Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies:
An Annotated Digital Catalogue

Detailed Contents


Reflections on Colonial Appeals

  1. British Law
  2. Slavery and Race
  3. Women, Property, and Gender

Catalogue Contents

  1. List of Appeals (Including “Not True Appeals”)
    1. What is an Appeal?
    2. Description of an Appeal
    3. Relationship of Catalogue Descriptions to Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series
  2. Printed Cases
  3. Privy Council Documents
  4. Privy Council’s Registers
  5. Additional Resources Available in the Catalogue
  6. Copies and Downloading

Advice on Using the Catalogue

  1. Markers in the Report
    1. Report Number
    2. Report Name
  2. Report Navigation
  3. Bibliography and Abbreviations
  4. Searching by Search Engine
    1. Basic Search
    2. Specific Searches
    3. Searching the Index of Persons in Part 2
  5. Navigating by Useful Lists
  6. Viewing Images
    1. View Link
    2. APC and CSP View Images
    3. Viewing Printed Cases and Other Documents
  7. Persons and Places Index (PPI)
  8. Browsers

Additional Resources Available Elsewhere






This annotated digital catalogue offers a systematic presentation of the appeals to the Privy Council from the 13 colonies that became the United States (Part 1) and from the British Caribbean and Canadian colonies (Part 2) to 1783, with links to related documents. By the dawn of the eighteenth century, the power of the Privy Council as advisor to the sovereign was already waning. Nonetheless, the Council and its associated subsidiaries retained responsibility for the administration of the growing number of English colonies. As part of this oversight of colonial governance, the Council exercised appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the highest courts in each colony.

The purpose of the catalogue is to provide a foundation for further study of these appeals through improved access to source material. The two parts contain 776 reports on appeals, 257 reports in Part 1, 519 in Part 2.1 The total number of appeals (more than 850), however, is higher than the number of reports, as cross appeals and related appeals are included in one report.

This annotated digital catalogue offers a systematic presentation of the appeals to the Privy Council from the 13 colonies that became the United States (Part 1) and from the British Caribbean and Canadian colonies (Part 2) to 1783, with links to related documents. By the dawn of the eighteenth century, the power of the Privy Council as advisor to the sovereign was already waning. Nonetheless, the Council and its associated subsidiaries retained responsibility for the administration of the growing number of English colonies. As part of this oversight of colonial governance, the Council exercised appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the highest courts in each colony.

To date, the American appeals (Part 1) have been the study of more scholarship than those in the Caribbean and Canada (Part 2). We hope that the two parts will encourage new scholarship. Even at a glance, the people represented by the process include familiar names. On the American side, George Washington’s marriage to Martha (Dandridge) Custis introduced him to the complicated litigation between his stepchildren’s father’s family and Lucy Chester Parke, acknowledged natural daughter of Governor Daniel Parke of the Leeward Islands.2 The origins of the controversial wealth of Isaac Royall (Royal), Jr., which funded the first law professorship at Harvard College, has its origins in his father’s Caribbean economic activities, reflected here in a 1738 appeal.3 On the British side, Christopher Codrington, Governor of the Leeward Islands, whose endowment created the majestic Codrington Library of All Souls’ College, appears in several appeals.4 Indeed, there are a rather large number of “repeat players” particularly in the Caribbean cases.5 Behind the names and properties lies the expansion and exploitation that characterized the history of British colonization and the concomitant wealth that flowed into British family fortunes over the eighteenth century.

The two parts encompass over a century of appeals. The earliest appeal in either part is Capt. John Rodney v Thomas Cole (NEV_1674_00).6 After 1674, appeals gradually spread across the colonies: Jamaica (1679), New York (1680), Massachusetts (1681), Barbados and Virginia (1682), New Hampshire (1683), Antigua and Bermuda (1689), Maryland (1694), New Jersey (1696), Rhode Island (1698), Connecticut and South Carolina (1699). In 1696, the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations (commonly called the “Board of Trade”) was established, leading to a considerable increase in appeals. Canadian appeals begin in 1758, with the first appeal from Nova Scotia, followed by Newfoundland (1761) and Quebec (1763).

Modern appellate courts in many countries trace their roots to these appeals. As British imperial administrative authority devolved and disintegrated, the practice of appealing continued to new or transformed institutions. In the United States, the Supreme Court became the successor to this appellate jurisdiction in 1789. With respect to Canada and the Caribbean, a committee of the Privy Council continued to exercise appellate jurisdiction for a considerable period. In 1833, a distinct Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) was created by statute. The current JCPC continues to operate pursuant to that statute and successive alterations. Jurisdiction over Canada ended in 1949 and the Supreme Court of Canada became the highest appellate jurisdiction. Currently, jurisdiction over appeals from Caribbean countries differs. The JCPC continues to serve as an appellate body for some, and for others, the Caribbean Court of Justice, inaugurated in 2005, now serves as the appellate body. Today, the JCPC hears appeals in the same building as the UK Supreme Court, in Parliament Square, Westminster.

Although the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council became the official name of the appellate body after 1833, for the previous century and half, we can refer to it as the Committee for Hearing Appeals. During the period covered by this catalogue, the appellate body operated as a committee of the Privy Council, its attendance varying in number and composition with various names used to describe it.7 The Committee met at Whitehall, usually in a room designated as “at the Council Chamber” or “at the Cockpit.”

This catalogue complements other ongoing international efforts to uncover the record of appeals within the colonies of the British Empire. Current complementary international projects include the previously unpublished Privy Council Papers (1792–1998) and colonial appeals from India and Australia. The British Library maintains an updated collection guide for “Judicial Committee of the Privy Council appeal cases.” The total number of cases, including the approximately 10,000 cases of the Privy Council Papers digital catalogue, demonstrates the significance of this jurisdiction over more than three centuries.

A few gaps remain in the documentary record tracing the transition from 1783 to the modern era. On the British side, appellate records between 1784–1792 remain undocumented for Caribbean and Canadian appeals. On the U.S. side, several appellate bodies operated between 1776 and 1790. Two were related to prize appeals: the Committee on Prize Appeals (1776–1780) and the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture (1780–1787), both of which heard prize appeals from admiralty courts in the states. Of the nearly 120 cases heard, some records are accessible as digitized microfilm and some records of opinions appear in volume 2 of the United States Reports (Dallas).8 In addition, under Article 9 of the Articles of Confederation (1781), the United States in Congress assembled became the last resort on appeal in any disputes between states. These records remain scattered.

For a further overview of the Council’s appellate jurisdiction and its significance, see Sharon Hamby O’Connor and Mary Sarah Bilder’s “Appeals to the Privy Council before American Independence: An Annotated Digital Catalogue.” To date, the most exhaustive study of the appellate process remains undoubtedly Joseph H. Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Plantations, images of which are available on this site. A number of other studies have provided detailed discussion of more particular aspects.9 For an understanding of the process itself, see the brief description in Bilder’s Transatlantic Constitution.10

A word about Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council may be helpful to researchers. Smith studied the institutional development of the hearing of colonial appeals, and he viewed appeals as an institution. He traced a trajectory from conciliar jurisdiction over the Channel Islands that had begun in the medieval period to appeals in the 1760s and 1770s which raised implicit constitutional questions analogous to judicial review of legislation. Working primarily from the Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series and Privy Council records, Smith identified appeals and then apparently created a categorization system in which appeals presented examples of particular procedural or institutional development. Impressively, Smith located significant printed and manuscript materials related to many of the appeals. Smith’s interest, however, usually involved abstract legal process issues. Although focused on conciliar jurisdiction, Smith evaluated the appeals through a lens constructed by the American judicial example. And similarly, despite claiming to appreciate the “lack of definition of its objectives and the plasticity of the methods whereby it reaches its unguessed destination” (p. 351), Smith repeatedly analyzed and evaluated the appeals against some abstract idea of what a coherent, conciliar appellate jurisdiction should have resembled. As he noted, his conclusions were “belated rationalization, and although based on the practice may not correctly reflect the eighteenth-century opinion” (p. 523). Therefore, Smith’s book is most usefully consulted for material relating to procedural or technical matters; the location of source material related to particular appeals; and the background for appeals of contemporaneous political significance.

Reflections on Colonial Appeals

After almost fifteen years of working on the Appeals digital catalogues, we offer brief reflections on three aspects of the appeals from the American colonies. Although the appeals touch on many facets of the British Atlantic world, we want to draw scholarly attention especially to their relationship to eighteenth-century British law; slavery and race; and women, property, and gender. As future scholarship involving the appeals begins to respond to these reflections – and to many other unaddressed issues – we hope that scholars will bring such research to our attention.

