Catalogue description Chancery: Inquisitions Post Mortem, Series I, Edward III

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Details of C 135
Reference: C 135
Title: Chancery: Inquisitions Post Mortem, Series I, Edward III

The fourth series of inquisitions post mortem in Series I, dating to the reign of Edward III.

The size of the series reflects both the length of Edward III's reign and the great mortality caused by the Black Death. From the mid-1340s, the returns of the inquisitions habitually include the date of death of the late tenant. Returns drawn up in the form of an indenture first appear in the 1360s.

Date: c1327-c1377

Each file is usually made up of the documentation of inquisitions post mortem following the deaths of about twenty persons. The actual number of inquisitions in each file is likely to be rather greater than twenty, given that a tenant might well have held lands in more than one county, in which case separate inquisitions were required to be conducted in each shire concerned. The series is arranged, as far as possible, in chronological order.

Inquisitions made upon the lands of particularly wealthy magnates may take up several files on their own.

Related material:

Accounts submitted to the Exchequer by the escheators are in E 136

Separated material:

Copies of inquisitions post mortem sent to the Exchequer are in E 149

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: Latin
Physical description: 263 file(s)
Custodial history: The records in this series were formerly housed in the Tower of London.
Publication note:

Calendared and indexed in Calendar of inquisitions post mortem and other analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, vii-xiv (HMSO, 1909-1952). The calendar omits the names of escheators and jurors, and extents, though mentioned, are not given in any detail.

Administrative / biographical background:

From 1341 the two posts of escheator north and south of the Trent lapsed, never to be re-established. Responsibility for escheats thereafter devolved almost entirely upon the former sub-escheators, with some more problematic cases entrusted to commissioners appointed ad hoc by letters variously issued under the great seal, privy seal and signet, or by writ of mandamus.

From 1368 the escheators became subject to certain qualifications: they were required to be landholders in the county of their office, having £20 of land in fee, and were supposed to hold their post for one year only.

Examples of types of writ which seem to make their first appearance during Edward III's reign include (que) plura - '(which) other things' - which required the holding of a further inquisition on the grounds that Chancery knew that certain properties had not been covered by the original return; precipimus - 'we order' - used in cases where it was believed that the tenant had not died recently; de non intromittendo - 'concerning not intermeddling' - which instructed the escheator to withdraw from interfering with lands which were not held of the crown in chief; and sicut alias - 'as at another time' - sent to an escheator as a reminder when it appeared to Chancery that an earlier writ had not been acted upon.

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