Exchequer: Pipe Office: Declared Accounts
These records are the Pipe Office copies of the declared accounts, which were accounts presented orally at the Exchequer by various royal officials, covering a wide range of governmental activity.
Originally they were designed as a means of bypassing the cumbersome Exchequer accounting procedures in the reign of Henry VII, but by the mid-seventeenth century declared accounts had become fully established as a method for accounting for a variety of royal revenue.
Henry VII used the King's chamber to an increasing extent for the management of his revenue in order to bypass the cumbersome machinery of Exchequer accounting in favour of a speedier process.
Receivers of Crown lands under Henry VII did not account at the Exchequer, but went straight to the chamber, where they declared aloud the written summaries of their accounts in front of auditors, and the money passed directly into the chamber's coffers. This is the reason why such foreign accounts became known as 'declared'. So successful was this form of audit that other accounts began to be heard by the chamber: land revenue, profits of wardship and other feudal dues, profits of the hanaper, fines and other income from the courts of law, the French pension and parliamentary taxes.
By the end of Henry VII's reign the chamber had a huge annual turnover, and its treasurer was in effect the chief treasurer of the realm. The statute 3 Hen VIII, c 23, formalized the auditing of declared accounts outside the Exchequer system, and two General Surveyors were appointed for this purpose.
Following the dissolution of the monasteries there was a major change in financial administration and the auditors of the prests (advances) and foreign accounts in new Court of Augmentations managed these declared accounts. In 1560 the auditors of the prests were reinstated as independent officials, although the Augmentation office had by then become defunct, and it was they who processed the declared accounts of the Pipe office and audit office.
By the mid-seventeenth century the declared accounts procedure was completely developed. Two copies of each account were prepared in the audit office, one written on paper and one on parchment. A third version on parchment was returned to the accounting officer for him to take away.
The two office copies were sent to the Treasury to be declared and registered in volumes known as 'Declared accounts' and 'Auditors' States of Accounts'. Both the paper and parchment accounts were then signed by the auditors of the prests (or, from 1785, the commissioners of the Treasury who succeeded them), the Lord High Treasurer, and the chancellor of the Exchequer who had heard the declaration. The paper copy then went straight to the Audit Office for filing.
The signed parchment copy went first to the King's Remembrancer's Office where a 'state', or abstract, of it was enrolled. The parchment copy was then passed to the Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer's Office, where another abstract of it was entered in that office's entry books. Finally it was forwarded to the Clerk of the Pipe, who enrolled an abridgement of it and retained the original.
In 1820-1821 the procedure was reformed, and the practice of producing both a paper and a parchment copy of the account was ended.
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