In England: the court of a bishop's commissary, dealing with ecclesiastical matters and offences under ecclesiastical law; a consistory court presided over by a commissary. Now historical, except with reference to the consistory court of the Diocese of Canterbury.
Originally: any of a number of local courts established in 1563 after the Reformation, dealing with matters of probate, divorce, etc., which were previously under the jurisdiction of a bishop's commissary or diocesan official. Later: a sheriff or county court appointing and confirming the executors of deceased persons leaving personal property in Scotland.
The powers of the original commissary courts were transferred to the sheriff courts in 1823. The Edinburgh Commissary Court was the principal court and first to be established; it heard appeals from the local courts and survived until 1836 when its powers were transferred to the Court of Session. In 1876, the original commissary courts were formally abolished under the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act.
Late 16th century. From commissary + court.