This series contains several sub-series of records mainly relating to enrolments of grants and leases of crown lands, and other documents, by the auditors of the Court of Augmentations and auditors of land revenue between the mid sixteenth and the mid nineteenth centuries. Many of the documents enrolled were copies, or exemplifications, of earlier transactions made with owners whose lands and profits fell to the crown in the sixteenth century, particularly religious houses, colleges and chantries, and convicted traitors.
As the enrolment books in these series combine instruments of many types, including those issuing from many government offices as well as those of private individuals, they form a core series for the history of the administration of the crown lands.
At a high level they reflect, and illuminate, the major events in this history from the mid sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century, such as the enlargement of the crown estate due to the dissolution of religious houses and chantries and colleges in the 1530s and 1540s; the concealment hunting and widescale selling of crown lands in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries; the wholesale disposal of the remaining crown lands and fee-farm rents by Parliament during the Interregnum; and the practice of assigning crown lands in jointure to queens consort in the seventeenth century. The post Restoration attempts to sell fee-farm rents and the crown's role in the development of urban Westminster, moreover, are also reflected by the separate series of enrolment books found in this class, which are discussed below.
Many kinds of document relating to the past or current disposition of Crown lands were enrolled in these volumes: Crown grants and leases of land by letters patent under the great seal, Crown leases by both letters patent and indenture under the seals of the Exchequer and the Court of Augmentations, indentures of assignment of Crown leases between private individuals, conventual leases (particularly in the books of the Court of Augmentations), grants of offices by letters patent under the great seal and lesser instruments, inventories of traitors goods' and copies of warrants and instructions to auditors, surveyors and stewards, etc, relating to all aspects of the administration of the Crown lands.
In addition, there are distinct sub-series relating to the sale by the crown of fee-farm rents under the acts of 1670-1671, 1786 and 1790, and separate sub-series of enrolments relating to the lands of the Savoy Hospital and the Bailiwick of St James in the Fields, Middlesex, and the lands administered by the Westminster Bridge Commissioners (1720-1765) and New Street Commissioners (1814-1832).
Many of the instruments enrolled in these volumes, however, will have also been enrolled elsewhere.
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.