  1. British Law

The types of legal arguments raised on appeal, the style of arguing before the Committee, and the permitted outcomes differed from approaches in conventional British courts. The colonial appeals jurisdiction is likely in some part responsible for the extraordinary development of late eighteenth-century English law. The flexibility that arose from an appellate process seemingly unbound by the restrictions of printed and manuscript case reports requires further evaluation and study. In constructing the argument, the printed cases reflect a style of legal argument less bound to printed case precedent and more interested in reasons. The absence of formal and informal reports – indeed, the apparent absence of any record of precedent – permitted flexibility and change. A few instances can be found where legal questions raised in appeals shifted into the regular law courts;11 however, personnel mingled between the appeals committee and the law courts. The Chief Justices and Chancellor often sat as part of the committee to hear appeals. For example, Philip Yorke appeared as counsel and also heard appeals as a member of the Privy Council following his appointment as chief justice of King’s Bench and then chancellor. What was the relationship between the law and legal principles as argued in the reasons in the printed case of appeals and as argued in King’s Bench, Common Pleas, Exchequer, and the House of Lords? How did the appeals affect the development of English law?

The list of counsel makes apparent that legal luminaries of the eighteenth-century common law spent years arguing colonial appeals.12 The printed cases list numerous names – some familiar and others completely unknown. The vast majority of printed cases reflect the collections of Charles and Philip Yorke, Sir George Lee, and William Samuel Johnson. Two counsel loom large among our printed cases: Charles Yorke and Alexander Forrester. Nonetheless, Sir Dudley Ryder, William Murray (later Lord Mansfield), Fletcher Norton, William de Grey, Alexander Hume-Campbell, Charles Pratt, and Alexander Wedderburn argued numerous appeals. How did arguing the appeals affect the legal thought of the British counsel who argued the American appeals, as well as Irish and Scottish appeals in the House of Lords, and before the law courts? Did this experience affect the legal thought of those, like Lord Mansfield, who went on to serve on the bench?/

We know little, however, about how counsel were introduced and indoctrinated into the appeals practice and what supporting personnel in London and the colonies worked with them. We continue to be uncertain about the production of the printed cases. We suspect that printed cases were filed in many appeals that went to a hearing before the committee by the mid-eighteenth century. The earliest printed case that we have located is a two-page printed case in Mingham v Martin (JAM_1680_00). The respondent’s case is handwritten and labeled, “In Answer to Capt. Mingham’s printed case,” and the minutes of the Council of Jamaica of November 5, 1680 include references to it.13 Mingham is a considerable outlier; the next printed case located is Mendez v Battyn (BAR_1714_04), followed by Forward v Poulson (Maryland, 04_1720_00). By the 1730s, printed cases seem increasingly routine.

The dispositions of the appeals offer no rationales. In the absence of printed or manuscript reports, the printed cases provide the best window into the arguments before the Appeals Committee. The 161 reports in the two parts (Part 1, 54; Part 2, 107)14 that contain printed cases likely reflect only a portion of the original number of printed cases drafted and printed for committee hearings. We continue to hope that additional printed cases will be located.

The participants in the appeals process had authority in other areas of British government. The appeals offered a certain perspective on the issues that arose from the increasingly widespread and diverse British empire. How did the appeals from the colonies alter the view of the expanding empire held by the counsel, politicians, and judges? What was the relationship between appeals from the American colonies and the appeals from Scotland, Ireland, and eventually India? How did the dominance of Jamaican and Barbadian appeals affect English law and transatlantic colonial constitutional law? How did the relatively late development of appeals from Canada (Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Quebec) help to structure the expansion of British authority?

The relationship between the appeals and colonial law remains largely unknown. We did not have the resources to link the appeals to extant case files, legal materials, and court records relating to the action as it unfolded in the colony. Here again, we can only ask questions. At the specific colony level, did the outcome of particular appeals affect local legislative or executive decisions, or have formal or informal precedential value? Did the outcome of particular appeals or the discussion at the hearing of the appeal affect other colonial legal systems? Colonial legislatures were influenced by other colonial statutes. Was there any similar influence with respect to issues raised by appeals? How was knowledge about appeals transmitted? Did the appeals affect Parliamentary legislation or Privy Council gubernatorial orders? How did the appeals relate to the related process of review and disallowance of colonial statutes? Did the appeals further the sense of a uniform colonial world or of a radically diverse one? Did the appeals nurture or define the colonial bars in colonies with robust appeals practices?

Lastly, the relationship between the appeals, British law, and socio-economic factors also requires further study. For example, over two hundred appeals from Jamaica are noted in the Privy Council’s registers and over one hundred from Barbados. These numbers far surpass the three highest continental colonies (Rhode Island, Virginia, and Massachusetts). The nature of British settlement in the Caribbean explains some factors underlying the difference. For example, the frequency of death due to the climate and previously non-encountered diseases was a constant complexity in the appeals. Deaths led to replacement of parties, dismissals, and revivals. We made no statistical study, but our impression is that the Caribbean appeals experienced the effect of death more often than the continental appeals. Relatedly, the white British occupants of the Caribbean colonies often had no plans to remain permanently in the Caribbean. Participants in appeals moved back and forth across the Atlantic and family struggles might involve English-based branches against Caribbean-based branches. Jamaica and Barbados may have the highest number of appeals in part because English participants had easy connections to London. The size of the economy undoubtedly also was a factor. Many Caribbean colonies have only a handful of appeals and several have only one. But additional conclusions will have to await further research.

  1. Slavery and Race

The appeals indicate the omnipresence of enslaved labor at the center of the long eighteenth-century British economy and the casual acceptance of legalized race- based slavery by British legal participants. Across the American colonies – continental and Caribbean – the appeals reflected the reality of a British law of slavery.

The appeals jurisdiction literally segregated cases relating to British slavery to a jurisdictional area apart from reported English law. Just as the Atlantic served to keep slavery off-shore in the Caribbean and North American colonies, so too the appeals jurisdiction permitted leading British lawyers and judges to avoid having English law directly enabling slavery. Nevertheless, in arguing and hearing appeals at Whitehall, appeals counsel and the Privy Council repeatedly confronted the ubiquitous reality of slavery across the eighteenth-century British empire. The occasional and sporadic decisions that seemed to limit slavery within English common law need to be reinterpreted against the persistent willingness of English legal decision-makers to accommodate the expansion of slavery abroad.

Through the appeals process, determinations relating to slavery in any particular colony were potentially subject to appellate review in London. In this sense, there was an inchoate British law of slavery but one that was never written about in a case report or enacted as a colonial statute. But here again, we must await future scholarship. Did the Appeals committee strive for coherence across Caribbean and continental jurisdictions? How did the appeals address the ubiquitous issue of whether enslaved people were categorized by legal systems as real or personal property? Was there a relationship between the appeals decisions and colonial statute law?

Petitions, printed cases, and committee reports repeatedly mention enslaved people in lists categorizing them as property. These references represent a fraction of the larger number of enslaved people who were embodied in descriptions of various plantations or estate wealth. In a small percentage of the appeals, enslaved people appeared as the legal issue or otherwise caught the APC abstractors’ attention such that they were listed in the abstract. We have listed those specific appeals in the Useful List, References to Enslaved Persons (Part 1; (online version only); Part 2). The relatively short lists should not mislead researchers: they represent only the few appeals where the APC abstract mentions enslaved people – simply clicking on the related papers or printed cases brings to light many additional ones, never mind independent historical investigation of the parties involved, e.g., Chandos v Fearon (JAM_1783_01). The underlying legal issue in other appeals related to slavery, and a far larger number involved the application of British law to land or commercial enterprises dependent on or intertwined with enslaved labor.

For many white British litigants, the Caribbean represented vast new economic wealth and an opportunity to attain a higher level in the traditionally rigid social hierarchy. As Simon Gikandi argues in Slavery and the Culture of Taste, the wealth from Caribbean exploitation and enslavement enabled much of eighteenth-century British culture.15 The appeals cast light on a number of estates and slave-owning families identified in the website Legacies of British Slave-ownership. As a first step in helping scholars connect the appeals to British slave-owning families, we include a Useful List of named plantations and parcels of land. As with the Useful List of enslaved persons, the list incorporates only appeals in which the abstract mentioned the plantation by name or identified a parcel.

The appeals also offer insight into the relationship between race and civil status, at least in terms of the capacity to use the process to protect wealth and property. In almost every instance, the litigating participants were white. Some of the appeals in Part 1 and Part 2 involve participants whose names or biography indicate that they were Jewish, often of Sephardic origins.16 As Jewish individuals often were barred from the same civil rights as the British, additional research may be useful in delineating their status within the appeals process. Nationalities other than British also appear as participants.17

With respect to tribal members, although the Privy Council dealt with numerous controversies involving Indian Nations, one appeal of which we are aware is the 1755 appeal of Thomas Ninigret, the sachem of the Narraganset, listed in Part 1 from Rhode Island.18 A second matter, which does not appear in Part 1, is the lengthy controversy between the Mohegans and the colony of Connecticut, which may be regarded as a unique form of appeal. Extensive significant scholarship exists on this controversy, including in Joseph Smith. Early procedural hearings in the matter took the form of royal commissions, and in 1772 there was a hearing before the Privy Council; printed cases exist.19

At least one appeal adjudicated the status and property rights of mixed-race individuals. In 1780, the appeal from Jamaica in Parkinson v Parkinson (CaribAppeals/report_carib_mysqli.php?report_no=JAM_1780_02JAM_1780_02) involved issues arising from the estate of George Williams. Williams was owner of the Moreland estate and 239 enslaved individuals.20 After his death, the Jamaican Attorney General claimed his property for the crown on the ground that Williams was a bastard who had no lawful heirs, and that therefore his property escheated. That Williams was a bastard seems to have been conceded, although the facts that led to that conclusion are not known, in particular whether Williams was born to white parents or was himself mixed race. At his death, his will left his property to his natural sons and daughters by Fanny Douglas, an enslaved woman, and Quasheba Douglas, an enslaved woman. The will, however, was said to be invalid because it left more to the mixed-race children than was authorized under a Jamaica statute. After considerable argument, the Jamaica court held the will invalid, and the Privy Council affirmed.

