Stannary Court of Devon

Transcript of a Letter in Appendix H15, page 225, of the

General Report to the King in Council from the Honourable Board of Commissioners on the Public Records, Appointed by His Majesty King William IV, 12th of March in the First Year of His Reign. Printed by Command of His Majesty King William IV, 1837

Provided by Michael Steer

The Stannary Parliaments and Stannary Courts were legislative and legal institutions in Cornwall and in Devon (in the Dartmoor area), England. The Stannary Courts administered equity for the region's tin-miners and tin mining interests, and they were also courts of record for the towns dependent on the mines. Executive authority in stannary areas was exercised by the Lord Warden of the Stannaries. Edward I's 1305 Stannary Charter established Tavistock, Ashburton and Chagford as Devon's stannary towns, with a monopoly on all tin mining in Devon, a right to representation in the Stannary Parliament and a right to the jurisdiction of the Stannary Courts. Plympton became the fourth Devon stannary town in 1307. This rare book was produced from a digital copy held by the Bavarian State Library that can be downloaded from Google Books. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

LETTER from the Vice Warden of Devon in reply to the circular letter of the Commissioners

Bodmin, 23 February, 1833


Your letter of the 19th of November last found me in the county of Essex, and being detained there for nearly six weeks after, I had no opportunity to make the inquiries I wished until my return here.

On application to the late Vice Warden of Devon (Mr Wallis, the present Vice Warden for Cornwall), I find that no records ever came to his hands, so that he could hand none over to me; and that during the time he was in office as Vice Warden of Devon, he made minute inquiries of the representatives of the late Mr Cock, who was his predecessor, respecting the records of the court, but never could obtain any satisfactory information.

Mr George Prideaux of Plymouth, a most respectable solicitor, was appointed in the year 1818 secretary to the Vice Warden of the Stannaries of Devon; and on 3rd of April 1828, received an appointment also from me, and now acts as my secretary.

All the petitions which have been presented by the suitors in the Stannary Court of Devon, and all orders and decrees made thereon by the Vice warden from time to time, are recorded in a book provided for that purpose, which book is kept in his office in a fire-proof box.

No salary is paid to the secretary for keeping the records, but his emoluments (but trifling) arise from the fees of court.

I am sir
Your most obedient servant

Thomas Commins
Vice Warden for Devon

C P Cooper Esq
&c   &c   &c