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Records of State in United Kingdom

Medieval Administrative Law and Records of State

(Source: the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) The medieval monarchs kept remarkably complete administrative records, not only of royal proclamations and charters granted to their subjects, but also of the daily transactions of each of their administrations. “The earliest surviving chancery enrollments of royal charters, letters close, and letters patent date from the reign of King John. These rolls are particularly useful in casting light on possible reasons for the king’s special interest in an action that otherwise appears quite ordinary.” (45) The pipe rolls, the record of the exchequer, record fines paid to the king, while the close rolls and patent rolls record instructions sent by the king to the justices concerning actions coming before them. An extensive list of published administrative law sources can be found in Maxwell.(46)

The main source of these documents is the PRO, now the National Archives. In 1800 the Record Commission of Great Britain was established and between 1802-69 issued 56 publications concerning the records of England, Wales and Scotland. These included ancient laws, calendars, documents, fine and oblate rolls, parliamentary writs, pipe rolls, records of parliament and statutes of the realm.(47) A list of the publications of the Record Commission as well as those of the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) are listed in Mullins.(48) In more recent times, the Public Record Office (now the National Archives) has switched to publishing calendars of records, rather than full texts, and the records of both the chancery and the exchequer are being systematically calendared. “The various series include Chancery Records such as the charter rolls, patent rolls, close rolls and liberate rolls, treaty rolls, inquisitions post mortem and chancery warrants, Exchequer Records such as the memoranda rolls, judicial records such as the Curia Regis rolls and ancient deeds (particularly conveyances of land) state papers, domestic and foreign.” (49)

State documents also appear in a series of chronicles of Great Britain, commonly referred to as the Rolls Series, which was published under the official title of Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores. It consists of 99 numbered publications in 251 volumes, issued between 1858 and 1911. It was intended to cover the whole spectrum of medieval historical documents, and it includes legal documents, such as calendars of the close and patent rolls, cartularies, charters and year books, as well as parliamentary records. For a complete annotated list of titles issued in the series, see Mullins.(50)

The work of editing and publishing source material has also been undertaken by learned societies, such as the English Historical Society, (now defunct), the Camden Society,which merged in 1896 with the Royal Historical Society, and the Pipe Roll Society, as well as local historical societies for county records. No attempt has been made in this guide to cover all these publications. For complete listings of early learned society publications, both national and local, see Mullins.(51) For updated lists, follow the embedded links in this guide to the home pages of the various societies. Only the main sources are listed in this guide.

Records of State and Medieval Law

Records of State and Legal History

Legal Materials in relation to Edward I

(Compiled by the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) Maitland, Frederic W., and Mary Bateson, eds. The Charters of the Borough of Cambridge: Edited for the Council of the Borough of Cambridge and the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1901.

Abstract: Publication of the Ancient Charters of the Borough, beginning with an undated writ of Henry I, and including writs,charters and letters patent of Henry I, Henry II, John , Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I, and Charles II. Text in Latin with English translation.

Osmund, Saint, and W. H. Rich Jones, eds. Vetus Registrum Sarisberiense Alias Dictum Registrum S. Osmundi Episcopi. The Register of S. Osmund. 2 Vols. Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores (Rolls Series), 78. London: Longman, 1883-1984.

Abstract: Text of S. Osmundi consuetudinarium, Latin and English on opposite pages. Contents: Vol. 1, The Tractatus de Officiis Ecclesiasticis, with English translation; Vol. 2, charters, letters, bulls etc., AD 1091-ca. 1276.

Stubbs, William, ed. Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II. 2 Vols. Rerum Britannicarum Medii Aevi Scriptores (Rolls Series), 76. London: Longman, 1882-1883.

Abstract: Text in Latin. vol. 1, Annales londonienses and Annales paulini edited from mss. in the British museum and in the archiepiscopal library at Lambeth; vol. 2, Commendatio lamentabilis in transitu magni regis Edwardi. Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvan auctore canonico bridlingtoniensi. Monachi cujusdam malmesberiensis Vita Edwardi II. Vita et mors Edwardi II conscripta a Thoma de la Moore.

Bibliographies of English Law History

  • Maxwell, William H. A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Volume 1: English Law to 1800. London: Sweet and Maxwell, 1955-
  • Beale, Joseph H. A Bibliography of Early English Law Books. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926.
  • Winfield, Percy H. The Chief Sources of English Legal History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925.


See Also

  • Torture (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Law Making (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Imprisonment (in this legal Encyclopedia)
  • Edict (in this legal Encyclopedia)

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  • Article Name: Records of State
  • Author: J. G. Collier
  • Description: Medieval Administrative Law and Records of State (Source: the University of South Caroline Gould School of Law) The [...]

This entry was last updated: April 25, 2017

Medieval Administrative Law

Medieval Legal Documents

Medieval Legal Materials

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