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statement of the origin and growth of the courts and their jurisdiction based directly on the statutes and archives of the commonwealth. Such a narrative, it was thought, might prove useful to those who have not found time to become acquainted with the scattered literature of the period described. The treatment is not exhaustive; that would be impossible in a volume of this size, but it is believed that the information contained will be found accurate, as it is based on a careful examination of the public records. While the labor involved was greater than anticipated, the result by no means does justice to a deeply interesting topic.



NOTE. The work cited as Charter and Laws of Pennsylvania contains the Duke of York's Laws and the Acts of Assembly prior to 1700. The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, as published to date, begin at 1700 with Volume II and end at 1793 with Volume XIV. Compilations of the laws of the State by Dallas and Smith are also cited for acts in the last years of the eighteenth and early years of the nineteenth centuries. The regular series of Acts of Assembly which begin with 1800 are cited, according to local custom, as pamphlet laws, abbreviated “P. L." The records of the court at Upland were published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1860; the records of the court at New Castle by the Colonial Society of Pennsylvania in 1904. This society is about to publish the records of the courts of Chester County which, unfortunately, are not yet available for reference. For the convenience of the general reader, illustrations have been taken from published records, when practicable, rather than from manuscript sources. The dates are given just as they appear in the records without accounting for the discrepancies due to the reform of the calendar in 1752.




For more than two hundred years the courts of province and state have administered justice to the inhabitants of Pennsylvania. Created under the peculiar conditions surrounding the foundation of the colony, subjected to numerous legislative experiments, their organization and practice present many peculiarities that can only be understood by a reference to their history. This history has been sadly neglected owing partly to the paucity of material, and partly to lack of interest. The founders were more bent on developing the resources and organizing the administration of the great territory that had come under their control, than on preserving the records of their proceedings for the benefit of posterity, while their immediate descendants, living in an uncritical age and possessed with a passion for rhetoric to the exclusion of history, carelessly permitted the records of the preceding generation to be scattered or ruthlessly destroyed. Documents that would now be regarded as precious memorials of the past, and that would throw valuable light on our early institutions, were used to feed the fires in the old courthouse. Fortunately, sufficient fragments

1 Cromwell v. The Bank, 2 Wallace, Jr. Reports, 569 (1853), at page 589.

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