Research


New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany) Declarations

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series contains plaintiffs' declarations, which were the initial pleadings in common law actions. The declaration was made out by the plaintiff's attorney after the defendant had been arrested by a writ of capias ad respondendum. The declaration contains caption (name of the court and the term in which the writ of capias was to be returned); venue; commencement (names of the plaintiff and defendant and of the plaintiff's attorney); and statement of cause of action.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
125.1 cubic feet (290 boxes)
Inclusive Dates:
1838-1847
Series Number:
J0015

Arrangement

Alphabetic by name of plaintiff's attorney, then chronological by date of filing.

Scope and Content Note

Records documenting pleadings of plaintiffs and defendants in common law actions include declarations of plaintiffs, defendants' pleas, replications, rejoinders, surrejoinders, cognovits, demurrers, reports of referees, reports of damages awarded, and writs of inquiry.

This series contains plaintiffs' declarations, which were the initial pleadings in common law actions. (The abbreviated term for the declaration is "narr.," from the Latin "narratio.") The declaration was made out by the plaintiff's attorney after the defendant had been arrested by a writ of capias ad respondendum. (After 1829 the writ of capias was optional in most actions, and proceedings could commence with service of the declaration.) The declaration contains caption (name of the court and the term in which the writ of capias was to be returned); venue (county from which the jury is to come if the cause proceed to trial); commencement (names of the plaintiffs and defendants and of the plaintiff's attorney, manner of defendant's appearance, and brief statement of the cause of action); statement of cause of action stating when, where, and how the plaintiff incurred the credit or sustained the damages alleged. It might be followed by several separate "counts," each stating the plaintiff's title to the thing demanded, whether it be performance of a contract, recovery of real or personal property, or compensation for injury to himself or his property. (The counts each technically could be the ground for a separate action but were grouped together for convenience), and conclusion; (demand for payment of debt or damages). Printed forms were often used for common types of actions (e.g. trespass on the case and assumpsit).

Following the declaration is the oyer, which is a copy of the promissory note or other written obligation sued upon. The notice of rule to plead usually appears on the dorso of the declaration. It informs the defendant that a rule has been entered in the common rule book kept by the clerk of the Supreme Court, ordering him to plead within twenty days of service of the declaration. The sheriff's affidavit of service or non-service of the declaration and notice is appended or attached to the declaration.

Filed with the declarations are other documents relating to subsequent pleadings by defendant and plaintiff and to determination of the amount of damages to be awarded. When a defendant pleaded the general issue, his written plea denied the injury and put in the proper plea (for example, "not guilty," in actions of trespass, case, and trover; "non assumpsit," in actions of assumpsit; "nil debet," in actions of debt). Subsequent pleadings are called the replication (plaintiff's reply to defendant's initial plea), rejoinder (defendant's reply to replication), and surrejoinder). The defendant's plea sometimes contains more details about a dispute than the declaration does. The purpose of pleading was to reach a point where an issue was joined, that is, defined precisely enough so that a jury could determine the facts. The parties then "put themselves on the country," and a copy of all the pleadings was compiled to be sent to a Circuit Judge for trial. This document was called the "Nisi Prius Record" or "Circuit Roll."

The present series also contains many cognovits and demurrers. The cognovit is the defendant's confession to the facts alleged in the plaintiff's declaration. The demurrer is the defendant's formal exception to the sufficiency in law of the plaintiff's declaration. It did not dispute the facts of the case, and if the plaintiff did not move successfully to quash the demurrer, the presiding justice ruled on a point of law.

Other documents commonly found with the declarations are court clerks' reports of damages awarded after a defendant failed to plead and judgment was awarded to the plaintiff on a non-suit; reports of referees appointed to determine the exact amount of damages due in complicated cases of money accounts; and writs of inquiry directing a sheriff to empanel a jury to assess damages due to a plaintiff after being awarded interlocutory judgment upon the defendant's default, demurrer, or confession. (The return attached to the writ of inquiry is called the inquisition.)

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this material.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series J0011 New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany) Motions and Declarations, contains declarations filed prior to 1838

Series J0027 New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany, Utica, and Geneva) Writs of Inquiry and Inquisitions, contains additional declarations for Albany, Utica, and Geneva

Series J1165 New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany) Common Rule Books, contains rules to plead entered under names of plaintiffs' attorneys.

Other finding aids

Container list is available at the repository.

Custodial History

The Court of Appeals placed these records on deposit at the Historical Documents Collection, Queens College, from 1973-1982.

