This series comprises records relating to investigations undertaken into particular property-related matters that had come to the attention of the Council of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Apart from conducting numerous surveys of manors, castles and honors, special commissioners investigated property boundaries and concealed lands; the condition and repair of castles, parks and manor houses; considered encroachments and enclosures of lands; repairs of bridges, mills, weirs and sea banks; spoils of woods and sales of timber; treasure trove and the goods and chattels of felons and outlaws; and considered the misdemeanours and oaths of officers of the Duchy.
Each special commission normally consists of at least two documents attached together: the authorizing commission and the commissioners' reports.
The commission names the individuals authorized to undertake the investigation and the circumstances which lay behind the enquiry. The report details the information they uncovered and their recommendations for action. In some cases depositions made by witnesses are included too.