This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol7 Equity Jurisprudence, Trusts, Equity Pleading", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
Perhaps the best definition which it is possible to give, is as follows: Equity is that system of jurisprudence which was originally administered by the High Court of Chancery in England, and is now administered by courts having equity jurisdiction in this country.1
This definition is accurate, but must be supplemented by a historical account of the origin and development of equity jurisprudence. Such an historical account is given in Chapter VIII (Penalties And Forfeitures. Section 49. Penalties) of Legal History in the first volume of this series, and this chapter should be re-read at this time.
In general, it must always be remembered that equity is a supplemental system, created to grant relief in cases beyond the jurisdiction of the common law courts.
1 Similar definitions are as follows: "As the term is used in American cases and texts, equity is that portion of remedial justice which was formerly administered in England by the high court of chancery, by virtue of its extraordinary jurisdiction as extended, limited and modified by statute and adapted to our conditions by judicial construction." 16 Cyc, 23.
"Equity jurisprudence may therefore properly be said to be that portion of remedial justice which is exclusively administered by a court of equity as contradistinguished from that portion of remedial justice which is exclusively administered by a court of common law." 1 Story on Equity Jurisprudence, 20.
"Equity is therefore now a separate but incomplete system of jurisprudence, administered side by side with the common law, supplementing the latter where it is deficient, in places overlapping and there usually prevailing as against the law. It has its own fixed precedents and principles, now scarcely more elastic than those of the law. The relief it affords is usually different, and the procedure in some jurisdictions entirely distinct; in all it varies more or less from that of law."2