  1. Women, Property, and Gender

Women are often invisible as historical participants in appeals. The classic et uxor or et ux. (“and wife”) to describe female legal interests converted individual women into an abstract “wife.” The conventional approach to rendering case names by last name only similarly erases female participation from appeals. In Part 2, we have listed the appeals on the Contents pages with full names. In Part 1 the Contents pages use the short form, but the long form may be found in one of the Useful Lists. A glance at the list of Caribbean appeals reveals the significant number of female litigants. Women appear as wives, daughters, sisters, guardians – and, quite often, representing their own individual interests. As wives, women’s interests could relate to dower (their right through marriage) or to their own inheritances.21

Discerning women’s agency in bringing or maintaining appeals is not easy. Men were the only ones permitted to serve as lawyers and draft legal documents. Nonetheless, it may be that, as in Rhode Island, the Caribbean appeals reflect female legal knowledge acquired through family connections or by the advantages of a small community.22 The appeals thus raise the questions: how did women use the appeals system to obtain property and financial security, and how did they interact with the London legal profession and local attorneys?

Race and gender intersect in these appeals. Repeatedly, particularly in the Caribbean, the property that white women were seeking to protect or gain involved enslaved people. How did white women use the appeals process to further their interests as owners of enslaved people? How did the English and continental and Caribbean legal systems configure white women’s property interests and slavery?

Catalogue Contents

Each Part of the catalogue incorporates four bodies of material:

  • a list of appeals based on the information presented in Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series (APC);
  • links to discussion of the appeals in the Privy Council’s registers (TNA PC 2);
  • digital images of the extant printed cases or briefs for the appeals;
  • images of related documents preserved and classified at The National Archives (TNA) as PC 1.

There are also Useful Lists to help navigate the site and, for Part 2 only, an Index of Persons and Places. We urge researchers to read further about the definition of “appeal” and the parameters of the database discussed immediately below, and the Advice on Using the Catalogue that follows. Importantly, the list of appeals presented in Part 2 of the current online catalogue supersedes the preliminary list that appeared in the printed volume of Part 1. We have included on the site a memorandum by Mary Bilder in 2014 that offers advice to students and enthusiasts about how to undertake further research using the catalogue.

  1. List of Appeals (Including “Not True Appeals”)

    1. What is an Appeal?

The list includes controversies indexed as appeals from the 13 continental colonies that ultimately became the United States, the Caribbean, and Canada, or that identify themselves as appeals in their descriptions in the APC, beginning with the establishment in 1696 of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations and continuing until the Revolutionary War. The list also includes a limited number of earlier cases from colonies noted by Joseph Smith as sending appeals.23

The 776 reports of appeals listed in Part 1 and Part 2 differ somewhat from the count in Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council. We do not know how Smith categorized appeals to reach the statistics he provided in his Appendix A, Appellate Jurisdiction of the Privy Council, 1696–1783 (p. 667–671). The underlying data may lie somewhere in the unprocessed boxes of his papers at Columbia University. Moreover, we are less confident about the ease of categorizing appeals into Smith’s three categories of affirmed, reversed, and dismissed for non-prosecution. The dispositions given in the APC include, for example, affirmed in part and reversed in part, dismissed, transferred to another decision-making authority, or returned to the colony. We are even less confident about the ease of dividing the appeals into substantive legal categories, common law (civil), common law (criminal), etc., as Smith does in his tables. As a general matter, however, if we exclude appeals from what Smith calls “non-American jurisdictions,” e.g., India, Jersey, Guernsey, his overall total (795) is quite close to the total number of our reports (776).

The Privy Council also heard a small number of appeals from royal commissions on boundary disputes and on the long-running controversy between the Mohegans and the colony of Connecticut. That category of complaints is not included in this list of appeals. Researchers interested in these matters are advised to consult the significant number of secondary sources on these topics.

What counts as an “appeal” is an issue of some complexity. The vast majority of the cases listed here resemble modern notions of appeals by private parties from lower court determinations, but the Privy Council heard matters in this process that blur these boundaries. Some matters were in fact petitions for assistance of other sorts; some were appeals meant for other bodies; some lack a clear lower court judgment. Prize and admiralty matters generate more than their share of confusion. Some inclusions appear to be the result of indexing choices made by APC editors. Joseph Smith, in his most scrupulous manner, sometimes notes that matters he treats extensively are not in a technical sense “appeals.” For example, in the case of Bayard v Rex (New York, 08_1702_02), Smith notes that the case really reflects the pardoning power of the Council. Without further investigation into each case, it would have been a challenge to limit the list to those that fit the technical category of “true” appeal.

These “not true appeals” represent the most significant substantive difference between Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, we erred on the side of inclusion of such actions. In Part 2, we excluded the “not true appeals” category from the case reports in the catalogue. They are categorized and listed in the footnotes that follow here. The vast majority of these instances appear in volume 2 of the APC, which covers 1680– 1720.24 Our impression is that they were the result of uncertain boundaries with respect to the appeals process, and that as the procedures were clarified, these instances disappeared. The substantive areas in which the uncertain jurisdiction is most evident are the admiralty and prize cases. The CSP, both the Domestic Series and the Colonial Series, the America and West Indies volumes, and other administrative records of the British Government, contain entries related to many of these matters, and they are all conveniently searchable through the website British History Online.

The “not true appeals” emphasize the gradual imposition of categories and rules on the system of appealing from the British colonies to the Privy Council. Researchers should be cautious about comparisons made in the number and types of appeals between this early period and the later periods, when the institutional structure had become clarified.

In general, these “not true appeals” fall into one of the following categories. First, some items represent orders referring petitions that relate to legal matters (e.g., the restoration of an estate), but in which the petitioner had not proceeded through the colonial courts.25 Some of these items arose in the late seventeenth century, when the appeals procedure and institutions were still in development. For example, Benjamin Middleton petitioned in February 1681/82 over the alleged application to his deceased father’s plantation of an Antiguan act requiring resettlement and tax payments to reclaim land lost in the French invasion of 1667.26 These types of petitions continued, however, throughout the period. An interesting petition by John Holder, Treasurer of Barbados and Manager of the Bank, requested leave to appeal from the proceedings of commissioners who were tasked with executing an act that had repealed an earlier Barbados act permitting the issuance of paper currency.27

Second, some items represent complaints about the inability to bring actions in the colonial court, local court-related prejudices against the petitioner, or alleged extralegal actions by the colonial courts or officials.28 For example, John Staunton complained that he could not begin prosecution in Antigua because all the lawyers were attached to his adversary, “being every one of them reteyned by them.”29 Thomas Maycock complained that his estate had been sequestered without security, contrary to the “usual practice of that court.”30 Francis Lansa complained about the Governor of Barbados’s arbitrary proceedings in committing Lansa’s counsel to prison for a “pretended crime of forgery.”31 In Bermuda, Matthew Newman complained about excessive bail, “contrary to the Bill of Rights.”32 In St. Christopher, William Freeman began a lengthy proceeding against Governor Christopher Codrington, eventually coming before the House of Commons.33 Richard Lloyd of Jamaica attended the Council to raise his petition asking for the pardon of Sherry, a “negro slave,” who had been sentenced to transportation for poisoning a “negro child.” Lloyd believed that Sherry was not guilty and that he had been “condemned to be transported on bare suspition [sic] only, which was no conviction in law.”34

Third, some items represent references to the Committee for Hearing Appeals or Board of Trade about complaints relating to admiralty courts, prizes, or similar matters.35

Lastly, several relate to the appeals process itself. In 1702, Barbados merchants brought a petition to the Committee for hearing appeals complaining about the “Clause inserted in the Governors Instructions for allowing Appeals” from judgments on Barbados. The complaint appeared to be that appeals were only permitted on cases over 500 pounds. The merchants were apparently heard at two meetings in July. The Committee referred the matter to the Board of Trade to “consider not only this clause but also for what lesser sum appeals may fittingly be admitted,” as well as a method to admit appeals from the Inferior courts of Barbados to the Governor and Council.36 In 1711, London and Bristol merchants petitioned for the confirmation of all Jamaican judgments “grounded on the laws and statutes of England and the known customs of that island.”37 In 1714, Samuel Bernard and Kingston freeholders and inhabitants petitioned in favor of the possible confirmation of a Jamaican act pulling down buildings without apparent indemnification (in the aftermath of the 1712 hurricane). The Committee advised against confirming the act unless indemnification was provided for and, in the alternative, suggested a different approach more likely to be confirmed.38

In Part 1, these matters are included in the catalogue, if indexed or described as an appeal, leaving to the researcher further classification. Twenty-six reports most clearly falling short of the definition of an appeal in various ways are marked “not a true appeal” and can be searched separately by using the “true” appeals search form, which can accessed from Specific Search Options or from Useful Lists. Comments in the Notes sections allude to the actions most obviously not formal appeals. Presumably the twenty-six “not true appeals” in Part 1 fall into the general categories discussed above. The 231 reports in Part 1 plus the 26 “not true appeals” account for the 257 reports.

