Catalogue description Chancery: Extents for Debts, Series I

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Details of C 131
Reference: C 131
Title: Chancery: Extents for Debts, Series I

Writs for the recovery of private debts registered in Chancery, and private debts sealed under recognizances of statute staple, together with extents (valuations) taken by sheriffs of the lands and goods of debtors.

Also included are a few capias writs to imprison a debtor not found in his own county, and a collection of detached inventories of goods, some identifiable, including an inventory of an apothecary's stock in trade.

This detailed list, together with its equivalent in C 241, was compiled by Dr Pamela Nightingale, using ESRC funding.

Date: 1316-c1660
Related material:

Other extents for debts are in:

C 228

C 241

LC 4

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 267 file(s)
Custodial history: The records in this series were formerly housed in the Tower of London and the Rolls Chapel.
Publication note:

Records from this series are calendared in Wiltshire Extents for Debts, Edward I-Elizabeth I, ed A Conyers (Wiltshire Record Society, xxviii, 1972), which includes an illuminating introduction.

Administrative / biographical background:

The first, common law, process of elegit was introduced by the Statute of Westminster II in 1285. This process only applied to debts registered in Chancery by enrolment upon the dorse of the close rolls: C 54

On non-payment of the debt, the creditor could levy his debt from all his debtor's chattels (except his plough beasts) and, if these were insufficient, from half the debtor's lands. If the debt was less than a year overdue, the writ elegit would issue once the record of the debt had been verified; if more than a year had elapsed, a writ scire facias had to be issued first and returned.

The second method of recovery was under the Law Merchant, and was introduced by the Ordinance of the Staple in 1353, which extended the Chancery jurisdiction to debts not originally registered in Chancery, but registered instead as a statute staple before the mayor of one of the many staple towns.

The creditor first had to obtain a certificate from the appropriate staple that the debt had been registered and was overdue. The writ capias et extendi facias then issued to the sheriff of the relevant county to imprison the debtor immediately, and to seize and make an extent of his lands and chattels, by inquisition.

When the writ and extent had been returned to Chancery, a writ de liberacione, later known as a liberate, issued, instructing the sheriff to give the creditor seisin, to hold the land or goods of the debtor until the amount owed had been recovered. By this procedure, as by that of elegit, the creditor had a statutory defence against the assize of novel disseisin.

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