Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Scaccarium Definition:

Latin: chess game but in English law, the exchequer, usually in reference to the Court of Exchequer.

Related Terms: Exchequer, Court of Exchequer

Sometimes spelled scaccharium.

The formal name given to the sacred cloth table cloth used in the Court of Exchequer, which was chequered and resembled a chess board; hence the name of the court from the French word for chessboard, eschequier. In Latin, a chess game is scaccarium.

chess boardOf the Court of ExchequeurWilliam Blackstone writes, in Book 3, Page 44, and refers to the scaccarium:

"The Court of Exchequer (is) intended principally to order the revenues of the Crown and to recover the King's debts and duties.

"It is called the exchequer, scaccharium from the checked cloth, resembling a chess board, which covers the table there, and on which, when certain of the king's accounts are made up, the sums are marked and scored with counters. It consists of two divisions: the receipt of the exchequer, which manages the royal revenue ... and the court or judicial part of it...."

Hence, in his Law Glossary, American jurist Thomas Taylor defined the Latin term scaccarium as:

"The Exchequer, one of the courts of the common law in England."


  • Taylor, Thomas, The Law Glossary (New York: Lewis & Blood Law Booksellers and Publishers, 1856)

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!