Sources 1080-1089Early records of Wells cathedral, in Somerset (1001-1500)
Three early registers of the dean and chapter of Wells - the Liber Albus I (White Book; R I), Liber Albus II (R III), and Liber Ruber (Red Book; R II, section i) - were edited by W. H. B. Bird for the Historical Manuscripts Commissioners and published in 1907. These three books comprise, with some repetition, a cartulary of possessions of the cathedral, with grants of land dating back as early as the 8th century, well before the development of hereditary surnames in England; acts of the dean and chapter; and surveys of their estates, mostly in Somerset.
This abstract of the surviving charter rolls for 1300 to 1326, in the reigns of kings Edward I and II, was prepared by C. G. Crump and A. E. Stamp and published in 1908. The charter rolls not only recorded royal grants of lands, liberties and offices, but also enabled landowners to have their existing charters, their deeds of title, registered by the process of inspeximus and confirmation. After the Statute of Mortmain of 1279, this was of particular importance to religious houses, now greatly restricted in their ability to receive new donations of land, and anxious to prove title to their ancient property. Consequently, many charters of great age were copied onto the charter rolls.
The Liber A or Pilosus of St Paul's cathedral, London, was initiated in 1241 as an attempt at copying all the charters, chirographs and other diverse writings found in the treasury of the church; after that original project was abandoned, the codex came to be used as a general register or cartulary. The first portion was edited for the Royal Historical Society by Marion Gibbs and printed in 1939. Where the original charters also survived, or a better text was found in Liber L, she used these superior sources. Liber A never became a complete register of the cathedral's charters; nor are the charters it contains necessarily the most important, nor were they grouped chronologically or geographically. The text remains as a record of part of the great landed wealth of the church in London and nearby. The persons that appear are the grantors, justices, those named in the descriptions of property, and the witnesses.