The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2Allen, Thomas
The Record Office.
This office is of very ancient date, and mentioned in a roll of the d of Edw. I. , in these words,
And the place where these records were kept, appears, by another ancient record of the of Edward III. to be a certain house, afterwards called a Tower, now known by the name, of Wakefield's Tower, wherein that king, it is said,
The Record office contains a vast quantity of state papers and ancient documents. A brief synopsis of the number, titles, and contents of which follows:
Exclusive of the above series, there are a vast quantity of records preserved in the Tower of an equally important nature. Among these may be noticed the , and Writs and returns of knights, citizens and burgesses to Parliament, rolls, forest claims, the homage of the nobility and great men of Scotland to Edward I., the taxation roll of the same reign, &c.
These are all comprised under the title of records of the court of chancery, and it is truly observed by Mr. Bayley, the learned and elegant historian of the Tower, that
The public records of Scotland, which Oliver Cromwell seized on, were placed in the Tower, where they remained until the restoration, when Charles II., intending to return them to Edinburgh Castle, sent them in a vessel, which was wrecked near Holy island, and the whole the valuable documents were lost.
In the year of Edward III. Robert de Hoton was commanded to arrange and set in order the charters, writings and muniments in chests in the White Chamber, contiguous to a hall, called the White Hall, whose roofs, doors and windows were ordered to be repaired in the year of the same reign; and is probably the same little house mentioned in another record of the of Henry VI. in these words: ; i.e.
We also learn its antiquity from the mention of the keepers of those records, of whom was Walter Reginald, the king's treasurer, who was commanded by Edward II. to deliver to Bensted all the writings and instruments touching the negociation of peace between king Edward his father, and the king of France, which were in his custody in the Tower, An. Reg. . Robert de Hoton, above-mentioned, seems to have been another keeper of the records in the of Edward III. who by writ was directed to bring into the exchequer all the writs, muniments, &c. belonging to Thomas earl of Lancaster, deceased, and in his custody. In the year of the same reign, William de Kildesby, keeper of the privy-seal, seems also to have been keeper of the records; for John de St. Paul, master or custos of the rolls of chancery, was commanded to send all the rolls, bundles, and memoranda of chancery to the Tower, and to deliver them there to the said William de Kildesby. John Burton, clerk, enjoyed the same office in the of Richard II. And in the reign of Henry VI. Thomas Smith, clerk, after a prosecution and conviction in the Star-chamber, for the razing of a record of the chancery in his custody in the in the reign of Edw.. III. was discharged his office, and was probably succeeded by John Malpas above-mentioned. Ralph Pexall, keeper of the records in the of Henry VIII. erazed, by command of the said king, certain words negligently written long before in the rolls of the chancery of the d of Edward IV. then being in the Tower, viz. in a levy granted to Edmund Church; he was succeeded by Richard Eton.
In the d of Edward VI. Edward Hales was keeper of the records: in whose time Hoby, an officer in the Ordnance, gave notice to him, that he had accidentally discovered a great quantity of records in an old empty house in the Tower, as he searched for a convenient place to lay up gunpowder; which, by laying damp, and many of them against the walls, were much damaged and eaten with the lime.
In the reign of queen Elizabeth, an inquiry was instituted and some salutary measures adopted for the preservation of the records, and about this time the custody of them was committed to Mr. William Bowyer, a man of great talents and industry; he devoted upwards of years, and a considerable fortune, in collecting and arranging those valuable muniments: he formed with his own hand, folio volumes of repertories. Subsequently the learned John Selden and the celebrated Prynne, (author of the ), both eminent antiquaries, were appointed keepers, and did much to the arranging and forming proper indexes to the objects of their charge; but it appears that, either
|previous to the appointment of those great men, or more probably after, the records fell into as bad a state of confusion as before they were placed under Mr. Bowyer's hands.|
Lord Halifax, about , called the attention of parliament to this subject, and a committee was appointed to inquire into the state of the national records. By order of this commission much was done; the record chambers were new fitted up, under the direction of sir C. Wren; and about a calendar of the Gascoigne, Norman, and French rolls was published, and was very well received, both at home and abroad. The printing of the records still continues, under the direction of the commission. On the death of Mr. Astle, who was keeper of the records for near years, the late S. Lysons, esq. F. S. A. was immediately appointed to the situation: the talents of this gentleman, and his profound knowledge of the history and antiquities of his country, fitted him for so important an office, and no keeper ever exerted himself with such enthusiasm and success. On the death of this amiable man in , he was succeeded in the office by Henry Petrie, esq., the present keeper, under whom is John Bayley, esq. the author of the History of the Tower before noticed.