The Privy Council’s registers were not online when Part 1 was compiled. Their availability now, along with a growing number of related sources, will be a help in developing a more definitive list.

  1. Description of an Appeal

The following information is provided for each appeal with minor exceptions enumerated below:

  • the colony from which the case was appealed;
  • full and short name of the appeal as compiled from the APC entry, though in Part 2 the short-form name of the case is the same as that used in the header of the report and so is not listed separately;
  • references to all of the entries in the APC with links to those entries;
  • references to entries in the Privy Council’s registers with the TNA request number (PC 2) for the registers and with links to the register entries on the Anglo-American Legal Tradition (AALT) website;
  • references to entries in the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial: America and the West Indies, 1680–1700 (CSP), if, and only if, that information was supplied by the editors of the APC;
  • the names and dates of lower court actions as given in the APC;
  • the names of participants;
  • vessel names, if any;39
  • the subject matter and disposition of the case, if given.

In Part 1, the header and the short form of the appeal name may differ. In Part 2, the short form of the name is the same as the header.

In Part 1, where a full case name could not be derived from the APC or Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council, the case was called “X, appeal of.” In Part 2, it is called “Appeal of X.”

In Parts 1 and 2, we have used the term “revived” to describe situations in which one appellant substitutes for another. Some of these are genuine revivals, where the Privy Council allows someone to pursue an appeal that had effectively been abandoned by the first appellant. Some of these are substitutions, where, for example, an heir or executor substitutes for his or her ancestor or testator. There is a large variety of situations encompassed in our term “revived.”

  1. Relationship of Catalogue Descriptions to Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series

The APC, the foundation of the catalogue’s list, was compiled from the Privy Council’s registers. Without reliance on the APC, this catalogue would have been too difficult to compile from scratch, given our resources. Nonetheless, the APC was published in 1908–1912, with the underlying work carried out by W. L. Grant and James Munro under the supervision of Sir Almeric W. Fitzroy, clerk of the Privy Council. The APC abstracts, which appear as the basis for this catalogue, are obviously dated in choice of language and historical sensibility. Researchers are advised to keep this aspect of the catalogue in mind. For example, in the APC female executors are sometimes called “executor” and sometimes “executrix”; we have carried these designations over into the catalogue. This means that if one is searching for female executors, one has to use both terms.

We noted and corrected some obvious errors in the APC, but further study of the appeals will undoubtedly uncover errors, confusions, and omissions that are reproduced here. Use of the APC and the registers means, of course, that appeals granted in the colonies but not pursued to the next level are not noted.

The cases grouped together in the APC are grouped together here as a single report. Dates used in the APC are accepted.

Spelling in the APC is retained. When more than one spelling of a name is used, it is indicated in the case description for that appeal only, even if the same person appears in a different case.

Each participant’s status, occupation, and place of residence or origin is given, if provided. Descriptors for that information use the terminology employed in the APC. The relationships of the participants are explained as best they can be determined from the APC entry. Parties are described as deceased if the APC so states or if the APC indicates the presence of an heir; in cases of uncertainty the descriptor “presumed deceased” is used.

Similarly, if the APC referred to a person with the description, slave or Negro, those descriptions have been retained in the catalogue. For further information, see the Useful List, References to Enslaved Persons (Part 1; (online version only); Part 2).

In cases involving vessels, the name of the case used by the APC or by Joseph Smith is used. If neither applies a name to the case, the parties are named if the parties are certain. Otherwise, the case is called “X, appeal of” or “Appeal of X” when there is an element of doubt as to the opposing party.

The nature of the case is likewise taken from the wording of the APC. Note, however, that the sketchy nature of the material in the APC often obscures the real issue in an appeal. What appears to be an action to recover a debt becomes really an issue of currency valuation; what looks to be just another family dispute in fact questions the validity of a statute regarding inheritance.

In compiling the APC, its original editors took little interest in the specifics of appeals from the colonies and, unfortunately, chose not to document them in detail. To quote from the preface to volume 3, p.xii, of the APC, “Considerations of space have led in this volume to the compression into very narrow limits of the numerous colonial appeals. Most of these are of no biographical or legal interest and to have given in full the complicated details of the family broils and commercial vicissitudes of the forgotten, or the record of the orders for hearing, postponements, partial hearings and further postponements, would have been neither advantageous nor possible. But in no case has a name or the number of any page referring to the case been omitted, and any matters of biographical or legal importance have been given at length.” Researchers seeking more detail are encouraged to consult the registers and the CSP, the contents of which have not been searched beyond the citations given in the APC.

In Part 1, the use of square brackets in the reports was confined, for the most part, to information that was in Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council but not in the APC. In Part 2, the use of square brackets has been expanded. The most common use of square brackets in Part 2 is in Participants’ Lists, where it either indicates something that must be so to make sense of the case, such as that someone is dead, even though the APC doesn’t say so, or comes from information about the person from other sources.

Any other commentary not directly from the APC is referenced to its source. Only material in the Notes section of the description is provided by the compilers. Because of the particular interest in slavery in scholarly research, the compiler has included in the Notes references by the APC to instances in which enslaved persons figure in an appeal. However, a reading of the printed cases will undoubtedly reveal more cases concerning enslaved persons.

In Part 1, references outside of the APC are sometimes included in an entry in the report called “Additional Sources.” That entry is not used in Part 2, and such references are divided between the Notes and Other Documents.

A major difference between Part 1 and Part 2 is that Part 2 has an Index of Persons and Places, which is provided with its own search engines. The process of creating this index allowed us to identify many persons who appear in more than one report, but also to note where persons who have the same name do not appear to be the same person. It also allowed us to identify a number of alternative spellings of names, to confirm the death of persons who in Part 1 were described as “presumed deceased” (although a number of such persons remain), and to specify relationships among the parties that were missing in Part 1. The Participants’ List that accompanies every report is constructed from the Index and is linked to it. Similarly, the Index is linked to the reports in which the person appears.

The Index of Persons contains information that is not necessarily derived from the APC. In some cases, this information was derived from documents that underlay the APC, e.g. the Privy Council’s registers or the printed cases; in some cases it was derived from secondary sources. Wherever the Participants’ List contains information that is not in the APC, that fact is noted in the Notes section of the report. By and large, however, we have, as in Part 1, retained the terminology used to describe the person in the APC (status, occupation, place of residence or origin, etc.) in the Participants’ List; in the Index of Persons, we have normalized this terminology.

While the catalogue itself is complete within the limits described above, much more clearly could and should be done. One of the advantages of web publication is that the contents of the website can be expanded as new research is done. We have included in two reports in Part 1 (Oulton v Savage [Massachusetts, 05_1717_00] and Apthorpe v Pateshall [Massachusetts, 05_1768_00]) samples of such additional research, matter that was discovered in a quick trip to the Massachusetts State Archives. A more ambitious example of additional research is a memorandum that Charles Donahue prepared about the 47 cases that originated in actions of ejectment or like ejectment in the 13 colonies. The Notes in the reports reference this memorandum where it is relevant. In Part 2, there are similar examples of additional research in connection with Mingham v Martin (JAM_1680_00), Lyons v Lyons (ANT_1726_03), Mansfield v Concanen (JAM_1742_06), Olyphant v Manning (JAM_1751_04), and Millward v Lindsay (JAM_1768_02).

  1. Printed Cases

A number of the appeals in the catalogue are accompanied by links to digital images of a “printed case.” Americans might use the term “brief.” These printed cases, central to the appeals, contain a summary of the facts and the legal arguments.

Fifty-four of the reports in Part 1 contain printed cases, the earliest dating from 1727/8.40 The corresponding number for Part 2 is 107, the earliest dating from 1680.

In many reports, the cases for both the appellant and respondent have been located (Part 1: 42; Part 2: 73). In others, the cases of only one party have been found (Part 1: 7, appellant only; 5, respondent only. Part 2: 24, appellant only; 10, respondent only). Seven of the reports in Part 2 have two printed cases for one or the other or both parties, and one has three printed cases for different appellants. A grand total of 284 printed cases, some with multiple copies, are found in the two Parts. Many include handwritten notations and underlinings, some attributable and others a mystery. All have a similar look and feel, mirroring not only each other but also appeals presented in this era to the Lords Commissioners for Hearing Prize Appeals and to the House of Lords.

