General introduction by Christine Carpenter
The following introduction was published in CIPM 22 as a general introduction to the new series of calendars. It remains the best introduction the documents and their study.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW SERIES1
This is the first in a new series of Calendars of Inquisitions Post Mortem. The Public Record Office has been calendaring medieval IPMs since 1904, working from the earliest known ones, which date back to 20 Henry III.2 The last of this series, covering 6 –10 Henry V, has recently been published.3 Meanwhile, the IPMs of Henry VII’s reign, now regarded in many respects as more the last reign of the late middle ages than the first of the early modern period, were calendared between 1898 and 1954.4 This has left a yawning gap in the fifteenth century, which has been felt particularly strongly as that century has come into its own as an area of historical enquiry. The fact that so much of the work done on the period in the last thirty to forty years has been inspired by K. B. McFarlane’s directing of historians towards the nobility and gentry has made the lack of modern fifteenth-century calendars particularly regrettable since these records have so much to tell us about both these groups, especially the latter.5 Indeed, until 1987 the historian of this century was left entirely at the mercy of the notorious Record Commissioners’ volumes of 1806–38, and therefore forced for most purposes to use the originals.6 As a result of financial restrictions, the PRO’s own series of calendars of IPMs has had to come to an end with the second of the Henry V volumes. The present volume, financed by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, with additional assistance from Cambridge University History Faculty’s Trevelyan Fund, will, it is hoped, be the first of a series which will complete the medieval calendars of IPMs by filling in the missing years from 1422 to 1485.
Over the years, the calendars have grown fuller: proofs of age were first included in volume XIII (44–7 Edward III), published in 1954,7 and the enormously important extents in XVIII (1399 –1405), published in 1987. The new series takes completeness a stage further. The most notable addition is that names of all jurors are included for the first time. There are also additions which show the administrative processes by which inquisitions were ordered and taken. Endorsements on writs are given, as are the authority for the writ, where it is not simply the king’s, and also the notes on information-gathering which are sometimes added to the inquisitions.8 Finally, the surnames of the escheater and of the chancery clerk under whose authority the writ for the inquisition was issued are included in the calendar, and the reader may find escheaters’ full names, with variant spellings, by reference to the Table of Escheators. (As in previous volumes, the identity of those responsible for an inquisition conducted by someone other than the escheator, most usually a special commission, is given in full under the particular calendar entry.) Previous practice has been followed in using exchequer copies, where possible, to remedy gaps in the chancery series, but in the new series chancery copies have also been checked against exchequer copies and any significant variants indicated. Further details of editorial procedure may be found in the Editorial Introduction.9 Although this is a calendar, rather than a transcription, original wording has been indicated where it seems to have real significance, notably in the use of miles or chivaler.10Self- evidently, it will on occasion be necessary to consult the originals to recover the exact wording but it is hoped that the new series of calendars will to a very large degree render use of the original unnecessary.
Inquisitions post mortem were designed to ensure that the king received the feudal income to which he was entitled as lord of his tenants in fee both as king (ut de corona: the tenants-in-chief of the crown) and in his capacity as private landowner (ut de honore). His rights in respect of his position as feudal lord were more closely defined under Henry III and Edward I and summed up in a memorandum entitled Prerogativa Regis, which was probably written in the early part of Edward’s reign.11 Although the officers who came to be responsible for these revenues were named after escheats, these occurred increasingly rarely with respect to land held of the king except in the case of felony or treason. It was the feudal incidents of rights of relief and of wardship and marriage of underage heirs and heiresses (under twenty one and fourteen respectively) and of unmarried heiresses which remained common and potentially lucrative. Less well known but also of considerable potential value was ‘primer seisin’, the right to occupy the land held by the previous tenant at his or her death until the new tenant paid relief. This became formalised, in the case of land held ut de honore, as the right to take profits from the land until relief was paid and, in the case of land held ut de corona, as the right to a year’s seisin or a year’s income in lieu. The statute of Marlborough of 1267, although it abolished primer seisin with respect to mesne tenants, left the king’s rights intact and, along with his other feudal revenues, primer seisin survived until the abolition of feudal tenures in 1660. However, the practice of creating joint tenancies and enfeoffing to use, which grew with increasing pace among tenants in fee from the later thirteenth century, deprived kings of much of their potential income from primer seisin. By contrast, the right of prerogative wardship enabled kings to claim guardianship of the entire estate of minors and unmarried heiresses, including any lands not held in fee, even if only a single part, however small and consisting only of a right or reversion, was held of him in chief. An inquisition was held in each county where the deceased tenant was thought to hold land and sought to establish whether he or she did indeed hold anything of the king, of what this consisted, how much it was worth and the identity and age of the next heir.12 From 1342 it increasingly became standard practice to record the date of death of the previous tenant.13
Although the first known examples of IPMs date from 1235/6, similar enquiries were conducted earlier on, first by itinerant justices and then by special officials, in conjunction with the sheriff.14 The particular need for more extensive exploitation of the king’s feudal rights under Henry III arose once Magna Carta had put an end to the opportunities to make very large sums of money from a small number of very great tenants. Thus, under Henry, the base from which the king’s finances were supported had to be broadened and the search for revenue had therefore to become more intensive and systematic.15 Both Henry and his son, Edward I, were much concerned with defining the scope of their feudal rights and anxious to exploit them on a broad scale. Under both kings there was persistent concern about alienations of lands and of rights of all sorts belonging to the crown, including fees and the king’s rights associated with feudal lordship. This concern was evinced in the number of special enquiries and in the development of the ‘Articles of the Escheators’, which gave the escheators a permanent brief to make enquiries of this kind. This was, however, really the last period in the middle ages when feudal revenue was regarded as a central part of the royal finances. As early as 1284 primer seisin was estimated to yield as little as 300 marks a year and, as parliamentary revenue increasingly replaced older revenues as the source of large-scale funding for war, the feudal incidents declined steadily in importance. Nevertheless, they remained a not entirely negligible source of money and in the thirteenth century were already looming increasingly large within the king’s diminishing pool of patronage.16 Whatever the use they made of them, it remained important to the late-medieval kings to know what feudal revenues they had and how much they were worth. With Henry VII, we enter on a new era of exploitation of feudal revenues, which culminated in the creation of the court of wards under Henry VIII.17
After an initial period when the sheriff was responsible, from about 1248 it became routine for inquisitions post mortem to be carried out by the escheator, using a jury of local men.18 The office of escheator grew out of the appointment of officials who, from the later twelfth century, began to be charged with special responsibility for enquiring into and administering the king’s feudal revenues. In February 1232, two officers were appointed in almost every county to keep the royal wards and escheats and it is from this point that the office of escheator is normally dated. In July, after Peter des Roches had come to power, his right-hand man, Peter des Rivaux, was made keeper of all wards and escheats. After the fall of the two Peters in 1234, the authority that des Rivaux had held over feudal revenues was divided and by 1236 it was established that there would be two escheators, one north and one south of the Trent. This system of sub -escheators in the counties – now one per county rather than two – under the authority of the escheators north and south of the Trent was to obtain until 1341, with the exception of two further periods of experiment. The first took place between 1275 and 1283, when sheriffs were given the sub-escheators’ duties at county level under the overall supervision of three stewards, each with his own bailiwick, who also had the responsibility of administering the king’s demesnes. Between 1323 and 1341 there was a more extended experiment. In 1323 the two great escheatries were replaced by eight, each consisting of a group of counties. In 1327, the Mortimer regime returned to the previous practice of two escheatries but in 1332 the eight escheatries were revived, only for there to be another reversion to two in 1335. Following a brief revival of the eight escheatries in 1340, in November 1341 the escheatries were to all intents and purposes reorganised for the last time and made to coincide with the shrievalties. Under this new system, the office was in fact at first held by the sheriffs but was then given to separate officials, now performing it under their own full authority without supervision from any kind of superior official. The devolution of feudal responsibilities from sheriffs to escheators occurred in most counties between 1352 and 1357 and this is the system that obtained for the whole of the rest of the middle ages. Although it has been argued that the changes of 1323 to 1340 represent a conflict of policy between a ‘royal’ and a ‘baronial’ view, this view of the politics of the period can now be seen as anachronistic; it is most likely that what we have here is merely yet another period of financial experiment initially linked with Stapledon’s exchequer reforms and then continued by Edward III as his wars against Scotland and France got underway.19
The principal duties of the escheator have been well summarised by Stevenson. They were … to take into the king’s hands the lands which may be generically described as escheats, to discover their true value by inquisition and to collect the revenues arising from the lands until he was commanded to deliver them. A number of functions attached to the office in connection with the delivery of lands. The escheator took the proofs of age of heirs and heiresses desiring to sue their inheritances out of the hands of the king. He made assignments of dower to widows and partitions of inheritances among heiresses. Wardships that had been consigned to custodians were resumed into the king’s hands by the escheator before being delivered to heirs or to other custodians. He made formal ‘livery of seisin’ of lands to heirs … who had successfully prosecuted their rights before the king or his courts. But before putting them in possession of their lands the escheator was frequently required to take the fealty of heirs desiring to postpone their homages and have them furnish adequate security that they would pay their reliefs at the exchequer.20
The escheator also had other duties beyond those central to the documents in this volume, including the execution of the king’s rights regarding church lands and, more generally, dealing with lands held in fee which required licences to alienate: land held of the king in chief that was being sold or alienated by an enfeoffment to use and any land that was destined for the dead hand (mortmain) of the church. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries escheators first shared and then increasingly took over several of the coroner’s duties, such as the responsibility for appraising and taking into the crown’s possession the lands and goods of outlaws, suicides and fugitives for homicide and similarly appraising and taking for the crown wrecks and treasure trove.21 Much of the escheator’s work, especially most of that related to IPMs and inheritance, was writ-driven22 but he could also act without writ, ex officio, for example in the duties shared with, and then taken over from, the coroner. The escheator was not charged with responsibility for collecting all the king’s feudal revenue – for example reliefs were excluded from his brief – but he accounted to the exchequer for the receipts of the lands and goods which had come into his custody.23
Given their major role in the crown’s handling of the lands of its most important subjects, it is hardly surprising that escheators, like other royal officials in the localities, should have come in for serious criticism and accusations of corruption. This seems to have been especially prevalent in the period when kings were still making serious efforts to exploit feudal revenue. As early as 1258 escheators were the only local officials apart from sheriffs to be singled out in the Provisions of Oxford as being in need of reform, although the specific grievances mentioned related to taking debts owed to the king from ‘the property of the dead’ and taking tallages ‘or any other thing’ except what was approved by Magna Carta, rather than to actions more directly related to IPMs.24 In Edward I’s Hundred Roll enquiries of 1274–5, although the escheator came in for less criticism than the sheriff, there were nevertheless numbers of complaints about maladministration to the disadvantage of both the king and the king’s subjects. By this time the focus of concern was shifting to the area which was to remain at the centre of criticism of escheators, the handling of lands in fee on a tenant’s death, and much of the comment was related to the seizure and administration of estates which came within the escheator’s purview. Not surprisingly, the first Statute of Westminster, which was in many ways the follow-up to these enquiries, had something to say about escheators: in the chapter concerning wrongful seizures of land by royal officials, escheators were listed among the potentially delinquent officers.25 In the Articles on the Charters of 1300 we find what were to be the perennials of waste, and of return of the land and restitution of its issues when a property had been wrongly taken. Return and restitution were taken up from the point of view of both the king and the tenant and procedure set out in some detail in the so-called ‘Statute for Escheators’ of 1300–1.26 Further legislation in 1340, 1352, 1362 and 1429 was concerned with the same or similar issues: waste, traversing inquisitions so as to take land out of crown hands, the respective rights of crown and tenant when the inquisition was disputed or other complications arose, and wardship of minors.27 In 1346 the ordinance associated with a ‘moral panic’ about corruption among royal officials, especially the judiciary, permitted assize justices to enquire at their sessions into local officers, including escheators, who took gifts to perform their office.28
Despite this evidence of contemporary concern, little direct evidence of corruption on the part of escheators has been found for the period from 1341 when they became county -based officials. If there was much malpractice at this time, it was presumably done for the benefit of local neighbours and lords or for the escheator himself rather than to line the king’s pockets. A statute of 1429 suggested that some IPMs were being held by improperly empanelled juries whose findings were made for ‘their private gain’ (the wording is ambiguous as to whether the gain is of the escheators or the jurors or both). However, the chapter goes on to suggest that, when lands were wrongly taken into the king’s hands by inquest, it was less the escheators and jurors who were thought to be benefiting from such wrongdoing than the king and those who profited from his generosity. But, as examples cited below show, there could certainly be occasions when the timing and execution of an IPM could be manipulated by escheators to the benefit of parties with an interest in the lands of the deceased tenant or in the tenant’s heir or heirs. This could be a matter of establishing right in the case of a dispute, or of ambitions to possess or retain a lucrative custody. An example of an IPM playing a part in conflict over land, which happens to feature in this volume, is the inquisition into the large and valuable manor of Birmingham performed on the death of Elizabeth Clinton, in the midst of a dispute over the inheritance between the heirs male and the heirs general; the inquisition found for the latter.29 Arguably the opportunities to defraud both the king and his subjects financially were greater in the period before 1341, when escheators were more important people and their powers were financially of greater importance to the crown. Examples of doubtful practice in this earlier period can be cited but, as Waugh has pointed out, not many escheators obtained wardships by grant or purchase in this period, even though it was one in which royal officials were not infrequently rewarded in this way. All in all, therefore, although they were certainly not pure as driven snow, escheators may have been less conspicuous for using their office to their own or others’ benefit than the complaints and legislation imply.30
Both before and after escheators became truly local officials in 1341, there was concern on the part of both crown and local societies that whoever exercised the office at county level (sub -escheators until 1341 of course) should have enough land in the counties where they served ‘to answer the king and his people’. In 1368 this was finally transmuted into an official qualification of £20 of land a year in fee. Interestingly, parliament succeeded in wringing this degree of precision out of Edward III a full three years before it achieved the same with regard to sheriffs.31 As is implied by the parity with the sheriff and setting the level at half the sum that was the normal threshold for distraint of knighthood,32 escheators at this time were expected to be drawn from among the more notable of the county gentry but not necessarily the most notable. In practice, it seems that from 1341 to the end of the middle ages the office was usually occupied by members of the middling and lesser gentry and considered inferior to those of sheriff and MP, and indeed to the commission of the peace as the latter grew in importance. Almost certainly this represented the dwindling importance of royal feudal revenues, and it is no surprise that Henry VII, in attempting to restore these, began to deploy additional officials like Edward Belknap, ‘surveyor of the king’s prerogative’.33 In the period up to 1341, when escheators were powerful and important immediate servants of the crown, the office was filled by the type of all-purpose royal servant so common in twelfth-and thirteenth-century England, mostly lay but in some cases clerical. Their deputies in the counties, insofar as their identities and histories can be recovered at all, seem however to have been fairly obscure people. Some of them were more king’s men than local men but perhaps in some cases they were the equivalent of the middling and lesser gentry who later held the county office in their own right or perhaps lesser men still.34 The post-1341 escheator’s closer involvement in local society than in the affairs of the crown was accentuated by parliament’s eventual success in getting the crown to accept the principle first agreed in 1340 that escheators, like sheriffs, were to be replaced annually. In 1378 it was finally agreed that sheriffs would be changed every year – a policy that was in practice already in place – but at the same time the current policy on escheators and sub-escheators (now the local escheators’ deputies) was reiterated: that is, they were allowed to serve for up to three years. In Gloucestershire between 1360 and 1400 Saul counted twenty-four men who served as escheator, of whom fifteen served for just one year, seven for two consecutive years and two (both in the 1360s) for more than two years. It was only from 1399 that escheators were almost invariably changed annually. However, in most counties, this had to all intents been the case since the 1360s.35 Although the sheriff’s was undoubtedly the more locally influential office in the later middle ages, it could be argued that the crown was right in 1378 and that the very varied and often rather technical nature of the escheator’s duties did necessitate a greater amount of expertise and thus required that escheators stay in office for longer periods.36 Those escheators who were not expert in accounting and estate administration, and in their knowledge of how to deal with the wide range of inquisitions and other executive actions that came their way, would have required an expert and competent staff.
