Catalogue description Court of Common Pleas and King's Bench, and Justices Itinerant: Early Plea and Essoin Rolls

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Details of KB 26
Reference: KB 26
Title: Court of Common Pleas and King's Bench, and Justices Itinerant: Early Plea and Essoin Rolls

Formerly known as the Curia Regis Rolls, this series is an amalgamation of the plea rolls and most of the essoin rolls of the Bench (later the Common Bench and then the Court of Common Pleas and the plea rolls and the essoin rolls of the Court Coram Rege (later the Court of King's Bench) from the earliest surviving rolls down to the death of Henry III in 1272, together with all the surviving eyre rolls for the reign of Richard I and a few of those for the reign of John.

These are the earliest court rolls among the public records, recording step by step the progress of cases being carried on in those courts. They have been extensively used for research into the early history of the common law, and also for the information they give on national politics and the royal administration. Like other court records they include incidental information on many different aspects of life as well as about the people and places by and about whom the litigation was conducted. Many of them have been published in full transcript, particularly in the Curia Regis Rolls series, and a great deal is known about their individual archival history.

Digital images of some of the records in this series are available through the Anglo-American Legal Tradition website. Please note that The National Archives is not responsible for this website or its content.

Date: 5 Richard I - 56 Henry III

During the period from the late 1940s to the late 1960s Meekings undertook extensive editorial and repair work on the records and placed much unsorted plea roll miscellanea, often fragmentary, in its proper place. Many of the rolls are prefaced by introductory notes detailing their archival history, including former references, and their current make-up. Curia Regis Rolls vols XI-XVIII contain detailed physical descriptions of the rolls printed in them, and their archival history.

Related material:

Common Pleas Court essoin plea rolls are in:

CP 23

Some Common Pleas essoin rolls for Henry III as well as all those for subsequent reigns are in CP 21

Later rolls are in KB 27

CP 40

Most eyre rolls later than 1199 are in JUST 1

Essoin rolls after 1272 are in KB 121

W K Boyd's notes on the Curia Regis rolls are in PRO 66/1/1

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Latin
Physical description: 245 roll(s)
Custodial history: A composite collection which, from the time of its creation (c1889) until 1988 was called 'Curia Regis Rolls'. Scargill Bird created it from documents in three series which he abolished: Coram Rege Rolls (formerly in the Chapter House at Westminster); Tower Coram Rege and Assize Rolls; and Tower de Banco Rolls or Placita de Banco Henry III. The division between the two repositories resulted from the Stapledon array of records in the 1320s when records were removed from Westminster to the Tower. At Westminster the distinction between the King's Bench and Common Pleas rolls kept there was lost during the 18th century, but in the Tower it survived down to 1840. Despite the earlier archival clarity and the fact that the distinction between the two courts before 1272 was understood by the leading legal historians of the day, Scargill Bird formed the single grouping. The separate series were only re-identified by Meekings in the mid 20th century.
Publication note:

Nearly all the rolls down to the year 1249 are in print. The catalogue notes which items have been printed and where, using the following abbreviations; Curia Regis Rolls, 18 vols, HMSO, 1922-1999 (CRR); Placitorum in Domo Capitulari Westmonasteriensi Asservatorum Abbreviatio, Record Commission, 1811 (PA); Pipe Roll Society (PRS); Rotuli Curiae Regis, 2 vols, Record Commission, 1835 (RCR); Selden Society (SS). Transcripts from KB 26 have been published in Rotuli Curiae Regis (Record Commission, 1835), in Selden Society volumes I, LXVII, LXVIII, LXXXIII, and LXXXIV For the reign of Henry III the archival history of some of the documents is described in C A F Meekings Lists and Indexes Supplementary Series No 1: List of Various Common Law Records, (1970) See also Records of the General Eyre (PRO Handbook no 20) (1982).

Unpublished finding aids:

A term by term analysis of the records of the Bench from 1218 to 1272 on editorial slips is available on request.

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