A court of chancery, so far as it is a court of equity, in the English and American sense, may be generally, if not precisely, described as one having jurisdiction in cases of rights, recognized and protected by the municipal jurisprudence, where a plain, adequate, and complete remedy can not be had in the courts of common law. In some of the American States, jurisdiction at law and in equity centers in the same tribunal. The courts of the United States also have jurisdiction both at law and in equity, and in all such cases they exercise their jurisdiction, as courts of law, or as courts of equity, as the subject of adjudication may require. In others of the American States, the courts that administer equity are distinct tribunals, having their appropriate judicial officers, and it is to the latter that the appellation courts of chancery is usually applied; but, in American law, the terms equity and court of equity are more frequently employed than the corresponding terms chancery and court of chancery.
French chancellerie, from Late Latin cancellaria, from Latin cancellarius, from cancellus (“lattice”) (English chancel), from cancelli (“grating, bars”) (from which cancel (“cross out (with lines, as in a latticework)”)), from the lattice-work that separated a section of a church or court.
See related chancellor and chancellery, and the more distantly related incarcerate (“put behind bars”), from carcer (“prison”).