The process of taking an IPM usually began with a writ of diem clausit extremum from chancery.37 The earliest known example of this writ dates from 39 Henry III and the writ did not reach its final form until after the end of this reign.38 The escheator is commanded, consequent on the death of a named tenant-in-chief, to seize the tenant’s lands into the king’s hands and to hold an inquisition to determine what lands were held, of whom, in what manner and of what value, the identity and age of the heir and, in its later form, the date of the tenant’s death. The valuation was important because it was used directly to value estates for the sale of wardships by the crown.39 Usually the writ was the immediate signal to the escheator to take the lands of the tenant in question into his hands. However, if he already knew of the tenant’s death, he could take the land and hold the inquisition ex officio, without a writ, although it seems that, by the fifteenth century, even though lands were still taken into the escheator’s hands ex officio, he normally waited for the writ before holding the inquisition. This did not mean that the information received by either the escheator or chancery concerning a tenant’s death was always accurate. For example, in one instance in 1332 it was shown that a writ for an inquisition had asserted that the tenant had died within the last year when, according to the inquisition, he had in fact died in 1326. Other examples demonstrate that reports of the deaths of tenants had sometimes been greatly exaggerated. It is quite possible that escheators received more reliable local information, either to be communicated to chancery or on which they might act without writ, once they were no longer officers of the crown’s central government, dependent on their sub -escheators for local information. For example, in the present volume there are examples of writs being issued up to three weeks before the date given in the IPM for the death of the tenant, a circumstance which might suggest that he or she was known to be dying and this information was communicated to chancery in anticipation.40 From Henry V’s reign onwards, the recruitment of chancery clerks from a wider geographical area and the emergence of lay and sometimes married clerks, who may be supposed to have retained some links with their own and their wives’ place of origin, may have increased the amount of information on such matters which reached chancery.41 Whether acting by writ or ex officio, the escheator would order the sheriff to empanel a jury.42 Usually the number of jurors is the traditional twelve but there are variants, for example thirteen in two instances and fourteen in one.43 The escheator then returned both writ (sometimes endorsed) and inquisition to chancery; sometimes it was delivered by the escheator himself, sometimes by his clerk or sometimes by someone who had business at Westminster, a lawyer for example.44 When an inquest was taken ex officio, without a writ from chancery, it was returned to the exchequer alone, as the office to which the escheator was answerable for his ex officio duties, and the chancery had to issue a writ to the exchequer to request delivery of the inquisition.45 According to the statute of 34 Edward III, the return was to be indented, the jurors keeping one part, the escheator the other. There are notes on some inquisitions that this has been done and that the part remaining with the jurors has been sealed by the escheator and the escheator’s part has been sealed by the jurors. Some returns still have the jurors’ seals attached.46 Occasionally the taking of the inquisition would be assigned to a special commission, issued from chancery by letters patent.47 Many of the inquisitions include extents (that is, surveys with detailed descriptions and valuations of the estate), usually manorial but sometimes of knights’ fees or advowsons.48
There were also other and further writs that might be issued on the death of a tenant-in-chief.49 Writs of mandamus required the same information as those of diem clausit extremum but were issued when a year or more had elapsed between the tenant’s death and the issuing of the writ and therefore required the additional information of who had been occupying the land and taking its issues in the interim. After the initial inquisition, further information might be requested. This could be by a writ of melius inquirendo, which simply asked for details which had been omitted on the first return, for example the type of service by which the land was held or the age of the heir. Alternatively, there might be a writ que plura which stated that it was known from other sources that more land was held by the tenant than had been recorded in the inquisition and that this should be investigated. Other very specific information could be requested through the writ certiorari de feodis militum et advocationibus ecclesiarum, which asked about knights’ fees and advowsons. If an escheator had ceased to hold office between receiving the writ ordering the inquisition and actually taking it, through removal or death, a writ amotus to order the inquisition would be issued to his successor. If the same thing happened between the holding of the inquisition and its return to chancery, a writ of certiorari would be sent to the new escheator ordering him to certify and return the inquisition. The writ devenerunt asked how lands had come into the king’s hands and was employed most usually for initiating inquisitions into the lands of minors who had died while in the king’s wardship but might also be used for the lands of idiots. Finally, in this category of writs concerned with inquisitions into property, there was the writ quia habitum religionis assumpsit, issued when a tenant-in-chief had ceased to hold land through taking religious orders.50
As the summary given earlier indicates, the escheator also had duties which came into play after the inquisition had been taken. One was to deliver seisin of the land in his bailiwick to tenants who were, or had become, qualified to receive it. This might be preceded, in the case of co-heiresses and their husbands or descendants, by a division of the property, which would be ordered by the writ de partitione facienda. The partition would be based on the extent and valuation provided by the escheator’s inquisition, and at successive proofs of age by heiresses the partition might be challenged and a new extent be demanded. However, in one example which has been studied, the partition actually preceded the IPM, so it must be supposed that, in this instance, the family’s own records were used and the IPM findings were merely the necessary preliminaries to getting livery of seisin for the two heirs.51 The escheator might also be asked, by the writ de dote assignanda, to assign dower to the tenant’s widow, in the presence of the heir or his/her attorneys, another exercise which required the making of an extent. Assignments also were indented and sealed.52 In some cases, resort to law was necessary before the assignment could be agreed. Finally, there was the duty to prove the age of underage heirs or heiresses at the end of their minority before they could be given livery. The earliest surviving proof of age dates from 1272 and it may be that they were first written down at the end of Henry III’s reign or the beginning of Edward I’s. At first they were performed before a variety of judicial bodies, including the King’s Bench, the eyre and the king’s council. The escheator was, however, already overseeing proofs in the early part of Edward’s reign, although not on a regular basis until towards the end of the reign, and until 1290 many proofs failed to record the individual statements of the jurors which explained why they remembered the birth or baptism of the tenant in question. Thereafter, however, the statements became an indispensable part of the return. But it seems that it was only during the fourteenth century that taking a proof became the sole preserve of the escheator. The proof was set in motion by the writ de etate probanda. When a proof was held, the holder or holders of the wardship would also be notified as interested parties.53
How were inquisitions carried out? One thing we know is that the process from writ to inquisition or to proof of age and its return could be remarkably quick, especially if we allow for possible delays in delivery of the writ from chancery. A month or less, even considerably less, seems to have been fairly common. Equally, the time between the death of a tenant and the completion of the process of writ, inquisition and return could be a matter of weeks.54 Perhaps indicative of the amount of delay that was acceptable is the further writ issued on 30 April 1425 to the Yorkshire escheator for the return of the writ and inquisition for Henry Lord Fitzhugh which had been ordered by a writ of 13 January of that year. Moreover, this was an immensely complicated return and may therefore have been subject to an unusual amount of delay. But it is not difficult to find examples of less readily explicable dilatoriness. For example, an inquisition in Herefordshire and the March, ordered by a writ of 12 July 1426, was not only not held until 31 August 1427 but concluded that the tenant held no lands there.55 Writs for the IPM on John Botiller were issued on 14 October 1430 and returns received from the escheators of Bedfordshire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire by the second week of November, but the Essex escheator took until 25 September 1431 to take this IPM.56 Perhaps he had the same problems as the Staffordshire escheator who was commanded to take an IPM about this time: John Corbyn appeared in chancery in 1431 to say that he had failed to deliver writs to this escheator because each of them ‘casualiter est amissum’, a timely reminder that error tends to be rifer in the history of humankind than conspiracy.57 Equally, there are examples of IPMs that were not just delayed but apparently not even contemplated until the heir was about to sue for livery.58 One such concerned the grandmother (d. May 1421) and older brother (d. June 1420) of Richard de Dynelay, whose IPMs were ordered on 25 June 1423, Richard having reached the age of twenty -one on 21 June. Another example is John Seyntclere, son and heir of Philip, who died underage. The ex officio IPMs on John were done in 1419–20 but no devenerunt writs for him were issued until 1423, when his brother and heir Thomas was twenty -one.59
These delayed inquisitions may just have been a matter of rectification of official oversight but some of the sequences of writs and inquisitions preceding proofs of age suggest that the initiative for some IPMs came less from a crown concerned to maximise its feudal rights than from the family of the heir about to prove his or her age. For example, Walter, brother and heir of Humphrey, the son and heir of Walter Fitzwalter and Joan his wife, reached the age of twenty -one in June 1422 but there was no writ for his proof of age until the following year, and the delay apparently occurred so that writs could be issued for IPMs on Walter senior, Joan and Humphrey. In this case, it seems that Walter junior’s wish to prove his age set in motion the missing IPMs that had to be performed before he could do so.60 In another case, however, it looks as if the heiress herself and her husband wished there to be a full series of inquisitions in order to establish her right to her inheritance before she entered. In July 1423 Alice wife of William le Zouche reached the age of fourteen but the writ for her proof of age was not issued until February 1424. In the intervening period, writs were issued for IPMs on people long since dead so that Alice’s claims to be heir to them could be established. One IPM demonstrated that Nicholas St Maur had held a manor for life by grant of Ela wife of Richard St Maur senior, and that the reversion was to pass to Alice. A second confirmed her identity as the infant born to Mary, widow of Richard St Maur junior, because she had not yet been born when her father had died in 1409. The third corrected scribal errors in names which had confused the descent of lands that her father had inherited from his great-grandfather John Paveley.61 A similar instance of family initiative may account for the inquisitions on three generations of Bertram Monbocher. The first two died respectively under Richard II and Henry V and, although there had been an initial batch of inquisitions for the first Bertram, there was nothing else until the third Bertram died in 1425 (at which point the new, mandamus, writs for the first Bertram suggest no awareness of the earlier returns). The reason for the sudden flurry of writs and inquisitions may be that the second and third Bertrams had both died as minors in the king’s wardship and the heir to all three was Isabel, sister of the first Bertram, and she was of age and anxious to establish the descent and her right to the land, as next heir and an adult.62
However, there are other occasions when the evidence suggests that more sinister motives were at work. For example, included in this volume are the IPMs and proofs of age concerning the Sumpter claimants to the Brokholes inheritance, which featured largely in the affairs of the Armburghs. It seems highly probable that there were machinations lying behind the delay in the ordering of the inquisition, behind its eventual execution and behind the proofs of age of the disputed co-heiresses which were taken not long after.63 At a much higher social level, the IPMs on Henry Beaufort, son and heir of John earl of Somerset, were not ordered until May 1425, even though Henry had died in November 1418. As in the case of the Sumpters and of the examples given earlier, it was apparently again the impending majority of the heir, Henry’s brother John, which precipitated the delayed IPM. But, by contrast with the cases cited already, in the case of such a great nobleman in such close proximity to the crown, it is inconceivable that the need for the IPM had been overlooked until John the younger was about to come of age. One surmise is that the intention was to delay any transfer of the custody of the Beaufort lands from Margaret, his mother, subsequently wife and widow of Thomas duke of Clarence, Henry V’s brother. In addition to the lands that she already held in jointure from her marriage to Somerset, Margaret had been given by Henry IV the custody of almost all Henry Beaufort’s other lands during his minority, and her income (and indeed Clarence’s while he was alive) had been greatly enhanced by this extra Beaufort windfall, one which had apparently not been affected by Henry’s death. Moreover, when Clarence died in 1421, his will commanded that the lands held in custody for Henry be amongst those used to pay his debts. There was thus perhaps every reason not to have an IPM for Henry, for it might disturb this convenient use of his lands and, as Clarence’s widow, Margaret, was close enough to the throne to ensure that the status quo was maintained until Henry’s brother reached manhood.64 It is possible that there were similar sinister designs at work in the delay to the IPM on Hugh Stafford, Lord Bourchier, younger brother of Edmund earl of Stafford. Hugh died childless in October 1420, his heir being his nephew Humphrey, Edmund’s son and heir, who had been in wardship since Edmund’s death at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. Again, the proof of age may well have been the trigger for an IPM, in this case of Humphrey: the IPMs were carried out in 1422–3 and in the Gloucestershire one it actually stated that Hugh’s heir was Humphrey ‘who will be aged twenty -one years and more on 15 August next’ (italics added). Hugh Stafford’s widow had married Sir Lewis Robsart, a Beaufort servant and erstwhile servant of Henry V, and therefore another perhaps with enough influence to prevent the ready devolution of his wife’s dower or jointure lands to the next heir. There are however no indications that Humphrey had to wait for his uncle Hugh’s lands once he was of age and we must probably conclude that this was simply another overdue IPM that was brought to the authorities’ attention by the heir’s impending majority.65
Generally speaking, it was in the interests of an adult heir that the whole process be carried out as speedily as possible and it may well have been the heirs who communicated information on the death of the previous tenant to the escheator or direct to chancery – this may indeed account for the writs mentioned above which anticipated by a short period the death of the tenant.66 However, if the heir were to be subject to wardship, those who were looking after the heir’s or heirs’ interests might be far more relaxed about delays in the ordering and performing of IPMs. Thus, this might be the explanation for some of the delays in performing the inquisitions of tenants who left underage heirs, although probably not those like the Beaufort ones where powerful interests opposed to the heir seem to be at work. On the other hand, one might suppose that, even if wardships were no longer anything like as lucrative to the crown as they had once been, the royal government would be keen to have the identification and valuation of tenancies-in-chief done as soon as possible, either to make what it could out of them or to know what it had to offer for patronage purposes. Instances like the Beaufort one, when the act of patronage seems to have consisted in failure to order an IPM, must have been relatively rare. To sum up, the reasons for much of the delay in performing IPMs, especially on estates where there was a crown wardship, remain obscure.67
IPMs, like so much else in local government and jurisdiction, were carried out by a jury of local men. There was clearly concern that they should act as knowledgeable and impartial respondents to the escheator’s questions: the legislation of 1429 not only charged that the jury be empanelled by the sheriff alone and not for anyone’s ‘private gain’ but also that it consist of men from within the county.68 As with other enquiries, such as JPs’ sessions and coroners’ inquests,69 the names of jurors are placed near the top of the document, above the information which they declare, and the jurors’ participation in the process is frequently indicated in the returns, by phrases such as ‘the jurors say’ and ‘as shown to the jurors’. With the inclusion of all jurors’ names for the first time in this series of calendars, it is hoped that there will be more systematic study of the type of juror used and that this will contribute to the study of late-medieval juries more generally. So far, most of the work on juries has been devoted to those in the common law courts, especially gaol delivery, and in the manorial courts. Some of this work is following the early -modernists in linking study of jurors to the emergence of a ‘middling sort’ as a power in villages and towns and clearly IPM juries should be considered an integral part of these investigations.70 Unfortunately, the names of the jurors in IPMs, being near the head of the document, have sometimes been lost to the ravages of time but, as this volume shows, the names of the great majority of jurors are recoverable. The following thoughts are no more than an introduction to the ways in which these lists might be interrogated.
The fact that identical or near-identical lists of jurors are not always identically ordered suggests that the ordering of the list had no significance. However, this may have been rather because the escheator felt that the jurors were all so plebeian as to make distinguishing between them otiose. Certainly, comparing the exhaustive list of landowners which exists for fifteenth-century Warwickshire with the Warwickshire jurors listed in this volume, it is apparent that very few of the latter even feature amongst the bottom gentry/top yeomen. That escheators were alert to the more obvious social and tenurial distinctions can be seen from the fact that, where there is a juror of even marginally elevated status, he is placed at the head of the Warwickshire lists. To take a further example from this volume, two knightly jurors in Northumberland are similarly placed. But, even in dealing with uniformly ungentle jurors, those who come from a single place are rarely grouped together; the neglect of a procedure which would have saved the scribe writing out a place- name more than once implies that saving effort was deemed to take second place to listing in order of status, however obscure the determination of status may sometimes seem to us. The presence of the Northumberland knights does of course suggest that not all IPM jurors were of lowly status, and Crump found a few esquires on the fifteenth-century IPM juries he examined and a fair sprinkling of gentlemen, while one Warwickshire jury is headed by William Fielding, a reasonably prominent esquire.71 But a lower class of juror seems to have been more the norm, and Hilton’s findings from Thornbury in Gloucestershire in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries suggest that the same was true of urban areas. The group of burgesses that predominated on juries of all kinds in Thornbury consisted mostly of property -owning townsmen of artisanal level, including butchers and innkeepers.72 Thus, in both town and country, jurors could be considered to belong to the ‘middling sort’: a power in their immediate vicinity but, unlike wealthy merchants in towns or gentry and the aspirant upper yeomen in the country, lacking influence further afield.73
Jurors for proofs of age were chosen for their proximity when the tenant was born. Although not all proofs were made at the place of birth, they all took place within its vicinity. One would expect the jurors to be aged a minimum of thirty -five years old for female heirs and forty -two for males and there are in fact hardly any jurors in their thirties in this volume and all of these act for proofs of female heirs. Indeed, that the jurors for heiresses tend generally to be younger than for heirs suggests a measure of seriousness about establishing the one specific fact at issue in these proceedings.74 In theory this could have meant that these jurors were part of the same social networks as the parents of the child whose birth they were remembering and therefore of a more elevated status than the IPM jurors. In practice however they seem mostly to have been of the same type as the ordinary IPM juries or indeed, since they included household and other servants, of lower social status. For example, using the calendar for 1413–18 (CIPM XX), we find few witnesses of any status acting in the proofs of age of people as eminent as the future Lord Bonville in 1413, Isabel wife of Richard Beauchamp Lord Bergavenny in 1415 or William de la Pole, future duke of Suffolk, in 1418, and several who are either named as servants of a fairly menial sort or are shown by the activities they describe to be servants of this kind.75 Using information taken from published work on local landed societies in conjunction with the proofs of age of some lesser landowners, we can see that jurors were, with a few exceptions, of a similar type.76 In these and in other proofs, if a landowner of some standing is mentioned, this tends to be because a juror is remembering an event associated with that person rather than because the persons themselves act as witnesses. In fact, this makes sense, since the juror/witness would have had to be both present at the time of birth or christening of the subject of the proof and available in the locality fourteen or twenty -one years later, and that was a far more likely eventuality for tenants, servants and local husbandmen. And that in itself is further evidence that verification of fact was what was required. However, as the proof for Isabel Lady Bergavenny illustrates, proofs might be taken some distance away from the birthplace. In this instance, her birth at Cardiff was proved at Gloucester but the escheator still went to the trouble of bringing most of the jurors from Cardiff. Again, it would probably have been easier to summon the relatively lowly in this way and again such summonses show some seriousness of purpose in establishing the facts.
There was clearly an equal concern that the best sources of local knowledge should be tapped in the selection of IPM jurors. This can be illustrated paradoxically by contradictory evidence.77 On the one hand there are occasions when the same jury, or some of the same jurors, were used for inquisitions into members of the same family which were held either on the same day or proximate days and in at least one instance several months apart. This implies recognition that there was specialised knowledge that might be used, but on the other hand so do the changes that were made to juries. For example, while the juries enquiring into the lands inherited by John Seyntclere respectively from his father and his mother overlapped in some counties, in Oxfordshire and Suffolk they were completely different. When further enquiry was ordered on the lands of Robert Waterton in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, the new inquisitions were held in different vills and had different juries. There is indeed some evidence that care was being taken to select juries with specialist knowledge. For example, the IPMs for Thomas Martell and for Margaret widow of John Aspall and wife of John Symond were both held at the same place on the same day and yet there were only four jurors in common for the two inquests. Sometimes it is evident that the jurors were chosen for exceptional expertise. Two examples are the choice of John de Wedryngton as one of the jury that found that the tenant in question held land of him, and of William Skargill, escheator for the original Yorkshire IPM on Ralph earl of Westmorland, who sat on the jury for a further inquisition into Westmorland’s lands, held in response to a writ melius inquirendo. The four inquisitions held in Chelmsford on the same day into the Essex lands of Walter Fitzwalter, his widow Joan and Humphrey their son and heir each had entirely or partially different juries and an attractive explanation here is that the escheator and sheriff were anxious to include jurors from an older generation for the IPM on the parents, especially as they were held in response to a writ melius inquirendo. However, one must then ask why it was thought to be necessary to change the jurors for the IPMs for each of Humphrey’s parents.78
There may indeed be entirely different explanations for some of these changes in personnel. One mundane but practical one is the convenience of the jurors. When repeat IPMs were held in different vills from the ones where the original inquisition had occurred, then the choice of jurors might reflect not just the desire for local knowledge but also the reluctance of the original jurors to come from further afield. Equally, juries at inquests held on the same day in the same place may have changed as jurors decided that it was time to go about their other business or to go home. This might be especially the case if the town in question was one like Chelmsford, to which people would come on business of their own, in some cases from quite far away, and where there would be a large pool of potential jurors. Another possible reason lying behind the composition of inquisition juries and explanation for variants between them is offered by the Plumpton correspondence: in 1480 William Gascoigne made an agreement with the escheator for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire that Gascoigne was to be allowed to name the jury empanelled for the IPM on William Plumpton, for which he would pay £4 for the inquisition and its return to chancery, and a further twenty shillings as ‘reward’ to the escheator. This was another IPM that had a crucial bearing on a potentially disputed descent and Gascoigne was the brother-in-law of the heir in whose favour the IPM found. Similarly, when John de Wedryngton sat on the jury which found that the deceased was his tenant, he had a vested interest in being there. However, before we proceed too rapidly to dismiss such juries as corrupt, we should remember that juries selected on such grounds were also likely to be particularly well informed.79
This point brings us to the inquisition itself and the source of the information offered by the jurors. Historians have known for some considerable time that much of the detail provided to the escheator must have come from the family of the deceased.80 It is just about possible that one of the jurors did in fact keep the jurors’ copy and produce it at a later inquisition, but that presupposes careful archiving on the part of men who would mostly not have had archives of their own, and that a possibly completely different set of jurors was able to remember, perhaps many years later, who had taken the jurors’ copy at the last inquisition on a particular family. Certainly, as we shall see shortly, in the recounting of the dilemma of the escheator who wrote rather desperately to John Paston, there was no suggestion that any of the jurors might be able to help the escheator out.81 It is indeed quite hard to see how the jurors, especially if they mostly belonged to the ‘middling sort’, would have been able to offer authoritative answers to any of the questions they were asked unless the family played a large part in the proceedings. When we find complex descents and detailed extents in IPMs, then we can have no doubt that the family or its legal and estate officials must have provided the documentation that lay behind these findings, but even such basic pieces of information as the tenure of the property and the date of death of the tenant are more likely to have come from the horse’s mouth than from the jury.82 In any case, we also have direct evidence, from both the records themselves and the fifteenth-century correspondences, of the role of the family of the deceased tenant in the proceedings. For example, in 1425 William Paston and other legal advisers to the second duke of Norfolk were visiting the properties in Norfolk and Suffolk which had come to the duke by the death of his mother, preparing for the IPMs on her lands: presumably seeking out any documentation which was not held centrally and possibly preparing extents. The agreement between William Gascoigne and the escheator of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire mentioned above refers to the inquisition acting ‘according to such evidence as shal be shewed there by the counsell of the said William Gascoigne, knight, of all such mannors, lands, tenementes, rents, revercions, and services, with other appurtenances, of which the said William Plompton, knight, now dead, was seised of in fe, or otherwise, in the said shires, in his life, or any other to his use’. It seems, therefore, that in this case all the jury was being asked to do was to rubber-stamp the information from the Plumpton family. And we should not assume that the indenture between Gascoigne and the escheator necessarily implies that this was likely to be incorrect information. It was only the identity of the heir which was a difficult issue, and the agreement offered the escheator access to accurate information in return for what we must suppose to be an implicit promise of persuading the jury to name the heir as desired by Gascoigne.83
If we now turn to the inquisitions, there is plenty more evidence for the rehearsal of documents during the hearings, including family settlements, grants by charter, letters patent and fines. Sometimes, as indicated above, the text states explicitly that the documents were ‘shown in evidence to the jurors’, sometimes to the escheator as well, and occasionally it says that a document was read to the jury. In the Devon IPM of Elizabeth widow of John Neville, letters patent of Elizabeth were copied into the text. Then there is the use of the phrase per nomen to indicate that a name or style or landholding differs in a document produced at the inquest from that given in the inquisition: for example, to note that Hugh Hastyngges knight is described in a charter as Hugh de Hastyngges knight; or to give the full style of a person at the time of a grant, as in the case of the man described as Thomas la Warre, clerk, in one charter and Lord la Warre in another; or to note that 1,000 acres of waste and pasture called ‘Egburden’ are described in a charter as a plot of waste land called ‘Egburghdene’. The names of feoffees on deeds that are cited may be listed in the original order, whereas inquisitions, in rehearsing such deeds, normally separate them into those who have died and those who are still alive. For example, in the Essex IPM of Joan widow of Thomas Erpyngham, in the citation of an enfeoffment, the feoffees are grouped into the living and the dead but, when the inquisition goes on to state that by this deed the feoffees were seised of these lands, it disregards this division and we must assume that the names were now being taken down as they appeared on the deed.84 What we should deduce from all this is probably that, despite the inquisitions’ frequent implication that statements of fact have come direct from the jurors, unless any of the jurors had special knowledge of the sort noted above,85 the jury’s chief function was to agree the authenticity of the documents presented or read to them. Up to a point this could entail the deployment of local knowledge: for example that a witness-list on a deed or charter was unfeasible, because one or more of the witnesses did not exist, or was dead or too young at the time of the making of the alleged conveyance, and therefore likely to be forged; or, if the jurors lived in the vill where the estate lay, perhaps were even its tenants, that there were details in an account of a property that they knew to be untrue. But the jury’s function seems much more to have been part of a procedure to be followed in order for an inquisition to be authenticated than to have been the evidence-finding voice of the locality. As we shall see shortly, this may have important consequences for the difficult question of the authenticity of jurors’ testimony in proofs of age.86
A rather more alarming insight into the making of IPMs, which renders both jury and escheator redundant, comes from the fullest behind-the-scenes account that we have, which is among the Paston letters. Readers are strongly advised to look at this extraordinary text for themselves but a summary is offered here. On the death of William Paston in 1444, an unknown correspondent sent John I, William’s son and heir, a copy of part of the inquisition taken in Norfolk by Robert Clere, escheator of Norfolk and Suffolk. In this the jurors recorded, entirely erroneously, that William held no lands or tenements in Norfolk at his death. Clere was unable to make a proper inquisition without assistance from the Pastons and knew that this return would get him into trouble. He therefore requested Paston to write out an inquisition himself, seal it with his own seal and with those of as many of the fifteen jurors as he wished to approach (he was given their names in the copy of the inquisition sent him) and to give it to Clere’s deputy, who was in London, to hand into chancery. Clere had already explained to the jurors ‘in secreta confessione’ what he was proposing to do and asked them to seal a new inquisition if he could get one made and they had agreed. He had asked the unknown correspondent – evidently not the deputy escheator but perhaps another member of his staff – to write to Paston as he himself was too busy. Clere knew that Paston senior held no land in Suffolk other than what came through his wife, John’s mother, and had therefore held no inquisition there but would do so if John wished it. Otherwise, the new inquisition, to be written out by John, could be made to serve for both. Moreover, enhancing anxiety concerning the truthfulness of IPMs brought on by reading this letter, there is the information that the jurors to whom Clere divulged his plans were ‘v. or vj. of the reuleris of the seide jurre whiche he kan truste righte well’ and it was these, ‘tottid’ (i.e. marked) on the list, whose seals Paston was to seek out above all. Are we therefore to suppose that the verdict of the jurors was often not only given in absentia but represented the opinions of the leading jurors only? Robert Clere was one of the feoffees to William Paston’s will (which makes his helplessness somewhat odd) but, from the tenor of the letter, it is likely that he was less doing Paston a fav- our, by giving him the opportunity to doctor the return as suited him, than asking Paston to do him one. Even so, the whole episode sets alarm bells ringing: how many other IPMs were made in this way and, especially, how many of those that return ‘nulla terras et tenementa’, as here, simply represent failure on the part of escheator and jurors? What the letter does show very clearly is how such failure could easily occur without extensive information and documentation from the family of the deceased.87
