Coroners' Rolls and Files, with Cognate Documents

Details of JUST 2
Reference:JUST 2
Title:
Coroners' Rolls and Files, with Cognate Documents
Description:

Coroners' rolls and files, and similar records like sheriffs' crown pleas rolls and writs of exigent. The coroners' rolls and files are for counties, boroughs and liberties, and they record inquests into all unnatural and sudden deaths, deaths in prison, abjurations of the realm, appeals, exactions and outlawries held in the county court, approvers' appeals and felons' confessions. The inquests in particular give a variety of details concerning the circumstances of deaths, including the implement or other agent, sometimes as large as a cart or a mill wheel, which caused the death and so was forfeit to the crown as deodand, as well as information concerning the persons and places involved. To that extent the inquests contain as great a variety of miscellaneous information as the various other series of inquisitions. Some documents are not coroners' rolls. They include a file of presentments made at a King's Bench provincial session, two oyer and terminer files, several sheriffs' crown pleas rolls, files and individual writs of exigent, lists of outlawries, individual inquests and records of appeals of approvers.

Date: 1228-1426
Arrangement:

The bulk of the list (JUST 2/1-256) comprises records arranged in alphabetical order of counties and in rough chronological order under each county, with a short 'divers counties' section at the end. The remainder (JUST 2/257-263) is a random sequence of records identified and added since the original arrangment was made at the end of the nineteenth century.

Related Material: Later coroners' inquests, which were handed into King's Bench from about 1500 onwards, will be found in the indictments files of that court until that practice ceased in the mid-eighteenth century in:
CHES 17
CHES 18
KB 9
KB 10
KB 11
DL 46
Separated Material: A few other coroners' rolls are in JUST 1
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record
Language: French and Latin
Creator: Coroners, of counties, boroughs and liberties, 1194-
Physical description: 286 files and rolls
Custodial history: Most coroners' rolls and files have survived because they had to be handed in to royal justices so that the pleas of the crown, which it was the coroner's duty to keep, could be dealt with. During the 13th century they were handed in to the justices in eyre, who visited all counties in England except the liberties of Chester and Durham. From 1337 they were handed in to the Court of the King's Bench whenever it sat in provincial sessions (as it often did until 1421). No coroners' rolls have survived for some counties not visited by the court. The rolls were handed in so that the forfeited goods and deodands due to the crown could be collected. The rolls were annotated and estreated by the King's Bench clerks, and details entered into the fines and forfeitures sections of the King's Bench plea rolls (KB 27). The coroners' rolls were then kept by the court for reference and, being part of its records, survived.
Publication note: JUST 2/1-267 listed in The American Journal of Legal History, Vol III (1959). The coroners' rolls surviving from the period of the general eyre are described under the appropriate eyre in Records of the General Eyre, PRO Handbooks, no 20 (1982) A number of coroners' rolls are now in print, notably the earliest ones for Bedfordshire, in Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, vol XLI These rolls were closely studied and heavily used in R F Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner 1961)
Administrative / biographical background:

The office of coroner was created in 1194 to be 'keeper of the pleas of the crown' in the localities, and reached the height of its powers in the later thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. It still exists in England and the other countries to which the office was exported. Coroners acted in counties, boroughs and liberties, and were required to hold inquests on victims of crime or violent death, receive abjurations of the realm by felons in sanctuary, hear appeals of felony, and legalise outlawry or subsequent pardons.

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