Patent Roll 6 Henry V

12 Jan. 1419

INSPEXIMUS of the tenor of the various articles in a certain parchment roll of writing, lately found with Christopher Preston kt at the time of his arrest in the town of Clane by the deputy of the K.’s beloved and faithful John Talbot of Halomshire kt [chivaler], Lt of Ire., and shown before the K. and his council in Ire. at the town of Trim on 9 Jan. [1419] last, in this words:1

'MODUS TENENDI PARLIAMENTA [“The Manner of Holding Parliaments”]:

Henry [II], K. of Eng., conqueror and lord of Ire., sends this formula for the holding of parliament to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justices, sheriffs, mayors, officials and ministers, and all his faithful persons of the land of Ire.:

[1] First, the summoning of parliament ought to precede parliament by 40 days.

[2] All archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors and other clerks who hold by a complete earldom or barony ought to be summoned and come to parliament, and no lesser clerks at their own cost on account of their tenure. Also there ought to be summoned archbishops, bishops, abbots and priors, deans and archdeacons, exempted and other privileged [persons], who have jurisdiction, that they with the assent of their clergy for every deanery and archdeaconry in Ire., and for the same deaneries and archdeaconries cause to be elected two wise and competent proctors for their own archdeaconries to come and attend in parliament in order to reply and support, arrange and do what each and all persons of the deaneries and archdeaconries would do had they been personally present. And that the proctors come with their warrant in duplicate, sealed with the seal of their superiors, of which one shall be delivered to the clerk of parliament to enrol and the other shall remain with them, etc.

[3] There ought to be summoned and come any and every earl and baron and their peers, viz. those who have lands and revenues to the value of an entire earldom, that is 20 knights fees, each fee being reckoned at £20, which makes £400 or the value of an entire barony, viz. 13⅓ knights’ fees, which makes 400m, and none of the lesser laity and clergy at their own cost by reason of their tenure unless the K. summons by necessity his councillors or other wise men. It is customary to send for them, asking them that they come and be present in parliament at the cost of the K.

[4] Also the K. ought to instruct by writ to each seneschal of a liberty and to any and each of his sheriffs of Ire., that they should cause to be elected, each with the assent of the community of the liberty and county, two suitable, honest and wise knights to come to parliament to answer, support, state and do what one and all of the community of the liberty or county would do if they were personally present. And that the knights shall come with their warrants, as mentioned above concerning the proctors, and that they shall not depart from parliament without the licence of parliament. And after this licence they shall have a writ addressed to the seneschal or sheriff that he shall pay the said knights from the community their reasonable costs and expenses from the day they went to parliament until the day when they were able to return home from parliament. And these expenses shall not exceed 1m a day for two knights.

[5] Also in the same manner the K. shall instruct the mayors, bailiffs, provosts of cities and free boroughs that by the common assent of their community they shall elect two citizens or burgesses etc., as mentioned above concerning the knights. And that the expenses of the two citizens or burgesses shall not exceed ½m a day.

[6] And memorandum that the K. shall find at his own cost a principal clerk of parliament to enrol the common pleas and business of parliament, who will be subject without intermediary only to the K. and his parliament in common. And when the peers of parliament are assigned to examine petitions by themselves, and are agreed in their judgement, then the said clerk shall repeat the petitions and the process upon them, and the peers shall render judgement in full parliament. And this clerk shall sit in the middle of the bench of justices. And it should be noted that no one is a judge in parliament nor is any one of them a judge of record in parliament, unless new powers have been assigned to him by the K. and the peers of parliament in parliament. And the said clerk shall deliver his rolls to the treasury before the end of parliament.

[7] Also the K. is accustomed to assign at his own cost a good and competent clerk to write down the queries and answers that the archbishops and the bishops may wish to make to the K. and parliament, and similarly a second clerk for proctors of the clergy, a third similarly for the earls and barons and their peers, and a fourth for the knights of the liberties and the counties, and a fifth for the citizens and burgesses. These clerks shall always give attention to their deliberations but if they are free, or if any of them are free they ought to assist the principal clerk to enrol. And at the least one ought to be assigned to the spiritual lords and commons, and another to the temporal lords and commons. And also the K. shall appoint with the said clerks an usher and a crier.

