Sources 1100-1109Early 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.
The Cluniac monastery of St John the Evangelist at Pontefract (Pomfret) in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was founded in the 11th century by Robert de Lascy. The grants of land made to the priory from then well into the 13th century were copied into a cartulary or chartulary which eventually came to Godfrey Wentworth of Woolley Park. This was edited by Richard Holmes and published by Yorkshire Archaeological Society in 1899 and 1902. The individuals named are mainly local landowners and tenants, canons, servants and wellwishers of the monastery. The charters before 1250 are often undated: the numbering of the charters is modern, and amounts to 561. The cartulary itself contains 11 fasciculi, to which Holmes gave these section names - I. The Seigniorial Charters; II. The Ecclesiastical Charters; III. Royal Charters and Confirmations; IV. The Local Charters (Pontefract &c.); V. The Ledstone Charters; VI. The Ledsham Charters; VII. Miscellaneous Charters; VIII. The Peckfield and other Charters; IX. and X. Scarborough and other Charters; and XI. Leases to Tenants. Ledston(e), Ledsham and Peckfield are all close to Pontefract, as is most of the property.
John Harley of the Historical Manuscripts Commission was invited by Reginald Rawdon Hastings to examine his family's extensive archives at the Manor House, Ashby de la Zouche, in Leicestershire. Harley produced a detailed calendar, of which is the first volume, published in 1928, Hastings himself having since died, and Harley having been killed at Gallipoli. This volume covers four categories of the records: the Ancient Deeds; Manorial and other Documents; Accounts and Inventories; and Miscellaneous Papers. Most, but not all, of the material is mediaeval. About half of the deeds relate to the family property in Leicestershire; then there are sections for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, London, Wiltshire, Somersetshire, Devonshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, &c. The manorial section includes a partitions of the estates of the Earls of Leicester and Wilton about 1204 and 1277; manor court rolls are mentioned, but not extracted. Choicer items from the family accounts and inventories are copied in extenso for 1596 and 1607, and thereafter summarised. Most of the later material is merely dipped into for curiosities.
The Corporation of Leicester commissioned the publication (in 1899) of extracts from the earliest borough archives, edited by Mary Bateson. This volume brings together several important sources: the borough charters; the merchant gild rolls (from 1196 onwards); tax returns; court rolls (from about 1260 onwards); mayoral accounts, &c. All the Latin and French texts are accompanied by English translations. Membership of the merchant gild was by right of inheritance (s. p. = sede patris, in his father's seat), or by payment of a fee called a 'bull' (taurus). The sample scan shows part of a gild entrance roll; those marked * paid their bull, and were thus, by implication, not natives, or at least not belonging to gild merchant families. By 1400 membership of the gild merchant had become the equivalent of gaining freedom of the borough (being a free burgess): but at this period the two were not necessarily the same, and some of the merchant gild members were not resident in the borough, merely traded there. Not all the tax rolls surviving for this period are printed: but full lists of names are given for a loan for redemption of pontage and gavelpence of 1252-3 (pp. 44-46); five tallages of 1269 to 1271 brought together in a single table (128-145); and tallages of 1286 (208-211), 1307 (255-257), 1311 (272-274) and 1318 (310-313). The portmanmoot (or portmote) was the borough court dealing with minor infractions and civil suits. Finally, there is a calendar of charters (from c.1232 onwards, 381-400), and a list of mayors, bailiffs (reeves), receivers and serjeants (401-407).