Inquisitions conducted before juries and normally presided over by a local crown official (a sheriff in most cases until the mid-1240s, but from the later years of Henry III's reign almost invariably an escheator).
They were held following the issue of a chancery writ of diem clausit extremum, requiring a return of the value and terms of tenure of an estate held by a lately deceased tenant-in-chief of the crown, and of the identity and age of any heir, heiress or co-heiress to such an estate.
The purpose was to ensure the correct identification and evaluation of all properties which ought to be in the king's hands by reason of escheat (or lack of an heir) or by right of wardship or marriage (of heirs less than twenty-one and heiresses less than fourteen years old). Associated with them were certain ancillary inquisitions, such as those charged with assigning dower to widows or producing detailed extents of estates.
The jury's findings were returned into Chancery, usually attached to the writ, endorsed with a note of its execution, and occasionally accompanied by other material of an evidential or administrative nature.