Court, Spiritual in English ecclesiastical usage, is one for the administration of ecclesiastical justice. Until the time of William the Conqueror the court for the consideration of ecclesiastical and temporal matters was one and the same; but at that period a separation took place. There are six such courts:
1. The Archdeacon's Court, which is the lowest, and is held where the archdeacon, either by prescription or composition, has jurisdiction in spiritual or ecclesiastical causes within his archdeaconry. The judge of this court is called the official of the archdeaconry.
2. The Consistory Courts of the archbishops and bishops of every diocese are held in their cathedral churches, for trial of all ecclesiastical causes within the diocese. The bishop's chancellor or commissary is the judge
3. The Prerogative Court is held at Doctors' Commons, in London, in which all testaments and last wills are proved, and administrations upon the estatesofintestates granted, where the party dies beyond seas or within his province, leaving bona notabilia.
4. The Arches Court (so called because anciently held in the arched church of St. Mary, in Cheapside, London) is that which has jurisdiction upon appeal in all ecclesiastical causes, except such as belong to the Prerogative Court. The judge is the official principal of the archbishop. SEE ARCHES, COURT OF.
5. The Court of Peculiars, of the archbishop of Canterbury, is subservient to, and in connection with, that of the Arches.
6. The Court of Delegates is so called because the judges are delegated and set in virtue of the king's commission, under the great seal, pro hac vice, upon appeals to the king on ecclesiastical matters. These courts proceed according to the civil and canon laws, by citation, libel, or articles, answer upon oath, proofs by witnesses and presumptions, definitive sentence without a jury, and by excommunication for contempt of sentence. In times of intolerance many acts of the most cruel enormity were committed in these courts.