A.D. 1198-1242.

First published in 1920 on behalf of the Public Record Office. Reprinted by permission of the Controller of Her Britannic Majesty's Stationery Office.

Printed in Germany
Lessingdruckerei Wiesbaden.


The Testa de Nevill of 1807.

In December 1804, the Royal Commissioners on the Public Records made an order:-

"That the Books intituled Testa de Nevill in the King's Remembrancer's Office, containing an account of Knights' Fees and Serjeanties in the reigns of Henry the Third and Edward the First, be forthwith transcribed and printed".

The book thus authorised was published in folio in 1807, and for more than a century it has been "at once the hunting-ground and the despair of the topographer and the student of genealogy". [1] It bristles with error and confusion throughout. The very title-page is misleading:-

"Testa de Nevill sive Liber Feodorum in curia Scaccarii, Temp. Hen. III. and Edw. I.".

Although the greater part of the text belongs to the reign of Henry III, the sections belonging to the reign of Edward I actually occupy less space than sections belonging to the reign of John, while some scattered sections date back even to the reign of Richard I.

The Preface runs as follows:-

"In the King's Remembrancer's Office of the Court of Exchequer are preserved Two ancient Books called the Testa de Nevill, or Liber Feodorum, which are described in the Return of Abel Moysey, Esq. Deputy King's Remembrancer, printed in the Reports from the Select Committee of the House of Commons, appointed to inquire into the State of the Public Records of the Kingdom, &c. Page 138, as containing "Nomina Villarum, Serjeanties, and Knights Fees, in

[1] Round, The Commune of London, p. 201.


several Counties, taken by Inquisition temp. Hen. III. and Edward I."; and it is there also observed, "that these Two Books contain the Compilations known by the Name of Testa de Nevill"; and that in the Cover of each Book there is a Memorandum in an ancient Hand, of which the following is a Copy; "Contenta pro Evidenciis habeantur hic in Scc'io et non pro Recordo".

"These Books contain principally an Account,

1. Of Fees holden either immediately of the King, or of others who held of the King in Capite, and if alienated whether the Owners were enfeoffed ab antiquo, or de novo, as also Fees holden in Frankalmoigne, with the Values thereof respectively.

2. Of Serjeanties holden of the King, distinguishing such as were rented or alienated, with the Values of the same.

3. Of Widows and Heiresses of Tenants in Capite, whose Marriages were in the Gift of the King, with the Values of their Lands.

4. Of Churches in the Gift of the King, and in whose Hands they were.

5. Of Escheats, as well of the Lands of Normans as others, in whose Hands the same were, and by what Services holden.

6. Of the Amount of the Sums paid for Scutage and Aid, &c. by each Tenant.

"The Books appear to have been compiled near the Close of the Reign of Edward the Second, or the Commencement of that of Edward the Third, partly from Inquests taken on the Presentments of Jurors of Hundreds before the Justices itinerant, and partly from Inquisitions upon Writs awarded to the Sheriffs for collecting of Scutages, Aids, &c.

"From what Circumstance they have obtained the Name of Testa de Nevill is not ascertained; there are however Two Persons, to either of whom they may


be assignable, viz. Ralph de Nevill, an Accountant in the Exchequer and Collector of Aids in the Reign of Henry the Third, whose Name occurs in the Book p. 39, and Jollan de Nevill, a Justice itinerant, of the same Reign, who, as Dugdale in his Baronage, Vol. I. p. 288, supposes, may have been the Author.

"The Entries which are specifically entitled "Testa de Nevill", are evidently Quotations, and form comparatively a very small Part of the Whole: they have in all Probability been copied from a Roll bearing that Name, a Part of which is still extant in the Chapter House at Westminster, consisting of Five small Membranes, containing Ten Counties; the Roll appears to be of the Age of Edward the First, and agrees verbatim with the Entries in these Books.

John Caley, }
W W. Illingworth, } Sub-Commrs."

There is evidence in one of the books of the old Record Commission preserved at the Public Record Office that this very perfunctory Preface was composed by Illingworth. Caley altered a few words in the draft and affixed his signature. Nevertheless he was described as "editor" and as having done work in "preparing and revising for press". [1] Illingworth is moreover credited with "attending at Chapter House, examining Testa de Nevill, abstracting, etc., transcribing and collating records". The suggestion in the Preface that part of the Book was copied from the roll formerly preserved at the Chapter House proves to be erroneous. [2]

If either Caley or Illingworth had studied the entry which stands first in the present edition, he might have