However, the next stage of the process offers some comfort. It is evident that chancery officials subjected returned IPMs to fairly careful scrutiny. In what form exactly they were returned is not entirely clear. As we have seen, the copy sent in by the escheator was to be indented and there are two examples of inquisitions in this volume being cancelled in the sixteenth century for lack of indentation: ‘This inquisition void because insufficient in law as insufficiently indented according to the form of the relevant statute’. While the particular stringency revealed here, in rejecting inquisitions taken over a century before, probably owes a lot to the Tudors’ revived interest in feudal revenues, the episodes do seem to reveal an expectancy that the statute on indenting would be adhered to.88 What, then, are we to make of the fact that, while some of the IPMs preserved in chancery are indented, many are not? The obvious conclusion would seem to be that the original escheators’ returns were often copied before being filed. Some instances confirm that this happened: the endorsement of the writ refers to the attached inquisition as indented but the inquisition that was filed is not.89 Additionally, an exchequer order of 1325, if it was still being followed in the fifteenth century, may indicate the source of some non- indented copies. In response to this command, the escheators were to make duplicate copies, sealed with the jurors’ seals, of inquisitions returned under writs of diem clausit extremum and to return them to the exchequer when they went there to account. Perhaps chancery sometimes requested the exchequer copy for its own archives – perhaps because it was dissatisfied with the condition of the original – and sent a further copy to the exchequer to replace the one it had taken.90 There is a further possibility that what the escheator sometimes sent in was notes and that from these a full inquisition for chancery filing was drawn up. However, Robert Clere’s efforts to complete a proper IPM for William Paston show that he had already drawn up a full, albeit inadequate, inquisition, while idiosyncratic phrases in some of the returns suggest that what the escheator or his officer handed over was normally a full version. For example, inquisitions coming from the City of London’s own escheator invariably include the phrase that they had been performed in response to the king’s writ to the mayor and escheator instructing them ‘to inquire regarding certain articles in the same writ specified’ and that the writ was sewn to the inquisition.91 There are also other occasions when we hear the voice of the escheator, such as references to lands held ‘in balliva mea’ or the statement that the inquisition was held ‘by virtue of the king’s writ addressed to me’ or an endorsement to the effect that ‘execution of writ apparent in the inquisition held before me and sewn to this writ’.92
The exchequer was furnished with a copy (E149 series), so that this office was fully versed for valuing wardships and in anticipation of the escheator’s annual accounting. However, it is not clear whether in this period the copy came routinely from chancery or was in fact the second copy to be provided by the escheator according to the order of 1325, although one would surmise that, if the exchequer wished to value a wardship, it would wish to have the copy immediately rather than at the end of the accounting year.93 There are also copies of inquisitions in the exchequer E152 series. These are grouped by county, with several inquisitions on a single membrane. Some, for example those held before John Copleston, escheator for Devon and Cornwall, are explicitly stated to be copies: ‘tenor of the transcript of inquisitions’.94 The E149 exchequer series is more like the chancery series, with each inquisition on a separate membrane and filing by person rather than county, although, in copying a chancery inquisition, the exchequer clerk sometimes omitted the jurors’ names. Why there should be these two distinct series of exchequer IPMs is a matter for conjecture: perhaps they were designed as a belt-and-braces system, in case one of the means of obtaining a copy failed. However, the different organisation of the two series implies that their purposes were different.95 On occasion, it was chancery that needed to send for a copy: inquisitions were normally performed in response to writs, even if the lands had been taken by the escheator acting ex officio, but those that were taken ex officio were returned to the exchequer.96 Sometimes what was sent to chancery from the exchequer was the inquisition itself (probably identifiable as such by its indentation), sometimes it was a copy. In one case, a chancery copy of an inquisition is annotated to the effect that it had been delivered by John Walssh of the exchequer. 97 Substantial discrepancies between the two copies, where both exist, may be followed through the calendars below. Mostly these are minor: for example, the name of a feoffee omitted in an exchequer copy, variant forenames, an incorrect date of death in the exchequer copy (Tuesday 2 May for Tuesday 6 May).98 Sometimes, if the exchequer copy does have the jurors’ names, they are listed in a different order or some of the names may even differ. One particular disagreement offers evidence as to how the copies were sometimes made.99 In this instance the chancery copy records eight messuages worth sixteen shillings, while the exchequer one lists the same messuages as worth sixty shillings; the clear implication is of course that the copy was dictated.100 However, other variants imply that the errors were the result of faulty copying: Godfrey Hilton turns into Geoffrey Hilton, an heir is said to be aged two years (i.e. ij) rather than three (iij), a carucate is valued at 3s 6d in the chancery copy and 13s 6d in the exchequer one.101 On occasion, one version is correct and the other incorrect. To take one instance where the exchequer copy is right and the chancery at fault, the former refers to the advowson of the church of Compton Greenfield, Gloucestershire, while the latter calls it, incorrectly, a chapel.102 Sometimes the exchequer copy may have material not in the chancery files: for example a manorial extent. Perhaps the exchequer’s particular responsibility with respect to auditing the escheator’s accounts led to its keeping this piece of evidence more carefully than chancery. Unfortunately the process is not always as transparent as this. For example, while one sometimes finds information which would be of interest to the exchequer alone attached to exchequer copies of inquisitions, one of the chancery IPMs in this volume concludes with such information, in this case on an Essex outlaw. This again raises the question of whether chancery sometimes obtained copies, even of IPMs done in response to writs, from the exchequer, perhaps because it was dissatisfied with its own copy or even because its copy had been mislaid.103
How carefully was all this accumulated information sifted and used? Waugh has suggested that through the IPMs the king’s officers had acquired by the late thirteenth century ‘a comprehensive reservoir of data about the tenants-in-chief and their holdings’.104 We do know that it was intended that chancery and exchequer records should be stored in good order and in recognised repositories, at Westminster, in the Tower and in the Domus Conversorum (later the Public Record Office) in Chancery Lane.105 There are some clues as to how IPMs may have been marked up to aid recovery, in the identifying summaries on the dorses: two examples, both here translated from the Latin, are ‘Lincoln[shire]. Before the king in chancery’ (which is definitely contemporary with the inquisition), and ‘Inquisition of the lord St John’ (which may be contemporary). A writ cited earlier may indicate that the chancery checked its archive for gaps. This writ of 1409 from chancery to the exchequer, asking for a copy of an inquisition from the reign of Richard II, is marginated ‘not yet executed because not yet found in chancery’ (italics added). It is possible that ‘chancery’ is a misprint for ‘exchequer’, and the phrase is thus explaining why the writ could not be executed, but it is also possible that ‘because’ means that chancery knows about the failure to execute the writ because it has checked and not been able to find this inquisition. Whichever interpretation one puts upon this, it undoubtedly shows that chancery officials were prepared to chase up missing IPMs.106 Such instances of contemporary marking are however very rare and most examples on the IPMs of the early part of Henry VI’s reign are by hands from later periods.107 Nevertheless, there is certainly evidence that in the fifteenth century care was still being taken to keep this database in good condition. The melius inquirendo and que plura writs might be issued in response to the wholly inadequate inquisition of the sort that Robert Clere initially oversaw but they also imply that fuller returns were being scrutinised by means of comparison with chancery’s archive.108 The rehearsal in these writs of the findings of the recent inquisition suggests that the clerk who is writing it out has an earlier inquisition in front of him, from which he is able to deduce the lacunae in the one deemed inadequate. In an additional inquisition for Anne, widow of Hugh Hastynges, taken under a que plura writ just over a fortnight after the first, the original jury of twelve is supplemented by a further two jurors, a circumstance which suggests serious intent both to make the original jury consider its verdict further and to get some new light on its findings.109 An interesting case is that of the Cockerells in Norfolk and Suffolk. Katherine, widow of John Cockerell, died in 1427 and the first inquisition into her lands in these counties found no lands in Norfolk and only some of her lands in Suffolk, although a second enquiry was rather more successful. On the death underage in 1431 of her granddaughter, another Katherine, daughter of her son John, IPMs in both Norfolk and Suffolk identified lands which had not been recorded in either of the inquisitions of 1427. As a result, further writs were issued in both counties concerning lands not recorded in the inquisitions of 1427. Particularly remarkable here is the fact that the new returns were being used to check the archives rather than the reverse, a state of affairs which implies that there was a strong departmental sense that the entire archive needed to be kept in the best possible condition.110
Within the documents themselves, there is undoubted evidence of careful scrutiny, especially on the part of the exchequer. For example, there are marginal notes to indicate what is held of the king, as in, ‘Wodeham Mortymer de R[ege] de honore Peuerell per s[ervicium] mil[itare]’.111 The exchequer’s financial interest in these returns can be seen in the occasional appearance of marginal summations on manorial extents in exchequer copies and also summations of money due from lands in the king’s hands for given periods of time.112 They are more likely to appear in the E149 class than in the E152 series, a fact which adds weight to the belief that it was these copies of single IPMs which were normally used by the exchequer for accounting purposes. Perhaps, then, the E152 series was a means of keeping track of estates as a whole since the responsibility for them was of course divided among the escheators on a county basis. Some exchequer copies are marked up to indicate whether they have been inspected or not, for example, ‘ex[aminat]ur per Selby’ or ‘non ex[aminat]ur huc’.113 If the exchequer, with its continuing financial interest, however muted by this time, might be expected to pore over these records carefully, what about chancery? Was this department as anxious to preserve an accurate database in the early fifteenth century as Waugh suggests was the case in the late thirteenth? Some support for Waugh’s opinion on the earlier period comes from Hilton’s study of Thornbury, Gloucestershire in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries: he found that the three IPMs on this estate carried out between 1296 and 1314 were ‘more or less consistent’ with each other.114 Hilton is, however, unspecific about discrepancies of detail. By the period of this calendar, there are certainly variants between inquisitions carried out on the same estate for successive holders. For example, if the extent in the Leicestershire inquisition for Thomas Staunton is compared with that for his father John, there is a fairly substantial difference in the acreage of a meadow and failure to record the acreage of two of Thomas’s pastures whose acreage had been given in John’s IPM. In the Derbyshire IPMs for the father and son, two acres of meadow each worth sixpence in one are reduced to two acres of meadow worth sixpence in the other. The second of these may well be a copying error and in neither case are the discrepancies startling but the first one certainly demonstrates failure to cross-check two IPMs returned within a few months of each other and the second may reflect a similar failure.115 On the other hand, interpolations were made in chancery copies which reveal concern to add clarification or extra material. For example, there are various insertions in the Warwickshire IPM for Maud widow of John Lovell and among them is one which explains that William Lovell, named as heir in the IPM, is the son of John Lovell, the deceased son of Maud.116
In fact, in accepting the need for legislation which would allow traversing of IPM returns,117 the crown was showing that it was well aware that mistakes were made which its own officials, whether of chancery or exchequer, could not necessarily rectify. Traverses, or attempts at them, in the King’s Bench are not that hard to find.118 A particularly interesting one concerns the IPM on the Birmingham manor that was mentioned earlier. William Bermingham tried to nullify its findings and those of a further IPM of 1436 taken on the death of Edmund Lord Ferrers, one of the heirs general, by traversing the verdict that the manor was held of the crown. Clearly this was not the issue for him but it was a means of getting both earlier IPMs thrown out. The crown’s representative in court, in defending the findings on the basis of records in the possession of the treasurer, showed that this part of the IPM archive was regarded as what would now be called an information resource. The documents in question were presumably the original IPMs (though it is not clear why there should be resort to the exchequer copies) and accounts relating to the escheator’s custody of the property.119 A rather different instance of error being rectified is the proof of age of Thomas, brother and heir of John Lord Roos. In 1427 Thomas petitioned parliament for the issue of a writ de etate probanda. The petition was granted on the grounds that there was a discrepancy in the age given for him in the inquisitions for his brother held in Buckinghamshire, on the one hand, and in all the other counties where inquisitions had been held for him on the other. The writ and proof survive and the writ records that it was issued in response to a petition in parliament.120