The major collections of printed cases are found in the Hardwicke Papers in the British Library, many with notes of Charles Yorke; in the papers of Sir George Lee in the Law Library of Congress; and in the collection of William Samuel Johnson in the Law Library at Columbia University. A smattering of cases has been located in other repositories. As mentioned before, we hope that additional printed cases will be found; we did not visit the Caribbean.

For each appeal for which a printed case has been located and viewed, information as to the holding library or libraries is provided with a link to its images if (1) the copy contains manuscript notes, (2) it is the only copy of the case located, or (3) it is one of several copies located, none with manuscript notes. Where a number of copies meets this last criterion, preference is given to the one at the British Library. Call numbers at holding libraries are based on those in use when material was viewed from 2006–2019.

In Part 1, we gave the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) number for those printed cases that we found in it. We have not included references to the ESTC in Part 2. The proportion of such cases currently is small and will be augmented by this work.

  1. Privy Council Documents

For some appeals, related documents filed with the Privy Council remain extant. Privy Council documents within the PC 1 classification at The National Archives at Kew are included with their PC 1 reference number and are linked to their images. The majority are linked to the Anglo-American Legal Tradition (AALT) website.

Documents are entered as ordered and described in volume 6 of the APC or the online catalogue of TNA. Other classifications at TNA were not searched for relevant material, and only a few selected documents from other classifications are noted here.

  1. Privy Council’s Registers

References to the Privy Council’s registers (classified as PC 2 at TNA) are linked to the AALT website. PC 2 page numbers are expanded beyond those listed in the APC if contiguous to the APC listing.

  1. Additional Resources Available in the Catalogue

As an aid to researchers, the following separate lists have been prepared, all of which can be accessed from the “Useful Lists” index page (Part 1; Part 2):

  • appeals arranged by colony and date using the long form of the case name;
  • appeals arranged alphabetically by the short form of the case name;
  • all vessels named in actions, arranged alphabetically;
  • a bibliography of all published works cited in the catalogue;
  • all the reports that contain printed cases by colony, report number, and case name;
  • all the printed cases, with the report number and the surname of the party for whom they were produced;
  • all the printed cases that have been assigned numbers in the English Short Title Catalogue (Part 1 only);
  • a search engine that allows one to list both those reports that are believed to be “true” appeals and those that are not (Part 1 only);
  • legal counsel who signed the printed cases, arranged alphabetically by their surnames, accompanied by a list of the appeals each signed, as compiled from the printed cases located to date;
  • names, addresses, and phone numbers of repositories identified as holding a printed case;
  • a conversion chart noting the differences in TNA and APC forms of citation and dating of volumes of the Privy Council’s registers;
  • all the references to enslaved persons that have so far been discovered;
  • references to plantations or land in the APC (Part 2 only).
  1. Copies and Downloading

A PDF version of Part 1 and Part 2 are available for viewing and downloading. The PDF version of Part 2 does not contain the Index. A hard-bound paper copy of Part 1 may be obtained from W. S. Hein & Co. A hard-bound paper copy of Part 2 (without the index) will be available from the same source in June of 2021. Digital versions of the paper copies are, or will be, available by subscription in HeinOnline.

Adobe does not quite capture all the formatting, but all the data is there. Individual reports can be downloaded from most browsers as a PDF file using the Acrobat software. In the lower right-hand corner of each report there is a link to an HTML version of the report that is optimized for printing on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. It is a bit faster than converting the report to PDF, and it preserves all the formatting except for the horizontal spacing.

Advice on Using the Catalogue

There are a number of ways to navigate through the catalogue. On the home page, there are links to the “Useful Lists” index page and to three successively more detailed chronological lists with (1) colony and report number only; (2) colony, report number, and case name; and (3) year, report number, case name, and colony.

  1. Markers in the Reports
  1. Report Number

The report number is broken into three parts separated by underscores, for example, 08_1702_02 or ANT_1687_00. The first part designates the name of the colony. The 13 continental colonies are designated as follows: 01 = Connecticut, 02 = Delaware, 03 = Georgia, 04 = Maryland, 05 = Massachusetts, 06 = New Hampshire, 07 = New Jersey, 08 = New York, 09 = North Carolina, 10 = Pennsylvania, 11 = Rhode Island, 12 = South Carolina, 13 = Virginia, For the Caribbean and Canada, ANT = Antigua, BAH = Bahamas, BAR = Barbados, BER = Bermuda, DOM = Dominica, EAS = East Florida, GRE = Grenada, GUI = Guiana, JAM = Jamaica, MON = Montserrat, NEV = Nevis, NEW = Newfoundland, NOV = Nova Scotia, QUE = Quebec, STC = St. Christopher (St. Kitts), STV = St. Vincent, TOB = Tobago, TOR = Tortola, WES = West Florida. These names do not always reflect how these colonies were called in the Privy Council records, but it seemed best to standardize on what the names became. The second part of the report number designates the year (New Style or Gregorian calendar41) of the first entry in the Privy Council records. The third part is a reference number that we assigned to each appeal from that colony in that year. “00” indicates that it was the only appeal in that year from that colony.

  1. Report Name

The APC frequently consolidates appeals from more than one case in the colonies when the cases dealt with the same or similar issues or have overlapping parties. In most cases what the APC does is reflected in the Privy Council records themselves. Later in the history of the appeal, different cases may be treated differently, for example, by having a different committee report for each case. The catalogue’s reports consolidate appeals when the APC does, but normally list at the head of the report the short names of all the cases involved in the appeal. All the case names are also found in the full contents lists referred to in the first paragraph of this section. Other references to reports, however, for example, those that appear in the returns from searches, list only one name for each report.

  1. Report Navigation

There is a blue navigation bar at the top of most of the pages. It provides links to the Home Page, the Introduction, the Abbreviations and Bibliography, and the online images of Smith’s Appeals to the Privy Council, and, for each Part, the search engines, the list of reports, the contents of useful lists, and the Index for Part 2. The bar on the reports also allows one to navigate to the first, previous, next, and last report in chronological order for the entire database of that Part, or in alphabetical order by colony and then by date within each colony (i.e., in report number order).

  1. Bibliography and Abbreviations

Citations are normally given in short form. The combined Bibliography, which can be reached from the navigation bar, gives the full references. With the exception of references that appear in a large number or in all reports, the Bibliography gives linked references to the report number or place in the Introduction where the item is cited. The Bibliography begins with a list of Abbreviations that are used throughout the catalogue. This list can also be reached from the navigation bar. The combined Bibliography has at the end a list of reported cases that are cited in the catalogue.

  1. Searching by Search Engine

There are separate search engines for each Part, necessitated by the fact that the databases for the two Parts are separate. Both sets of search engines have a basic search engine and two specific search engines that operate in the same way. For reasons described below, Part 1 has one specific search engine that is not found in Part 2, and Part 2 has a number of specific search engines that are not found in Part 1.

  1. Basic Search

The basic search engine (Part 1; Part 2)42 searches most of the fields and most of the tables in the database. The most important fields that are not included are those that contain references to the APC, to the original Privy Council registers, and to the documents that we found at The National Archives. There are specific searches for these fields. The basic search engine searches for any string of alphanumeric characters that the user enters. Strings may be truncated by entering “*”. It is not case sensitive. It does not accommodate Boolean searching.43 The use of quotation marks is not necessary for string searching (because, in effect, that is what it does).The basic search engine returns a list of reports that contain the searched-for item arranged by the table in which the item is contained. Because the basic search engine searches the database rather than the reports, it will sometimes return words that are in the database but which, for one reason or another, are not included in the reports.

  1. Specific Searches

Specific search forms are also provided for the fields that reference the APC and the original registers. Another specific search form is provided for searching the references to the TNA documents in PC 1. These search engines will accommodate Boolean searching and string searches should be enclosed in quotation marks. Part 1 has a specific search engine that searches for reports marked as “true appeals” or “not true appeals.” “Not true appeals” are not included in the reports for Part 2 but are listed above in Catalogue Contents (1a). A number of specific search engines are provided for the Index of Persons in Part 2 and are described more fully immediately below.

  1. Searching the Index of Persons in Part 2

If all you are looking for is the name of a person who appears in one or more of the Participants’ Lists in the reports in Part 2, it is not necessary to use the search engines for the Index of Persons. Such names will be returned by the basic search engine, and the name in the List is linked to the Index and the name in the Index is linked back to the Report. The search engines for the Index itself are designed to allow research into the characteristics of all the persons who appear in Part 2. It allows you, for example, to search for all the persons who are described as coming from a particular place, e.g. Kingston in Jamaica, or who have a specific role or function in a case, e.g., attorney. A detailed description of how these engines work is found on the page that lists them and gives forms for their use.

  1. Navigating by Useful Lists

Another way of navigating through this material is by making use of the page called “Useful Lists” (Part 1; Part 2). The contents of these lists are described above in Additional Resources Available in the Catalogue.

  1. Viewing Images
  1. View Link

If the database contains an image of the item being referred to, there will be a link marked “view” in the right-hand margin of the line.

