Catalogue description Palatinate of Lancaster: Common Bench: Plea Rolls

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Details of DL 35
Reference: DL 35
Title: Palatinate of Lancaster: Common Bench: Plea Rolls

Civil pleas rolls (otherwise in PL 15) made for the chief justices of the Court of Common Bench during the Palatinate of Henry of Grosmont, first duke of Lancaster.

Most of the entries in the rolls are of pleas, but there are separate sections for essoins and warrants of attorney. Payments for licences to agree are recorded but not the terms of fines.

The rolls were all apparently made for the chief justices of the court, successively Berwick, Thomas de Seaton, John Cockayne and Willian Finchdean, although only those of the first two bear 'signatures'.

Date: 1351-1360
Separated material:

Common pleas rolls of the palatinate are also in:


PL 20

PL 25

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: Assize, Bench or Common Pleas, Plea Rolls 1 to 8
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: Latin

Palatinate of Lancaster, Court of Common Bench, 1351-1361

Physical description: 8 roll(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

On 6 March 1351 Henry earl of Lancaster was created duke of Lancaster and Lancashire made into a county palatine, which gave Henry the right to do justice in both civil and crown pleas to the exclusion of the royal courts. On the following day he created four justices, the chief being Hugh de Berwick, for all civil and crown pleas, and from then until the duke's death in March 1361 Lancashire remained outside the ambit of the royal courts. Their first session, on 6 June 1351, dealt with both civil and crown pleas; thereafter there were two courts, one for civil and one for crown pleas. The first, the Bench or Common Bench, dealt with pleas formerly heard in the Common Bench and King's Bench at Westminster or by assize justices in the locality.

The court did not follow the Westminster pattern of four regular terms per year, but usually held three sessions a year, one in Lent or around Easter, between late February and mid April, one in late July or early August and one around the end of September. Sessions at other dates, such as early May and mid December, are also recorded. The court invariably sat at Preston. When the palatinate was in abeyance between 1361 and 1377, common pleas and assizes were heard in the Common Bench at Westminster and by justices of assize.

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