Featured Cases

There are thousands of cases in the notebooks. Sometimes they are presented sequentially in one volume but sometimes they occur on different dates through several volumes. Sometimes their conclusions are recorded, sometimes they are not. The cases listed here are only a few criminal cases as examples. More cases (as well as a search function) will be added as time goes on.

Rex v. Humphrey Sturt, 1785-06-16

This was a pivotal case for the Supreme Court because it is the first in which all the judges recorded the testimony in the notebooks. Humphrey Sturt, and an English Gentleman and company writer, was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a servant.

Rex v. Sekkeena, 1788-06-12

In this complex case, the witnesses are one man and six women. It begins "The prisoner (who is a woman) is indicted for having feloniously and of malice aforethought struck beat & kicked with hands & feet one Noorun (another women) on the head stomach, back, belly, & sides, & having cast her on the ground" and yet, gradually during the testimony, a different reality is revealed.

Rex v. Faustino Antonio & Rinaldo Martino, 1788-07-16

In a Portuguese sailor's boarding and punch house, mixing men, women and money, there is bound to be trouble. Testimony begins with the murdered man, Augustino de Souza warning an Englishman that he was in danger of being robbed and murdered. Although he begged for secrecy, the Englishman told others and then Augustino was murdered. However, the reason may have been an ongoing rivalry with other men.

Rex v. Hoolass Matre, 1788-06-14

Hoolass Matre (or Mehtre), a servant in a British house, is accused of murdering his wife. Although he provided a defense in which he blamed his wife of committing suicide with a tulwar (sword), the verdict was guilty and the sentence hanging.

Abbreviation Conventions

Hyde used a full shorthand system in secret passages of the notebooks, but Chambers used two or three simple shorthand symbols for "for," "from," and "which." Put table below. Chambers also used a simple system of abbreviation which is easy to decipher. Put table below.