  1. APC and CSP View Images

Images are provided in PDF for the pages of the APC that describe the case or cases that are the subject of the report, and the same holds true for the descriptions of the case in the CSP that are referenced in the APC. The view links on the lines noting the entry in the original registers of the Privy Council (PC 2) take you ultimately to the relevant image on the AALT website at the University of Houston, after stopping off at a page that lists all of the PC 2 entries relevant to the report. (The view links open on a new page or tab, so that you will not lose your place in the report.)

  1. Viewing Printed Cases and Other Documents

The view links that are marked on the printed cases, on the handwritten documents in The National Archives, and on the relatively small number of “Other Documents” for which we have provided images, take you to an intermediate image list. These are arranged by library or archive and list each of the images that concern the report that are in that library or archive, normally by linked page numbers. (The page numbers are our creation, and do not necessarily correspond to the page or folio numbers on the original; these latter are given in the references on the image list.) Clicking on the page link will bring you to the image in question; it is embedded in an HTML frame, which provides the means to navigate through the document. The previous and following images (where they exist) are listed in the upper left-hand corner of the frame, and large navigation arrows at the top and bottom of the image allow one to flip back and forth. A few of the image holders have a link in the upper right-hand corner to images of higher resolution than those that are displayed. These images are sent directly to your browser (which may object to receiving them because of the size). From there they can be downloaded and manipulated if you want, say, to study watermarks or a particularly puzzling piece of handwriting.

  1. Persons and Places Index (PPI)

As previously mentioned, the PPI is new in Part 2. It is a comprehensive index of all the persons mentioned in the reports. It includes places to the extent that they identify persons. The main entries are mostly by surname. To search for places, use the index search engine or the search feature on your browser.

The index is created dynamically from the contents of the database. It lists all of the names found in the Participants’ Lists in the reports (4,011 as of this writing, including cross-references). Since it indexes everything in the Participants’ Lists, it includes a few names that are not strictly speaking either persons or places, e.g., the African Company in JAM_1708_01. Notes are highly selective. We have attempted full identification only of the most prominent people, those who are likely to appear in the ODNB. This has meant that in a few cases, e.g., Attorney General of Jamaica, whom we have identified only tentatively in the notes, the listing will be found under the place (Jamaica in this case) where the person held his office, with cross-references under the name(s) of the possible holder(s).

The index is sorted by the main element of the surname (“de” and similar elements in surnames are inverted) and the given name, followed by the report number. This means that where there is more than one row of people with the same surname and given name, those rows are not necessarily in alphabetical order. We have not combined persons with the same surname and given name who appear in different cases, even where we are confident that they are the same person. Rather, the second of two persons with the same surname and given name is marked as “same” in parentheses. Where we are less confident, the “same” is preceded by a question mark. Similarly, “another” and “?another” reflect different degrees of confidence that we are dealing with two different people. In all cases, the reference is to the immediately preceding entry. Hence “another” followed by “same” indicates that this “same” is the one who was marked “another.”

We have been sparing with cross-references, using them only where the main entry for a person is not under the surname derived from the Participants’ Lists or, in a very few cases, where we thought, but were not sure, that someone was the same as someone else with a different spelling. Alternative spellings of surnames are combined without cross-references. Use the index search engine to search for alternative or more usual spellings.

  1. Browsers

We have tested the pages in up-to-date (as of January 2020) versions of Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Google Chrome. They do not look quite the same in those browsers (the vertical spacing on some pages is somewhat different), but they work in all three. One peculiarity of Firefox and Microsoft Edge is that in references to the PPI, particularly later in the alphabet, these browsers take you a bit beyond where you want to go. You have to scroll up to get the entry you are looking for. Of course, you would have to scroll up anyway to make sure that the surname, which is on a separate row preceding everyone who has that surname, is the one that you are looking for.

We would appreciate hearing of any difficulties that users encounter with other browsers via email.

Additional Resources Available Elsewhere

Related materials can be found in manuscript, print collections, and online. These documents include petitions, committee reports, opinions of law officers, orders of reference, and filings found in local colonial court records. For example, the Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, 1704–1782 and the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial are available at British History Online with some links to images of the documents in the case of the CSP. The CSP is also available with The National Archives collection CO1 (Privy Council and related bodies: America and West Indies, Colonial Papers) in digital form in ProQuest’s Colonial State Papers, for those with access to a subscription. Citations to related documents in those series are not generally noted here unless referenced in the APC. Grace Griffin’s Guide to Manuscripts enumerates many printed cases and related materials available at the Library of Congress in transcription.

In their works, Joseph Smith and Mary Bilder provide many additional citations to related primary and secondary materials. The bibliography of manuscript sources in Bilder’s dissertation, Salamanders and Sons of God, is an especially rich resource. Only a limited number of additional resources are noted on this website. These include: (1) reference to manuscript drafts of printed cases, (2) the reporting of the colonial case by an early American reporter, and (3) library holdings of extremely relevant manuscript collections. No attempt has been made to bring the bibliographies of Smith and Bilder up to date with later secondary resources. Only when necessary to make sense of an APC entry were additional secondary sources consulted and noted in the database. Researchers are encouraged to check for new resources as more and more materials, including colonial court records, become available online every day.


Researchers are encouraged to email the Ames Foundation upon the discovery of additional printed cases along with verifying documentation. Please include “Colonial Appeals” in the subject line of the email. The Bibliography is updatable and we would encourage people to send us related citations.


We have worked on Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies for nearly 15 years – a long stretch. In that time, many people have provided advice and support without whom we would certainly not have completed the project. Many of those who helped us in Part I have moved on to other positions in their careers; several remain with us to this day. We wish to thank each and every one and so reprint here our acknowledgments from Part 1 and add those colleagues with new or expanded roles in Part 2.

Acknowledgments for Part 1 (1 March 2014): Compilation of the list of appeals and related data from the Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series and location of extant printed cases and documents were carried out by Sharon Hamby O’Connor, Associate Professor Emerita at Boston College Law School, bolstered, supported, and assisted throughout by her husband and photographer, Ron O’Connor. The project was the inspiration of Mary Sarah Bilder, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, who provided invaluable scholarly advice and counsel throughout the process and who has worked assiduously to insure the catalogue’s long-term accessibility on the web. It was nurtured into existence by the wise guidance and continual assistance of the late Morris L. Cohen, Professor Emeritus at Yale Law School. Its presentation on this website was made possible through the generous support of the Ames Foundation and the extraordinary commitment and dedication to the enterprise of its Literary Director, Professor Charles Donahue, Jr., Paul A. Freund Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Its design and functionality are all due to the combination of his technical sophistication and his willingness to deal in depth with an historical period far removed from the medieval era of which he is master. Temple Goodhue, the proofreader for the project, added a degree of precision to this presentation that could never have been achieved without her. The technical support team at the Harvard Law School Library, especially Annie Cain, who manages the Ames server, and Stephen Chapman, Manager, Digital Strategy for Collections, provided excellent assistance throughout the process. Filippa Anzalone, Associate Dean for Library and Technology Services and Professor of Law, and Nick Szydlowski, Digital Services and Institutional Repository Librarian at Boston College Law School, thoughtfully enabled the presence and preservation of the project through the website Digital Commons @ Boston College Law School. Jason Liu, Law School Technology Consultant, also at the Boston College Law School, graciously prepared black and white images for the many documents from The National Archives. Devon Coleman and Michael Rios assisted with the linking to images of original documents. The librarians at the various repositories holding printed cases and Privy Council documents were unfailingly helpful. Special thanks are due to Paul Johnson at The National Archives at Kew. At the British Library, our special thanks go to Frances Harris, Richard Davies, Jonathan Sims, the staff of Imaging Services, and especially to Arnold Hunt, Curator of Modern Historical Manuscripts, for his steadfast perseverance and patience. Much appreciation is extended to Robert C. Palmer, Cullen Professor of Law and History at the University of Houston, for his enhancement of the online availability of Privy Council resources. The efforts of A. Mitchell Fraas, Schoenberg Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, the cooperation of the officers of the American Society for Legal History, and the generosity of Linda Price, daughter of the late Joseph Smith, enabled the inclusion of a scanned copy of Smith’s monumental work, Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Plantations, on this site.

Acknowledgments for Part 2 (June 2020): In addition to the many people thanked in Part 1, there are also many to thank for their help with this latest project.

Several people played new or expanded roles in the preparation of Part 2.

In particular, the three of us thank especially Devon Coleman, whose contributions to both form and substance in Parts 1 and 2 cannot be overstated. We admire her command of the appeals process, her technical skills, and her painstaking care with detail. Her research into the lives of the litigants and her preparation of an Index for Part 2 added a valuable research component to the appeals from the Caribbean and Canada. It is truly no stretch to say that without her there would be no Part 2.

Patricia Crotty did a masterful job as copy editor/proofreader for a project that could at times be interesting and at others very tedious. We appreciate her patience, perseverance, and care.

We also want to acknowledge again those who have continued their support.

Robert Palmer, Cullen Professor of Law and History at the University of Houston, for his continued expansion of access to Privy Council documents, especially the Privy Council’s registers and the fragile PC 1 documents, through the Anglo- American Legal Tradition website (AALT).

