Viewing posts for the category Law and administration

The king is dead...can I have a new writ, please?

The accession of a new monarch often had little impact on the day-to-day workings of Chancery, or the IPM process. One exception resulted from the convention that writs issued by a monarch could not be executed after their death. This history of this convention is somewhat obscured by the cursory calendaring of the writs in many early volumes of CIPMs, and in the calendared Fine Rolls, but there are several examples in the CIPMs for the early years of Henry VI, and re-examination of the IPMs for Henry IV and Henry V has brought others to light.

The jurors: a cautionary tale

Almost all IPMs list the names of at least twelve jurors on whose testimony - at least in theory - the IPM was based. In the language of the inquisitions, the jurors say 'on their oath' what lands a tenant held,  what day he died, and so on. The names of these jurors were omitted from most of the printed calendars and only appear in the volumes covering the period from 1422 to 1447. The editors of those volumes rightly judged that the identity of the jurors could have a significant bearing on an IPM's reliability, for example if the locality of the jurors (and hence the extent of their local knowledge) could be ascertained, or if they could be shown to be retainers or servants of an interested party. The jurors were also judged to be worthy of research in their own right, as the men (they were of course all men) through whom royal government operated at a local level, representatives of a 'middling sort' in rural society that had not received the attention it deserved from historians. [1. For a general summary of work on the jurors, see M. Holford, ' 'Thrifty men of the country?': The jurors and their role', in Companion, ed. Hicks, which also provides references for several of the examples discussed below.]

Inheritance and succession

IPMs are documents concerned with the inheritance of land. That inheritance normally took place in accordance with the principles of the common law, but sometimes according to grants or settlements that were designed to modify those principles in favour of various family members. The IPMs are a very important source of information on the changing ways in which estates were settled and inherited in medieval England; equally, some appreciation of the law relating to inheritance and conveyancing is necessary for a full understanding of the documents themselves. This page provides a short introduction to these issues.

CIPM XVIII.416 and the Exchequer series of IPMs

Many IPMs survive in multiple copies: one in the Chancery series of inquisitions, and one, sometimes more, in the Exchequer series. The early history of the Exchequer archive is currently obscure, but by the late fourteenth century its workings are reasonably clear. A copy of the Chancery IPM was provided to the Exchequer and was used to check the accuracy of the escheator's account. After audit the account and any related inquisitions and writs were filed together. (Sometimes the inquisitions and writs were physically attached to the account.) Those included not only IPMs but inquisitions, often ex officio, concerning other aspects of the escheators' responsibilities such as the alienation of lands without royal licence.

CIPM XVIII.876 and the IPM process: the heir and his inheritance

Download printable version (PDF).