The Cause Papers User Guide

The following guide is designed to help you search the Cause Papers and understand the record screen. The guide is divided into three main sections:-

The database allows you to search for key information contained in the cause papers. Searching combinations of fields will return all records which match all of your search terms. You can also use the Excluded Keyword box in the Advanced Search Screen to restrict your search to results which do not contain that term. It is not possible to enter more than one search term in the same field. However, you can enter a second term in the Keyword box to accomplish this. Users should not use quotation marks when searching, or employ terms such as AND or NOT.

In order to account for variations in language and spelling across time, all surnames and place-names in the cause papers were matched to a standard form of those names. Searching these fields (or Keyword) with the 'include variants' box ticked will bring up records which match the term you entered and all recorded variants of it. It is recommended that users employ this setting, which is set as default. To search for a specific spelling, turn off the 'include variants' option.

The ability to search for variant spellings of surnames and place-names substantially reduces the need to employ wildcards when searching. However, a limited wildcard function can be applied by using the percentage sign (%) at the beginning and end of words. Searching Mar% will return hits for both Mary and Margaret. Similarly searching %field in the relevant box will return all place-names ending in field. To employ wildcards, the 'include variants' option (if available) must be turned off.

Case Types

Records within the Cause Papers Database are indexed by case type. Each record was assigned to a generic type of case. Where known more specific case details were also provided, using sub-categories. A list of the generic case-types is provided below, alongside the sub-categories of specific case details most commonly encountered in the database. A cause may relate to more than one sub-category. Note that the exact wording and punctuation of the specific case details in the database does not always reflect that below and that this list is not exhaustive.

Case Type (Generic) Case Details (Specific Sub-Categories)
abuse of power
inhibition of official
jurisdictional dispute
tuitorial appeal
Benefice cases admission to benefice
annual pensions
clerical deprivation
desertion of benefice
disputed presentation
holding in plurality
irregular performance of sacraments
neglect of duty
obligation of appropriators
offences as master of hospital
possession of benefice
possession of prebend
provision of curate
provision of services in dependant chapel
quarrelling with parishioners
refusal to admit to sacraments
Breach of faith agreement to become servant
agreement to bring witnesses to court
breach of recognisance
failure to carry out service as parish chaplain
goods and sustenance
non-payment of proctors' fees
refusal to accept award in case
violation of oath
Defamation adulteration
child cruelty
false charges of defamation
sexual slander
sooth sayer
Immorality acknowledgement of illegitimate child
sexual assault
Matrimonial annulment
annulment: abduction
annulment: adultery
annulment: affinity
annulment: appeal
annulment: bigamy
annulment: consanguinity
annulment: forced marriage
annulment: frigidity
annulment: idiocy
annulment: minor
annulment: pre-contract
enforcement of marriage contract
gifts relating to marriage
illicit marriage (parties)
impeding marriage
jacitation of marriage
payment of expenses and alimony
publishing of banns
restitution of conjugal rights
separation from bed and board: adultery
separation from bed and board: cruelty
separation from bed and board: cruelty & adultery
separation from bed and board: desertion
validity of marriage
Testamentary debt
dilapidations of property
disputed administration
disputed legacy
disputed value of goods
disputes concerning intestacy
embezzlement by executors
failure to administer estate
failure to follow procedure
failure to render account
false inventory
forged will
minor claiming inheritance
mis-management of goods of wards
refusal to produce will for probate
right to prove wills
unpaid dues to estate
validity of will
widow claiming dower
withholding legacy
withholding testator's goods
Tithes Case details list types of crop / livestock mentioned in cause
Violation of church rights abduction of nun
alterations to church furniture
appropriation of church
appropriation of church goods
assault against ecclesiastical official
assault against prioress
assault in church
assault on clergy
associating with a excommunicate
chapelwardens: neglect of duty
churchwardens: neglect of duty
clergy: profanation of Sabbath
debt to church
demolition of church
destruction of church furniture
dilapidations: church/chapel
dilapidations: outbuildings
dilapidations: rectory/vicarage
disorder during divine service
dispute concerning office of parish clerk
dispute over pension
disputed churchwardens accounts
disputed dues
disputed election of churchwardens
disputed election of chapelwardens
disputed election of parish clerk
disputed election of schoolmaster
disputed faculty jurisdiction
disputed profession of religious
disputed sequestration
ecclesiastical process: failure to attend court
ecclesiastical process: false citation
ecclesiastical process: in contempt of process of court
ecclesiastical process: irregular proceedings
ecclesiastical process: objection to process
ecclesiastical process: obstructing process of court
encroachment on churchyard
excessive bell ringing
expulsion of schoolmaster from office
failure to baptise children
failure to pay poor relief
failure to provide service books
felling trees in churchyard
forging marriage licence
general fitness for office
harbouring priests / recusants
heresy: nonconformity
heresy: recusancy
illicit marriage [clergy for conducting]
irreverence in service time
jurisdiction in peculiar
lease of advowson
lease of land
lease of vicarage
merger of parishes
non-payment of parish clerk's wages
parish clerk: neglect of duty
parishioners: absence from church
parishioners: brawling in church
parishioners: brawling in churchyard
parishioners: disorder during Holy Communion
parishioners: disturbance of service
parishioners: profanation of Sabbath
parochial rights
patronage of benefice
payment for church furniture
pew dispute
pollution of churchyard
possession of hospital
possession of illegal books
provision of clergy
refusal to admit to communion
removal of church roof
repairs of church
retention of Catholic objects / images in church
right of burial
schoolmaster - neglect of duty
schoolmaster - revocation of license to teach
sequestrator - failure to render account
status of chapel/church
unlicensed clergy
unlicensed physician
unlicensed preacher
unlicensed schoolmaster
violation of appropriated fruits
wrongful arrest
Reading a Cause Paper record

The following section is designed to help you make sense of the record screen. It is divided into the following sections, corresponding to those on screen.

If you can't understand why your search returned a record, please refine your search terms or consult the help buttons on the search screens for guidance. You can also contact us for help searching or to report technical faults. For a more detailed account of how data was entered and standardized when constructing the catalogue, please see the Cause Papers Project Standardization Guide(PDF, 332kb)

Reference: This field gives the reference for the cause. Please use this when ordering copies of documents or in citations.
Repository: Indicates which archive repository holds the original documents for the cause.
Court: Indicates in which court the case was held. Different courts had different functions, but overlapped in procedure and personnel.
Case: Shows what type of case this record relates to. For instance, the case might involve an accusation of Defamation or a Violation of Church Rights. If known, this field also provides some more specific details about the case, given in brackets. For example, a Defamation case might relate to sexual slander, in which instance you would see 'Defamation (sexual slander)' on screen. A list of both general and specific types of case can be found in the background information referred to at the top of this page. For Tithe cases, the specific details indicate the types of crop or livestock on which tithes were being claimed.
Details: In order, this shows how many pieces (separate manuscripts) the original documents comprise, and whether these include depositions (written statements, generally from witnesses), a libel (a written accusation made by the plaintiff or defendant), and a sentence (issued by the judge and giving the outcome of the case).
Outcome: This shows the outcome of the case (if known). Except in a few instances, this is restricted to a statement of who won and whether the sentence was appealed against.
Date This field shows the start and end date of the cause. This can differ from the events to which it referred, sometimes by years or even decades. If provided in the format day/month/year or month/year, this information is exact and has usually been taken from the citation ordering the defendant to come to court (for start dates) and the sentence (for end dates). If just a year is given, this information may be exact or approximate. Sometimes the project team were unable to accurately date the documents, in which case they either left this field blank or estimated a century (thus some records seem to span a whole century).
Dates are given as they appear in the documents. This means that before 1752 (when Britain adopted the modern, Gregorian calendar) they appear in the Julian calendar format, in which the year starts on March 25th. In this system, December 1690 is followed by January 1690, not January 1691. It is thus entirely possible to have a cause which starts in, say, October 1530 and finishes in February 1530.

View the Case Abstract: If available, this button indicates that you can read a short abstract of the cause: a summary compiled from research on the original documents.

Order copies of this document This link to an on-line form allows you to order copies of the original documents relating to this cause at the Borthwick Institute for Archives. Please remember to include the cause reference. If you wish to arrange a visit to see the documents in person, please contact us.

People & Places

This section provides information about the participants in the cause. Only fields for which the database holds information are shown.