Imaging services departments in the various repositories, especially the British Library, and Ron O’Connor for photographing images not available from those sources.

Nick Szydlowski, now Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication Librarian at Boston College Law Library, for advice in the ever-changing world of digital scholarship and access.

The IT Department of the Harvard Law School, which maintains the “back-end” of the Ames Foundation’s server. In particular, Branden Loizides recently saw to it that the server got moved to a much more secure location in the “cloud” and also kept us in the loop while the process was going on so that there was a minimum of down- time at our end and a maximum of understanding of what was going on.

Librarians at holding repositories, especially Jonathan Sims, Content Strategy Librarian, British Library, for his support and encouragement and his continuing efforts in making the British Library’s collection of Privy Council appeals available online.

William S. Hein and Company for its willingness to produce a print edition of Part 2 that expands the reach of the appeals research to a broader community.

The dean of Harvard Law School (both former dean, Martha Minow, and current dean, John Manning) and the dean of Boston College Law School, Vincent Rougeau, for support for the project which showed itself in so many ways.

One of us (Mary Sarah Bilder) has served as the Literary Director of the Ames Foundation during the preparation of Part 2. We all are grateful to the Foundation’s President, Annette Gordon-Reed, and to the Board for their encouragement of our expansion into the Caribbean and Canada. The financial support of the Foundation has been invaluable throughout the life of the project.

It has been a pleasure working with all the people noted above and with each other. We will miss having appeals to the Privy Council on our to-do list.


15 January 2021 n.s.


1 In Part 1 we created 257 total reports, but they include 26 that are classified as “not true appeals,” i.e., they do not involve an appeal from a judgment of a colonial court. We did not create reports for disputes of this sort in Part 2, but they are analyzed in this Introduction at notes 39–54. Fifty-four cases are analyzed in those notes, and they roughly correspond to the 26 “not true appeals” in Part 1. To compare apples to apples, there are 231 reports in Part 1 and 519 in Part 2. If you include those disputes that lack one or more elements of a standard or “true” appeal, there are 257 reports in Part 1, and there would be 573 in Part 2.

2 In Part 2: Lucy Chester Park v Charles Dunbar, as lessor of the nominal plaintiff John Doe, ANT_1739_03; In Part 1: Charles Dunbar v Daniel Parke Custis, 13_1755_02.

3 Wilcox v Royal, ANT_1738_01.

4 See references in Persons and Places Index, s.n. Codrington.

5 As might be expected, colonial officials like Col. Codrington are frequently found in a number of cases, but the “repeat players” are not confined to colonial officials. For example, Andrew Arcedeckne, who seems to have been involved in a number of different land-holdings in Jamaica, appears in various roles in eight different cases. See Index, s.n. Arcedeckne.

6 Smith, p.69, describes this appeal as “the initial case in which a genuine appeal can be said to be found.”

7 By 1720, one printed case referred to the appeal being heard “by the Council, before the Committee of Appeals” and the Lords of the Committee for Appeals (Mendez v Battyn [BAR_1714_04]). Various versions of the title appear in the Privy Council records such as the Right Honourable Lords of the Committee of Council for hearing Appeals from the Plantations or the Right Honourable the Lords of the Committee of his Majesty’s most Honourable Privy Council. The descriptive name for the geographic and political space subject to these appeals was often plantations in this period. Plantations referred to English overseas settlements as in Richard Hakluyt’s Discourse of Western Planting (1584). (Bibliographical details for this and all other published works cited in this catalogue may be found in Abbreviations and Bibliography.) As the seventeenth-century progressed, the term also became used for the commercial agricultural enterprises based on the labor of enslaved people of color. We use the term colony to designate the geographic space and plantation to designate the commercial enterprise based on enslaved labor.

8 For the figure of 120, see William F. Swindler, “Seedtime,” 513. The online digitized microfilm Revolutionary War Prize Cases has a guide to the records. See Bourguignon, First Federal Court; Jameson, “Predecessor of the Supreme Court”; Davis, “Federal Courts prior to the Adoption of the Constitution,” (“Courts of Appeals in Prize Cases” and “Courts for Determining Disputes and Difference between two or more States concerning Boundary Jurisdiction, or any other Cause Whatever”). For some records on state appeals, see Scott, Judicial Settlement and Scott, United States.

9 Older treatments include George A. Washburne’s monograph, Imperial Control of the Administration of Justice in the Thirteen American Colonies, 1684–1776, Arthur M. Schlesinger [Sr.]’s article “Colonial Appeals to the Privy Council,” and Harold Hazeltine’s article “Appeals from colonial courts to the King in council with especial reference to Rhode Island.” More recently, Mary Sarah Bilder has brought to light the changing nature of the substance of appeals over time in The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire. For the colony of New York, note also the recent work of Daniel Hulsebosch, Constituting Empire: New York and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in the Atlantic World, 1664–1830. Work on the topic continues to appear as scholars explore this era. See, for example, Craig Yirush’s article “Claiming the New World: Empire, Law, and Indigenous Rights in the Mohegan Case, 1704–1743,” and Arthur Mitchell Fraas’s dissertation: “They Have Travailed Into a Wrong Latitude”: The Laws of England, Indian Settlements, and the British Imperial Constitution 1726–1773. For Canada and a somewhat later period, see Catharine MacMillan, “Empire’s Law: Archives and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.”

10 P. 122–128.

11 Those that are found in printed reports are listed in the Bibliography.

12 See List of Signatories on Printed Cases (Part 1), (Part 2).

14 The total number of printed cases is much larger because many reports contain printed cases on both sides. The actual number of printed cases included in the reports for Part 1 is 96, for Part 2, 188.

15 Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste.

16 E.g., Moses (who is called Abraham in his printed case) Mendez (Mendes), together with Isaac Mendez, who was probably a relative, successfully appealed in Mendez v Battyn, BAR_1714_04).

17 E.g., John and Peter Bonfils, who are said to be French subjects, successfully resisted an appeal from a judgment in their favor rendered in the Chancery Court of Jamaica in the sum of £12,001 3s. Axtell v Bonfils, JAM_1725_00).

19 See Yirush, Settlers, Liberty, and Empire; Walters, “Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut (1705–1773)”; Yirush, “Claiming the New World”; Grant-Costa, The Last Indian War in New England. Additional material can be found at the Yale Indian Papers Project (aka Native Northeast Portal).

20 For background on the legal status and struggles of mixed-race Jamaicans, see Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune.

21 For a particularly interesting piece of dower litigation, see Millward v Lindsay, JAM_1768_02).

22 Bilder, Transatlantic Constitution, 91–115; Bilder, “Colonial Appeals.”

23 Smith, p.73, states that in addition to the 14 appeals of Edmund Randolph, there are 16 appeals before 1696 from the colonies in Part 1, but he does not name them. It would seem that they are the following: Massachusetts: Thayre v Savage and three appeals of Jahleel Brenton; New Hampshire: Walton v Walford, Barefoot v Wadleigh, and four appeals by William Vaughan; New York: Ward v Palmer, Darvall v Hall, Wright v Cornwall, and Billop v West; and Virginia: Bland v Codd and Ludwell v Toton. Identifying the cases in Part 2 is more difficult. Smith (ibid.) states that there were 16 pre-1696 appeals from Barbados, five from Jamaica, three from Bermuda, two from the Leeward Islands. These almost certainly include from Barbados in Part 2: Appeal of Hanson, Appeal of Young and Hanson, Appeal of Wytham, Appeal of Goldingham, Raynsford v Gorges, Appeal of Scott, Appeal of Thornhill, Knights v Hallett, Witham v Gray, Appeal of Lane, Appeal of Hallett, Holder v Coates, Appeal of Sharpe, and Appeal of Bate, for a total of fourteen. The remaining two are probably among the four pre- 1696 Barbados cases listed among the “not true appeals” in notes 41 and 44: APC nos. 115, 145, 172, and 206. Part 2 has eight pre-1696 cases from Jamaica: Mingham v Martin (1), Mingham v Martin (2), In re The Swallow, Appeal of Sadler, Appeal of Towers, Appeal of Ivy, Appeal of Elletson, and Appeal of White; four from Bermuda: Hubbard v Smailes, Richier v Trott, Richier v Goddard, and Appeal of Hubbard; and three from the Leeward Islands: St. Lowe v Kirwan (Antigua), Rodney v Cole (Nevis), and Appeal of Cooke (Nevis). We leave it to the reader to get to Smith’s numbers by judiciously combining related cases and/or eliminating those that do not fit some possible definition of an “appeal.”