Despite all this evidence of concern to avoid and, if necessary, correct error, it would be unwise to assume that this impressive-seeming operation was always entirely seriously meant by this time. Not only were feudal revenues of slight financial consequence by now but, more importantly, the whole system had been designed to deal with a very different state of affairs, when the number of tenants-in-chief was perhaps about a hundred. Even before the statute of Quia Emptores, it had become necessary to distinguish between major and minor wardships and delegation to local agents had been introduced in the handling of the latter.121 Then, from 1290, Quia Emptores vastly increased the numbers of tenants-in-chief and ensured that some of them held estates that were barely worth the crown’s attention. This was because, after Quia Emptores, conveyance of land, for the purposes of either grant or sale, was done by substitution rather than subinfeudation, so that anyone who acquired land held in chief immediately became a tenant of the crown. Moreover, when estates held of the crown in chief devolved to co-heirs and were subdivided, the heirs could no longer hold land of one another, as they had sometimes done, and so each part of the estate, however fragmentary, would remain under the crown’s lordship. At the same time, the crown was becoming readier to permit alienation of land by tenants- in-chief, thereby increasing the possibilities of a mesne tenant becoming a tenant of the crown by purchase. The fact that rather minor lords might increasingly hold of the crown also meant that, outside the peerage, it was no longer immediately obvious who the crown’s tenants were. This may indeed be one of the reasons for the change to local escheators who were not just deputies of the great and distant royal servants who had the full powers to execute the office: that local knowledge had become essential to identify who the tenants-in-chief might be.122 But increasingly, although the whole massive system might swing into operation on the death of every potential tenant of the crown, some of this activity was barely worthwhile. The fact that returns were allowed to pass in which the identity of the lord was said to be unknown indicates how little some of these inquisitions really meant to the king or his officers.123 That IPMs might not be done at all, sometimes for more than one generation, until an heir was about to come of age, and that even then the initiative for the inquisition, in these and other similar cases, might come from the family rather than the crown similarly suggests a periodic lack of interest. As against this, it should be noted that the king could preserve at least some of his interests even without an IPM, for, as we have seen, when an impending proof of age was the driving force, the heir was nevertheless in the king’s wardship, despite the absence of an IPM on his or her predecessor.124 This seems to show two things: that the family had not tried to challenge the escheator’s ex officio taking of the lands on behalf of the king and their retention without an IPM, and that the king was not interested in the valuation of the lands which would have been necessary were the wardship to be sold at anything like its market rate.
Bearing all the foregoing points in mind, we now need to ask how accurate this information is. It should be said immediately that an IPM was not necessarily a politically or legally neutral act. We have seen enough already to grasp that some of the information in the IPM, especially that concerning the descent of a property, might be one-sided.125 Another example comes from Simon Payling’s account of the dispute between Lords Cromwell and Fitzhugh over the Marmyon inheritance, which shows the importance of the IPM verdicts on Elizabeth widow of Henry Fitz- hugh in 1428. In five of the counties where these inquisitions occurred, Cromwell was able to secure a false account of the descent of the lands which supported his claim.126 The crown was clearly aware that IPMs might be massaged for improper purposes, for in 1360 –1 it was enacted that ‘Inquests be taken in good Towns [i.e. townships/vills] openly, and not privily’.127 Plenty of other people might have a vested interest in the jury’s findings and might be powerful enough to encourage them to offer a particular verdict in certain areas. For example, in 1417–18, the earl of Warwick sent for a copy of the IPM on his feudal tenant and client Alan Straunge, while in 1420 –1 he paid £4 to the Warwickshire escheator concerning the IPM of another tenant and associate and seems to have dispatched members of his council to be present at the IPM itself. In 1446 the duke of Buckingham sent men to the Staffordshire IPM of Henry duke of Warwick.128
However, the fact that the family of the deceased almost certainly provided a large proportion of the information in the IPMs should be encouraging rather than the reverse. It means that we can be fairly confident about the accuracy of the identification of the properties, of whom they were held (if known) and of any property settlements that are recounted, even if the last may be a one-sided version if a property was being contested. Moreover, it is likely that it was on the listing of the lands held by the tenant and their lordship that the crown was keeping its closest eye when checking the returns preparatory to sending out further writs. Equally, although we might mistrust values given on extents and there may be errors of detail in these documents,129 we can be reasonably sure that the extents were based, partly, sometimes entirely, on ones already in existence in the family archive: making an extent ab initio was an expensive and time-consuming business, which the escheator would surely wish to avoid as far as possible. There is indeed evidence that it was acknowledged that an existing extent might be used.130 However, one factor here would be the question of how assiduous the owners had been in renewing their extents and similar estate documents; in a period of mostly rentier economies amongst landowners, they may not have been.131 In general, as far as the details concerning the lands themselves are concerned, it is the values given for properties in this period that are most open to doubt. Much of one’s unease can be no better described than as a gut feeling that many of these values are too low but, when comparative figures can be taken from the subject’s own estate records, this intuition is often confirmed.
For example, Ross and Pugh found consistent under-reporting of the income of Richard Beauchamp earl of Warwick (d. 1439) when making comparisons with the valor done for him not long before. One of the most striking of these divergences is the figure of £10 6s 8d for Patshull, Staffordshire, in the IPM and £29 9s 1½d in the valor. On the other hand, the values given for Olney, Buckinghamshire in the two sources are £40 and £44 11s respectively, a difference easily explained by year-on-year variation, especially with respect to casualties. It must be said that a comparison of the income tax returns for 1436 – themselves thought generally to underestimate – with IPM values for the Warwickshire gentry in the fifteenth century is not encouraging. Even under Henry VII, when there was renewed interest in the crown’s feudal revenues, values may still have been substantially underestimated.132 Grave doubt about most of the IPM values in the fifteenth century contrasts sharply with the much greater confidence in these shown by historians of earlier periods. This again probably relates to the considerably more important contribution to the king’s finances made by feudal revenues earlier on. Particular faith has been placed in IPM values for the late thirteenth and first half of the fourteenth centuries, even down to the relative values given to different types of land in extents, and we shall see that this has given rise to some notably interesting work.133 But, even in this earlier period, it has been shown that, while the IPMs for one particular estate are generally consistent with each other, when they can be compared with other sources there is a worrying divergence over much of the detail.134 If we link this evidence with what we know about the efforts of chancery officials to ensure that inquisition returns for a given estate were consistent with each other over the years, we may reach the disturbing conclusion that what the officials were aiming at was internal consistency rather than alignment with external reality.
Even despite chancery’s assiduity, a lot of inconsistency remained and, with respect to the information about the date of death and age of the heir, there is enough variation between inquisitions taken on the same person in different counties for serious unease. In this volume, to take just one example, the Lincolnshire IPM for Elizabeth wife of Peter Melburne gives the date of her death as 13 May 1412 and the ages of her heirs as thirty-eight and forty-six years, while the Derbyshire return has the date of death as 1 March 1409 and the ages of the heirs as twenty-two and twenty- four. This was one of those inquisitions done long after the event – in this case in 1426 – and so some vagueness on both pieces of information might be excused but this is in fact a widespread problem. There are other instances of conflicting declarations on the age of the heir when the death of the tenant and the IPM were much closer in time; for example, Thomas Erpingham died in June 1428 and inquisitions held on him in July 1428 and April 1429 give the age of William Philip his heir as either thirty years and more or forty years and more.135 J. C. Russell, one of the first to use IPMs for demography, noted the same phenomenon of ages varying from county to county. He also noted how concern to record the exact age of heirs diminished when the heir was twenty -one or over, so that the ages given go up by even numbers in the twenties and then by still rounder numbers from thirty or thirty-two. Similarly, Rosenthal has observed that the entries seem to be at their most precise when they deal with heirs who are very close to their majority – either just about to reach it or just past – and those who are very young. Encouragingly, Russell found that, where he was able to check proofs of age against the recorded age of the minor at his or her parent’s death, in the great majority of cases the figures measured up to within a year or two.136 We might still wonder why dates of death and figures for the age of the heir are not more accurate, if so much of the information came direct from the family; surely it could be relied on to get this sort of thing right? It may be that inaccurate information on these matters came largely from juries in counties rarely or never visited by the family and that there was greater accuracy in counties where the family had frequently-used residences; comparison of returns between counties on this basis might reveal such a pattern. But it is also possible that, as the round figures for heirs who are indubitably of age suggest, no one was really interested in getting these things right. This brings us to the extremely vexed question of the truth of the information offered by the jurors at proofs of age.
On the face of it, the anecdotes offered by jurors to establish their memory of the child’s birth or baptism are wonderful vignettes of the minutiae of ordinary lives, quite often of the lives of people about whom we would normally know nothing on this scale.137 For example, we learn that four men who were present at the baptism of John son and heir of Roger Mortemere in 1392 ‘drank wine, which was brought to the church, and such was the effect that they could hardly walk out of the church’ and that at the time of the christening of John son and heir of John Kendale in Nynehead, Somerset, also in 1392, Thomas Axe had come to the church to collect twenty marks in payment from the parishioners for building a new roof for the church. More generally, by reading proofs of age, we learn in some detail the remarkable degree to which the church was the social and business life of a parish. Moving from the local parish to the local lord, the two proofs of age for William Bonville give a privileged glimpse of the lord resolving local disputes and dealing with his own affairs – including a purchase of hunting bows made in the church during the course of his grandson’s baptism. The Bonville proofs also contain two snapshots which we would be unlikely to get anywhere else, except perhaps in the fifteenth-century correspondences. We have Lady Katherine Cobham riding off in a huff when, on her way to Shute in Devon for her nephew’s christening, where she expected to act as godmother, she learned that it had happened already: the recounting of the words to her of William Bonville senior’s servant ‘in his mother tongue’ (presumably broad West-Country) – ‘Kate, Kate, ther to by myn pate comyst ow to late’ – is especially pleasing, as is the report that she would not see the child’s mother for six months thereafter. And, more pathetically, in two separate accounts, we are told of the cries, presumably to the Virgin, heard from Bonville’s mother as she gave birth: ‘Lady help, Lady help’.138
However, alluring as all this information is, since the early years of the last century historians have been coming to the painful realisation that much of it may be fictional. It was in 1907 that R. C. Fowler, followed rapidly by M. T. Martin, pointed out the great similarities in certain proofs of age taken within a couple of years or less of each other. Martin was using proofs taken at Newcastle upon Tyne in various years between 1307 and 1446, while the Essex proofs cited by Fowler, taken in 1 and 3 Henry VI, are in fact in this volume. Not only do the latter include strange coincidences, such as men who married women with the same forenames who were all servants to the mother of the heir, and others who did themselves identical damage in falling from haycarts or playing football, but they are repeated in an Oxfordshire proof. In Newcastle, the Tyne overflowed and flooded the same house in both 1444 and 1446. This might be regarded as a misfortune but a wounding in each of these years involving exactly the same perpetrator and victim looks like carelessness.139 Similarly, elsewhere in the present volume, there are the apparently bigamous marriages of Agnes, daughter of John Grene, and of Robert Mildenhale/ Mildelade who had a penchant for wives called Katherine.140 The jurors themselves appear to be uncertain of their own ages at times: in 1308 one claimed to be sixty but in 1311 to be forty-eight and more – technically correct but very vague by comparison – and another was ‘above fifty’ in 1308, and in 1311 a long way above fifty, namely over eighty. Similarly, in two proofs of age in Colchester in March and July 1427 William Bardolf and Thomas Graunger claimed respectively to be forty-three years and more and forty-one years and more on the first occasion, and fifty years and more and forty-three years and more on the second. In all these instances it is likely that the jurors were the same people on each of the two occasions, rather than two people with the same name.141 Perhaps the most disturbing contribution to this debate is the revelation that two proofs of age from different counties, one Essex, one Kent, taken in May and March 1350, are virtually identical.142
What are we to make of all this? One suggestion, growing out of the fashionable subject of history and memory, is that these stories represent a form of collective local memory which may not have born much relationship to the truth of events.143 That certainly means that they can still be used as evidence, if for a rather different project, the history of memory, and it is certainly important that, as the proofs show, it was often by crimes, accidents, fires, floods and other disasters, even if perhaps sometimes of a fictional nature, that people sought to mark their life histories. However, care has to be taken in the deployment of this argument, for what it neglects to a large degree is the role of the escheator in guiding the jury: there is too much of an assumption that what we have is the jurors’ collective memory. What it may be, on the contrary, is the escheator’s check-list of appropriate events to be used as memory guides. If the jurors’ memory under some of these headings was either vague or nonexistent, then it could be suitably massaged by the escheator, but that does not mean that jurors, even if guided by the escheator, might not sometimes be recalling the truth.144 There is indeed some evidence, in two of the statements made at one of the proofs in this volume, that the escheator may have been working from a template – perhaps a previous proof – into which new names might be inserted, sometimes erroneously. First, there is reference to ‘the same Ralph Burton’, despite the fact that his name has not yet appeared, and, later in the proof, a juror vouches for the age of Joan daughter of Richard when the heir in question is in fact Joan daughter of John.145 If escheators had a check-list of events by which memory could be prodded, that might also explain an extreme coincidence like the near-identical proofs of 1350 from different counties: perhaps a proof had gone missing or an escheator had forgotten to take it and a helpful chancery official covered up and enabled livery to be given by effectively copying the one he had just received. When formulae contributed so largely to proofs, the clerk may well have felt a copy of another proof would do in an emergency. Since the two IPMs are close to each other in date, one might surmise that a single clerk had dealt with both and taken as his model for the made- up proof another which he had just received.