[8] The K. alone constitutes the first grade of parliament because he is the head, the beginning, and the end of parliament. The second grade consists of the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors and their peers holding by earldom or barony. The third grade consists of the proctors. The fourth grade [consists of] the earls, barons, and their peers. The fifth grade consists of the knights of the franchises and the communities [counties]. The sixth grade consists of the citizens and burgesses. And if it should happen that any of the said grades, except the K., should be absent from parliament and ought to have been summoned, nonetheless the parliament shall be deemed to be full.

[9] The K. is bound always to be present in parliament unless he is impeded by infirmity, and then he should be in the manor or the town of parliament, and he should send for two bishops, two earls, two barons, two knights of the counties, two citizens and two burgesses to view his person and to testify to his condition. In their presence he ought to commission the archbishop of the province, the earls of the land, and his chief justice, that they begin and continue parliament in his name. And the K. cannot absent himself except in the manner and for the cause aforesaid, unless it be with the assent of those peers in parliament.

[10] The K. shall sit in the middle of the principal bench, and on his right the archbishop of the province [in which parliament is meeting]; and if parliament is held outside the province of Dublin, then on his left the archbishop of Dublin, and then Cashel and Tuam on either side, then the bishops, abbots, and others, according to their order. The C. shall stand next to the K. The T. shall sit between the barons, the justices of one bench and the other at the foot of the K., and all the proctors on the floor.

[11] The K. together with his council is bound to be present on the first day in parliament, and on the fourth day all who have been summoned will be called to parliament, and their default recorded, and by the decision of the K. and all the peers of parliament they shall be amerced according to their default.

[12] Parliament ought not to be held on Sundays nor on All Saints day, All Souls day, nor the Nativity of St John the Baptist. On all other days the K. together with the grades of parliament ought to be in parliament at the middle hour before prime, and on feast days because of divine service at the hour of prime, and parliament should always be held in an open place.

[13] The petitions of parliament are filed as they are considered, and according to this order they are read and replied to. But first it should be determined what pertains to war, then what to the person of the K. and queen, and their children and their government, and then to the common affairs of the kingdom such as making and amending laws, viz. original judgements as well as sentences after judgement has been given, and then individual petitions according to the order filed. And on the first day of parliament it shall be proclaimed in the town and the place of parliament that all who have complaints and petitions that they may wish to deliver to parliament shall do so within the next five days.

[14] On the fourth or fifth day of parliament a sermon shall be delivered by some duly constituted clerk of the same province and after the sermon the C., or some other wise and eloquent and honest person deputed by the C., shall declare the causes of the parliament first in general and then in particular, standing in order that he can be heard by everyone, because everyone who speaks in parliament must stand to speak except the K. And after the opening of parliament the K. ought to declare to the clergy and laity that each in his own grade should diligently, seriously and whole-heartedly labour to treat and deliberate the business of parliament to ensure firstly that it should be in accordance with the will of God and after to the honour and profit of the K. and those present.

[15] The K. used not to demand an aid from his people except for a war in progress or for the marriage of his daughters. These petitions ought to be delivered in writing to each grade of parliament, and given a written reply. Hence it must be understood that in those grants it is necessary that the greatest part of each grade should assent to it. It must be understood that two knights who are elected have a greater voice in granting and denying on behalf of a county than the earl of that county. In the same way the proctors of the clergy [have] more than their bishops in granting and denying, because it is evident that the K. can hold parliament with his commonalty without bishops, earls, or barons provided they did not come after they had been duly summoned because at one time there was no bishop, earl, or baron, and still the kings held parliaments. But if the commons of the clergy and the laity are summoned to parliament in the accustomed way, and for some reasonable cause are not willing to come, namely if they give specifically as reason that the K. does not govern them rightly, then there will be no parliament at all, although all the other estates are there in full. And therefore it is necessary that all matters which have to be granted, done, affirmed, and given in parliament, ought to be granted by the commons of parliament, which is composed of these grades, viz. the proctors of the clergy, the knights of the liberties and counties, the citizens and burgesses. And each peer of parliament is in parliament for himself. All the peers of parliament are judges and justices in parliament, and they shall all sit except when they speak, [and] the commons are plaintiffs and the grantors or deniers of aids.