[1] For the amount of historical work professedly done by Caley in the early part of the nineteenth century, see Dictionary of National Biography, vol. viii. pp. 251, 252; Nicolas's Observations on the State of Historical Literature, pp. 140-142, and Refutation of Palgrave, pp. 194, 195.
[2] This roll is now numbered S. ij. 4. For examples of divergencies see pp. 99-102 below.


gone on to ascertain from Fuller's Worthies that Roger de Bavent who is described as sheriff of Yorkshire held that office in the reign of Richard I, and from Le Neve's Fasti that no Archbishop of Canterbury bore a name beginning with 'H' between the years 1205 and 1414. The editor or editors may of course have supposed that certain returns (now known to date from the year 1212) which contain allusions to 'King Henry, the king's father', dated only from the reign of Edward I, but a return from the sheriff of Stafford addressed 'Excellentissimo domino suo J. Dei gracia illustri regi Anglie' [1] ought to have suggested to the most careless editor that it could not belong to either of the reigns mentioned on the title-page.

The Preface to the volume published in 1807, set out above, is followed by a list of counties and by facsimiles of two passages in the Edwardian manuscript. The text extends to 418 pages, printed in double column from a transcript made by "a man of the name of Simpson, who was a writer in the Exchequer". [2] Numerals in the margin indicate the pagination of the two volumes copied by him, and Illingworth collated his transcript with the Book. The notorious faults of the printed volume are presumably due to Caley, if, as stated, he "corrected the press".

Many as are the shortcomings of the Edwardian manuscript, the compilers of it generally had the good sense to leave blank spaces between the different sections, and furthermore to mark the beginning of each new section by a fresh heading in larger lettering. Nevertheless in the edition of 1807, sections different in character and in date are often printed consecutively, without even a note to suggest that there should be an interval between them. Conversely, blank spaces, emphasised by lines across the text, have been introduced at haphazard in sections which

[1] Page 141 below.
[2] Report of Select Committee on the Record Commission (1836), p. 55; Nicolas's Refutation of Palgrave, p. 172.


should proceed continuously. The most charitable theory is that Caley left the printers to deal with the transcript as they pleased. Anyhow, the result is chaotic.

The volume thus published in 1807 has an 'Index Locorum' and an 'Index Nominum', compiled by a Mr. Ellis and a Mr. Horne respectively. The former, extending from page 419 to page 523, is in point of fact a series of indexes purporting to deal separately with the different counties. Some errors in it are clearly due to the arrangement of the Book itself. Although this index makes no attempt to correct, or to bring together, the variant forms of particular local names, it appears to be fairly complete. The index of persons, extending from page 524 to page 599, does not possess even that merit.

Considering the character of the printed 'Testa de Nevill', it is not surprising that students, even some of the best, have been misled by it. In default of any editorial guidance, they have been left to determine for themselves whether particular entries date from the accession of Henry III. in 1216 or from any one of the succeeding years down to the death of Edward I. in 1307. Some writers have referred to "the date of the Testa de Nevill", apparently unaware that its contents range from 1198 down to 1293, nearly a whole century.

The Liber Feodorum of 1302.

The manuscript officially styled 'Liber Feodorum' and commonly known as 'Testa de Nevill' consists of two stout volumes of parchment leaves now measuring 12 inches by 9 inches. Originally the pages were larger, but the medieval binder has cut down the margins, and even removed some of the writing at the tops and edges of the leaves. Recent investigations have led to the discovery of an entry of a payment debited to John of Drokensford, keeper of the Wardrobe, in June 1302, which gives the date at which the Book was written and even the name of the scribe, in the following words:-


"Eidem, ixo die Junii, iij.s. liberati Willelmo de Coshals, clerico, in persolucione iiij.l. xiij.s. pro lxij. peciis scribendis de libro qui vocatur librum (sic) de feodis, videlicet pro pecia xviij.d." [1]

In the same year, the Book was bound. Among the entries of further payments debited to John of Drokensford there is the following:-

"Eidem, xxiiijto die Novembris, x.s. liberati Johanni le Lumynor pro ligatura duorum librorum de feodis Anglie de novo scriptorum, per preceptum P. de Wylughby, tenentis locum thesaurarii, nunciante W. de Brichull'." [2]

Nine years later, the Book was certainly in use. On the 3rd of November, 1311, a royal writ was issued to the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer ordering search to be made in the rolls of their department as to the rights of the Crown in the hospital of Hornchurch during the voidance of the office of warden. In reply the Treasurer and Barons supplied some information from a roll of the year 1253 and added:-

"Comperimus eciam in libro feodorum in Essex in Testa de Nevill' in Hundredo de Bekyntre quad ecclesia de Haveringges est de donacione domini regis, et Rex Henricus avus dedit eam fratribus de Monte Jovis." [3]

Their reference is to page 247 of the second volume of the Book of Fees, which contains a transcript of part of the record of the proceedings before the justices in eyre in Essex in the years 1218-1219. [4] It should be noted, however, that the passage is not described in the Book as derived 'de Testa de Nevill'; indeed none of the matter transcribed for that county bears that description.

