Inventory of Chancery Rolls

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This table prints, collates and, where necessary, corrects a substantial amount of information concerning the original medieval Irish chancery rolls drawn principally from four inventories dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

  1. Lodge Mss, vol. 1 (John Lodge, 1755).
    Lodge prefaced the first volume of his manuscripts with inventories of the chancery rolls in his custody in Bermingham tower and the rolls office. His lists are especially valuable because they are arranged by repository. The first is entitled: ‘An exact List of the Patent Rolls remaining of Record in the Office of the Rolls of his Majesty’s High Court of Chancery in Ireland 1755’. The second begins: ‘In Bermingham Tower are the following Rolls, which have been left there by mistake, & ought to be deposited in the Rolls Office.’
  2. ‘Inventory of the Patent and Close Rolls, preserved in the Rolls Office of His Majesty’s High Court of Chancery, Four Courts, Dublin’ (RCI, 1819).
    This inventory―by far the most detailed to have come down to us―purports to contain ‘every particular necessary to identify and convey an accurate description of each [chancery] roll’. It was compiled under the auspices of the Record Commission of Ireland after the transfer of a large number of chancery rolls from Bermingham tower to the rolls office. The inventory gives a brief description of each of the rolls under the heading ‘general observations’, as well as the number of membranes in each roll and any labels. In addition, the entire series of chancery rolls, totalling 130 to the end of the reign of Henry VII, is numbered consecutively.  This ‘running number’ appears in the left margin of the table printed below: I use it (in the format ‘RCI roll §1, §2 etc.’) as a means of identifying individual rolls in the commentary and notes.
  3. ‘Catalogue of the Patent and Close Rolls of Chancery to the end of the reign of King Henry the Seventh’ (RCH, 1828).
    This catalogue appears in the opening pages of RCH. It assigns each of the rolls an ‘office number’: unlike the RCI running numbers, the office numbers begin afresh with each new reign. There are also minor differences between the two lists. Of the 130 rolls that appear in the 1819 inventory, six are not calendared in RCH. Conversely, one roll appears in RCH (and thus the catalogue) but not in the inventory of 1819, namely a patent roll of 7 Henry IV discovered in 1822 in the office of the crown bench in Ireland. This catalogue served more as a table of contents than as a descriptive list, and consequently it is less detailed than the inventory of 1819; however, many editorial comments punctuate the text of RCH itself. These have been included in the footnotes to the table below.
  4. PROI, Chancery Finding Aids, vol. 1 (pre-1922).
    This PROI finding aid (available for consultation in the NAI) gives the final location of the chancery rolls in the record treasury. It reveals, inter alia, that the six rolls classed erroneously as chancery rolls in the inventory of 1819 had been removed from the main series of chancery rolls and stored separately in bay 3D.

Format and conventions used in revised inventory

The eleven columns that make up the table below contain the following information.

  1. RCI (1819). Gives the ‘running number’ from the RCI inventory of 1819.
  2. RCH (1828). Gives the ‘office number’ printed in RCH, here placed in roman numerals to distinguish it from the ‘running number’.
  3. Regnal year and repository. Gives the correct regnal year of each roll. Beneath this (in italics) appears the repository in which the roll was discovered, where this information is known for certain.
  4. Title of roll in RCH. Reproduces the title of each roll as printed in RCH (even where RCH is incorrect).
  5. Original endorsements or headings. The inventory of 1819 prints these endorsements and headings in record type, reflecting the abbreviations in the original. Suspensions are reproduced here as printed, but contractions have been expanded with the missing letters supplied in square brackets. Comments inserted in round brackets are those of the record commissioners themselves.
  6. Corrections and date range. Corrects inaccuracies in the identification of rolls in previous lists. Corrected titles are introduced by an ‘equals’ sign (=). Where the title given in RCH is correct, a long dash (―) in this column indicates that no further comment is necessary. Beneath this, in italics, appears the month of the earliest and latest entry on the rolls to survive to the nineteenth century.
  7. Mm. Gives the total number of membranes in each roll, as recorded in the 1819 inventory and the RCH catalogue. Discrepancies between the two lists are noted.
  8. No. of items. Gives the total number of items that appeared on each roll, followed in round brackets by the number of items on the face and dorse. Thus 9 (4 + 5d) indicates nine items in total, four on the face and five on the dorse.
  9. Page no. in RCH. Gives the page number in RCH for the first entry of the specified roll.
  10. ‘General Observations’ (1819). Reproduces the brief descriptions provided by the record commissioners for each of the chancery rolls. That inventory also indicated the contents of the first two (or sometimes three) items at the start of each roll, normally by giving the name of the addressees. These names have been omitted here unless they differ from the first items as printed in RCH.
  11. Key. Provides a key to the revised inventory for ease of reference. The following symbols are used:
    §    A chancery roll in more than one part (§1 indicates ‘part 1’, etc.).
    ≠    A roll that has been misidentified in previous lists.
    ∆    A fragment of a roll (only one or two membranes).
    †    A roll that was totally illegible in 1828.