[16] If a doubtful or difficult case arises concerning war or peace in the land or outside the land, that case is rendered in writing in full parliament, and shall be debated and discussed among the peers of parliament. Then, if necessary, it shall be referred by the K. to each grade so that each grade by itself having a clerk with the case in writing after that case has been read out can ordain and consider among themselves what is the best and wisest manner they can proceed in that case as they would wish to answer before God for the person of the K., and themselves, and those present. And they shall report their replies in writing, so that having heard all the replies and advice, the better plan be proceeded with, and if there is discord between the K. and other magnates, or if between the magnates or between the people the peace of the land is broken, so that it seems to parliament that such a matter ought to be treated by all the grades of the land, and settled by their consideration, or if the K. and the land are troubled by war or if a difficult case comes before the C. or a justice, or a difficult judgement arises, or any similar case, and if in these deliberations all or even the greater part of each grade do not agree, then from each grade of parliament except the K. one shall be elected. Let all of them or the greater number of them elect two bishops and three proctors for all the clergy, two earls, three barons, five knights of the counties, five citizens and five burgesses, which compose twenty-five persons, and from these they themselves shall be able to elect twelve and they shall reduce themselves, and these twelve to six, and they shall reduce themselves, and these six to three, and they shall reduce themselves, and then by the licence of the K. these three to two, and these two can reduce into one or the other who cannot disagree with himself, and his decision will be on behalf of the whole parliament, unless the greater number are able to agree, saving to the K. and council that these ordinances after they have been written are examined and corrected if it is so decided in full parliament and not elsewhere and with the full consent of parliament.

[17] The clerks of parliament shall not deny a transcript either of his process or a record of parliament to anyone who is willing to pay a penny for every ten lines containing ten inches in length which is the measurement of a parliament roll.

[18] Parliament will be held in any suitable place in the land which pleases the K., and parliament ought not to depart so long as any petition remains undiscussed and the K. breaks his oath if he allows the contrary. And of all the grades of parliament no one can or ought to leave parliament without the licence of the K. and of all the peers of parliament, and this in full parliament, and this shall be mentioned in the roll of parliament. And if during parliament anyone is detained from parliament by infirmity, so that he cannot come to parliament, then within four days he should send excusors to parliament, on which day if he does not come two of his peers shall be sent to him to see and to testify to his sickness, and by their record he is to be excused, or in mercy when [he is amerced for his default]; but if he is not feigning sickness, then he shall appoint as attorney some sufficient person in their presence to attend parliament for him, but if he is well and of sound mind he cannot be excused. As regards the departure of parliament, it ought first be asked and proclaimed openly in parliament whether there is anyone who has delivered a petition to parliament who has not had his reply, and if there is no contradiction it must be supposed that a reasonable remedy has been made to every petition. And then the C. or someone else assigned by the K. and parliament ought to say in a loud voice, “We give our licence for parliament to dissolve”. And so ends parliament.

[19] And also the K. wills that the same forms shall be observed in the summoning of the council, except that [the law] and laws of the same council are ordinances, while in parliament they are true statutes.

[20] And also the K. wills that in the absence of the K. from the same land without a procurator or governor of the said land or someone by whatever other name he may be known, having being appointed by the K. himself, the K.’s council shall directly and speedily send for the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons and their peers, with other nobles and discreet men at least to the nearest three adjacent counties, in order that they may more quickly assemble on a certain convenient day and at a place which they decide amongst themselves for deliberating, counselling and agreeing [concerning] a Jcr of the K. of the land of Ire., who in place of the K., and as the lord of Ire., and in the name of the K., shall supply all things. Upon which directly the K.’s said council under the K.’s g.s. for the said land may appoint him Jcr of Ire. for governing the said land in the name of the K. in all things.