In like manner on the 1st of July, 1314, the Treasurer and Barons were directed to supply information with

[1] Issue Roll, Easter, 30 Edw. I. m. 1.
[2] Issue Roll, Mich. 30-31 Edw. I. m. 4.
[3] Chanc. Inq. Misc. file 72. no. 11.
[4] Printed on page 276 of the present edition.


regard to the manor of Boxworth in Cambridgeshire, and they answered:-

"Compertum est in libro feodorum sub titulo Baronie Picoti quod Rogerus de Huntingfeld tenet in Bokesworth quartam partem unius feodi de domino rege." [1]

Their reference is to page 589 of the second volume of the Book of Fees.

It is not necessary to accumulate later instances in which the officers of the Exchequer furnished the Chancery with extracts of this kind. When asked for information concerning tenures, they regularly referred to the Liber Feodorum, just as they did to Domesday Book and to the Red Book of the Exchequer, which were also in their custody. [2]

A transcript of the sections of the Liber Feodorum relating to Lincolnshire was, in or soon after 1327; sent to the collectors of scutages in that county, together with a few brief extracts from the Red Book of the Exchequer. [3]

The identification of the two volumes which were completed in 1302 with the existing Liber Feodorum would be perfectly satisfactory in all points but for a definite reference in it to the Pipe Roll of 1319. This occurs in a list of fees in the county of Northampton copied from a return of 1242, and runs as follows:-

"Gilbertus de Preston' dimidium feodum in Gretton per cartam Regis Johannis et sicut continetur in rotulo xijo Regis Edwardi filii Regis Edwardi in Northamton'." [4]

Although the word 'et' is interlined, the whole entry might at first sight appear to be contemporary with the entries that precede it. Close examination, however, shows

[1] C. Inq. post mortem, Edw. II. file 34. no. 4.
[2] See Chancery Writs and Returns, passim; Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem vol. vi. pp. 10, 105, 136; vol. vii. pp. 215, 400; vol. viii. pp. 76, 77, 436, 446.
[3] This transcript, having been returned, is now numbered S. j. 8.
[4] Liber Feodorum, vol. i. p. 102 and p. 931 of the present edition.


that the later part of it is written in a hand slightly larger than that used in the first seven words of the entry, and that the original arrangement of the sections, or paragraphs, had left a blank space at this point in which it was easy to make an insertion. It is in fact almost certain that the words 'per cartam' down to 'Northamton' were added to the text as a gloss in a hand very similar to that of the original scribe, after the year 1319.

The arrangement of the quires of the two volumes shows that the order of their contents was for some time in doubt. There is evidence that the scribe copied the matter for many of the counties continuously, beginning each new county as he came to it, whether in the middle of a quire or not, but that at other times he followed a different system and began to write upon a new quire of parchment when he reached a fresh county. A detailed description of the quaternions of the two volumes will be found in a special appendix. Here it need only be noted that the quaternions which now stand at the beginning of the second volume were at one time intended to come first in the whole book.

The present covers of the two volumes are modern. The old covers are still in existence, wooden boards covered with leather, showing traces of metal bosses and clasps. A detailed account of them is given in a special appendix.

The contents of the Book purport to be arranged county by county, the pairs of counties which shared a sheriff being sometimes treated as one unit and sometimes sub- divided. The scribe, however, was working from originals grouped according to the dates of successive enquiries, and he must have found the re-arrangement of his material somewhat complicated. In many cases he was able to proceed without much difficulty, though not without incidental error. But in other cases he had to deal with documents, such as eyre rolls, where a single membrane might contain matter relating to different counties, much to his embarrassment. A curious instance of this occurs in the second


volume of the Book on pages 649 to 668, where the scribe has copied an eyre roll relating to Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Lancashire consecutively, heading each page with the words 'Com' Ebor'. [1] After completing the transcript, he discovered his error and endeavoured to correct it by altering the headings; nevertheless the matter relating to Lincolnshire and Lancashire remains imbedded in the section relating to Yorkshire. Other instances of the same kind could be given.

