australia.

The Privy Council today continues to hear appeals through its Judicial Committee.

There is a complete Introduction to the site. It contains, among other things, advice about how to navigate through the catalogue. Specific search options are available. The site also contains a set of useful lists and will soon contain a version of the catalogue in PDF.

The site also includes a Memorandum addressed to students and enthusiasts that offers advice on how to use the catalogue for developing a paper for a course or for advancing research in the field. Images of all the pages of Joseph H. Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Plantations are available on the site.

The project is part of a series of online publications of the Ames Foundation. Additional assistance was provided by Boston College Law School and Harvard Law School. Additional information about the project can be found in the attached essay (pdf).

Recommended Citation: Sharon Hamby O’Connor and Mary Sarah Bilder, Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies: An Annotated Digital Catalogue (Ames Foundation, 2014). A hard-cover version in paper may be obtained from W. S. Hein & Co.

 

Contents by Colony, Report No., Case Name Contents by Colony, Report No. Only
Contents by Year, Report No., Case Name, Colony Useful Lists