COURT OF ARCHES (L. Lat. curia de arcubus). In English Ecclesiastical Law. A court of appeal, and of original jurisdic tion.
The most ancient consistory court belonging to the archbishop of Canterbury for the trial of spirit ual causes, the judge of which is called the dean of the arches, because he anciently held his court in the church of St. Mary le Bow (Sancta Maria de arcubus,—literally, "St. Mary of arches"), so named from the style of its steeple, which is raised upon pillars built arch-wise, like so many bent bows. Terrine de la Ley. It is now held, as are also the other spiritual courts, in the ball belonging to the College of Civilians, commonly called Doctors' Commons.
2. Its proper jurisdiction is only over the thirteen peculiar parishes belonging to the archbishop in London; but, the office of dean of the arches having been for a long time united with that of the archbishop's prin cipal official, the judge of the arches, in right of such added office, receives and de termines appeals from the sentences of all inferior ecclesiastical courts within the pro vince. 3 Blackstone, Comm. 64 ; 3 Stephen, Comm. 431; Wharton's Law Diet. 2d Loud. ed. Arches Court. Many suits are also brought before him as original judge, the cog nizance of which properly belongs to inferior jurisdictions within the province, but in re spect of which the inferior judge has waived his jurisdiction under a certain form of pro ceeding known in the common law by the de nomination of letters of request. 3 Stephen,
Comm. 431; 2 Chitty, Genl. Pract. 496; 2 Add. Eccl. 406.
3. From the court of arches an appeal formerly lay to the pope, and afterwards, by statute 25 Hen. VIII. c. 19, to the king in chancery (that is, to a court of delegates ap pointed under the king' great seal), as su preme head of the English church, but now, by 2 & 3 Will. IV. c. 92, and 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 41, to the judicial committee of the privy council. 3 Blackstone, Comm. 65; 3 Stephen, Comm. 431.
4. A suit is commenced in the ecclesias tical court by citing the defendant to appear, and exhibiting a libel containing the com plaint against him, to which he answers. Proofs are then adduced, and the judge pro nounces decree upon hearing the arguments of advocates, which is then carried into effect. Consult Burn, Eccl. Law ; Reeve, Hist. Eng. Law ; 3 Blackstone, Comm. 65; 3 Ste phen, Comm. 431.