[21] The K. wills that this form shall be observed in all things in his land of Ire. and that this writing shall be held for the people of the said land in the custody of the archbishop of Cashel, since it is in the middle of the land. He who is appointed by the K. his keeper of the land of Ire. by whatever name he is known, having touched the Holy Gospel shall swear this oath in the presence of the C., council and people; he shall keep for God, and the people of the land of Ire. the laws, liberties and true customs which ancient Kings of Eng., predecessors of the present K., and the K. himself, have granted to God, the people of Eng., and the land of Ire. And that he shall observe peace and concord for God, Holy Church, the clergy and the people, in God undiminished according to his power. And that in all his judgements he will cause equal and true justice to be done with discrimination, mercy and truth. And that he will hold and guard the true laws and customs which the people of the land shall have chosen to be kept by him, and that he ought to defend and strengthen them to the honour of God as far as he can.

[22] And note that this oath is from the oath of the K. of Eng.

[23] And having taken the oath he is invested on oath with power granted to him and not before.

The end.’

INSPEXIMUS also of the tenor of a certain article written on a certain schedule of paper, which was similarly found on the said Christopher [Preston] at the said time, and likewise shown in the presence of the said Lt and in the presence of the K.’s said council at the town of Trim on 9 Jan. [1419], in these words, viz.:

‘[24] Having been elected by the people to be K. so that he should be consecrated after they have again consented to it, the metropolitan shall ask the elected quietly but distinctly whether he is willing to grant and preserve to the same people the laws and customs which the kings in ancient times had granted and by oath confirmed to the people of Eng., especially the laws and customs which the kings in ancient times had granted and by oath confirmed to the people of Eng., especially the laws and customs and liberties granted by the most glorious K. and Saint Edward to the clergy and the people. Now if he shall have said that he is willing to agree to all these things the metropolitan shall put the matter to him speaking thus:

“Will you preserve for the church of God, for the clergy and the people, entire peace and concord so far as in you lies?”

He will reply: “I will keep them.”

“Will you cause equal and right justice to be done in all your judgements, and discretion in mercy and truth according to your power?”

He will reply: “I will do so.”

“Do you grant that the just laws which your people choose are to be [kept and] to be guarded by you, and strengthened to the honour of God, according to your power?”

He will reply: “I grant and promise.”

There follows the admonition of the bishops to the K. and it is to be read by one bishop clearly in the presence of all, saying: “Lord K., we ask that it be freely granted by you that you can keep and defend for each of your churches entrusted to you canonical privilege and right law and justice as the K. in his realm ought to do for each of his bishops and abbots and for the churches entrusted to him.”

He will reply: ‘With a mind willing and resolved, I promise you and grant it freely, and I will keep for each one of you and for the churches entrusted to you canonical privilege and right law and justice, and I will defend you to the best of my ability to the glory of God, as the K. in his realm ought rightly to do on behalf of each bishop, abbot, and the churches entrusted to him.”

To the said questions may be added those things which were below.

The said propositions all pronounced, the said prince undertakes that he will observe all the aforesaid, taking the oath immediately upon the altar in the presence of all. Thus, the K. having being installed on his throne in this manner, the peers of the realm surrounding the K. on all sides with their open hands extended in the sign of their fealty shall proffer themselves for the sustenance of the said K. and Crown.'

The K. has witnessed the tenor of the said articles by assent of the said Lt and council.

John Talbot of Halomshire kt, Lt of Ire.
By the Lt and council.

Huntington Library (San Marino, California), MS E.L. 1699.


Nicholas Pronay and John Taylor (eds), Parliamentary texts of the later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1980), pp 128–37; M. V. Clarke, Medieval representation and consent: a study of early parliaments in Eng. and Ireland, with special reference to the Modus tenendi parliamentum (New York, 1964), pp 384–92; TCD, MS 578, f. 11–11v [incomplete transcript].