However, as historians of other inquisitions and verdicts, and of evidence of all sorts given in courts of law, have been realising at varying speeds for some considerable time, it is not enough either to accept this evidence entirely at face value or wholly to reject it. Each source requires careful study of how and why it was produced, to separate the fictional from the non-fictional, the formal from the genuinely informative.146 We are only just beginning to bring sophisticated source criticism to bear on the proof of age and a lot more work will be needed before we have a proper sense of how they may be used. But four starting points for addressing these records immediately present themselves. One, which has already been touched on, is as a guide to the nature of medieval memory. This would include not just the events by which people located themselves chronologically but also the use of written evidence. Study of proofs in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries shows that the citation of documents increased, while the documents cited changed from being mainly charters and chronicles to being mainly missals and wills. An aspect of this change is that the practice of recording the birth or baptism of the heir in a missal developed, one that seems to have become fairly routine by the early fifteenth century. Interestingly, though, no resort was made to the mass book to establish the authenticity of such statements or at least none is recorded, and so it seems that these were not seen as proto-registers of births and that spoken evidence was still preferred to written. The remembered fact of writing in the mass book was apparently seen as more important than the possibility of checking the information in the book.147 It would be interesting to compare proofs before and after the introduction of parish registers in 1538: were registers regarded as evidence, and indeed evidence superior to the spoken memories of the jurors, and did their arrival follow a period when entries in mass books had increasingly been checked?
A second and related use of proofs is to explore the mental geography of the jurors by measuring the parochialism of the episodes which were thought worthy of recall. Mostly their memories are based on very local events, whether true or imagined, but references to visits of the eyre and occasionally to more dramatic external incidents suggest what sort of direct intervention or notable occurrence might be taken note of. For example, in the proof for Isabel wife of Lord Bergavenny, taken at Gloucester in 1415, two of the jurors – one of them, perhaps both, from the Forest of Dean – remembered her birth at Cardiff as the year of Owen Glendower’s attack on that town. Thirdly, we can learn what was reckoned noteworthy in the context of daily life: for instance, sales, purchases and deaths of animals and settlement of local disputes. Fourthly, as has been rightly pointed out, the proofs tell us what could be accepted as being true: the central place of the parish church in both village and manorial life (including its use as a location for the manorial court) and the fact that it was expected that other events of both a sacred and a secular nature would be going on in the church on the same day as a baptism, even if the weddings that accompanied these baptisms were sometimes fictional; the role of lord and neighbours in dispute settlement; the number of animals which might be expected to die from a purchased batch; incidental expressions of affection among families and with reference to friends; more generally, how people acted in the daily round of family, village and sometimes regional life.148
Nevertheless, it is worth noting as well that not all of this is fictional. The chances are that the place of birth and the names of the godparents are correctly recorded. Similarly, closely described and non-standard occurrences, like the encounter with Lady Katherine Cobham, may well be true. Moreover, there are other ways of sifting the evidence. First, systematic search for coincidences among proofs of age would reveal not just the pieces of doubtful evidence but the type of episode where we should be most sceptical; as the discussion above shows, a sense of this is already developing. Secondly, some of the facts offered in the proofs can be externally checked. This is most obviously the case where names of neighbours and visitors and godparents belonging to the gentry and nobility, even to wealthier yeomen, are offered, because such people are likely to belong to social networks for which there is a lot of other evidence. For instance, in the light of the present writer’s work on Warwick- shire networks, it is no surprise that Edward Metley was Edward Doddingselles’ godfather or that John Beauchamp of Alcester was John Rous’s. Equally, the identity of several of the jurors in both these inquests who were present at the time of the heir’s birth could have been predicted.149 Although it would be more difficult, survival of household and estate records would enable some checking for the tenants and servants who feature in the proofs. One short article has in fact already achieved some corroboration of this sort.150 Again, we cannot rely on the absolute certainty that all these people were present as declared but we can be certain that they might have been and may therefore feel easier about using such evidence to help establish lists of associates, tenants and servants where we lack independent corroboration. We can also check the authenticity of the more significant external events mentioned, although this may not always be entirely encouraging. For example, Glendower did indeed besiege Cardiff, but in 1403–4, not in 1400, when, according to the jurors’ evidence, Isabel was born.151 Still, Cardiff was besieged round about this time and the approximate memory of the date is interesting in itself. It is incidentally a mistake which a twenty-first-century person in their forties or over might as easily make when remembering an occasion that was similarly unlikely to be forgotten but not (at that time in Wales) entirely out of the ordinary and which was part of a sequence of events occurring over several years – in this case the Glendower rebellion. Another type of statement in a proof that might be externally checked is the recording of the birth in a missal. It should be possible to establish from surviving missals how common this practice was and it might even be possible to find out whether any missals still in existence do contain specific entries referred to in the proofs.152
Proofs of age cannot be taken at face value without considerable thought and further research into the evidence they offer but the potential insights into life and thought that may be drawn from them are too important for the source to be simply dismissed. In fact, despite all the caveats mentioned above, the IPMs and associated material are best summed up as a source whose true value can only be appreciated after careful study of their production and intentions but an invaluable one nevertheless.153
Finally, we come to the use that has already been made of IPMs by historians; some of this has of course already been referred to in discussion of their value as sources. For a long time they were seen primarily as repositories of genealogical information. Indeed, when the PRO first began to calendar IPMs, it was in the form of genealogical supplements to the Record Commissioners’ volumes.154 The first historian to take the IPMs seriously as a historical source was J. C. Russell, whose work on the population of medieval England was published in 1948.155 As we have seen, it was Russell who first investigated the authenticity of the ages given for heirs in the IPMs by checking them against the date of proof of age. Russell also attempted to use the IPMs to calculate death rates during the fourteenth-century outbreaks of plague. His work was subsequently used by Hollingsworth to calculate replacement rates both before and after the plague. Russell’s book reveals an at times alarming ignorance of medieval history and of the use of medieval sources and there have been plenty of criticisms of his work. For example, it is now clear that the death rate in the plague of 1348–9 of a little over a quarter, which he took from the IPMs, is much lower than that in the population as a whole, which some now think was as high as 40% or more. The other major criticism, that his global population figures for before and after the plague were too low, is directed at a part of his work which did not rely on IPM evidence (and it should be noted that the most recent and systematic attempt to investigate this problem rehabilitates Russell’s figures). However, Russell’s use of dates of death in IPMs to identify a major change in the pattern of seasonal mortality after the Black Death, from a peak in winter before the Black Death to one in July and August after, has been an important element in the argument that the English population remained low for a century and a half or more after 1348 –9 because of endemic plague. This argument, although challenged in recent years, still has quite wide support.
The use of IPMs for tracing general demographic change must be more fruitful for the period after the arrival of plague than for that before. Hunger and its associated diseases, the main cause of crisis mortality before 1348–9, was hardly going to have an impact on the subjects of IPMs, but plague, even if the upper classes might avoid its very worst effects, was notoriously no respecter of persons. Indeed, although we have no idea of the cause of the deaths recorded in these documents, one can on occasion get an acute sense of the precariousness of life in the post-Black Death period, which could lead to the failure of replacement. Two particularly poignant examples are the death of Thomas Ingaldesthorpe as a minor in Henry V’s wardship, leaving a son aged one year, and of Bertram Monbocher, himself a minor when he inherited, leaving a son Bertram aged one week. This heir also died underage, in Henry VI’s wardship, aged ten years.156 Demography has moved on a lot since Russell’s book was published and few would now be as blithe about using any of his sources to achieve global population figures. Moreover, we have seen that further study of the IPMs shows that, although Russell may have been correct in surmising that ages of heirs were mostly only a year or two awry, these figures and the ages given for jurors in the proofs of age are not to be trusted. The plan of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population to use the IPMs to plot every appearance of those for whom we have either an age at their parent’s death or a proof of age may well be the best possible demographic use to which these records can be put.
It was with the development of interest in the late-medieval gentry during the last thirty years that these records really began to come into their own.157 While IPMs are of course equally useful for study of the nobility, the amount of information available for nobles compared with that for lesser landowners makes IPMs much more central to the study of the gentry. For historians working on the fourteenth-and fifteenth- century gentry, IPMs have been one of the earliest ports of call. At the most basic level, they make it possible to identify most, often all, of the property of a member of the gentry and, in most instances, of whom it was held. They are often enormously helpful in enabling the historian to see where land ended up when it was being passed through a number of complex transactions and therefore to trace a family’s acquisition or loss of land. From the naming of the heir – not always a direct one; from the identification on occasion of the previous descent of an estate – for example by inheritance from the tenant’s mother; and from accounts of sometimes very complex family settlements; from all these we can derive both genealogical details and information about the descent of property within a family. The recounting of settlements also offers evidence on political and social networks. Here the IPMs of the nobility may tell us as much or more about the gentry as the IPMs of the gentry themselves, for nobles’ gentry associates were often among their feoffees. We may also find gentry annuitants listed in noble IPMs. As we have seen, the jurors’ evidence for proofs of age of both nobles and gentry, if carefully handled, may be significantly helpful in reconstituting networks. Gentry IPMs can sometimes tell us about their own servants and the annuities they paid them. Often the only source for the date of a landowner’s death is his or her IPM, while the recording of the heir’s age in IPMs and the proofs of age enable us to identify the ages at which landowners were engaged in activities for which we have other dated evidence, such as marriage, warfare and office-holding, as well of course as their age at death. Sometimes, with gentry with the same name, knowing a man’s age or date of death may be almost the only way to identify him or to distinguish him from a father or a son with the same name. As we have seen, IPMs can feature prominently in land disputes, supplementing the knowledge of these derived from the records of the law courts and from other sources.
All this use of IPMs is for the purposes of prosopographical study. The construction of biographies and reconstruction of personal networks for all the landowners of significance, both gentry and nobility, in any given area has been a central part of the methodology for the study of late-medieval local societies and politics. But it is also possible to use IPMs for research of a more thematic nature. First, IPMs may assist exploration of family structure and inheritance practices among the gentry. By looking at jointures, entails, gifts to younger sons and assignments of dower, we can learn about family policies with respect to property and about changes in these over time. In this, IPMs can supplement the evidence of deeds, which, for the gentry especially, survive so haphazardly. The recounting of enfeoffments, entails and family settlements in IPMs can help in establishing when these became more prevalent and, in particular, when, indeed if, settlement of estates in tail male became the norm. IPMs may also furnish evidence of the frequency with which land was given, either for life or in heredity, to younger sons and, if in heredity, whether it was entailed or not. They may tell us how often property inherited from a mother went to a younger son. Through the IPM we may learn how much of an estate might be tied up in a widow’s jointure and, by tracing her properties back, which of these came through the widow, as an heiress, and which were her husband’s. From the assignment of dower, we can discover the lands kept by the widow through dower rather than jointure. Of course, the IPMs have a great deal of evidence for all this on the nobility as well but most noble families are far better recorded in other sources, including their own private records, than most gentry families.