But the division of the material by counties involved the scribe in other difficulties from which he had no simple means of escape. While a return from the sheriff of a particular county could without hesitation be assigned to its proper place, a return from the steward of an honour extending over several counties was obviously troublesome. If such a return were cut up and distributed, its unity was destroyed, and the connexion between the separated portions obscured; if the whole return were placed under the county that contained the 'caput' of the honour, the lands that lay in other counties were misplaced. No uniform method was devised to deal with such difficulties.

A lack of system is particularly apparent in the treatment of the accounts of the collectors of the Aid of 1235 for the marriage of the king's sister. While collectors were appointed for the several counties, the payments for the Aid were due from the stewards of the honours. The scribe seems to have made a half-hearted attempt in some few cases to enter all manors both under the county where they lay and under the county where the 'caput' of the honour was to be found. For instance his version of the account for Staffordshire begins with extracts from the accounts for Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Worcestershire, and he was so much occupied in collecting these that he omitted nearly all the items which really belonged to Staffordshire, and did not even give the names of the collectors for that county. The paragraphs so extracted

[1] Pp. 355-370 of the present edition.


are indeed given again in their proper places, with the result that Englefield, Compton Beauchamp and six other places in Berkshire figure in the printed index of 1807 as being in two different counties far apart. In other cases, part of a document is copied in one section and part in another.

Within the several county sections, the arrangement of the transcripts does not follow any very definite order. In almost every case, however, the scribe begins with one of the lists connected with the Scutage of Gascony of 1242, the latest and fullest with which he had to deal. A whole quire is sometimes interpolated giving transcripts of documents which had not been copied in the first instance. Thus in the section relating to Norfolk and Suffolk the continuity of a return of fees in 1242 is broken by the insertion of sixteen pages of different matter. [1] When the scribe found two manuscripts of a list, he usually copied both. There is thus a good deal of duplication, especially in the pages relating to the Aid of 1235 and the Scutage of Gascony. Some documents having little or no connexion with feudal tenures also got included in the compilation.

Of the two volumes one, now styled the first, begins with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire; the other begins with Kent. The arrangement of the counties within the volumes is neither alphabetical nor geographical, but we may here and there perceive traces of an intention to follow the sequence of the counties as given in Domesday Book. The arrangement of the quaternions throws more light on this question.

The title of the Book.

The main title given to the printed edition of 1807 has been the subject of much discussion. In point of fact, the two books had been known as 'Testa de Nevill' from an early date, although their official name was, as has been seen, 'Liber Feodorum'. At the same time this singular title has never been satisfactorily explained. The word

[1] Vol. ii. pp. 297-312.


'Testa' strictly means an earthen vessel, but by metaphor it was also used for a skull, and so, later, for a head. It is of course conceivable that small rolls of parchment might have been kept in an earthen jar, especially if it had a cover. Nevertheless the alternative translation of 'head' is clearly preferable in this case.

The earliest known reference to the Book of Fees as the 'Testa de Nevill' occurs in the year 1383. In the course of a dispute between the abbot and convent of Croyland and the collectors of an aid in Lincolnshire as to the tenure of certain lands at Langtoft and Wyham, the monks in their petition to the king and council speak of

"Une livre qe homme appele Teste de Nevill, ensemble des enquestes de office, qe nest pas de record." [1]

Thus it is clear that 'Testa de Nevill' as the alternative title of the 'Liber Feodorum' was already in popular use, and that the French word 'Teste' was regarded as the equivalent of the Latin 'Testa'.

It is well known that the officers of the medieval Exchequer were wont to mark particular collections of records with symbols as well as with verbal inscriptions. Many such symbols are given in Stapledon's Calendar of the year 1323. [2] Some were more or less heraldic, such as an ermine shield for Armenia and a fleur-de-lys for France. A fortified gateway denoted Newcastle, and a ship denoted Hull, while three herrings marked Yarmouth. At least five of the receptacles for records in the Treasury of the Exchequer bore drawings of human heads. King Edward was represented wearing a crown, the Archbishop of Canterbury wearing a mitre, and John le Latimer with a triple head, befitting an interpreter. In view of these facts, it seems likely that the receptacle for certain early documents relating to knights' fees, serjeanties and the like bore the drawing of a head, the head of Nevi;;. The person so

[1] Rotuli Parliamentorum, vol. ii. p. 71.
[2] Ancient Kalendars of the Exchequer, vol. i. pp. xxvi.


designated, without a Christian name, has not been identified. It is only permissible to suggest that he was one of the many Nevills who held official positions in the thirteenth century, that he was well known at the Exchequer, and perhaps that his features lent themselves readily to caricature.

