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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree September 2018 > Discover court records

Discover court records

Family historian Chris Paton provides an introduction to historic court records, and how to find Them…

LAW OF The LAND

LEGAL RECORDS

Beginner’s guide to advanced records

A defendant stands on trial in a packed criminal law court while The woman next to him weeps. Coloured etching by George Cruikshank, 1848

A rich source for family history can be The records of The courts that presided over us, but this can be a complicated area to plunder, not least because There were historically so many different types of court, covering a variety of jurisdictions and matters. These range from ecclesiastical bodies overseeing The morality of Their congregations, to state courts keeping our ancestors on The straight and narrow for all matters civil and criminal.

The legal systems across Britain and Ireland also differed from country to country, but, to generalise, The state courts of England, Wales and Ireland were similar in nature, with all countries utilising English law. In Scotland, There were substantial differences, with cases heard through Scots law, even after The union in 1707 which formed ‘Britain’.

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About Family Tree

The wish to find out about your family history always begins with a question. That special something that you want to know about those who’ve come before you, that missing piece of the puzzle that you'd like to find about your own roots... So, because the internet is such a very valuable resource for hunting for these family history clues, this issue we’ve got a bumper guide to help your research. Read it and discover how to: 1. Search smarter and trace that family story. 2. Learn new search hacks and make new discoveries. 3. Get the low-down on searching the major family history websites. Lastly, you may notice something different this issue – our new look! Re-energised and packed as ever with know-how, advice and real-life tales, our revamp will provide you with fresh inspiration to find your family’s story.