Exchequer: Pipe Office: Foreign Accounts Rolls
This series contains Foreign Accounts from the Exchequer, Pipe Office.
They comprise accounts 'foreign' to the normal county enrolments on the Pipe Rolls, covering a wide area of governmental activity. The rolls contain accounts for Gascony, Ireland, Calais, the Channel Islands, wool customs, castles, honours, forests, manors, towns, hundreds and other possessions in the king's custody not committed to farm. Each account in the rolls was that of a particular accounting officer, such as the sheriff, clerk of works, the coroner, inspector of wool, or keeper of a castle. Two early foreign accounts rolls from the minority of Henry III and for most of Edward III's reign are included. In addition to a complete series of rolls from 1368 to 1485, there are a number of miscellaneous accounts at the end of this series covering the period following the decline of the foreign accounting system in the reign of Henry VII.
miscellaneous accounts, E 358
subsidy rolls, E 359
accounts of the wardrobe and household, E 361
From the early twelfth century the Exchequer had produced Pipe Rolls, the great annual accounts of the kingdom which recorded royal income in each county accounted for by the sheriffs. By the later twelfth century, the information recorded on the Pipe Rolls had expanded beyond the sheriffs' accounts to include those of other officials. These other accounts were outside, or 'foreign' to the sheriffs' accounts in the Pipe Rolls, hence the designation.
The growing volume of information which led to the Pipe Rolls becoming increasingly cumbersome must have created problems with reference, storage and handling. From 10 Henry III (1225-1226), most of the foreign accounts on the Pipe Rolls were recorded together at the end of each roll as a 'rotulus compotorum' section. The size of these appendices increased, as did the variety of accounts noted there, and this section was eventually removed to form independent foreign accounts rolls.
However, during the thirteenth century most foreign accounts continued to be enrolled on the pipe and chancellor's rolls. Eventually, however, enrolling foreign accounts with the Pipe Rolls became very impractical, and the Cowick Ordinance of 1323 concerning the Exchequer prescribed that all foreign accounts be made up into a separate roll at the end of the financial year. They related to the king's Wardrobe, Gascony, Ireland, Calais, wool customs, escheatries, voidances of bishoprics, abbeys, priories, other other escheated dignities, clerical and lay aids, as well as accounts of castles, honours, forests, manors, towns, hundreds and of other possessions in the king's custody but which were not committed to farm.
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