There is no obvious reason why a quaint nickname which was strictly applicable to about a quarter only of the contents of the Book of Fees should have become the popular title of the whole work. The compiler did not in a single instance begin his work upon any county with matter described as taken 'De Testa de Nevill', or 'Ex Testa de Nevill', or as being 'In Testa de Nevill'. Nor do such words appear on the title-page of either volume.

Before attempting to deal with the sources from which the Book was compiled, it will be well to touch upon the motives which led to its preparation. There can be little doubt that the immediate cause is to be sought in the assessment, in the year 1302, of an Aid for the marriage of the eldest daughter of Edward I. For the purposes of any aid or scutage the collectors had to obtain information as to knights' fees and their holders, and for this they normally had to rely upon precedent. But from time to time the Exchequer would bestir itself and make a new enquiry, based of course on the results of the last enquiry of the kind, and this would serve as a model, until it in turn became antiquated. In the year 1302, the governing documents were the inquisitions taken in connexion with the Scutage of Gascony in 1242, [1] and, in a secondary degree, the previous enquiries of 1235 and 1212. The 'carte' of the barons in 1166 had been already transcribed into the Red Book of the Exchequer. As a preliminary to the enquiry of 1302, steps were taken to collect and preserve the existing precedents in a handy form. It was moreover

[1] It might have seemed more likely that the part of Kirkby's Inquest (1285) which deals with knights' fees should have been so used. It did not, however, relate specifically to a scutage or aid.


thought desirable to deal not only with the fees which were liable to the contemplated Aid, but also with serjeanties which might be made to yield revenue to the Crown. And in consequence, matter connected with these was collected from various sources. The result is to be seen in the two volumes of the Book of Fees.

The Original Sources.

Most of the documents transcribed were taken from the general records of the Exchequer, from that section of them which afterwards became the records of the King's Remembrancer. But among them were at least two collections which bore specific names. The first and largest of these was that known as 'Testa de Nevill'.

The earliest allusion to a collection of documents under this name occurs in an Exchequer roll of the year 1298, and runs as follows:-

"Henricus le Moigne, filius et heres Willelmi le Moigne, finem fecit cum rege per pro relevio terre sue de Eynstan quam de rege tenet in capite per seriantiam lardenarie regis, quam quidem terram Radulfus Monachus, antecessor ipsius Henrici, tenuit per eandem seriantiam, et valet terra illa per annum xviij.l. sicut continetur in rotulo Teste de Nevill' sub titulo Hundredi de Dunmawe." [1]

Here the reference is not to a book, but to a roll described as a roll of 'Testa de Nevill'. The document itself has disappeared, but a transcript of it in the Book of Fees shows it to have been a record of the justices in eyre in Essex in 1218-1219. [2] As has been already mentioned, the scribe of the Book of Fees never states the source of the documents which he transcribed for Essex; and the above entry is particularly valuable as showing that this matter was derived from a manuscript in the 'Testa de Nevill'.

In constructing a list of the contents of the ancient

[1] L.T.R. Memoranda Roll. Easter 26 Edward I. rot. 80.
[2] Printed on pp. 274-278 of the present edition.


collection known as 'Testa de Nevill', the chief guide that remains is to be found in the notes in the Book of Fees. These notes were not made systematically, and, as in the case of Essex, there is clear evidence that the scribe did not always mention the fact that a particular document came from the 'Testa de Nevill'. But assuming - and it is a fair assumption - that such a note appended to one or more of the documents in a particular set is evidence as to the origin of the whole set, it is possible to draw up a list of those documents in the collection which were transcribed into the Book of Fees:-

Assessments of serjeanties in connexion with the carucage of 1198.

A list of fees in the Bishopric of Durham, about 1208-1210.

Lists of ecclesiastical fees seized during the interdict of 1208-1213.

An isolated return of fees, serjeanties and aliens' lands in Gloucestershire between 1211 and 1213.

Returns to the inquest of 1212.

Extracts from the rolls of the justices in eyre in 1219 and 1227.

Carucage accounts for Berkshire and Gloucestershire in 1220. [1]

A series of extracts from eyre rolls of various dates.

An early but undated list of payments due from towns in three hundreds in Leicestershire.

An enquiry touching the manor of Ospringe in Kent, made about 1240.

