Diocese of Norwich: Consistory Court Deposition books and files
Depositions, informations, examinations and interrogatories brought to the bishop's Consistory Court. Typical causes involved such issues as breach of marital promises, the restitution of marital rights, and the examination of disputed marriages either through consanguinity or bigamy, along with the probate of wills, and other testamentary issues such as the authorization of nuncupative wills, the examination of additional will clauses, and disputes over unpaid legacies, or corrupt executors. Other societal issues such as slander (defaming another's good reputation or standing within the community) were tried at the Court. Sexual morality was also regulated by the Church, with causes concerning charges of adultery and fornication (pre-marital sexual activity) frequently being brought before the Court, and accusations of the same were often at the root of defamation causes. In addition, the Court heard causes relating to the defense of church rights and property, particularly issues such as the non-payment of tithes, the misappropriation of church goods, the dilapidation of benefice buildings, church chancels and glebe property and the rights to certain pews in local churches. Matters of heresy and irreverency against the church, its ministers and buildings, along with parishioners' non-attendance at divine service were all within the Court's purview. In addition, faculties and other licences were issued by the Court, including those regulating mid-wives and schoolmasters. Of course, the Consistory Court was also the body in which matters of clerical delinquency might be addressed. Immoral, drunken, schismatical, contentious or otherwise scandalous clergy could all be reported (by their parishioners and other observers) to diocesan officials, and if action was taken, it would be in the Consistory Court that their causes would be heard.
Diocese of Norwich; 1095-