Participant: This field provides a number of details about the participant's name. To understand this information, it is necessary to appreciate that names in the database have been standardized. Standardization was necessary to cope with the fact that the older records were written in Latin, and the fact that historically spellings of names were inconsistent (sometimes even in the same document). An example of a participant field might be:
Participant: Alice Elland [Eland; Elande]
  The first piece of information shown is the participant's given name. These were always recorded in a standard form, if necessary translating from Latin. Accordingly in some instances the record does not reflect the spelling in the documents. For example variants of forenames were converted to one standard, e.g. Maria was always rendered as Mary. Short versions of names (such as Allie for Alice) were also converted to a standard form. Your search may therefore not work if you use a given name which has more than one form. The Given Name field was also used to record corporate names such as 'Churchwardens of X'.
The project team recorded surnames in the way they appeared in the documents. These surnames were then standardized to correct for variations in language and spelling. The second piece of information in the participant field shows the standardized form attached to the participant's surname, highlighted in bold - in this example Elland. If you asked the database to search for names including variants, you may return some unexpected results: for instance searching 'Green' will also return hits for 'Grene'. Turn off the 'include variants' box in the search screen to look for a specific version of a surname.
The final piece of information in this field shows you how the name is spelt in the original documents. This is seen in brackets after the standard form, and may be the same as this. If there is more than one spelling listed in the brackets, it indicates that this variation was observed in the original documents. In our example, [Eland; Elande] shows that the participant's name was recorded as both Alice Eland and Alice Elande.
Alternative Name: This field shows any alternative names identified for this participant. These might arise, for instance, from recording a married woman's maiden name.
Role: Shows the participant's role in the cause, such as defendant, plaintiff or witness. In some instances it was not possible to identify a role: these are listed as 'undefined'. In testamentary (and some other) cases, the name of the deceased person whose estate was in dispute was recorded as 'testator', but this does not necessarily mean that they left a will. If the role is recorded as appellant or appellate, this indicates that the judge's decision (in favour of the appellate) was appealed against by the appellant. These parties are thus usually the plaintiff or defendant in the original cause. It was possible to promote a case without being the official plaintiff (in which instance the role is given as 'promoting parties'), or to intervene in a case being contested by someone else ('intervening parties'). The role of 'executor' indicates that the individual acted as executor/trix of an estate. The role of 'guardian' shows that the participant acted as legal guardian to a minor (sometimes just for the purposes of the cause). If a guardian or executor acted in a more important role in the cause (such as plaintiff or defendant), that role has taken precedence in the description.
Details: If known, this field shows (in order) the sex and age of the participant and any information about their status. Ages show the participant's age at some point during the period bounded by the start and end dates of the cause, but it may be possible to identify this more exactly by consulting the original documents, from which the information is taken. If two ages are given this is reflected in the record. The participant's recorded age may not be their actual age. They may, for instance, have given an approximation. Additionally, if they are recorded as being 21, this may merely indicate that they are 21 and over (this was a legally significant age) and not that they were actually 21.
Status: Status is one of the most wide-ranging categories in the database. Information given here may include that relating to family relationships; obvious designations of noble status such as 'Esquire'; details of marital status such as 'widow' or 'married to X'; imprecise references relating to age/name, such as 'junior', 'senior' or 'the younger'; clerical titles such as 'clerk'; statements in the original documents indicating poverty or ill-health (such as 'infirm'); information about legal status (such as 'minor'), and a record of whether the participant filled an unpaid role such as church or chapel warden. In addition, 'Yeoman', an ambiguous title indicating something of both status and employment, is included here.
Employment: Indicates the participant's recorded employment. These details were generally recorded in a standard form, modernizing spelling and translating from Latin if necessary. This field sometimes contains brief descriptions from the project team describing the occupation, or their decisions on translation and standardization if problematic.
Location: Provides information on locations associated with the participant, most commonly relating to place of residence (either current at the time of the case or previous). There may therefore be more than one location listed for each person. For further information on how to interpret the information on this field, please see the section on places below.
Notes: This field was used by the project team to provide any significant additional information about the participant, and sometimes to highlight unusual or problematic features about the cause.

Associated Places

All locations mentioned in each cause were recorded by the project team. Places associated with participants appear under their data. Locations which featured in the documents but which were not attached to a particular individual appear in the 'Associated Places' section. Searches for place-names can lead to either or both sections of the record. To understand how locations are presented, it is necessary to bear in mind that place-names have been standardized to account for historic variations in language and spelling.

For each place, the project team recorded a modern version of the place-name. Listed after this in brackets is the original spelling of that name (and any noted variations in spelling), as given in the documents for that cause. If obvious, the project team also noted what type of place it was, such as a field, town or parish; otherwise this was left as 'undefined'. Note that if a place is listed as a 'field name', this may indicate either a specific field or group of fields.

The team then assigned each place to a standardized, large, modern location: normally a parish, town, city or county. These standard locations appear in bold type in the database. Each place listed after a standard location indicates that it is either within that location or identical to it.

An example might be:

Location: Whitby (YorkshireNorthRiding)
Place Names: Whitby (Whitbie, Whiteby): ecclesiastical parish
Robin Hood's Bay (Robin Hood Bay): township

In this example, the project team identified two places in the cause associated with the modern, standardized place of Whitby. These were the parish of Whitby (spelt Whitbie and Whiteby in the original documents) and Robin Hood's Bay (spelt Robin Hood Bay in the original documents), a township within Whitby.

'The Cause Papers' was developed by The Borthwick Institute for Archives at The University of York Library and Archives with technical development provided by The Humanities Research Institute at The University of Sheffield
Version 1.1 | ISBN 978-0-9557876-4-5
© 2010-2012 The University of York
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