There may have been other documents in the collection, and it is clear that some were added at a later date. Thus a few original documents relating to the Scutage of Gascony bear on the dorse a note:- 'Testa de Nevill'. So again a series of abstracts from a return of fees in three hundreds of

[1] Probably all the documents relating to this carucage were in the collection. But those for the other counties were not transcribed in 1302, and are now in the class of Subsidies.


the county of Huntingdon in 1303, made apparently in the later part of the fifteenth century, and so intrinsically of little value, has a heading in the original hand:- 'In baga de Testa de Nevill'. [1]

The other collection seems to have been labelled 'Seriantie arentate per Robertum Passelewe tempore Regis H. filii Regis Johannis'. It comprised two or more rolls, containing the proceedings and results of Passelewe's commission to arrent serjeanties, of which only one roll is still in existence. [2] With these rolls there was also a set of extracts from documents of various dates, being duplicates of those contained in the 'Testa de Nevill'. To these, after the completion of Passelewe's enquiry, were added returns for several counties, containing the result of an enquiry taken about the year 1251.

At the date of the transcription of the Book of Fees, both sets of documents mentioned above had already suffered serious losses, and some of those that survived had been damaged and mutilated. Within a few months of its completion many of the original documents which had been copied into it were lent to the principal agents employed in the assessment and collection of the Aid for marrying the eldest daughter of Edward I. On the 6th of February, 1303, the Deputy-Treasurer and the Barons of the Exchequer made an order that all the old rolls concerning the fees of divers persons in the several counties of England, which are in the custody of John of Kirkeby, Remembrancer of the Exchequer, shall be delivered, or sent under seal to the officers appointed to survey or direct the collection of the Aid, together with copies of the lists of all fees entered in the Red Book. Particulars

[1] S.iv.18. The original return has for a long time past been numbered Subsidies 122/3. Feudal Aids, vol. ii.
[2] This roll is now among the miscellaneous rolls of the Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer, where there is also a transcript of it. In all probability it was lent to that department by the King's Remembrancer for transcription, and never returned. L.T.R. Miscellaneous Rolls 1/11; the transcript is 1/12.

xviii PREFACE.

are given of the exact number of 'pieces' which were thus lent to the collectors for thirteen groups of counties. Among the documents described as 'divers rolls' were those connected with the scutage of 1242. A smaller number of documents are specifically stated to have belonged to the 'Testa de Nevill', and endorsements can still be seen on some rolls of the years 1212 and 1219 agreeing precisely with the figures given in 1303. It is not, however, possible to identify all the originals which were lent, and, although we are specifically told that all the rolls, except a single 'piece' relating to Devon and Cornwall, were duly returned to the Exchequer, many have disappeared in the course of the six succeeding centuries.

But the very existence of the Book of Fees led to a long neglect of the rolls transcribed into it. The Book, rather than the original rolls, became the normal source of information, and the originals became absorbed into the general collection of the King's Remembrancer. Dugdale's 'Baronage of England' published in 1675 contains various marginal references to 'Testa de Nevill', meaning the two volumes. The original rolls and certain early copies of them seem indeed to have lain neglected until after the publication of the folio volume in 1807. Some of them are mentioned in 1812 as having been 'discovered in the offrce of the King's Remembrancer at the Exchequer at Westminster'. [1] In 1834, Joseph Hunter identified many of the originals with the transcripts of them in the Book, and brought them together.

In 1859, some of the materials for the Book known as 'Testa de Nevill' constituted bundle 894 of the Ancient Miscellanea of the Queen's Remembrancer of the Exchequer. [2] As left by Hunter, the little collection comprised not only certain early documents which had been in 'Testa de Nevill' at the time of the compilation of the Book of Fees,

[1] First Report from Commissioners on Public Records, p. 196; Report of Select Committee on the Record Commission (1836), pp. 55, 444, 445.
[2] Twentieth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Records, App., p. 132.


but also other documents which had been transcribed in that book without any indication of their former place of deposit. Additions were made to this bundle from time to time upon no particular system, and it eventually developed into a small class known by the new name of 'Knights' Fees'. It had, however, never contained all the surviving originals of the Book of Fees; some of these bearing the endorsement 'in libro', put on them at the date of their transcription, had found their way into the class known as Subsidies; others have been discovered in recent years in the course of a further examination of the remaining Miscellanea of the Exchequer.

In the class of 'Knights' Fees' these documents were not arranged in any order, topographical or chronological and in some cases membranes were found to have been fastened to other membranes with which they had no relation. For the purposes of the present edition, a re-arrangement was found to be necessary; and, although it has proved impossible to reconstitute the files in strict accordance with the medieval endorsements on some of the membranes, an improvement has been effected in that direction. A record of the relation between the old and the new arrangement has been preserved, and, in order to prevent any possible confusion, the name of the class has been altered. With but few exceptions the rolls used for the present edition are now to be found in a bundle bearing the new title of 'Exchequer K.R. Serjeanties, Knights' Fees, &c. ij'. The collection comprises not only original documents but also sundry transcripts, extracts and lists made at the Exchequer both before and after the compilation of the Book of Fees.

