Office of the Auditors of Land Revenue and predecessors: Enrolment Books
This series contains several sub-series of records mainly relating to enrolments of grants and leases of crown lands, and other documents, by the auditors of the Court of Augmentations and auditors of land revenue between the mid sixteenth and the mid nineteenth centuries. Many of the documents enrolled were copies, or exemplifications, of earlier transactions made with owners whose lands and profits fell to the crown in the sixteenth century, particularly religious houses, colleges and chantries, and convicted traitors.
As the enrolment books in these series combine instruments of many types, including those issuing from many government offices as well as those of private individuals, they form a core series for the history of the administration of the crown lands.
At a high level they reflect, and illuminate, the major events in this history from the mid sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century, such as the enlargement of the crown estate due to the dissolution of religious houses and chantries and colleges in the 1530s and 1540s; the concealment hunting and widescale selling of crown lands in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; the wholesale disposal of the remaining crown lands and fee-farm rents by Parliament during the Interregnum; and the practice of assigning crown lands in jointure to queens consort in the seventeenth century. The post Restoration attempts to sell fee-farm rents and the crown's role in the development of urban Westminster, moreover, are also reflected by the separate series of enrolment books found in this class, which are discussed below.
Many kinds of document relating to the past or current disposition of Crown lands were enrolled in these volumes: Crown grants and leases of land by letters patent under the great seal, Crown leases by both letters patent and indenture under the seals of the Exchequer and the Court of Augmentations, indentures of assignment of Crown leases between private individuals, conventual leases (particularly in the books of the Court of Augmentations), grants of offices by letters patent under the great seal and lesser instruments, inventories of traitors goods' and copies of warrants and instructions to auditors, surveyors and stewards, etc, relating to all aspects of the administration of the Crown lands.
In addition, there are distinct sub-series relating to the sale by the crown of fee-farm rents under the acts of 1670-1671, 1786 and 1790, and separate sub-series of enrolments relating to the lands of the Savoy Hospital and the Bailiwick of St James in the Fields, Middlesex, and the lands administered by the Westminster Bridge Commissioners (1720-1765) and New Street Commissioners (1814-1832).
Many of the instruments enrolled in these volumes, however, will have also been enrolled elsewhere.
The enrolment books are grouped by the seven circuits, or divisions, into which the counties of England and Wales were split from the mid sixteenth century. The volumes of the Welsh circuit have been further divided into those for north and south Wales. For convenience these circuits have been numbered from one to seven and these numbers are used in the series list, even though the circuits are not in their number order here.
While most of the present volumes started life as entry books, some are made up of originally loose documents that were bound in the early nineteenth century. There are also cases of present volumes being made up of a number of distinct entry books (for example, LR 1/129 and LR 1/152).
While there has been an attempt to separate the volumes created by the auditors of the Court of Augmentations and the Auditors of Land Revenue, identification may not have been possible in every case.
For original Conventual leases see E 118
For original Conventual leases see E 303
Trustees for Crown Lands and Fee-Farm Rents E 308
Particulars for Crown Leases E 310
For original Conventual leases see E 311
For other enrolment books see also E 315
For other Crown leases see also E 365
For other Crown leases see also E 369
For other Crown leases see also E 309
Indexes for counties outside a volume's circuit in IND 1/7648
The enrolment books are grouped by the seven circuits, or divisions, into which the counties of England and Wales were split from the mid sixteenth century, each of which was initially administered by a single Auditor of Land Revenue.
From the seventeenth century Crown leases carried a proviso clause that they had to be enrolled before the Auditor by a specified period, usually six months, or were otherwise void. To this was later added the necessity to enrol assignments of Crown leases.
The earliest volumes for each circuit date to before 1554, when the Exchequer annexed the lands which had been administered by the Court of Augmentations and are in fact the records of the auditors of that Court. The system of auditors and declared accounts used by the Court, set up in 1536 to administer the lands of the dissolved religious houses, was modelled on the practice of the Duchy of Lancaster, the two auditors of which had developed the use of enrolment books earlier in the sixteenth century.
The Court's ten (from 1547 twelve) auditors also used enrolment books which were passed on to the Auditors of Land Revenue in 1554 and split between the seven new circuits. While there has been an attempt to separate the volumes created by the auditors of the Court of Augmentations and the Auditors of Land Revenue in the class list, identification may not have been possible in every case.
It should be noted, moreover, that these volumes may have entries relating to counties outside the circuit heading as the circuits of the Court of Augmentations differed from the later ones and, at least until 1547, the lands of the religious houses were administered by the auditor responsible for the county that the religious house was in rather than that where the lands were.
The terminal date of the runs of enrolment books for each circuit, between 1832 and 1834, is accounted for by the fact that the remaining single offices of Auditor of the Land Revenue were abolished by statute in 1832 (2 & 3 William IV, c 1). The enrolment of Crown leases and grants was then taken over by the Office of Land Revenue Records and Enrolments (see LRRO 13-LRRO 20 and LRRO 25, indexed in LRRO 64-LRRO 66, for later enrolments by copy and deposit).
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