Court of King's Bench: Crown Side: Controlment Rolls and other Memoranda Rolls of the Clerk of the Crown
Mainly a single series of annual memoranda rolls called controlment rolls, kept by the clerk of the crown in the King's Bench to enable him to record the progress of crown cases in which he was concerned from term to term. By the later seventeenth century, the controlment roll consists of three sections for each term. The Bag Roll includes a memorandum of each crown case begun that term and how it had begun, giving direct numerical cross-references to the appropriate indictments on the indictments files (KB 9-KB 11). The Controlment Roll proper, or Roll of Entries, contains minutes of appearances and pleas in each term. The Special Writ Roll includes enrolments of all special writs, the most important being writs of mandamus and their returns. Earlier there were other sections; for example, one for the enrolment of sureties of the peace, from 1459 to the reign of James I.
There are also several other short-lived series of memoranda rolls. For the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, Henry VII and Elizabeth I there are lists of all persons outlawed at the suit of the crown. For the latter part of Elizabeth's reign and most of that of James I there is a series of rolls recording the issue of writs of attachment and appearances made in cases initiated by informations. For the first twenty years of the reign of Charles II there is a series of annual recorda rolls, containing copies of returns, to writs of certiorari and error from inferior courts, and which duplicate the information recorded in the recorda files (KB 145) for the same years. There are also a few rolls which retrospectively collect information concerning cases from previous reigns which were regarded as still current.
The rolls were always annual rolls, and until 1649 they were always compiled to coincide with the regnal year, beginning with the first term of a new monarch's reign. During the Interregnum they were made up for calendar years (Old Style, Easter to Hilary), but at the Restoration they reverted to regnal years, and remained so until 1727, when the legal year, running from Michaelmas to Trinity, was adopted. From 1820 they are arranged by calendar year, running from Hilary term to Michaelmas term.
An early controlment roll is headed 'the roll of memoranda... of the clerk of the lord king of the lord king's affairs' (KB 29/12, rot 1), quite a useful description of its function. The rolls were compiled to give the clerk of the crown a ready means of checking on the crown cases before the court with which he was concerned, and are at the core of his reference system, as indicated by cross-references to them in other of his memoranda in other series. The name of the current clerk was frequently written at the head of the roll. The title 'controlment roll' was in use by the mid-fifteenth century at latest ( E 164/23, f 22v; KB 29/83, rot 1d) although it does not appear on the rolls themselves.The controlment rolls begin to survive in a broken series from 1329, but the first identified king's attorney, Lawrence del Brok, was appointed in 1247, so the earliest roll now surviving was probably not the first of its kind.
The contents of the rolls developed as time went on. By the early fifteenth century they began with a rotulus noting the issue of writs of inquiry into the chattels of persons recently oulawed, sometimes also followed by enrolments of recognisances for good behaviour. When the rolls reached their final form, they consisted of three sections for each term, an arrangement which existed in all its essentials by the reign of Henry VII.
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