Records : 1763-1867.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .N6C6V5R4
Category: Nova Scotia
Creator: Nova Scotia. Court of Vice-Admiralty.
Description: 1 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            The High Court of Admiralty was formed in England to deal with issues of piracy and spoil (goods or property acquired by confiscation or plunder) and later came to deal also with privateering and shipping. Courts of Vice Admiralty were established overseas by the Crown to preside over local maritime matters.  The Nova Scotia Court of the Vice-Admiralty was founded in 1749 and located in Halifax.

The material found on this film is a listing of documents which was arranged under the direction of the Commissioner of Records in compliance with a minute of the Nova Scotia Executive Council in August 1881. The documents were produced by both the Prize and Instance divisions of the Court of Vice-Admiralty; Prizes dealt with captures made by the Royal Navy and privateers, while Instances was concerned with commercial disputes, salvage, and customs seizure. These lists of documents include additional data of value to the researcher. 

The Court of Escheats and Forfeitures dealt with land whose previous owner passed without heirs or were convicted of treason or felony, or in the case of forfeiture, failed to meet conditions of landholding such as improvement and settlement.

The Court of Error had the power to reverse judgements of other courts.            
            While the bulk of the collection consists of a listing of records from the Prizes and Instance divisions of the Court of Vice Admiralty at Halifax, Nova Scotia; other listings of records are included from the Court of Escheats and Forfeitures, Court of Error, and the Court of the Governor in Council for the Sale of Intestate Estates.  Topics relate to maritime law between the period after the American Revolution and the end of the War of 1812, particularly privateering; justice and property.

Arrangement and Detailed Content:

The microfilm reel begins with “A List of All Ships and Vessels for which Letters of Marque have been issued out of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax since the Commencement of Hostilities 1803 to the 1st June 1814.” This document is followed by, “A List of Causes which came before the Court of Vice-Admiralty, Instance Court, 1784-1802”; “Lists of Prize Causes, 1793-1794, 1797-1801, 1803-1815”; “Recaptures, 1812-1815”; “Appeal Causes, 1812-1813”; “Droits, 1812”; “Instance Court, 1811-1817”; “Letters of Marque, 1804-1815”; and “Causes, 1818-1857, 1860-1867”.  Additional information in the documents includes ship aliases, listing of captured cargoes (examples of types of cargo included oatmeal, kegs of powder, flour, tobacco, pitch, timber, rice, beef or sometimes a general notation was made: “Sundry goods seized at Halifax”), petitions of agents of captors of ships, cases (e.g. “Healy vs. Baker”), and other court documentation such as despatches. Types of documents listed include prize causes, instance causes, droits, recaptures, appeal causes, condemnations jure corone (by right of the Crown), and letters of marque.  Subjects covered in the first section of documents include ship/ vessel types, privateers, captures, ship seizures, and letters of marque.  

The list of documents which originated from the Court of Escheats and Forfeitures, Court of Error, and the Court of the Governor in Council for the Sale of Intestate Estates are filmed from page 82 onward.  Documents are ordered as follows:  List of Interstate Estates, 1763-1842; Court of Escheats and Forfeitures - Inquisitions, 1760-1842; Escheats, Island of Cape Breton, 1817-1819; Escheats, 1781-1785; Petitions for Escheats, 1780-1837; and lastly, the Causes that came before the Court of Error, 1765-1836.
Originals: The original records are held by the Nova Scotia Archives
Archival Ref. No.: PANS RG 1, vol. 378. (Special Subjects)
Finding Aids:
            A brief Table of Contents has been microfilmed at the beginning of the reel and print and electronic copies are available.	
A finding aid for the Court of Vice-Admiralty detailing ship’s names, types (schooner, sloop, brig, ship, brigantine, snow, barque, lugger, etc.), commander and owner when noted, date, and document type has been created and is available electronically.  Arrangement is by page number and name of prize vessel or privateer vessel.  


Library and  Archives Canada has created a finding aid for the material that is located in that repository. 

Digital copies of “all or some” of the documents now held by Library and Archives Canada are available on Canadiana.
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Nova Scotia Court of Vice-Admiralty Contents.pdf
NS Court of Vice-Admiralty Ship Index.pdf
Notes: Additional records of the Court of Vice-Admiralty in Halifax may be found in PANS RG 40. Records of the Nova Scotia Court of the Vice-Admiralty found in the holdings of the Nova Scotia Archives are as follows: R. G. 1 Vol. 491 October 1749-June 1751, 492 June 1751- November 1756, 493 September 1756- December 1759, 494 July 1761- June 1764, 495 June 1769- February 1778, 496 June 1777- September 1782, 497 August 1782- August 1794, 498 May 1813-December 1813?, 499 March 1776- October 1781?, 499 ½ 1794- 1813, 500 September 1781- March 1794, 500a List of vessels captured 1793- 1800, 501 January 1813- August 1821, and 501a List of vessels captured 1814-1818.

Ships whose names appeared in the records as captures then often reappeared as being issued letters of marque as privateers.

The typescript leader which was microfilmed at the beginning of the reel is inaccurate.

New Brunswick Vice-Admiralty Court Records (RS574) and Records of the Court of Piracy and Crimes Committed on the High Seas (RS649) can be found at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick.

The Library and Archives Canada description of the Vice Admiralty Court of Nova Scotia founds was used in the creation of this catalogue record.

Part Of:
Other With: