Presentments is the name given to the presenting (by sworn officers or juries) of accused individuals before a court. They applied both to common law offences (such as theft or assault) and to spiritual offences (such as adultery or non-attendence at Church). The former cases were presented by the Coroner, Lockman or Great Enquest and dealt with initially in the Sheading Courts (or Baron's Court). They are recorded within the Libri Placitorum (and the similar series for the Baronies) and the Libri Scaccarii. The spiritual cases were presented by the Churchwardens or Chapter Quest and were heard in the Church courts (the Consistory Court or Chapter Court). They are recorded within the corresponding court books. They are sometimes mixed up with wills which formed the other major business of these courts.


For certain periods (including in the late 16th century) there appear to have been attempts to separate out the different activities of the Spiritual Courts into distinct series. In 1659 a distinct series called Presentments began. This has been microfilmed and has recently been comprehensively indexed (by the name of all individuals involved). It relates only to Spiritual Presentments.


Format of the Spiritual Presentments


I have not examined these in detail. Those I have looked at arrange the presentments by parish, with the format changing from one parish to the next. They consistently record the names of both the Churchwardens and Chapter Quest and those accused of offences. An example is given below.


An example of 1674 Presentments


KK Michael 

Robt Cannell  }                       John Kroghan  }
Talb Curleod  }  Churchwardens        Patr Kelly    }  Chapter 
Will: Cannell }                       Tho: Corjeag  }  Quest
Will: Cannon  }                       John Corjeag  }

They having all met the day abovewritten make their presentments
as followeth

The vicar of the parish presented for not refitting the vicar=
[added later] To be done and finished wth what expedicon my bee

[?] Cannon presented by Robt Cannell for cursing him and
his family. 
[added later] Censured to 1 Sondays pen, aske forgiveness & promise reformaton 

Will: Taylor presented for grinding att the Bops
milne before divine service on Sunday morn
[added later] 1 [Son?] pen & in 5s fine if he relapse

They having also mett this 10th day of May 1674
presents as followeth

John Kroghan sworn that (by information) Adam Berry, Will:
Christian Will: Woods & John Canon were seeking baite on ye sea=
shore after divine service on Sunday in the afternoone.
[added later] each 1 Sunday pen

John kroghan also saith yt he heard Will: Woods call Will: Chritian's
wife Bitch.
[added later] referred to tryall