24 The items in the following notes appear in volume 2 of the APC and are cited by the APC item number in square brackets with the name of the petitioner(s) and, occasionally, a brief description of the subject of the petition and further references. The only other “not true appeal” item is from St. Christopher. It appears in volume 3 [153: petitions of Margaret Bridgewater and others, and Thomas Pilkington and his wife, the late Parnal Fenton (Penton), regarding a grant of lands passing to Robert Cunnyngham]. The petitioners alleged that their land had been included in error in a regrant of land to Robert Cunnyngham, which had been the subject of a prior prosecution by John Spooner. In relation to this controversy, petitions of Robert Cunnyngham concerning his lands in St. Christopher claimed by John Spooner and an order referring same to committee with the petition of John Spooner (5 papers) dated March 1725 are held at The National Archives in Conservation (PC 1/58/2A). These papers have not been viewed by the compilers. It is possible that there is some relation to the appeal of Lambert v Spooner, STC_1721_00), but that has not been verified.

25 Antigua: [204: Charles Henderson]; [402: Mounteney Boncle]; [567: Paul de Brissack/Brissac]. Barbados: [115: Mary Ayres, guardian of Thomas Ayres]; [172: Walter Stephens and creditors of Ralph Moxon and James Holloway (executed for treason), bankrupts]; [206: Anne Baxter’s petition for pardon for her son, James Baxter]; [774: Dorothy Bishop’s petition for restoration of her husband, Robert Bishop, as Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas]; [978: Thomas Maxwell’s petition complaining of a writ of ne exeat insulam, barring him from leaving the island]; [1163: Governor Robert Lowther and Secretary Alexander Skene’s dispute over fees and emoluments]; [1307: Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts complaining about orders requiring the depositing of accounts and papers relating to the Codrington estate]; [1328: Samuel Cox’s complaint against Treasurer Edmund Sutton, with the result that Cox be “left to this remedy at law”]; [1338: Charles Irvin [Irvine], rector of St. Philips, complaining about proceedings against him]. Bermuda: [70: Joan Somersall, widow of John Somersall, relating to a case involving her power to void or alter his will, pending without determination before Bermuda Company (London)]. Jamaica: [184: Sarah Harrison’s petition for land granted to her husband, Mark Harrison; for a decision that her land was seized by writ of cessavit per biennium and alienated, and therefore she is “remedyless,” see CSP, vol. 12: [175], [222], [650]]; [189: petition of Samuel Beake and others resulting in an act for their relief and that of other creditors of bankrupts possessing Jamaican estates, see CSP, vol. 12: [229], [246]]; [199: petition of Robert Colbeck relating to the validity of the will of Colonel John Colbeck (possibly relating to “Colbeck Castle”)]; [597: petition of Captain Dawes relating to misconduct and mutiny]; [618: petition of Usher Tyrrell requesting release of bond and free grant of plantation after French invasion, see CSP, vol. 14: [2290]]; [810: petition of Robert Chaplin relating to objections to an act for a bridge as prejudicial to their ferry]; [1192: petition of Johanna Kupins relating to escheated land]; Newfoundland: [1087: Simon Church-house’s (Churchouse) defense against the murder of William Fish in Newfoundland; creation of a special commission to try John Chambers].

26 Antigua: [60: Benjamin Middleton].

27 Barbados: [1055: John Holder’s petition dismissed after hearing, and the act put into execution]. A similar petition brought in to effect a repeal of a law: [1333: petition against action of Committee of Public Accounts requesting the repeal of a law or the stay of proceedings under the law].

28 Barbados: [145: George Hannay, possibly relating to allegations of the false imprisonment of Richard Pain and Samuel Hanson]; [1099: John and Elizabeth Bentley asking for relief in debt claims against Richard Downes, Chief Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who was given jurisdiction over the case]. Bermuda: [795: Charles Walker’s petition to be granted probate of will of Henry Ford; related to Johnstowne v Burton, BER_1700_01]. Jamaica: [164: Matthew Meverall’s petition, apparently relating to his imprisonment by the late Governor Thomas Lynch after seizing the St. Thomas in violation of the Navigation Act, see CSP, vol. 11: [1998 and others]]; [165: Abraham Gill’s petition complaining about his imprisonment by the late Governor Thomas Lynch, relating to a contract to transport “4800 negroes,” see CSP, vol. 11: [1999 and others]]; [187: petition of Thomas Ryves and others, executors of Thomas Martin [Martyn], relating to the office of Receiver General]; [188: petition of Leonard Compear relating to a failure to be put into possession of the office of Receiver General]; [205: petition of Roger Elletson relating to the suspension from the practice of law by the Governor; on controversy, see Collins, Martial Law, 243–244)]; [849: petition of Edward Baugh requesting a King’s order to enforce the Governor’s execution of a writ of sequestration]; [881: petition of John Wilks on behalf of his brother- in-law, Joseph Haynes, imprisoned on complaint of his wife for four years by the Governor and council as Court of Chancery]; [1031: petition of Catherine Sparling for letters of administration of the estate of Priscilla Emery, refused by the Governor unless he was granted general release; order in favor of Sparling; see the order in the APC, vol. 6 [176]]; [1184: petition of Robert Saunders attempting to sue Gersham Elye, who claimed the privilege of members of the Assembly to avoid trial; the Committee finding against the privilege in this case and in the future, see CSP, vol. 27: [348], [352], and “Journal, May 1713: Journal Book P,” in Journals of the Board of Trade, 2:427–431 (British History Online)]. Montserrat: [1141: Edward Buncombe’s complaint about the failure of reparations for damages from a French privateer]. St. Christopher: [1281: Christopher Stoddard’s complaint about dispossession by a person under pretense of a grant from the Governor].

29 Antigua: [1303: Col. John Staunton].

30 Barbados: [977: Thomas Maycock].

31 Barbados: [1308: Francis Lansa’s complaint about the Governor’s arbitrary proceedings against him and counsel Mr. Bleinman].

32 Bermuda: [1097: complaint of Matthew Newman for excessive bail, “contrary to the Bill of Rights,” APC, vol. 6 [198] (finding Newman guilty but bail excessive) and vol. 6 [201 no.62–64] (complaints of and Provost Marshal, against Governor Bennett, including prosecution of Newman for accusing the Governor of bribery)]. See also St. Christopher: [1173: Robert Cunningham’s complaint about the refusal of release on bail].

33 St. Christopher: [845: William Freeman’s complaint against Christopher Codrington regarding two pretended justices of the peace and other matters; additional details at APC, vol. 6 [42], [49]]. For additional information about this complaint, see Scott Mandelbrote, in ODNB, s.n. Christopher Codrington. A number of printed materials are extant for the Freeman complaint: Freeman, Case; Freeman, Petition; Freeman, Articles. Montserrat: [127] also involves William Freeman with respect to a “disputed partition void because not made in legal form.” On Freeman, see Hancock, “World of Business,” 3–34; Hancock, Letters of William Freeman. Our thanks to David Hancock for information regarding Freeman’s relationship with Codrington.

35 Antigua: [1142: Edward Chester], [1241: John Dean and the Three Sisters]. Barbados: [1158: Raynes Bate and Thomas Stewart and the Camwood]. Barbados and Bermuda: [1133: David Creagh and John Clark and the St. James]. Jamaica: [1153: petition of Thomas Simpson [Simson] and the widow of Charles Gandy requesting relief from prosecution by Charles Chaplain [Chaplin], Collector, relating to a failed effort to outfit two sloops to patrol the island].

36 Barbados: [856].

37 Jamaica: [1138].

38 Jamaica: [1211].

39 Owen and Tolley, in Courts of Admiralty in Colonial America, p.237, note that “terms for vessels were used loosely by the colonists. For example, a ‘ship’ is technically a three-masted square-rigged vessel but in all likelihood the term was most often used as synonymous with the generic ‘vessel.’” Vessels here are described using whatever term is applied in the APC.

40 In attempting to locate printed cases, the compilers followed up on the leads of Joseph Smith and consulted various printed guides, such as Charles Andrews and Frances Davenport’s Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783; Grace Griffin’s Guide to Manuscripts Relating to American History in British Depositories; the Library of Congress, Handbook of Manuscripts; and John Raimo’s Guide to Manuscripts Relating to America in Great Britain and Ireland, plus the online catalogues of historical societies and major research libraries and the online ESTC. Tips from librarians sometimes led to other findings when material had not yet been catalogued. All of the printed cases were seen either by the compiler or by a librarian at the holding institution who verified ownership and whether there were manuscript notes.

It was not possible to consult the papers of Privy Council members attending hearings of appeals or all papers of counsel on the appeals. Efforts were made to check archive entries for counsel in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography if they covered the years in question and if the description of the holdings held out some hope of finding a printed case within them. The librarian at Lincoln’s Inn reports that though it holds some papers of counsel, no printed cases are within their collection. Charles Yorke’s copies of his cases are in the Hardwicke collection. Sadly, the papers of Alexander Forrester, who is second in number only to Yorke as counsel on the signed cases located so far, do not seem to have survived.

41 Until 1753, the APC gives the day of the month in Old Style. That means that although the year begins on 1 January and not 25 March, an appeal filed before 1753 in the first few days of January will be designated by the preceding year in the Gregorian calendar.

42 Because the search engine searches specific fields in the database rather than the whole report, Boolean searches failed to return many instances where the logic applied at the level of the whole report. Working around that problem resulted in a search engine that was unacceptably slow.