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Court Records

There are a large number of court records that can be very helpful in providing biographical data.  New Brunswick's laws, divided into civil law and criminal law, have their origins either in the legislative process or as a result of common practice or precedent already established by the courts.  Civil law concerns itself with disputes between private individuals that are heard and determined in the courts, while criminal law deals with those who commit anti-social acts and are prosecuted by government. 

The New Brunswick court system was based on British and colonial laws, rules, regulations, precedents and procedures, that were adapted to local needs.  There are legal records from the Supreme Court and Intermediate, County and Inferior Courts.  Serious criminal and civil cases were heard before the Supreme Court of New Brunswick composed of a chief justice and three other judges.  The Intermediate, County and Inferior Courts dealt with less serious legal matters such as minor crimes and offences and the records frequently contain a wealth of biographical information.  Some of these records date back to the 1780's.  Records for many of the counties are indexed and available at the PANB.  In addition to court documents, there are records from the Department of Justice dealing with jails, sheriffs and coroners.  These documents can be quite interesting and informative.  A description of the evolution of the various courts in New Brunswick is located within the introductions to the court record inventories at the PANB. 

Courts also served as registries for numerous legal documents that can be studied by the genealogist.  Depending upon the particular court, there are files that contain letters, complaints, petitions, bills, answers and other types of court records that are usually filed by the names of the people involved.  There are registers or dockets of action that provide an outline of the case and describe filed papers.  Minutes recording the trial proceedings and noting the action taken are also available as are orders, decrees and judgments stating the formal disposition of the action, and exhibits or original papers filed as evidence.  A transcript was usually not produced unless a judge or lawyer specifically requested one.

 

A listing of Supreme Court records at the PANB follows:

RS42 Supreme Court Original Jurisdiction

RS43 Court of Appeals Records

RS46 Supreme Court Crown Causes

RS51 Supreme Court Judgments

RS53 Court of Queen's Bench Bankruptcy Records

RS55 Court of Equity Original Jurisdiction Records

RS58 Court of Divorce Records

RS189 Supreme Court Exchequer Records.