Access Terms

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Detailed Description

Dates Contents Box

Accretion: J0015-82
1838 A 1
1838 B 2
1838 B 3
1838 C 4
1838 C-D 5
1838 D 6
1838 D-E 7
1838 F-G 8
1838 G-H 9
1838 J-K 10
1838 L-M 11
1838 M 12
1838 M-P 13
1838 P 14
1838 P 15
1838 R-S 16
1838 S-T 17
1838 T-V 18
1838 V-W 19
1838 W 20
1838 W 21
1838 W 22
1838 W-Z 23
1839 A 24
1839 B 25
1839 B 26
1839 B-C 27
1839 C-D 28
1839 D 29
1839 F-H 30
1839 P-R 31
1839 S 32
1839 S-T 33
1839 T-V 34
1839 V-W 35
1839 W 36
1840 B 37
1840 C 38
1840 C-D 39
1840 D 40
1840 D 41
1840 E-F 42
1840 I-J 43
1840 M 44
1840 N-P 45
1840 P 46
1840 P-R 47
1840 R-S 48
1840 R-S 49
1840 S-T 50
1840 S-T 51
1840 T-U 52
1840 U-W 53
1840 U-W 54
1840 W 55
1840 W 56
1840 W-Z 57
1841 A-B 58
1841 B 59
1841 B 60
1841 B 61
1841 B 62
1841 C 63
1841 C 64
1841 C-D 65
1841 C-D 66
1841 D 67
1841 D 68
1841 D-E 69
1841 F-G 70
1841 F-G 71
1841 H 72
1841 H 73
1841 H 74
1841 H 75
1841 J-K 76
1841 J-K 77
1841 L 78
1841 L 79
1841 M 80
1841 M 81
1841 N-P 82
1841 N-P 83
1841 P 84
1841 P 85
1841 R 86
1841 S 87
1841 S 88
1841 S-T 89
1841 S-T 90
1841 T-U 91
1841 T-U 92
1841 U-W 93
1841 U-W 94
1841 W 95
1841 W 96
1841 W-Z 97
1841 W-Z 98
1842 A-B 99
1842 A-B 100
1842 B 101
1842 B 102
1842 B 103
1842 B 104
1842 B 105
1842 B 106
1842 B-C 107
1842 B-C 108
1842 C 109
1842 C 110
1842 C-D 111
1842 C-D 112
1842 D 113
1842 D 114
1842 D-E 115
1842 D-E 116
1842 E-F 117
1842 E-F 118
1842 F-G 119
1842 F-G 120
1842 H 121
1842 H 122
1842 H 123
1842 H 124
1842 H-J 125
1842 H-J 126
1842 J-K 127
1842 J-K 128
1842 J-K 129
1842 K 130
1842 K-L 131
1842 K-L 132
1842 M 133
1842 M 134
1842 M-O 135
1842 M-O 136
1842 P 137
1842 P 138
1842 P 139
1842 P 140
1842 P 141
1842 P 142
1842 R 143
1842 R 144
1842 R-S 145
1842 R-S 146
1842 S 147
1842 S 148
1842 W 149
1842 W 150
1842 W-Z 151
1843 B-D 152
1843 B-D 153
1843 C 154
1843 C 155
1843 C 156
1843 D-E 157
1843 D-E 158
1843 E-F 159
1843 E-F 160
1843 G-H 161
1843 G-H 162
1843 H 163
1843 H 164
1843 H 165
1843 H 166
1843 I-K 167
1843 I-K 168
1843 K-L 169
1843 K-L 170
1843 L-M 171
1843 L-M 172
1843 M-N 173
1843 M-N 174
1843 P 175
1843 P 176
1843 P-R 177
1843 P-R 178
1843 R 179
1843 R 180
1843 T 181
1843 T 182
1843 U 183
1843 U-W 184
1843 U-W 185
1843 W 186
1843 W 187
1843 W-Z 188
1843 W-Z 189
1844 A 190
1844 B 191
1844 B 192
1844 B 193
1844 B 194
1844 G-H 195
1844 G-H 196
1844 L 197
1844 L 198
1844 M 199
1844 M 200
1844 M-P 201
1844 M-P 202
1844 P 203
1844 P 204
1844 P-R 205
1844 P-R 206
1844 S-T 207
1844 S-T 208
1844 T-U 209
1844 T-U 210
1844 W 211
1844 W 212
1844 W-Z 213
1844 W-Z 214
1845 A-B 215
1845 A-B 216
1845 B-C 217
1845 B-C 218
1845 C-D 219
1845 C-D 220
1845 D-E 221
1845 D-E 222
1845 F-G 223
1845 F-G 224
1845 H 225
1845 H 226
1845 H 227
1845 H 228
1845 J-L 229
1845 J-L 230
1845 M 231
1845 M 232
1845 N-P 233
1845 N-P 234
1845 P 235
1845 P 236
1845 R-S 237
1845 R-S 238
1845 S-T 239
1845 S-T 240
1845 V-W 241
1845 V-W 242
1845 W-Z 243
1845 W-Z 244
1846 A-C 245
1846 A-C 246
1846 C 247
1846 C 248
1846 C-E 249
1846 C-E 250
1846 E-F 251
1846 E-F 252
1846 F-G 253
1846 F-G 254
1846 H 255
1846 H 256
1846 H-K 257
1846 H-K 258
1846 L 259
1846 L 260
1846 M 261
1846 M 262
1846 M 263
1846 N-P 264
1846 R-S 265
1846 R-S 266
1846 S 267
1846 T 268
1846 T 269
1846 T-U 270
1846 T-U 271
1846 W 272
1846 W 273
1846 U-Z 274
1846 U-Z 275
1847 A-C 276
1847 A-C 277
1847 A-C 278
1847 D-F 279
1847 D-F 280
1847 F-H 281
1847 F-H 282
1847 H-L 283
1847 H-L 284
1847 M-O 285
1847 M-O 286
1847 O-P 287
1847 R-S 288
1847 R-S 289
1847 R-S 290
1847 T-U 291
1847 T-U 292
1847 W-Y 293
1847 W-Z 294