The records in this series have been divided into three. Inquisitions of the reigns of Henry III (1216-1272) and Edward I (1272-1307) include judicial inquiries regarding the facts in disputes, inquiries as to the present holders of the lands of deceased Crown debtors and the value of their holdings, and records of property seized by the Crown, such as that of Jews, foreign merchants and alien priories.
Secondly, inquisitions and extents from the 14th to 19th centuries mostly consist of judicial inquisitions relating to nisi prius proceedings. These may be founded on petitions which allege some oppression or infringement of rights, such as over-assessment for taxation. Under Edward III (1327-1377) a high proportion relate to distraint of knighthood. In the 15th century many relate to customs offences.
Thirdly, inquisitions and commissions from the 14th to 16th centuries are presentments of offences. Many are commissions to enquire generally into escaped felons, forfeitures, waste, concealed lands and feudal incidents, ulnage offences and customs offences.
The series also includes extents of forfeited property and of the temporalities of vacant bishoprics.