Neither the original rolls nor the transcripts of them in the Book can be regarded as wholly satisfactory manuscripts. The originals are in part illegible owing to careless treatment in the past; and, even when well preserved, they frequently present difficulties due to the varying styles of writing


employed by provincial scribes. Moreover, they blunder now and then over names. The text of the Book is still less satisfactory. It is indeed well written and in very good preservation, but the transcriber of 1302 was clearly without much knowledge of the handwriting of an earlier period, and he is prone to error in the matter of capital letters, a particularly embarrassing characteristic in a manuscript replete with proper names.

The Exchequer authorities in the year 1302 were not disposed to exaggerate the authority of the Book of Fees compiled under their own direction. On one of the fly leaves in the second volume is a note, which may possibly he in the hand of the transcriber himself, in the following terms:-

"Memorandum quod iste liber compositus fuit et compilatus de diversis inquisitionibus ex officio captis tempore Regis Edwardi filii Regis Henrici, et sic contenta in eodem libro pro evidences habentur hic in Scaccario et non pro recordo".

The Book, it is thus clear, was regarded as a collection of evidences and not as a record, that is to say not as in itself peremptory proof of its own statements. The same phrase recurs in the petition of the monks of Croyland already cited in another connexion. The book called 'Nevill's Head' is, they say, a collection of 'enquestes de office, qe nest pas de record'. On more than one occasion, the memorandum in the Book was cited by the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer themselves. [1] Nevertheless, long afterwards, in 1836, C.F. Cooper, Secretary of the Record Commission, stated:- 'The Testa de Nevill has always been received as evidence in courts of justice; it is in the nature of a record; it has always been considered like Doomsday Book, as a work of the greatest authority". [2] Whatever may be the legal status of the Book of Fees,

[1] C. inquisitions post mortem, Edw. III. file 78 no. 1; file 136, no. 19.
[2] Report of Select Committee on the Record Commission, p. 253.


there can be no question as to its historical value. To the student of tenures it is of the first importance; to the genealogist and the topographer it is equally indispensable, and those interested in these subjects will need no incitement to consult it. But it may be well to point out that these are not the only studies far which the Book of Fees may supply material. Even when its text appears to be a mere list of persons and places, the student may suddenly come upon an illuminating sentence, or still more often an unintelligible statement which may become the starting- point of a new and fruitful line of research.

The present Edition.

The plan of the present edition of the Book of Fees differs entirely from that of 1807. It would, of course, have been possible to follow the order of that edition, taking the Edwardian text as a foundation and correcting it where necessary by collation with such of its originals as have survived. But in view of the general character of that manuscript, there seemed no reason to perpetuate the confusions, caprices and blunders of the scribe of 1302. From another point of view, there was much to be said in favour of re-arranging the matter under counties in chronological order. But the practical difficulties of such an arrangement would have been great, and it would have separated documents that had a common origin, thus obscuring much of their significance. A third course was therefore adopted. In the present edition the material contained in the Book of Fees is re-distributed in more or less chronological order, so that all the returns and lists made in connexion with particular enquiries or proceedings are brought together. It will be found that by far the greater part relates to one or other of the following subjects:-

The enquiry as to serjeanties in 1198.
The enquiry as to tenures and alienations in 1212.
The eyres of 1219 and 1227.
The carucage of 1220.


The Aid for marrying the king's sister in 1235.
The enquiry as to aliens in 1236.
The scutage of Gascony in 1242.
The enquiry as to serjeanties and aliens in 1244.
The arrentation of serjeanties in 1250.

The remaining material is mostly of a local and casual character, and in some cases it cannot be regarded as the outcome of any known enquiry.

The total number of documents transcribed in the Book is about five hundred. Few of them bear a specific date, and the task of supplying the right one has not been easy. There have indeed been some previous attempts to determine by internal evidence the dates of the lists relating to a few of the counties, but they have generally failed because their authors have seldom realised that the documents with which they were dealing were only parts of returns for the whole realm.

For each of the sections now formed a special introduction has been written, explaining the origin and nature of its contents and setting forth the grounds on which a date has been assigned to it. Nothing more than this has been attempted. In many of the sections the matter falls naturally into counties or groups of counties. Where no particular order was suggested by the materials, the counties have been arranged in a topographical order, beginning with Kent, roughly following the arrangement of Domesday Book.

A few documents which were not transcribed into the Book of Fees have been included in certain sections of this edition. In some cases it was clear that the scribe of 1302 had omitted them accidentally. In other cases the new matter was so closely connected with the old that it seemed unreasonable to exclude it merely on the ground that the scribe had not made use of it. But no attempt has been made to collect all unprinted documents relating to feudal tenures during the period covered by the Book.

