Pipe Rolls

Image-2Pipe Rolls are the annual accounts of Royal Expenditure which are maintained by the Exchequer with the details of the expenditure recorded by County.

The earliest Pipe Rolls date back to 1129 with an unbroken series of records from 1155 through to 1832, a whopping 677 years. The documents are located at The National Archives at Kew London with record category E372 and are the earliest series of historical record.

The early pipe rolls are based upon the Sheriff records and include payments made on behalf of the Crown, payments made to the Crown and amount of debt. The documents are often heavily abbreviated and written in a mixture of both Latin and English; English being used during the 1650’s but otherwise are written in Latin, which lasted until 1733 when they changed back to being written in English.

The medieval financial year began on 30th September, a time traditionally known as Michaelmas, and ended the following Michaelmas, less one day. Typically though entries appear to occur for between eight and ten months.

In addition to recording financial information, the Pipe Rolls also show who occupied Royal lands and buildings, the identity of Royal Officials, those who worked for the crown and showed the rate of fines. Farm Buildings were removed from the Pipe Rolls in 1284 and can be found under Catalogue number E372/129.

There are also Chancellor Rolls, these were effectively a more detailed version of the Pipe Roll and very often contains superfluous data to that of the Pipe Rolls themselves. The Chancellor Rolls can also be found at The National Archives under Catalogue number E352.

Henry III Fine Rolls Project has placed online the transcripts of the Rolls. The site has a search facility and searching can be undertaken by surname, subject and place. A search for example of Puttenham Surrey the subject of my One-Place Study reveals this

235 – “Concerning lands that are to be taken into the king’s hand. Order to the sheriff of Surrey to take into the king’s hand the manor of Puttenham and all the lands which Beatrice de Fay held in dower of the lands formerly of Ralph de Fay, formerly her husband, and to keep them safely until he has an order from the king otherwise.”

The question is why did the King have the land? That is a story for another day!

The originals can be found at the National Archives with Catalogue reference C60/8 -69

To Learn More…..
The Pipe Roll Society is dedicated to publishing medieval records.
Latin Tutorial 
Research Guide Pipe Rolls
Henry III Fine Rolls Project 
Puttenham One-Place Study
Medieval Genealogy 
Pipe Rolls for Beginners
Pipe Roll Flow Chart 
Paper – Using Pipe Rolls in the Thirteenth Century

Pipe Rolls Online
Lancashire Pipe Rolls 1130 – 1155 
First 37 volumes published by The Pipe Roll Society

Until next time,


About Julie Goucher

Genealogist Julie Goucher sets to explore all aspects of researching ancestry and the lives of our ancestors in the United Kingdom in her monthly column for IDG, “Across the Pond.” Each month we will explore the lives of our forebears and seek to understand the Society they lived in through the obvious and not so obvious research opportunities. You can find Julie blogging at Anglers Rest: http://www.anglersrest.net

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