Circuit Court: Loose Papers, 1798-1935

RECORD GROUP: Clerk of the Court
SERIES: Circuit Court
DATES: 1798-1935
VOLUME: 84 cubic feet
Circuit Court image

See also Circuit Court: In Equity, 1851-1902

Circuit Court holdings in the Monmouth County Archives consist of a large series of records consisting of loose papers, judgement books, minutes, minute tapes, scratch books, calendars, minute books and attachments.
By ordinance of King George II in 1751, the New Jersey Colonial Supreme Court was given the power to not only try cases involving civil and criminal acts but also to try cases in Law and Equity which jurisdiction, until that point, was held by the Court of Exchequer.

In 1798, a new court, within the Supreme Court, was created through the “Act Concerning the Supreme and Circuit Courts.” The act stated that the Justices of the Supreme Court or at least one of them were to hold a court in each county, twice a year, hearing cases relating to equity disputes and cases involving land titles within that county. The final judgments for the cases were entered at the Supreme Court level, not at the County level. The traveling court was referred to as the “Circuit Court.”

It was not until 1838 that the actual County Circuit Courts were established by an Act of Legislation which created a separate circuit court in each county. The Act again stipulated that only the Supreme Court justices or a judge specifically appointed for that purpose could preside. The Act also gave the County Circuit Court jurisdiction over their own cases and directed that all judgments and determinations were to be recorded within the County rather than at the Supreme Court level. The County Clerk was made the Clerk of the Circuit Court and charged with recording and maintaining the Circuit Court minutes and judgments.

The New Jersey Constitution of 1844 clearly defined the County Circuit Courts as a separate court distinct from the Supreme Court, trying cases “at the circuits” meaning within the individual counties.

Circuit Courts were abolished under the New Jersey Constitution of 1947. The functions and jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts were absorbed by the new State Supreme Court and County Superior Courts.

Scope & Content
Circuit Court cases involve individuals suing each other for a variety of civil related lawsuits. The bulk of the cases relate to the defendant’s failure to pay promissory notes or book accounts. Also included are cases of trespass, damages to property, breach of contracts, assault and battery damages, slander, fraud, fornication, animal cruelty and embezzlement. The amounts of the suits range from $10 to $300,000. The largest amount of $300,000 involved an 1893 law suit against the Monmouth Park Race Track Association for failing to set up a lottery system for racing. This series includes:

  • Circuit Court loose papers, 1798-1935, 63+ boxes
  • Circuit Court Judgement Books, 1838-1947, 21 books, microfilmed
  • Circuit Court Minutes Books, 1838-1935, 34 books, microfilmed
  • Circuit Court Minutes tapes, 1 box
  • Circuit Court Scratch Minutes Books, 1887-1899, 2 books, microfilmed
  • Circuit Court Calendar, 1869-1893, 1 book, microfilmed
  • Circuit Court in Equity loose papers, 1851-1902, 7 boxes
These records are open to the public.
These records are available in the Archives, where an Access searchable database of loose papers is available. The searchable fields include year, plaintiff name, residence and occupation if known, defendant name, residence and occupation if known, case type, amount and final judgement. Indexing is ongoing.
The loose papers are stored in manuscript boxes, organized by year and then by defendant’s name within the year.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
(732) 308-3771
These records were transferred to the Archives by County Clerk Jane Clayton prior to 1995.
The books are available on microfilm but the loose papers have not yet been microfilmed or scanned. A finding aid was created by Maryann Kiernan in April 1996. The loose papers are being indexed in the Access database which was begun on April 30, 2002. As of June 2018, there were 15,500 records contained in 63 manuscript boxes. This finding aid was updated June 2018 by George Joynson.
See the finding aid and database for Circuit Court in Equity, 1851-1902.