How to look for records of... Civil litigants
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
Did you know?
Civil litigation covers legal disputes between two parties over matters such as land, property rights, debt, inheritance, trusts and frauds.
Civil litigants would have their cases heard in various courts of law, including common law courts and courts of equity. These different systems of justice co-existed until they were brought together in 1875.
The records of the equity courts are full and informative, and are a good resource for social, family and local history. It requires expertise to understand common law records, and they rarely contain useful detail.
19th century litigants were often described by their full name, including any middle names, so searching using shortened versions of their name may not be successful.