Catalogue description Duchy of Lancaster: Court Rolls

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Details of DL 30
Reference: DL 30
Title: Duchy of Lancaster: Court Rolls

Court rolls of manors, hundreds and other local jurisdictions, and related manorial documents such as estreats, copies of court rolls, and a few ministers' accounts, of the Duchy of Lancaster.

The bulk of the contents of the series are court rolls, the records of the courts held, with the principal courts being the court baron. These contain information relating to the conveyancing of land, settlement of disputes, regulation of the assizes of bread and ale, and election of officials. They are potentially a valuable source for confirming or expanding information found in parish registers, which, in some cases, they predate.

This series contains records which pre-date the creation of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Date: c1272-1954

This series shares with series SC 2 one single sequence of piece numbers. This arrangement arose in 1896, when the list of court rolls of the Duchy was amalgamated with the list of court rolls in one of the artificial series of Special Collections formed in the nineteenth century, (SC 2). The two series are therefore numbered as in the following example; DL 30/1-152, SC 2/153-227, DL 30/228-251.

Related material:

Court rolls are scattered between the Public Record Office and many other repositories. A register of all surviving manorial documents is provided by The Manorial Documents Register which can be consulted at the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Other court rolls of crown manors will be found in:


LR 3

SC 2

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin

Duchy of Lancaster, 1399-

Physical description: 915 files, rolls and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 2021 Duchy of Lancaster

Accruals: Series is accruing
Publication note:

Much of this series is listed in 'List and Index of Court Rolls', List and Index Society, vol VI, (1963), which is available in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew.

Administrative / biographical background:

By the fourteenth century, court rolls generally were becoming increasingly formalised in structure and extensive in length. The lord's steward presided over the court, while a clerk recorded the proceedigns (in Latin until 1733, except for the Interregnum), often entering successive courts on one continuous roll. Sometimes, especially in the seventeeth century, a draft made at the same time and a fair copy written up later. The business of the court included questions of land tenure, customary payments, settlements of disputes and minor woundings, regulation of the assizes of bread and ale and election of officials.

By the sixteenth century, these courts had begun to decline with the increasing use of hired labour and subsequent use of hired labour and subsequent changes in estate management. In the nineteenth century, much copyhold material was converted to freehold, although the administration of copyhold material was converted to freehold, although the administration of copyhold land tenure by manorial courts, continued until copyhold tenure was finally abolished by the Law Of Property Act 1922. Following this Act, copies of the court roll (being the necessary evidences for conveyances of copyhold tenureland) were placed with all other manorial records under the charge of the Master of the Rolls, by the Law of property (Amendment) Act 1924, which also made provision for rules to be drawn up concerning their control and custody.

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