1 A critical edition of the Irish Modus tenendi parliamenta is provided in Nicholas Pronay and John Taylor (eds), Parliamentary texts of the later Middle Ages (Oxford, 1980), pp 128–37 (trans. pp 139–47). This edition supersedes M. V. Clarke, Medieval representation and consent: a study of early parliaments in Eng. and Ireland, with special reference to the Modus tenendi parliamentum (New York, 1964), pp 384–92. The Pronay & Taylor edition is based primarily on Huntington, MS E.L. 1699, a document that has achieved some fame as the so-called ‘Preston exemplification’. The original MS is damaged along the right-hand margin, and readings are supplied by Pronay and Taylor from a seventeenth-century transcript published by Robert Steele from a transcript of the exemplification owned by William Hakewill (R. Steele (ed.), Bibliotheca Lindesiana, v: Bibliography of royal proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart sovereigns and of others published under authority, 1485–1714 (Oxford, 1910), i, pp clxxxviii–cxcii). The translation provided here is based on the Pronay and Taylor edition, with minor emendations to bring the text into conformity with the editorial conventions of CIRCLE. For a list of the other transcripts of the Irish Modus, see Pronay and Taylor, Parl. texts, appendix 2, p. 210.
{2} The engrossed letters patent conclude with the following 'mention of service' written on the plica: Examinatur per Johannem Passavant et Willelmum Sutton, clericos.

The following abbreviations are used within in the text of CIRCLE

  • abp = archbishop [of]
  • BMV = beate Marie Virginis [of the Blessed Virgin Mary]
  • C. = chancellor [plural: chancellors]
  • co. = county (i.e. medieval shire: lower case ‘c’) [plural. cos.]
  • dcd = deceased
  • e. = earl of
  • Edw. = Edward (used when giving dates by regnal year)
  • Eng. = England
  • esq. = esquire [plural: esquires]
  • Ex. = exchequer
  • g.s. = great seal
  • Hen. = Henry
  • Ire. = Ireland
  • Jcr = justiciar [plural: justiciars]
  • JP = justice of the peace
  • K. = king
  • kt = knight
  • Lt = lieutenant
  • O.Carm. = Order of Carmelites
  • O.F.M. =  Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans)
  • O.P. = Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
  • Ric. = Richard (used when giving dates by regnal year)
  • s. = son
  • sen. = seneschal of
  • T. = treasurer [plural: treasurers]
  • w. = wife

This glossary is by no means comprehensive. Readers may also wish to consult standard references books such as Joseph Byrne, Byrne’s dictionary of local Irish History from the earliest times to c.1900 (Cork, 2004); P. G. Osborn, Osborn’s concise law dictionary, ed. Sheila Bone (London, 2001).


  • AN = Anglo-Norman
  • Ir. = Irish
  • Lat. = Latin
  • ME = Middle English
  • OED = Oxford English Dictionary





The right of patronage or presentation to a church benefice.

allocate, writ of

A writ authorizing allowance to be made by the officers of the Ex. of a specified amount: often this amount is to be off-set against the debts owed to the K. by the beneficiary.


A form of affinity proscribed in late medieval Ireland between the Irish and the English, whereby a man stood sponsor for a child at baptism; (also) gossipred.


Technical term for legal proceedings or various kinds. See mort d’ancestor, novel disseisin.

avener [Lat. avarius]

provider of oats, esp. for the household of the K. or his chief governor


Miscellaneous merchandise sold by weight.

bonnaght [Ir. buannacht]

The billeting of mercenaries or servants.


See tun.

certiorari, writ of

Letters close issued by the K. to his officers commanding them to supply information to him concerning a specified matter, normally by searching the records.


Property, goods, money: as opposed to real property (land).

dicker [Lat. dacra]

A measure of 10 hides.


Portion (one third) of a deceased husband’s estate which the law allows to his widow for her life.


The reversion of land to the lord of the fee to the crown on failure of heirs of the owner or on his outlawry.


A survey and valuation of property, esp. one made by royal inquisition.

falding [Ir. fallaing]

A kind of coarse woollen cloth produced in Ireland; the mantle or cloak made from the same.


A fixed annual rent payable to the K. by chartered boroughs.

fotmel [Lat. fotmellum]

A measure of lead.


Technical term: the action of writing out, for instance patent letters and charters; (also) the documents thus written out.


Technical term: the action of recording in the records of the K., esp. the registering of a deed, memorandum, recognizance; (also) the specific item or record thus enrolled.


A repository for the keeping of money. The ‘clerk of the hanaper in chancery’ was the chancery official responsible for the receipt of fines for the issue, engrossment and ensealing of writs, patents and charters issued by the chancery.

herberger [Lat. herbergerius, hospitator]

One sent on before to purvey lodgings for an army, a royal train (OED).

galangal [AN galyngale]

The aromatic rhizome of certain Asian plants of the genera Alpinia and Kaempferia, of the ginger family, used in cookery and herbal medicine; (also) any of these plants (OED).

generosus [Lat.]

