Catalogue description Duchy of Lancaster: Chancery: Inquisitions Post Mortem

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Details of PL 4
Reference: PL 4
Title: Duchy of Lancaster: Chancery: Inquisitions Post Mortem

This series consists of stray inquisitions post mortem relating to lands held by the Duchy of Lancaster otherwise found in DL 7. Many of the early inquisitions, dating from the reign of Richard II, are in response to writs of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and are dated by the ducal year. Some are royal writs, during the confiscation of the Duchy. Later inquisitions are in response to writs issued in the name of the King under the Duchy seal. The writs are either to the escheator of the Duchy or to special commissioners, and are in Latin or French; the returned inquisitions are in Latin.

One wholly unrelated item also appears: a contemporary copy of the four statutes passed in the Coventry Parliament of autumn 1404 (PL 4/1 no 58), which may have been despatched to Lancaster for information.

Date: 17 Richard II-30 Henry VIII
Related material:

Relevant inquisitions post mortem can also be found in:


Separated material:

Many more early inquisitions post mortem are known to have once existed, and survive in transcripts taken in the 1660s by Christopher Towneley, from the originals lent to him by Evan Walls, Keeper of the Rolls at Lancaster, on 26 January 1659/60. Some of the inquisitions transcribed are now in PL 4; others are not, and their whereabouts after 1660 is unknown.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English, French and Latin
Physical description: 1 bundle(s)
Custodial history: In 1800 the Duchy of Lancaster reported to a Select Committee of the House of Commons that the Duchy had over 2,000 inquisitions post mortem, dating from 1413 to 1642. Between 1800 and 1823 the documents were cleaned, repaired and bound into their current arrangement. These volumes then came into the Public Record Office with the main transfer of Duchy records in 1868. A further two bundles were transferred to the Public Record Office in 1873 and placed in this series (not DL 7, for reasons which were not explained). Two further items (PL 4/1, nos 64- 65) appear to have been added later from E 153 (see the 19th century descriptive slips attached to these items).
Publication note:

In 1823 a calendar of the 2,000 inquisitions post mortem dating from 1413 to 1642, was published by the Record Commission, as Ducatus Lancastriae, vol 1, pp 1-107 (London, 1823). An edition of Christopher Towneley's transcripts was published by W Langton, Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem made by Christopher Towneley and Roger Dodsworth, Chetham Society vols 95 and 99 (1875 and 1876).

Administrative / biographical background:

In 1351 the King granted away most of his rights in Lancashire, including the right to feudal dues, to Duke Henry of Lancaster. As a consequence of this, an escheator was appointed to look after the Duke's feudal rights in the Palatinate in the same way as escheators elsewhere acted for the Crown. Inquisitions post mortem were held on the death of any tenant who held, or was believed to hold, land of the Duke of Lancaster, or, from 1399, of the King as holder of the Duchy. If a local jury returned that the land was so held, then the Duke/King was entitled to the feudal revenues deriving from wardship and marriage of an under-age heir, homage, livery and primer seisin. Other inquisitions were into the goods and property of convicted felons, traitors, etc, which were forfeited for various periods of time.

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