A certain number of illustrative documents will be found in the appendix. They have been chosen, either as

PREFACE. xxiii

explanatory of some of the more difficult documents printed in the body of the book, or as throwing additional light upon certain of the general enquiries there dealt with.

In the preparation of the present edition, the intention throughout has been to give the contents of the Book of Fees in their most authentic form. Recourse has therefore been had in the first instance to earlier sources, to the very rolls which were transcribed into it in 1302. Where such still exist, the text has been based directly upon them, and it has not been considered necessary to collate their readings with those of the Book. Unquestionable originals, noted with the words "in libro" or "transcribitur", are obviously preferable to mere copies of them made long afterwards. In some cases, early copies of lost documents have proved useful for purposes of comparison. Many of the originals have unfortunately disappeared in the course of six centuries, and so a considerable part of the text is of necessity based upon the Book alone.

It cannot of course be claimed that even the originals, when extant, are free from error. Sheriffs, royal commissioners and jurors might sometimes be misinformed as to matters of fact. Clerks of justices going in eyre to distant counties, and clerks working only at Westminster, were alike liable to miswrite proper names with which they were not familiar. Some emendations and critical remarks have been placed in footnotes to the present edition, and there is doubtless room for further emendation.

In one section only, that relating to serjeanties of various dates (pp. 335-352), has any attempt been made to construct an eclectic text from several versions, all of questionable authenticity.

While retaining as far as possible the orthography of the manuscripts here printed, considerable liberty has been taken in matters of punctuation and the like. Long paragraphs have sometimes been broken up, and, less frequently, short sentences have been grouped into paragraphs. For the sake of uniformity and convenience,


marginal headings have often been transferred to the body of the text, at the beginning or end of the entries to which they respectively refer. Lacunae in the manuscripts have been marked by asterisks. Illegible portions have been indicated by dots. Missing words supplied from another manuscript have been placed within square brackets. Such words as are undoubtedly additions to the manuscript have been printed in italic type. In most cases these are the working notes made by clerks at the Exchequer while using the original rolls, such notes having been systematically omitted by the transcriber of 1302 as not important for his purpose. Sums of money described as libre, solidi, denarii and oboli have been rendered as l.s.d. ob. and marce have been rendered as m. Christian names indicated only by an initial have not been extended, except in the case of Kings Henry, John and Edward, and in cases where the name is to be found in full close by.

It has not been found possible to adopt an absolutely consistent plan for the spelling of proper names; the medieval scribes were themselves inconsistent in their practice. Such names might either be Latinised and inflected, as was usual with most Christian names and the names of counties and large towns, or they might be regarded as vernacular and therefore indeclinable. The normal abbreviation by suspension (i.e., by the omission of a letter or letters at the end of the name) often leaves us uncertain as to the writer's intention, since the sign employed may stand either for a final 'e' or for an inflection. As a general rule such names are here printed in extended form up to the point where an inflection might begin, an apostrophe indicating that the name is abbreviated. When a Latinised form is clearly indicated, the name is printed in full with the appropriate inflection. Some inconsistency will be found in the treatment of names ending in 'd', as it is often difficult to determine whether or not an abbreviation was intended. Instances have been found of the doubling of a final letter to indicate abbreviation, as


'Sarr' for 'Saresberia'. In such cases the doubling has usually been neglected in the printed text.

The marginal references show the manuscripts available for the several sections. With the exception of pp. 335-352, the text is printed directly from the manuscript mentioned first. References to the Book of 1302 are given by volume and page. A table shows where any passage in the Book of 1302, or in the printed 'Testa de Nevill' of 1807, is to be found in the present edition.

The Latin text has been prepared by Mr. C.G. Crump, of the Public Record Office, with the assistance of Mr. A.S. Maskelyne and other officers of the Department. Mr. J.H. Round has read many of the proof-sheets, and I am indebted to him for valuable suggestions. The Rev. C.W. Foster, Canon of Lincoln, the Rev. H.E. Salter and Mr. H.H.E. Craster have kindly helped to solve difficulties arising out of the lists relating to Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Northumberland. For the general scheme of the work, for the introductions to the several sections, upon which its chronology depends, and for some of the footnotes, I am primarily responsible.


Public Record Office,
July, 1920. Return to top of page

URL of this page:

Copyright notice:
All pages at
are Copyright Mel Lockie 2011.
All rights reserved.
For a detailed copyright policy see: Conditions of Use.