Catalogue description Chancery: Liberate Rolls

Search within or browse this series to find specific records of interest.

Date range

Details of C 62
Reference: C 62
Title: Chancery: Liberate Rolls

Enrolments of writs of liberate sent out by Chancery, which ordered the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer to pay money out of the royal treasure for pensions, salaries, stipends, expenditure of the royal household and other expenses of the state.

Chancery kept a record of the issue of such writs by enrolling them on these rolls, which are thus a useful source for details of royal expenditure.

The liberate rolls also contain enrolments of writs of allocate, ordering allowance to be made to royal officials presenting accounts, for expenditure incurred by them out of money for which they were accountable; computate, ordering the reckoning of accounts presented by these accountants; and computabitur, ordering the reimbursement of money spent by royal officials on the Crown's behalf, for instance on royal works or the royal household.

The rolls are particularly valuable for details of payments during the reign of Henry III. Entries of writs become more abbreviated in the fourteenth century, and even shorter by the fifteenth. The earlier rolls contain marginal entries of the name of the payee.

Writs of liberate do not survive beyond the thirteenth century on the liberate rolls; instead they are found on the close rolls (C 54). The later rolls contain only a small number of writs of liberate and other writs initiating payments, mostly of annual fees out of the Exchequer.

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: 1200-1436
Related material:

The Exchequer of Receipt kept its own series of enrolments of writs of liberate, now in E 403

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Latin
Physical description: 148 roll(s)
Custodial history: The liberate rolls for the years 15 to 16 Henry III and 18 to 20 Henry III are wanting; they are known to have existed in 1381, but were lost by the time of the transfer of the series to the Public Record Office in the nineteenth century.
Publication note:

Transcripts of the rolls for John's reign are printed in Rotuli de Liberate ac de Misis et Praestitis (Record Commission, 1844). The liberate rolls for Henry III's reign are calendared in Calendar of the Liberate Rolls (6 vols, HMSO, 1916-64).

Administrative / biographical background:

There were three different types of writ of liberate. The first ordered the payment of a sum of money for a specific purpose. The second ordered the payment of a sum in instalments, thus avoiding the need to keep renewing the mandate each time a payment was required. The third type of writ was, in fact, another species of writ entirely, which eventually superseded the writ of liberate for payments of annuities and salaries, and was based on letters patent which granted the original emolument. Surviving examples of this third type of writ are in the patent and privy seal books in E 403

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research