The issue rolls recorded details, in triplicate, of all money paid out of the Lower Exchequer, or Exchequer of Receipt, and are thus a very valuable source of information about Exchequer expenditure between 1240 and 1479, when they were discontinued.
The rolls were revived in 1567 for a few years, and then more permanently between 1597 and 1797. Entries on the rolls give the name of the payee, the amount, the date and the reason for the payment. A new set of rolls was begun for each Exchequer term, at Michaelmas and Easter; thus six issue rolls were produced each year.
Beside the main series of issue rolls, E 403 also contains the liberate rolls, which ran concurrently with the issue rolls between 1240 and 1306, and are very closely related in content; the protecolla rolls, virtual duplicates, in condensed form, of the issue rolls and made for the treasurer between 1354 and 1364; the supplementary issue rolls of the late 13th and early 14th centuries, concerning payments of a special character; annuities, recording payments made by the Exchequer between 1696 and 1795; and the pells' issue books, which contain drafts of the information on the issue rolls from 1597, and between 1797 and 1834 act as the only authenticated records of the expenditure of the Exchequer.
In addition to the issue rolls and books, E 403 includes the patent and privy seal books, which contain entries of warrants for payments out of the Exchequer, and grants of offices, salaries, pensions, and annuities. Very often two parallel series of these books were kept, one for the auditor of the receipt, and one by the Clerk of the Pells. These run from the fifteenth century to 1834. Posting books, which survive from 1590 to 1628, contain abstracts of all the privy seals currently in force as warrants for payment. They serve as a convenient and comprehensive summary of the issue rolls. Also, pells' order books, which survive from 1597 to 1698, contain details of the orders made by the treasurer to the tellers ordering them to pay out monies in pursuance of privy seal writs addressed to him. Both auditor of the receipt and Clerk of the Pells produced other records as well.
The remaining documents in the series concern imprests (advances), and small series of books and registers containing valuable information about expenditure on public offices and services, the civil list, pensions, salaries and annuities, the South Sea Company, the wardrobe and household, privy purse, ambassadors, jewels, revels and the army.