Probably the most important area where IPMs can help compensate for a shortage of other sources is that of agriculture and estate management among the lay landowners, especially the gentry. Here the extents are of central significance. It must be readily admitted that they are no substitute for estate accounts, especially in view of the serious doubts about the legitimacy of their valuations from around the middle of the fourteenth century and about the updating of extents in the rentier period. But, even in the later middle ages, gentry estate accounts are by no means as plentiful as one would like and, while a greater number of noble estate accounts survive, they are still a lot less abundant than those for the great clerical landowners. First, extents offer additional information for those properties which have left records, since it is rare to have anything approaching a series for a gentry family and, even when there is one, it is usually not continuous or does not cover many years or is incomplete, and series for noble estates are often not much better. Secondly, extents may constitute our only close view of an estate for which there are no other records. From extents we may learn about the number and type of tenants, sometimes even the composition of their holdings and their names, about the level and type of rents, the existence of assarts, the presence of mills or fishponds, whether houses on the property are decayed, whether it has a manorial court and – an indication of the strength of lordship, especially after the Black Death – whether the court is worth anything. Incidental information from proofs of age may supplement these data. For instance, one notable piece of evidence from a proof of age in this volume records Walter Fitzwalter granting a tenement to his villein by a sealed charter.158 It may be possible to learn more about the management of an estate through using an IPM extent in conjunction with other sources even when those sources do not include an account for that particular manor. For example, if a large amount of pasture is recorded on an extent and we know from estate accounts that the near-neighbours of the subject of the IPM were directly involved in pastoral farming at the time of the IPM, it may reasonably be assumed that this particular landowner was doing the same. If we have further evidence in legal records of thefts of large numbers of animals from him or her, our case becomes all the stronger. More generally, the acreages of different types of land recorded in the extents may enable us to get a sense of the type of agriculture being practised, by lords or their lessees, on estates in any given area.159
Until recently, it was the studies of gentry families and of local landowning societies which had best shown the uses to which IPMs might be put. But in the magisterial work on medieval agriculture of Bruce Campbell and his associates, it has been shown that, given the right kind of statistical methods and sufficient independent corroborative evidence, IPM extents can be used for remarkably sophisticated mapping of land values on a regional and even a national basis. Their importance for the economic historian is of course that, in opening a window on to lay estates, they offer a way round the predominance for medieval economic history of the records of the great clerical landowners and, more specifically, of the Benedictines. They can also be used for measuring the size of estates – for example, that there were so many of less than 150 acres, even of less than seventy-five, in the hinterland of London – and, as has already been noted, for analysing their agricultural structure. As Campbell points out, he is not the first to have used IPMs in this way,160 but he and his fellow researchers are certainly the first to have used them on this scale. It is the IPMs from the 1270s to the 1340s which have been exploited for this work and it seems that it was in this period that the extents were at their fullest and their most accurate. The standard is especially high for those produced between the Stapledon exchequer reforms of 1323 and the ending, in the political, constitutional and financial crisis of 1340–1, of the last period when the king set out to exploit every part of his financial armoury to fight his wars.161 The most notable uses of IPMs in this way have been the ‘Feeding the City’ project which investigated London’s economic hinterland, and as one of the sources employed in Campbell’s massive study of agriculture throughout England.162
Finally, we have the newest application of these records: work on memory using proofs of age, and on the related subject of old age, using both proofs and the IPMs themselves. To a great degree this has already been discussed. Self-evidently, more needs to be done, as suggested above, to sift the truth of the proofs before they can be used as evidence either of what really happened or of how people remembered things, whether correctly or falsely.163 Furthermore, great care has to be taken if a historian wishes to use these records both as evidence of possibly faulty communal memory and as a source of accurate factual information regarding the elderly.164 Doubtless there will be further resort to them, especially to the proofs, in search of the nature of late-medieval memory but use of this source for such purposes is really only in its infancy.
In sum, IPMs and their related documents are a complex, difficult source, requiring careful handling and criticism, but one which has immense potentiality, of which only quite a small part has thus far been realised. Moreover, as has been implicit in much of this survey, the documents themselves and the administrative processes which produced them may be used as a powerful lens through which to view the late- medieval bureaucracy and its culture. It is hoped that the publication of this new series, with the additional information on juries and administration, will stimulate yet more research which makes use of IPMs and related enquiries, not just for the decades of the fifteenth century which have hitherto lacked a calendar of these records, but also for the entire period in which the government of medieval England was performing and preserving IPMs.
1 I am grateful to Drs Kate Parkin and Claire Noble, editors of CIPM XXII and XXIII respectively, for material and ideas. References in this General Introduction from their volumes are identifiable as follows: those from the present volume are cited according to their calendar numbers; those from the following volume (6–10 Henry VI) according to their PRO classmarks.
2 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, I (1904), p.vii. For the history and content of the IPM classes, as created in the 1890s, when these records were reorganised, see Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry V–Richard III etc., List and Index Society, 268 (1998).
3 CIPM XXI, 6 –10 Henry V (1418 –22), ed. J. L. Kirby and J. Stevenson (Woodbridge, 2002). NB despite the fact that this is a new series, to avoid confusion the new volumes continue with the numbering of the earlier calendars.
4 CIPM Henry VII, 3 vols (London: HMSO, 1898 –1955). On new approaches to Henry VII, see C. Carpenter, The Wars of the Roses (Cambridge, 1997), esp. chaps 1 and 11.
5 See below, pp.39–41.
6 Calendarium Inquisitionum Post Mortem Escaetarum, iii, Ric.II–Hen.IV, iv, Hen.V–Ric.III (London: Record Commissioners, 1821). On the deficiencies of these, see CIPM I, pp.viii–ix and Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry V–Richard III, pp.3–4. Note that the latter improves on the Record Commissioners’ volumes by providing an up-to-date list and is supplemented by Names Index to Inquisitions Post Mortem, Henry V–Richard III, List and Index Society, 269 (1998). Local record societies have also been calendaring IPMs and some of these have covered all or part of the fifteenth century. For listings up to 1982, see E. L. C. Mullins, Texts and Calendars, 2 vols (Royal Historical Society, 1958–83). For post-1982, see the Royal Historical Society’s Annual Bibliography of British and Irish History. A particularly notable recent example is Records of Hanley Castle, Worcestershire c.1147–1547, ed. J. P. Toomey, Worcestershire Historical Society, n.s., 18 (2001): see chap. 5. For listings of IPMs in the palatinates of Durham and Lancaster, see below, n.19.
7 However, they were not printed in the final volume of the Henry VII series, even though it was published a year later. Volume XIII also printed proofs of age from earlier years. Many of the early proofs are to be found in the KB 27s and other records (S. S. Walker, ‘Proof of Age of Feudal Heirs in Medieval England’, Mediaeval Studies, 35 (1973), pp.306–23; below, p.13).
8 For example CIPM XXII, nos 464, 807–8.
9 Below, pp.43–9.
10 See for example, CIPM XXII, nos 164, 169; Public Record Office C139/41/61 mm.1–2 (note that all manuscript references in this introduction are to materials in the PRO).
11 S. L. Waugh, The Lordship of England: royal wardships and marriages in English society and politics 1217–1327 (Princeton, 1988), pp.100–1; Prerogativa Regis, ed. S. E. Thorne (Yale, 1949).
12 J. M. W. Bean, The Decline of English Feudalism 1215–1540 (Manchester, 1968), pp.7–11, 232; Waugh, Lordship, pp.91–104; Prerogativa Regis, pp.xix–xxvii; J. H. Baker, An Introduction to English Legal History (3rd edn, London, 1990), p.274; H. E. Bell, An Introduction to the History and Records of the Court of Wards (Cambridge, 1953), p.79. Prerogative wardship on the king’s private lands applied only to the three honours of Peverel, Boulogne and Hagenet (Bean, Decline of English Feudalism, p.10).
13 R. Latham, ‘Hints on Interpreting the Public Records: (3) Inquisitions Post Mortem’, The Amateur Historian, 1(3), (1952–4), pp.77–81. The move towards regular recording of the tenant’s date of death from about 16 Edward III can be followed in CIPM VIII.
14 CIPM I, p.vii; E. R. Stevenson, ‘The Escheator’, The English Government at Work 1327–1336, ii, ‘Fiscal Administration’, ed. W. A. Morris and J. R. Strayer (Cambridge, Mass., 1947), pp.114– 15.
15 J. C. Holt, Magna Carta (2nd edn, Cambridge, 1992); R. Stacey, Politics, Policy, and Finance under Henry III 1216–1245 (Oxford, 1987).
16 Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.100, 163–8, ‘The Fiscal Uses of Royal Wardships in the reign of Edward I’, Thirteenth Century England, ed. P. Coss and S. Lloyd, i (1986), pp.53–60, ‘The Origins and Early Development of the Articles of the Escheators’, ibid., v (1995), pp.83–7; Stacey, Politics, Policy, and Finance; G. L. Harriss, King, Parliament, and Public Finance in Medieval England to 1369 (Oxford, 1975); J. Bothwell, ‘Edward III and the “New Nobility”: largesse and limitation in fourteenth-century England’, English Historical Review, 112 (1997), pp.1111–40.
17 Bell, Court of Wards; Prerogativa Regis.
18 For what follows, see Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.113–20; CIPM I, pp.vii–viii; CIPM Henry VII, i, pp.vii–xi; F. M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward, 2 vols (Oxford, 1947), pp.105–8; Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.138–41, 268–9, ‘Articles of the Escheators’, p.98; S. T. Gibson, ‘The Escheatries, 1327–41’, English Historical Review, 36 (1921), pp.218–25. NB excluded from the appointments of 1232 were Durham, Chester and Westmorland (Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, p.115). In fact, although it was ordered in early 1248 that inquisitions were henceforth to be done by escheators rather than sheriffs (see Waugh, ‘Articles of the Escheators’, p.98), it can be seen from CIPM I that sheriffs were still sometimes performing inquisitions after that date.
19 The palatinates of Durham and (later) Lancashire and Chester did their own IPMs: for an indication of the contents of some of these, see Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Record Office, 39 (1878), pp.532–49, 44 (1883), pp.310–542, 45 (1885), pp.153–282. There are however a few stray inquisitions for Lancashire in this volume (CIPM XXII, nos 21–2, 356, 365, 789). An IPM from Chester in the next volume was called in from the Chester escheator by privy seal writ (C139/46/41 mm.1–2). There were still separate escheators for London and Newcastle and for the liberty of Holderness, and it is clear that in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, at least, there was still some more experimentation to come. As Stevenson pointed out in 1947, the later history of the office had still to be written and this remains true today. There was also an escheator for north Wales, who had a ‘short, fitful existence’ in the early fourteenth century, before the office was subsumed by the chamberlain of Caernarvon Castle: see Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, p.120; H. M. Chew, ‘The Office of Escheator in the City of London during the Middle Ages’, English Historical Review, 58 (1943), pp.319–30; N. Saul, Knights and Esquires: the Gloucestershire gentry in the fourteenth century (Oxford, 1981), p.35; W. H. Waters, ‘Documents Relating to the Office of Escheator for North Wales for the Year 1309– 10’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 6 (1933), pp.360–8. On recent reinterpretation of Edward II’s reign, including discussion of exchequer reform, see J. R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307–1322 (Oxford, 1970); J. R. S. Phillips, Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke 1307– 1324 (Oxford, 1972); N. Fryde, The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II 1321–1326 (Oxford, 1979); M. Buck, ‘The Reform of the Exchequer 1316–1326’, English Historical Review, 98 (1983), pp.241–60.
20 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.120–1.
21 R. F. Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner (Cambridge, 1961), p.198.
22 See below, pp.9–13, for discussion of writs for IPMs and ancillary enquiries and actions.
23 Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.281–3, where surviving accounts are discussed; Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.125–30, 131–2, 138–9, 140–55; Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner, p.195.
24 Documents of the Baronial Movement of Reform and Rebellion 1258–67, ed. R. F. Treharne and I. J. Sanders (Oxford, 1973), pp.108–9.
25 H. Cam, The Hundred and the Hundred Rolls (London, 1930), pp.199–202, 225–7; Waugh, Lordship of England, p.120.
26 Statutes of the Realm, i, pp.140, 142–3.
27 Statutes of the Realm, i, pp.284–5, 345, 374–5, ii, 252–3.
28 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, p.167; J. R. Maddicott, Law and Lordship: royal justices as retainers in thirteenth-and fourteenth-century England, Past and Present suppl. 4 (1978), pp.40–8.
29 Statutes of the Realm, ii, p.252, cap.16; below, p.28; C. Carpenter, Locality and Polity: a study of Warwickshire landed society 1401–1499 (Cambridge, 1992), p.377; CIPM XXII, no. 344. R. Virgoe, ‘The Crown, Magnates and Local Government in Fifteenth-Century East Anglia’, The Crown and Local Communities in England and France in the Fifteenth Century, ed. J. R. L. Highfield and R. Jeffs (Gloucester, 1981), p.77, raises the question of local influence on escheators in the later middle ages but offers no specific examples. See below, pp.15, 19–20, 30 for further examples of possible private pressure on IPMs.
30 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.165–6; C. A. F. Meekings, ‘Adam fitzWilliam (d.1238)’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 34 (1961), pp.1–15; Cam, Hundred and Hundred Rolls, pp.201– 2; Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.187–8.
31 Statutes of the Realm, i, pp.264, cap.9 (legislation of 1330), 388; Saul, Knights and Esquires, p.110.
32 Saul, Knights and Esquires, chap. 2.
33 Saul, loc. cit, pp.137–9; S. Wright, The Derbyshire Gentry in the Fifteenth Century (Derbyshire Record Society, 1983), p.5; R. Virgoe, ‘The Crown and Local Government: East Anglia under Richard II’, The Reign of Richard II, ed. F. R. H. Du Boulay and C. M. Barron (London, 1971), p.229; Carpenter, Locality and Polity, pp.265, 272; S. Payling, Political Society in Lancastrian England: the greater gentry of Nottinghamshire (Oxford, 1991), p.113; S. Gunn, Early Tudor Government, 1485–1558 (Basingstoke, 1995), pp.124–9; S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII (London, 1972), pp.130, 163 n.1; above, n.16.
