Catalogue description Justices in Eyre, of Assize, of Oyer and Terminer, and of the Peace, etc: Rolls and Files

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Details of JUST 1
Reference: JUST 1
Title: Justices in Eyre, of Assize, of Oyer and Terminer, and of the Peace, etc: Rolls and Files

This miscellaneous series includes the majority of the plea rolls recording proceedings before the various kinds of itinerant royal justices who worked in England from the late twelfth century to the fifteenth century, and a variety of other, mostly related, items. However, it includes only a few stray rolls of the justices of gaol delivery, most of which are in JUST 3. It also includes some files, but the files of the justices in eyre and of assize are almost all in JUST 4. Coroners' rolls are in JUST 2.

The largest group of rolls is that of the justices in eyre, from 1199 to 1348. Most eyre rolls relate to a single county, and the great majority date from before 1294. The earlier ones include civil pleas (including 'foreign pleas' of counties other than that in which the eyre was being held), essoins (excuses for non-attendance), appointments of attorneys, crown pleas (arranged by hundreds and other districts separately represented before the justices) and amercements and fines (the penalties resulting from the eyres). From 1238 there are in addition calendars of the jurors presenting the crown pleas; from 1261 sections for plaints, cases commenced by bill rather than writ; from 1278 sections for pleas of quo warranto; from 1279 sections for gaol delivery; from 1285 exigent rolls, listing persons against whom the process of outlawry was to be begun. There are also a few surviving veredicta of hundred juries, 1238 to 1329, and files of bills and quo warranto claims deriving from eyres.

The second largest element consists of assize rolls, dealing with possessory assizes alone (with their related essoins and attorneys), although the earlier rolls often also contain other business. They date from 1248 to 1482, although there are very few later than 1422. They mostly cover a number of counties, after 1273 increasingly those of regular assize circuits.

The third main element consists of the rolls and files of justices of oyer and terminer, commissioned to hear and determine felonies and trespasses, including abuses by royal and other officials, 1260 to 1443, with one item of 1528. They include those of the justices of trailbaston; those commissioned to deal with offences committed by the servants of Edward I and other members of the royal family, 1290-93, and Walter Langton, the former treasurer, 1307-10; and those who tried the provincial rebels who took part in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. There are records of both general and special commissions of oyer and terminer, appointed to deal with all cases in one or more counties and individual or small groups of cases respectively. Before 1305 most general oyer and terminer enrolments are in assize rolls, but afterwards separate enrolments become normal. The proportion of those surviving was never high, and their number declines greatly after 1350 as fewer special commissions were issued. There are also some rolls of commissions to inquire but not to determine, which are similar to the oyer and terminer rolls.

Also included are some rolls of proceedings before the justices of the peace, and their predecessors the keepers of the peace, and justices of labourers, 1277 to 1414, with one item of 1502, which were handed in to the Court of King's Bench during its provincial sessions. Among miscellaneous items included are some King's Bench indictments files and other records of that court and of the Court of Common Pleas; coroners' rolls; rolls of the Common Pleas Court of the Palatinate of Lancaster; rolls of 'Kirkby's Quest', 1284-85; rolls of commissioners of sewers and for bridge and road repairs; the grand assize roll for the reign of Henry III; some rolls of sessions in Wales and odd individual inquisitions and transcripts of charters.

The series includes some rolls and files which are separated from the Palatinate of Lancaster records in DL 35, PL 15 , PL 20, PL 25 and PL 26.

Digital images of some of the records in this series are available through the Anglo-American Legal Tradition website. Please note that The National Archives is not responsible for this website or its content.

Date: 1198-1528
Arrangement: Arrangement

The first section ( JUST 1/1-1170) includes records relating to individual counties, arranged alphabetically by county, and under each county in chronological order;

The second section (JUST 1/1171-1547) is of documents covering a number of counties, arranged in chronological sequence;

The third (JUST 1/1548-1562) comprises items relating to various counties;

The concluding sequence (JUST 1/1563-1603) is a random sequence of records identified and added since the original arrangment was made at the end of the nineteenth century.

Related material:

There are extensive selected abstracts, including indexes, by Arthur Agarde in IND 1/17083-17098. A few other eyre records are in:

Eyre records from the Palatinate of Chester are in CHES 17

E 32

E 198

Fifteenth century records of oyer and terminer proceedings, together with further peace rolls, are in files now in KB 9

Some other eyre rolls from 1194 to 1209 are in KB 26

Recorda of eyre proceedings are in KB 145

SC 5

W K Boyd's notes on the rolls are in PRO 66/1/2

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English, French and Latin

Justices in Eyre, 1166-1374

Justices of Assize, 1166-1971

Justices of Gaol Delivery, 1166-1971

Justices of Oyer and Terminer, 1248-1971

Justices of the Peace, 1264-

Physical description: 1603 files and rolls
Custodial history: The earlier plea rolls and files were kept by the justices or their clerks before being handed in to the Exchequer, which became normal practice from 1257. For details see PRO Handbook no. 21, pp. 12-30. Much detail about their subsequent history can be obtained from the introductions to the Curia Regis Rolls series, volumes XI-XVIII, even though they relate specifically to the rolls in KB 26
Publication note:

Many of the records have been printed, especially by the Selden Society and various county record societies, including virtually all the eyre rolls before 1222, and nearly all the peace rolls. Nearly all the quo warranto proceedings in eyre were published in Placita de Quo Warranto (Record Commission, 1818). There is a detailed guide to eyre records in Records of the General Eyre (PRO Handbooks no. 20). A separate catalogue of the assize rolls in JUST 1, from 1206 to 1481, including indexes of justices, counties, venues, dates and litigants and properties in special assizes separately enrolled, has been published in List and Index Society, volume 220. Printed trailbaston material includes the Calendar of London Trailbaston Trials under Commissions of 1305 and 1306 (1975). Records of the trial of Walter Langton are printed in Camden Fourth Series, vol. 6. Transcripts of a great deal of the material from the peace rolls is to be found in Proceedings before the Justices of the Peace in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Edward III to Richard III, edited by B H Putnam (Ames Foundation, 1938). Transcripts of some entries from the rolls of justices of labourers is in B H Putnam, The Enforcement of the Statutes of Labourers, 1349-1359 (New York, 1908).

Unpublished finding aids:

A separate list of the surviving special oyer and terminer proceedings in JUST 1, including indexes of justices, counties, venues, dates and persons and places, is available in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew; it includes entries for those cases enrolled in assize rolls in the later thirteenth century.

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