Exchequer: Pipe Office: Chancellor's Rolls
A series of duplicates of the Pipe Rolls, which recorded the accounts of the sheriff and other accountants at the Exchequer, kept for the Chancellor and held in the Exchequer Pipe Office.
Supposedly a copy of the Pipe roll for the same year, each roll includes many minor variant readings from the Pipe roll (most often in the forms and spellings of names of persons and places) but also, at least in the early years, occasionally contains material of substance not found in the Pipe roll. The rolls are especially useful when they fill the very occasional gaps in the series of Pipe Rolls (E 372). The early rolls include schedules of combustion, small membranes giving details of the loss on assay of samples of the coin brought in to the Exchequer by the sheriffs, although in a few years such schedules are found in the Pipe roll instead. They become increasingly infrequent during the thirteenth century.
They contain the annual accounts of sheriffs and of some other accountants made at the Exchequer following Michaelmas each year, which was the end of the period of account. The original basis of the sheriff's account was the 'corpus comitatus', a fixed sum paid by him from the income of the King's lands and other rights in the county. Its value declined during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries as particular Crown lands were assigned to various individuals. As a result, in 1284 the county farms were removed from the annual Pipe roll to the 'rotulus de corporibus comitatuum', the 'roll of the bodies of the counties' (E 372/129). This was a major step in a process of removing unneccessary matter from the rolls, which had begun in the twelfth century, but which became more systematic in the fourteenth century by the initiation of a series of exannual rolls (E 363), to which such matter was periodically removed until 1764.
In a county account the farm was followed by a number of smaller farms, such as those of cities and towns, woods and fisheries, and lands farmed to individuals. The farms were followed by old debts resulting both from unpaid farms and from fines and judicial penalties. The final element in the accounts consisted the new judicial material, under appropriate headings, accounts for taxes such as tallages and scutages, and voluntary offerings for royal favours, called fines, which from about 1196 regularly appeared under the heading 'Nova Oblata', 'New Offerings'. From the fourteenth century to the nineteenth the material under that heading, which by then had come to include the overall sums for judicial penalties, formed the second major element in the county accounts, following the small farms.
The earlier rolls also include a number of non-county, or 'foreign', accounts of various sorts, which become so numerous that by 1225 they came to be included in a separate 'rotulus compotorum' section at the end of the roll. New kinds of material continued to be added to the county accounts until the seventeenth century. Payments to justices of the peace to attend quarter sessions appear after 1388, and recusancy fines were included in the rolls from 1581 to 1591.
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