Catalogue description Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Miscellaneous Books, Series I

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Details of E 164
Reference: E 164
Title: Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Miscellaneous Books, Series I

The essential heart of this series of miscellaneous books is the Red Book of the Exchequer; the Little Black Book of the Exchequer, a collection of transcripts of 12th-century diplomatic documents, knights' fees, Crown grants and miscellanea; inventories of records and office books, papers and accounts of the King's Remembrancer's Office; transcripts of returns of knights fees, including the two volumes known as the Testa de Neville, and of aids levied on such fees; transcripts and accounting documents concerning both lay and clerical taxation, including a transcript of the taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1291; books of statutes, 13th to 16th centuries; formulary books of writs; a statutory copy of the Book of Common Prayer, 1662; a 13th-century breviate of Domesday, thought to have belonged formerly to Neath Abbey; a return for Warwickshire for the enquiries into liberties, 1280, on the pattern of the hundred rolls; the Crown's copy of Cardinal Pole's return concerning monastic and other religious pensions; and a 12th-century survey of Templar lands.

Of all these books the Red Book was the most important, since it constituted the embodiment of the privilege of the Exchequer, by which its officers could claim privilege of suit in their own court. Moreover, it formed a book of reference for ancient and feudal precedent and was used as such by, for example, Henry VII (1485-1509) in his enforcement of multures after the death of bishops.

Monastic cartularies and registers acquired by the Exchequer and deposited in the King's Remembrancer's Office in the 16th and 17th centuries are for the priories of: Holy Trinity, London; Newstead, Notts; St Augustine, Canterbury; and St Mary, Coventry: and the abbeys of Torre, Devon; Godstow, Oxon; Malmesbury, Wilts; Chertsey, Surrey; Osney, Oxon; Ramsey, Hunts; and Langdon, Kent: and Warwick College. Other volumes now in the series include several surveys of Crown and forfeit lands, including Homberston's survey of the lands of northern rebels, 1570, and Ralph Treswell's survey of Eltham, Kent; various documents relating to Crown lands and revenues, including volumes recording sales and leases, both by the Crown and during the Interregnum; a 16th-century declaration of the Exchequer, accounts for posts, and 18th-century pes compoti of cofferers' accounts.

Other volumes include accounts of the voyages of Martin Frobisher in search of the north-west passage; several registers of the Court of Augmentations; household accounts of the earls of Holland in the late 17th century; accounts of works at Old St Paul's, London; and a survey of church ornaments and other goods in the archdeaconry of Norwich, 1368. A number of volumes include chronicles, genealogical material and other ephemera in addition to their main content.

The series is an important source for the history of bindings, and includes also some significant decoration and illumination, such as an exquisite depiction of the death bed of Henry II, and a 15th-century map of the lands of Chertsey abbey.

Date: 1185-1837
Related material:

additional finding aid ZBOX 1/78/2

Separated material:

There has been one significant loss: a book of charters and grants in England and Wales in the 13th century, described in an 18th-century list. The loss, unless the book survives in private custody, is irreparable.

Some of the original bindings of these documents have been removed to a separate series: E 166

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Latin
Physical description: 72 volume(s)
Access conditions: Available in microform only unless otherwise stated
Custodial history: This series is of ancient origin. It was almost certainly in existence as a recognisable collection by at least the mid-17th century, when certain volumes were kept in a chest in the Stone Tower at Westminster. At this time the collection consisted of an accumulation of important books, of largely 13th-century date, of precedent and reference for the work of the King's Remembrancer's Office, to which further additions of volumes perceived as archivally significant had been added by acquisition in the 16th and 17th centuries. This core collection survived as a coherent archive until the 19th century. Later additions, their only common factor being their book form, have been made from various parts of the Exchequer's archive since that date.
Publication note:

A number of the pieces in this series have been edited and published in whole or in part.

Unpublished finding aids:

List of places and supplementary descriptions of the various volumes of surveys of lands are included in List of Rentals and Surveys (Public Record Office Lists and Indexes, xxv, 1908, reprinted 1963).

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