New York State Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany) General and Special Term Minute Books

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Minute books for 1797-1800 contain grand jury proceedings and minutes of trials and sentencing. The series also contains special rules or orders granted upon special motions, orders issued in real property proceedings, appointments of commissioners to screen candidates for attorney or counsellor in the Supreme Court, and general procedural rules.
11 cubic feet (29 volumes)
Inclusive Dates:
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Scope and Content Note

Minute books for 1797-1800 contain grand jury proceedings and minutes of trials and sentencing. The series also contains special rules or orders granted upon special motions, orders issued in real property proceedings, appointments of commissioners to screen candidates for attorney or counsellor in the Supreme Court, and general procedural rules.

The Albany minute books for the years 1797-1800 contain proceedings of grand juries. These list names of persons indicted and state the crimes with which they were charged and their pleas upon arraignment. Following are minutes of the trials of indicted persons who pleaded not guilty. These minutes list the names of jurors and of the witnesses for the prosecution and defense and state the verdict found by the jury. There are also minutes of sentencing of defendants who were convicted or who pleaded guilty. The early Albany minutes also contain a few orders for the naturalization of aliens (unindexed). The minutes for each term of court open with a list of proclamations made--opening the court, calling on sheriffs to return writs or precepts, and directing mayors, justices, coroners, and other public officers to bring into court any recognizances of bail taken by them. The date of each daily session and the names of the justices present are entered. Each minute, or entry, in these books states the names of the parties to the action and the attorney moving the court for a rule.

Minute books of the Supreme Court of Judicature prior to 1830 contain mostly special rules or orders granted upon special motions made in court in general term. Starting in 1830 parties could apply for most special rules only during special terms held monthly except in January, May, and July at the Capitol in Albany. In 1841 a special term was established at Rochester to be held each October. Special motions usually had to be supported by an affidavit, which was filed with the court. (See the various series containing "motion papers.") Special motions were made for a great variety of purposes. The most frequent were motions for referral of cases involving examination of complex accounts to disinterested persons for a defendant as in the case of non-suit; to set aside a default of the defendant to plead; and for judgment on grounds that the defendant's demurrer was frivolous.

Other motions were made to reverse the judgment of a lower court, brought up on writ of error, and to order a new trial; to set off a portion of the costs to an opposing party in a cause; to amend a declaration, a judgment, or an execution; to quash a writ of certiorari or other writ; for issuance of writ of mandamus, ordering a lower court, a judicial officer, or a public or private corporation to perform an official act; for issuance of a commission to authorize persons to examine material witnesses residing far away; for issuance of a writ of capias ad satisfaciendum to arrest a defendant; for issuance of a writ of attachment against a sheriff's property for failure to return a writ (or against that of an absconding debtor); and to grant a stay of proceedings or to show cause for any reason. Most of these fall into the category of "enumerated motions" placed on the calendar.

The minute books also contain orders were issued in partition cases or other real property proceedings, to appoint a guardian to represent a minor defendant; to require tenants to appear and show title; to appoint commissioners to make a partition; or, before 1829, to issue a writ of right summoning the electors (i.e. jurors) of a grand assize, which determined the title or right of a tenant to land; and to confirm and certify a partition or a confirmation of title. The court also issued special orders confirming the proceedings of commissioners appointed to assess the value of lands taken for laying out or widening streets in New York City.

The orders include copies of the commissioners' reports which contain detailed descriptions of the property taken. (These orders are found in both the Albany and Utica minute books.) The minutes include orders appointing commissioners to examine the qualifications of persons applying for admission as attorneys or counsellors in the Supreme Court; lists of applicants; orders admitting attorneys and counsellors to practice; lists of persons admitted; orders to newly admitted counsellors and attorneys to take and subscribe their oath; orders striking from the roll names of attorneys and counsellors who had been convicted of crimes or who had committed other irregularities; and orders appointing commissioners to take affidavits to be read in Supreme Court.

General rules of procedure adopted by the Supreme Court of Judicature are also entered in the minute books. (They are available in published form.) The minutes also contain a few orders for proof of the wills of testators who left no heirs resident in New York State, and for recording of the will by the clerk of a local court of record. These orders sometimes include the text of the will proved and copies of affidavits of witnesses as to their own signatures and the competency of the testator. The minute books prior to 1830 also include minutes of the engrossment of final concords or "fines" (conveyances of real property executed and delivered in court), of the proclamation of the fine in court, and of the delivery of the upper part of the fine to the demandant and the foot of the fine to the clerk for filing.

Most of the motions for special rules were "non-enumerated;" that is, they did not appear on the court calendar of causes to be heard. The "enumerated" motions which did appear on the calendar were made for arrest or stay of judgment because of a defect in the record; for setting aside a verdict, a non-suit, an inquisition, or a report (except for irregularity); and for matters involving a special verdict (in which a jury found the facts but left it to the court to determine the law) or bill of exceptions (taken by a plaintiff in a lower court), or a writ of error or writ of mandamus, or a "case" agreed to by the parties, or demurrer to evidence or pleadings. Finally scattered through the minute books are orders setting terms of circuit courts in each county.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

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

Related Information

Related Materials

Series J1130 Rough Minute Books, contains the rough version of these engrossed minutes

Series J1011 Fines and Chirographs, contains records of court agreements settling legal actions concerning conveyance of real property

Other finding aids

Each volume indexed beginning with Volume 9 (February 1824): alphabetical list of parties making a motion or submitting a petition.

Series J2130, Index (Partial) to Minute Books (Albany).

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 Volume

Accretion: J0130-82
1797-1802 1797 April - 1802 October 1 1
1803-1807 1803 January - 1807 August 2 2
1808-1811 1808 February - 1811 August 3 3
1812-1814 1812 January - 1814 August 4 4
1815-1816 1815 January - 1816 August 5 5
1817-1818 1817 January - 1818 August 5 6
1819 1819 January - October 6 7
1820-1821 1820 January - 1821 August 7 8
1822-1824 1822 January - 1824 February 8 9
1824-1825 1824 October - 1825 October 9 10
1826 1826 February - October 10 11
1827 1827 February - October 11 12
1828-1829 1828 February - 1829 October 12 13
1830 1830 February - October 13 14
1831-1832 1831 - 1832 14 15
1833-1834 1833 - 1834 14 16
1835 1835 15 17
1836 1836 16 18
1837 1837 17 19
1838 1838 18 20
1839 1839 19 21
1840 1840 20 22
1841 1841 21 23
1842 1842 22 24
1843 1843 23 25
1844 1844 24 26
1845 1845 25 27
1846 1846 26 28
1847 1847 27 29