Cartae Antique. Consists of 41 ancient rolls of charters, grants, &c. made principally to ecclesiastics from the time of Edward the Confessor to the commencement of the 13th century.
Chancery Rolls. In number about 2200, commencing with the first year of the reign of John to the death of Edward IV.;From this period they are kept at the Rolls chapel, Chancery-lane. they are arranged chronologically, and referred to in a general calendar. The most important may be noticed in the following alphabetical order.
Almain rolls. Relating to negotiations and alliances between Edward I. and Adolph, king of the Romans; John, duke of Brabant; Guy, earl of Flanders, &c.; some of the most important instruments contained in these rolls are printed in the Foedera.
Charter rolls. Beginning with the 1st of year of John and terminating with the reign of Edward IV. Their contents are grants of privileges and possessions to religious and civil corporations, grants of markets, fairs, free-warren, &c.A calendar of these rolls have been printed by his majesty's commissioners.
Close rolls. From the 6th year of John to the end of the reign of Edward IV.; they consist of a variety of documents respecting the royal prerogative, the revenue, parliament, and the various branches of government. Some of them relate to proroguing the parliament, receiving knighthood, fortifying and provisioning castles, copies of letters to foreign princes, &c.
Conventiones Pacis. This roll of the 43rd Henry III. consists of treaties between that prince and Lewis, king of France, &c.
Coronation rolls. Containing the whole proceedings of that of Edward II. Richard II. and Henry IV. and V.
Extracta Donationum. An abstract of gifts and grants from the 3rd of Edward II. to the 25th of Edward III.
Fine rolls. Commence in the 6th of John, and continued to the death of Edward IV. They consist of accounts of fines paid for the renewal of charters, grants, &c.
French rolls. Beginning 16th Henry III. and terminating with the reign of Edward IV. Those documents relate to transactions with the court of FranceCalendars to these and the Norman and Gascoigne rolls were published by Mr. Carte, 1743, two vols. folio. Mr. Bayley says they are very defective.
Gascoigne rolls. Commence the 26th of Henry III. and terminate with the reign of Edward IV. They relate to the state of that duchy, whilst under the dominion of the kings of England.
Liberate rolls. Beginning with the 2d year of John, and ending with that of Edward IV. They contain precepts to the treasurer and other great officers of the exchequer for the payment of pensions, salaries, and other expences of the royal household, and of the state, &c.
Parliament rolls. Commence with the 5th of Edward II. and end with that of Edward IV.Printed entire in 6 volumes, folio, order of government.
Patent rolls. Commencing the 3rd of John, and continued at the Tower to the death of Edward IV. They contain grants of liberties, privileges, lands; ratification of treaties and truces, &c. which pass the great seal.A calendar to these rolls was published in 1802 by order of his majesty's commissioners on the public records. The historian of the Tower says they are so defective as not to contain on an average one-fifth part of the documents entered on each roll.--Hist. Of Tower, p. 223.
Perambulation rolls. Containing the perambulations of forests, chiefly in the 7th, 28th, and 29th of Edward I.
Redisseisin rolls. Beginning 14th Edward I. and ending 39th of Henry VI. They consist of writs to and proceedings of sheriffs concerning restitution of property to persons who had been unlawfully dispossessed.
Roman rolls. From the 34th of Edward I. to the death of Edward IV. Their contents are, letters to the pope and cardinals of the church of Rome relating to the affairs of the church in England.
Scotch rolls. They relate to the affairs of Scotland from the 19th of Edward I. to the end of the reign of Edward IV.Printed verbatim by order of his majesty's commissioners on the public records.
Statute rolls. Beginning with the statute of Gloucester, in the 6th of Edward I., and ending the 9th of Edward IV.Ibid.
Treaties and truces. These are distinct rolls of the 14th and 18th years of Edward I.; the 34th of Edward III. and the 14th of Edward IV.The principal articles of these rolls are printed in the Foedera.
 These records are arranged in bundles, and commence with the reign of Henry III and continue to the end of that of Richard III. Calendars from the commencement to the 14th of Henry IV. have been printed, by order of his majesty's commissioners, and the remainder it is expected will soon appear.
 These begin with 1st of Edward II. and end in the 38th Henry VI. A calendar to them was printed by order of the abovementioned commission.
 The first volume of the parliamentary writs is printed by order of the commissioners. The work is edited by F. Palgrave, esq. F. S. A.
 Printed by order of the commission in two volumes folio.
 This is a taxation of ecclesiastical benefices made in the pontificate of Nicholas IV. 1292. It was printed verbatim by order of his majesty's commissioners.