Chancery Court, 1792-1925

RECORD GROUP: Clerk of the Court
SERIES: Monmouth County Chancery Court for New Jersey
DATES: 1792-1925 (with gaps)
VOLUME: One manuscript box with 16 folders
Chancery Court image

The state Chancery Court of New Jersey was established in 1675 as a part of the court of common law, preceding even the Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey (1703). During the colonial period, the County Courts (Courts of Sessions) were held twice a year and tried “all causes actionable.” The County Courts were renamed the Court of General Quarter Sessions in 1721. For matters involving sums of less than twenty pounds, the Chancery Court and the Provincial Court of Assize, known as “the Bench,” were the only forums to appeal the County Court’s decisions. It was not until 1695 that the Court of Equity separated from the Court of Common Law to become a separate entity with its own justices. The Court of Equity became known officially as the High Court of Chancery.
The Chancery Court today retains many of its original responsibilities. Included are matters concerning equity such as: deeds, property, boundary lines, contracts, figurative disparities, restrictive clauses, mortgages, and unfair business disputes, i.e. monopolies, corporate espionage, and labor disputes. The second branch of the Chancery Court (along with the aforementioned Equity branch) concerns matters pertaining to matrimony. One judge, appointed by the governor, presides over the cases, now heard daily. The jurisdiction of the Chancery Division of General Equity is listed as “Actions in which the plaintiff’s primary right or the principal relief sought is equitable in nature, except as otherwise provided by subparagraphs (2) and (3), shall be brought in the Chancery Division, General Equity, even though legal relief is demanded in addition or alternative to equitable relief.”
The Chancery court is distinguishable from Common Law as its matters pertain to fairness (equity) which is not applicable to Common Law. In 1280, King Edward the Confessor was the first to make this distinction.
There are 82 Chancery Court records dating from 1792 to 1925. The majority of the records are from 1840-1900.  These case files were filed with the County Clerk’s office.  If someone had a problem, and their grievance was equitable in nature, they as a “complainant” brought up a case to the State Chancery Court of New Jersey in Monmouth County.  The subjects that these cases dealt with are diverse and include land searches, out-of-court settlements, tax bills, bills for fees, bills of complaint, divisions of estates, sheriff’s statements, foreclosures, disputed property lines, mortgages, issues of lunacy, deeds, sheriff’s sales, figurative disparity, and bankruptcy.
These records are open to the public.
These records are available at the Archives. The Access database is sortable by year, complainant, defendant, estate of, and location.
The series is arranged chronologically.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
(732) 308-3771
These records were transferred to the Archives before 2000.
These records have not been microfilmed or scanned. An Access database was created July 18, 2000. This finding aid was created July 19, 2000 by Jonathan Kobrinski and updated June 2018 by George Joynson.
See Register of Chancery & Supreme Court, Volume 1, 1902-1904, and Volume 2, 1904-1905. The registers are indexed. See also three cartons of Chancery Court, Workman’s Compensation transcripts, 1960-1968. These volumes and cartons have not been microfilmed or scanned.