This series of rolls is one of the most important and detailed sources for the history of medieval Wales. They record the proceedings held by the justice of Chester in Flintshire from the time of its creation following the English conquest of Wales in 1284; the position of the county came to resemble that of a Welsh extention of the earldom of Chester.
The first roll is a record largely of proceedings by the English against the Welsh following the campaign of Edward I to conquer Wales, which began upon the seizure of Hawarden castle in Flintshire by the Welsh in 1282.
After that roll there is a gap until the record of a session for crown pleas at Rhuddlan on 27 October 1300, but the remainder of the roll deals only with sessions at Flint. Thereafter only a few rolls survive until 1327, although another one is known to exist outside official custody. From 1327 until 1541 there is an almost unbroken run. The remainder of the series consists of unfiled plea roll rotuli from the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and George III.
After the rolls settle down to a regular format, they contain separate headed sections for crown and civil pleas, and sometimes separate sections for gaol deliveries, usually of the gaol at Flint castle but sometimes in the earlier rolls of that at Rhuddlan. In some of the rolls there are headings for gaol deliveries which have no entries after them because there were no prisoners to deliver. Sessions were mostly, and apparently invariably later in the period, held at Flint, although earlier they have also been noted at Rhuddlan and Overton.
The civil pleas sections are usually preceeded by notes of the appointment of attorneys, and initially by entries recording the casting of essoins, but soon essoins and attorneys have their own sections in the rolls. Some later rolls have separate sections for lists of fines. Many of the pleas were of the common assizes, especially novel disseisin, actions for right of land (by writ of praecipe), trespass, debt and covenant. Some of the rolls carry the name of the current justice of Chester at their head, while most have it in their headings.
From the fourteenth century the justice often acted by deputy, so the name of the justice in the heading must have normally been a fiction; especially in the later fourteenth century, some of the justices were senior peers with interests elsewhere, and can rarely if ever have been present. Occasionally the presence of the deputy is indicated by his name appearing after a heading.