Justices in Eyre and Justices of Assize: files

Details of JUST 4
Reference:JUST 4
Title:
Justices in Eyre and Justices of Assize: files
Description:

Mainly files of writs, some with jury panels, recorda and inquisitions attached, returned in eyres or at assize sessions. Also included are files of writs relating to particular counties which were returned originally into the Common Bench (later the Court of Common Pleas) and filed but were later removed and refiled to be used for reference during an eyre.

Eyres ceased in the reign of Edward III, so there are no eyre files for subsequent reigns, but assize files continue until the mid fifteenth century. There are many more files from the fourteenth century which have been identified to be added to the series. Other occasional kinds of eyre files include files of precepts, used instead of writs to summon defendants who were being sued by bill rather than original writ (eg JUST 4/4/3); the few surviving files of bills themselves are in JUST 1, not here, as also are bills claiming liberties. Some loose eyre material was placed here after being removed from Chancery Miscellanea (C 47) and Chancery Files, Series A (C 202A); the details are noted in the introductory notes placed at the beginning of the individual files as they are now made up.

The assize files have, where possible, been associated with their related assize roll, and in these cases have been dated according to the sessions within those rolls. However, from analysis of files which are still intact, it is clear that many cases were carried over between circuits, and thus many of the writs in a particular file may actually date to earlier years, and were addressed to the justices on previous assize circuits. Where it has not been possible to identify the sessions or circuit to which a particular file relates, it has been dated according to the dates of the writs themselves. Broken files have been reconstructed as far as is possible, generally using a combination of the date of issue, the justices concerned and the survival of other files from that period. However, given that writs could sometimes be carried over for a number of years, it is likely that some writs may have been placed in the file relating to the period in which the writ was originally issued, rather than that in which the case was actually concluded. This is more likely to have occurred with documents from the period before 1300, as a higher proportion of the files before this date are now broken.

Date: 1248 - c1450
Arrangement:

Arranged by reign, from Henry III to Henry VI, the initial digit of each reference being a reign number. Additional records will be added to the appropriate reign sequence.

Related Material: See also E 32
For later assize commissions see ASSI 85
Separated Material: Other loose eyre file material is included in: SC 1
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record
Language: French and Latin
Creator: Justices in Eyre, 1166-1374
Justices of Assize, 1166-1971
Physical description: 8 boxes and files
Physical condition: Many files have broken thongs, and some filings are loose
Access conditions: Many records unfit for production
Immediate source of acquisition: Mainly from Tower of London Record Office
Custodial history: These files were handed in to the Exchequer with the related plea rolls by the justices or their clerks. They remained there until they were transferred from the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey, which had become the central repository, to the Public Record Office soon after the abolition of the Exchequer.
Accruals: The series is accruing, as files are repaired.
Publication note: A more detailed account of eyre files is in Records of the General Eyre (PRO Handbooks, 20), pp 37-43, with details of the surviving eyre files given under the entries for the eyres to which they relate.

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