Fine Rolls and Pipe Rolls

Richard Cassidy writes…

I have been looking at the way in which fines make their way from the Chancery’s fine rolls, via the originalia rolls which transmit the information to the Exchequer, onto the pipe rolls. The pipe rolls are said to relate to a given Exchequer year – that is, a year ending at Michaelmas. But I have noticed that the fines recorded in the pipe rolls do not necessarily match either the Exchequer year, or the regnal year used in the fine rolls.

For example, the Staffordshire account in the 1259 pipe roll is supposed to cover two years, from 30 September 1257 to 29 September 1259. The Nova Oblata section, recording the new entries for this roll, begins with a fine made by the abbot of Burton on 28 December 1257. The rest of the Staffordshire fines follow, more or less in the order in which they appear in the fine rolls, up to the last fine for the county from the 1258-59 fine roll, made on 24 October 1259. This fine must have been included on the section of originalia roll covering the last part of the Chancery’s year 1258-59, which the Treasurer received on 25 November 1259; the summonses derived from this roll had all been sent out to the sheriffs by Christmas 1259, according to a note on the dorse of the originalia roll. In other words, the Staffordshire entries on the pipe roll include fines made after the end of the year it is meant to cover, but before the day on which the county accounts were examined by the Exchequer (9 February 1260).

This is not entirely surprising – it is fairly well known that the pipe rolls include payments made up to the date of each county’s account, after the nominal year end. What does seem odd is the pattern of fines recorded over several years for a conveniently small county, Sussex. The Sussex fines from five years’ fine rolls can nearly all be traced in the pipe rolls (about 110 out of 120). They appear in chronological order, with one pipe roll taking over from another, but with the sequence breaking at irregular intervals:

the 1254-55 pipe roll includes fines dated up to 16 June 1255;

the 1255-56 pipe roll includes fines from 2 November 1255 to 6 June 1256;

the 1256-57 pipe roll includes fines from 12 June 1256 to 14 October 1257, plus one out-of-sequence fine from 22 November 1255;

the 1257-58 pipe roll includes fines from 16 November 1257 to 20 April 1258;

the 1258-59 pipe roll includes fines from 2 June 1258 to 30 June 1259;

the 1259-60 pipe roll includes fines from 4 July 1259 onwards.

From this sample, it seems that in most years the listing of fines in the pipe roll ended with the batch of fines sent in June in an instalment of the originalia roll. This seems odd, on the face of it, and raises the question of what exactly it means to say that a pipe roll relates to a particular year, when there seems to be no clear relationship between the nominal year of the roll and the events which it covers. I would be grateful for any suggestions which might clarify this, particularly from anybody who has already undertaken the tedious task of matching up fine roll and pipe roll entries.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply