Catalogue description Duchy of Lancaster: Returns of Knights' Fees

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Details of DL 40
Reference: DL 40
Title: Duchy of Lancaster: Returns of Knights' Fees

The records in this series are lists of knights' fees returned to, and created in, the Chancery of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Many of these lists were created by the feodaries, officers responsible for the incidents of feudal tenure, such as relief, homage and aids. The lists, reflecting their purpose, are limited and simply note the holders of knights' fees by name in each manor, village or township in the honor or county concerned.

There are also many compilations of lists and transcripts of material plundered from other sources, especially the Red Book of the Exchequer and the Liber Feodorum, or Testa de Nevill.

As well as lists of knights' fees this series includes other related documents. There are accounts relating to the collection of aids on the knighting of the son of Henry, Earl of Lancaster in 1330 and on the marriage of Henry IV's daughter, Blanche, to Louis, the son of Emperor Rupert in 1402.

There are also court rolls of the manor of Arkesdon, Essex, part of the honor of Walbrook and two 'valors' of Henry, Earl of Lancaster dated 1330-1332.

Date: c1154-c1649
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 3 bundle(s)
Publication note:

The duties of the feodaries are laid out in the late fifteenth century ordinances of the Duchy in the Little Cowcher and in a book of Thomas Bedell, feodary in Essex from 1564 to 1591. All of the documents in this series were listed in the published list of 1901 as 'Knights' fees, returns of' (Lists and Indexes, XIV, pp 65-69.

Administrative / biographical background:

While tenure by knight service ceased to have much practical military purpose soon after the Norman conquest, the incidents of the tenure, and of other feudal tenures, became more and more important as forms of revenue. These incidents were either already in the form of money, such as reliefs and aids, or became commuted to monetary payments, such as payments for respite from homage, suit of court and other services. For this revenue to be collected it was necessary for the Duchy to know which of its lands were held by which tenure and who held them. The local officer responsible for the provision of this information, and the collection of such revenue, was known, from at least the fourteenth century, as the feodary or bailiff of fees and franchises.

Feodaries were appointed for honors, counties or groups of counties and the post was often held with others, such as receiver or bailiff. In order to do their job they needed a list of the knights' fees in their area with a note of who held them, and this document was also known as a feodary.

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