Term designating social status: translated as ‘gentleman’.

king's widow [Lat. vidua regis]

The widow of a tenant in chief: so called because whe was not allowed to marry a second time without royal licence.

knights’ fees

Units of assessment of estates in land. Originally a single knight’s fee was the amount of land for which the military service of one knight (=knight service) was required by the crown. ‘Fee’ derives from the Latin feudum, which in other contexts translated as ‘fief’. In practice the descent of landed estates meant that many knights’ fees came to be subdivided and, in the later Middle Ages, personal service was frequently commuted to money payments (=scutage).

liberate, writ of

A chancery writ issued to the treasurer and chamberlains of the Ex. authorizing them to make payment of a specified amount, often the annual fees, wages and rewards of the K.’s officers.

linch [Lat. lincia]

A measure of tin.


The delivery of seisin, or possession, of an estate hitherto held in the K.’s hand, for instance when a minor reaches the age of majority.


Legal term: the action of undertaking to stand surety (=‘mainpernor’) for another person; the action of making oneself legally responsible for the fulfilment of a contract or undertaking by another person (OED).

mass [Lat. messa]

A standard measure of metal.


A portion of land occupied, or intended to be occupied, as the site for a dwelling house; (also) a dwelling house together with outbuildings and the adjacent land assigned to its use (OED).

mort d’ancestor, assize of [Lat. assisa mortis antecessoris]

A legal process to recover land of which the plaintiff’s ancestor (father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother sister, nephew or niece) died seised (=in possession), possession of which was since taken by another person.

nolumus, clause of [Lat. cum clausula nolumus]

A standard clause inserted especially in letters of protection by which pleas and suits are delayed for a specified period of time.

novel disseisin, assize of [Lat. assisa nove disseisine]

A legal process to recover land from which the plaintiff claims to have been dispossessed (=disseised).

pensa See wey.
piece [L. pecia] A standard quantity of merchandise.
pendent seal Seal hanging from engrossed letters patent attached to a tongue or tag of parchment.
perpresture An illegal encroachment upon royal property.
plica A fold along the foot of engrossed letters patent and charters to create a double thickness of parchment, used for attaching the ‘great seal pendent’ to the letters. An incision was made in the plica and through which a tag of parchment was attached. A wax impression of a seal was then affixed to the tag.
protection An act of grace by the K., granted by chancery letters, by which the recipient is to be free from suits at law for a specified term; granted especially to persons crossing overseas or otherwise out of reach of the courts in the K.’s service.
quare impedit, writ of An action brought to recover the advowson of a benefice, brought by the patron against the bishop or other person hindering the presentation.
scutage The commutation of personal military service to the crown for a money payment. Normally called ‘royal service’ in Ireland.
seisin Formal legal possession of land.
sendal [Lat. cendallum; ME cendal] A thin rich silken material (OED).
stallage [Lat. stallagium, estallagium] Payment for a market stall.
tun [Latdolium] A large cask or barrel, esp. of wine.
valettus A term designating social status: translated ‘yeoman’.
Vidua Regis [Lat.] See King's widow.
volumus, clause of [Lat. cum clausula volumus] A standard clause inserted esp. in letters of protection by which pleas and suits are delayed for a specified period of time. In full the clause runs: volumus quod interim sit quietus de omnibus placitis et querelis (=we wish that meanwhile he be quit of all pleas and plaints).
waif A piece of property which is found ownerless and which, if unclaimed within a fixed period after due notice given, falls to the lord.
waivery [AN weiverie] The technical term for proceedings of outlawry in the case of women.
wey [Lat. pensa, peisa, pisa] A standard of dry-goods weight.
worsted [ME wyrstede] A woollen fabric or stuff made from well-twisted yarn spun of long-staple wool combed to lay the fibres parallel (OED).
writ [Lat. brevis] Letters close containing commands by the K. to certain specified persons, esp. royal officers. Returnable writs, which were not normally enrolled in the chancery rolls, were to be returned by the officer to chancery with details of the actions taken by the officer in response to the contents. See also allocate, certiorari, liberate.