34 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.156–8; Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.111–12; H. M. Jewell, ‘Local Administration and Administrators in Yorkshire’, Northern History, 16 (1980), pp.1–19; Meekings, ‘Adam fitzWilliam’, pp.1–15. Stevenson notes that sub-escheators had to give £100 security and surmises that their status was reasonably high (they did include at least one sheriff) (Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.163–6).
35 Saul, Knights and Esquires, pp.136–7; A. C. Wood, Typescript List of Escheators for England and Wales, List and Index Society, 72 (1971).
36 On the duties and importance of the late-medieval shrievalty, see H. M. Jewell, English Local Administration in the Middle Ages (Newton Abbot, 1972), pp.186–90; Carpenter, Locality and Polity, pp.263, 354–7 and Part II, passim.
37 For what follows, see CIPM Henry VII, i, pp.vii–xi; Bell, Court of Wards, pp.71–85; Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.120–8.
38 CIPM I, p.vii.
39 Waugh, Lordship of England, p.173.
40 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.125–8. Examples of inquisitions taken ex officio are CIPM XXII, nos 6, 78, 112, 200–1, 381, 505, 515, 651, 658, 681, 698, 808, 815, 832, 835–6, 838–9. See also the indexes of the volumes in the new series. Examples of writs anticipating deaths: CIPM XXII, nos 682, 701. However, the source of the information may have been the family: below, pp.20–3.
41 M. Richardson, The Medieval Chancery under Henry V, List and Index Society, Special Series, 30 (1999).
42 The escheator’s order to the sheriff and a list of names of those empanelled is included in C139/52/72 mm.1–4.
43 CIPM XXII, nos 375, 404, 788. In nos 622 and 683 names have been scored out: two in the former, perhaps four in the latter. Also below, p.22 for fifteen jurors.
44 See e.g. CIPM XXII, nos 84, 444, 11.
45 Such writs are indicated in the calendar as ‘Writ (Exchequer)’. And see indexes for listing of these. For more on the chancery/exchequer duplication system, see below, pp.24–6.
46 Statutes of the Realm, i, p.368 cap.13. See e.g. CIPM XXII, nos 607, 714, 796, 505; C139/42/66 mm.1–2.
47 See above, p.2; for IPMs under commissions, see, in this volume, nos 5, 347, 391–2, 629, 707, 805–6. See also e.g. CIPM XX, nos 210, 677; C139/52/63 mm.1–2 (a particularly interesting one because done in Anglesey, on lands etc. held of the king of the principality of Wales; writ of commission warranted by privy seal).
48 According to Stevenson (‘Escheator’, pp.135–6), these were only done in response to special writs from the exchequer, to which they were returned. However, even if this was the case in the period about which he was writing (1327–36), it seems not to have been so by the fifteenth century: all the surviving extents appear to be embedded in IPMs or in responses to writs ordering processes which required extents (dower and partition) and not to be specially done; there are no free-standing extents in the exchequer series (E149 and E152); there is no evidence of exchequer writs asking specifically for extents (although there are some writs from chancery ordering extents of knights’ fees and advowsons); and it appears not to be the case that extents exist only when there would be particular reasons for asking for them. Thus, although there tend to be extents in IPMs for minors, as one would expect, given the use of the extent for valuing wardships (see above, p.10), this is not universally the case and, equally, there are extents with IPMs where the heir was of age. In a statute of 1340 (Statutes of the Realm, i, p.285), escheators were ordered to deliver to chancery ‘a good and true extent’ of all the lands they had taken into their hands and so this may be the origin of the routine return of extents (unless it was merely a reiteration of existing practice).
49 The names of writs in this account are taken from Registrum Omnium Brevium tam Originalium quam Judicialium (London, 1687 edn used) and The New Natura Brevium of the Most Reverend Judge Mr Anthony Fitz-Herbert …, 1st pub. 1534 (London, 1677 and 1794 edns) and, where necessary, Bell, Court of Wards, pp.71–85. See also Early Registers of Writs, ed. E. de Haas and G. D. G. Hall, Selden Soc., 87 (1970). It should be noted that the writ categorisation in this volume is different in some respects from that in CIPM XX and XXI: melius inquirendo is used in this volume rather than melius sciri; plenius certiorari does not feature in this volume at all and was not used as is suggested in CIPM XX and XXI; while devenerunt features in CIPM XVII and XVIII but not in XIX and XX, although Drs Noble and Parkin have found writs in these volumes which they would consider to belong to this class.
50 There is an example of an inquisition responding to this relatively rare writ in the present volume: CIPM XXII, nos 54–9; see also 60.
51 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.131–3; A. E. B. Owen, ‘Share and Share Alike: some partitions of medieval manors’, Lincolnshire History and Archaeology, 31 (1996), pp.20–1. It is clear however that the sheriff or other designated officials might also execute partitions (The Armburgh Papers, ed. C. Carpenter (Woodbridge, 1998), p.113; CIPM VII, no. 90).
52 CIPM XXII, nos 129, 159; 462.
53 S. S. Walker, ‘Litigation as Personal Quest: suing for dower in the royal courts, circa 1272– 1350’, Wife and Widow in Medieval England, ed. Walker (Michigan, 1993), pp.81–108; J. Bedell, ‘Memory and Proof of Ages in England’, Past and Present, 162 (1999), pp.3–8.
54 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.121–3; CIPM XXII, nos 807–8, 815, 11, 144, 267–8, 528, 824. On time taken to deliver writs, see J. F. Willard, ‘The Dating and Delivery of Letters Patent and Writs in the Fourteenth Century’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 10 (1932–3), pp.1–11.
55 CIPM XXII, nos 443–6, 684.
56 C139/47/11 mm.1–8.
57 C139/49/37 mm.1–2.
58 As Dr Parkin has observed in drawing this sequence of examples together.
59 CIPM XXII, nos 21–2; CIPM XXI, nos 377–81; CIPM XXII, nos 68–83. Delay in the Dynelay case may also have been due to the fact that the inquisition also involved Duchy of Lancaster lands.
60 CIPM XXII, nos 182–92.
61 CIPM XXII, nos 368, 245–50, 354.
62 CIPM XVIII, nos 72–6, CIPM XXII, nos 370, 586–96.
63 CIPM XXII, nos 538, 829–30; Armburgh Papers, ed. Carpenter, pp.5–9; below, n.141.
64 CIPM XXII, nos 399–406, 677, CIPM XXI, nos 857–8; G. L. Harriss, Cardinal Beaufort: a study of Lancastrian ascendancy and decline (Oxford, 1988), pp.63–4, 104–6.
65 CIPM XXII, no. 107; Complete Peerage, ii, pp.247–8; C. Rawcliffe, The Staffords, Earls of Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham 1394–1521 (Cambridge, 1978), pp.9, 12, 106, 109 (there seems to be some contradiction here over the value of Hugh’s lands which reverted to Humphrey); Harriss, Cardinal Beaufort, p.164; C. T. Allmand, Lancastrian Normandy, 1415–1450 (Oxford, 1983), p.60; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1422–29, p.75.
66 Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, p.125.
67 But see below, pp.29–30 for more on this. Note also that the need for some IPMs only came to the crown’s attention when would-be recipients requested wardships etc. See J. A. Tuck, ‘Richard II’s System of Patronage’, The Reign of Richard II, ed. F. R. H. Du Boulay and C. M. Barron (London, 1971), pp.9–11.
68 Statutes of the Realm, ii, p.252, cap.16; above, p.7.
69 See R. F. Hunnisett, ‘A Coroners’ Roll of the Liberty of Wye’, Medieval Legal Records Edited in Memory of C. A. F. Meekings, ed. Hunnisett and J. B. Post (London: HMSO, 1978), pp.130–41; Proceedings before the Justices of the Peace in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, ed. B. H. Putnam (London, 1938).
70 See e.g. Twelve Good Men and True, ed. J. S. Cockburn and T. A. Green (Princeton, 1988), esp. chaps by Post and Powell; Green, Verdict According to Conscience (Chicago and London, 1985); A. Musson, ‘Twelve Good Men and True? The Character of Early Fourteenth-Century Juries’, Law and History Review, 15 (1997), pp.115–44; Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. Z. Razi and R. Smith (Oxford, 1996); M. J. McIntosh, Controlling Misbehavior in England, 1370– 1600 (Cambridge, 1998); Order and Disorder in Early Modern England, ed. A. J. Fletcher and J. Stevenson (Cambridge, 1985); The Middling Sort of People: culture, society and politics in England 1550–1800, ed. J. Barry and C. Brooks (Basingstoke, 1994).
71 Cf. CIPM XXII, nos 106, 122, 172, 211, 263, 271–2, 344, 387–8, 424, 447, 536, 574, 597, and the names in Carpenter, Locality and Polity, esp. Appendix I; CIPM XXII, no. 131; C. G. Crump, ‘A Note on the Criticism of Records’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 8 (1924), pp.140–9.
72 R. H. Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanization; the seigneurial borough of Thornbury in the middle ages’, Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. Razi and Smith, pp.506–10, 514–15. For an example of jurors being sorted by place of origin, see CIPM XXII, no. 788.
73 On the distribution of political power within local society, see Carpenter, Locality and Polity, passim, esp. chaps 3, 8 and 9.
74 As pointed out by Dr Parkin on the basis of a correlation of ages in the present volume.
75 CIPM XX, nos 130–1, 184, 843.
76 CIPM XX, nos 265, 267, 270 and cf. Carpenter, Locality and Polity; Kingsford’s Stonor Letters and Papers 1290–1483, ed. C. Carpenter (Cambridge, 1996); C. Carpenter, ‘The Stonor Circle in the Fifteenth Century’, Rulers and Ruled in Late Medieval England, ed. R. E. Archer and S. Walker (London, 1995), pp.175–200.
77 As Dr Parkin has observed in drawing this sequence of examples together.
78 CIPM XXII, nos 68–92, 387–8, 182, 190, 391–6, 380, 389, 649–50, 186–8, 192.
79 CIPM XXII, no. 131; The Plumpton Correspondence, ed. T. Stapledon (Camden Society, 1839), pp.lxxxvi–viii; The Plumpton Letters and Papers, ed. J. Kirby, Camden Society, 5th ser., 8 (1996), pp.8–10. For further comments on Gascoigne’s payment, see below, n.128.
80 For the creation of one gentry family archive and the creator’s use of others, see D. Marsh, ‘“I See by Sizt of Evidence”: information gathering in late medieval Cheshire’, Courts, Counties and the Capital in the Later Middle Ages, ed. D. E. S. Dunn (Stroud and New York, 1996), pp.71– 92. See also K. B. McFarlane, ‘William Worcester: a preliminary survey’, McFarlane, England in the Fifteenth Century, ed. G. L. Harriss (London, 1981), pp.199–224.
81 See below, pp.22–3.
82 Dr Noble, of the IPM project, suggests that the jurors’ copy may have gone to the family of the tenant who was its subject, an intriguing possibility which would add weight to the idea that much of the information came from the family (see C139/42/66 mm.1–2 for the basis of this idea). Evidence for this would be the survival of IPMs in family archives. There are indeed IPMs among the Hastings Manuscripts in the Huntington Library which can only have come from private archives, and that for Reginald de Motton is specifically marked as a copy (Henry E. Huntington Library Hastings Manuscripts, ed. K. Watson, List and Index Society, Special Series, 22 (1987), pp.180–91; p.183 for Motton). However, given the depredations on archives of the laity and the fact that, unlike deeds, there would be no reason to preserve IPMs after 1660 (unless the inquisition recorded a particularly contentious descent), the general absence of IPMs from such collections would not negate this suggestion.
83 M. McGuinness, ‘Documents in the Public Record Office, 2. Inquisitions Post Mortem’, The Amateur Historian, 6 (1963–5), pp.235–42; Crump, ‘Note on the Criticism of Records’; R. F. Hunnisett, ‘The Reliability of Inquisitions as Historical Evidence’, Essays in Honour of Kathleen Major, ed. D. A. Bullough and R. L. Storey (Oxford, 1971), pp.206–35; The Paston Letters, ed. J. G. Gairdner, 6 vols (London, 1904), ii, pp.15–16: reference from McGuinness, where it is cited in the 3-vol. edn; Plumpton Correspondence, ed. Stapleton, p.lxxxvii.
84 C139/34/39 m.2, /56/45 mm.7–8, 21–2; CIPM XXII, nos 152, 774, 789, 408.
85 Above, pp.18 –19.
86 On the ‘self-informing jury’, see the works written and edited by T. Green, as cited above, n.70; below, pp.32–8.
87 Paston Letters, ii, pp.64–6 (reference from Crump, as in n.71, where the collection is cited in the 3-vol. edn); Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, ed. N. Davis, 2 vols (Oxford, 1971–6), i, pp.22–3.
88 CIPM XXII, nos 261, 434; Bell, Court of Wards, passim; Gunn, Early Tudor Government, chap. 3.
89 E.g. CIPM XXII, no. 609.
90 M. Buck, Politics, Finance and the Church in the Reign of Edward II (Cambridge, 1983), p.169; E368/97 m.101.
91 E.g. C139/43/8 mm.1–2.
92 C139/22/18 m.4, /13/46 m.2, /30/54 m.5. NB although these IPMs are printed in this volume, this detail is not included in the calendared text and so original references are given here.
93 Above, pp.6, 9–10; Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, pp.131–55. All three editors are in some doubt as to whether copies were routinely sent to the exchequer before Henry VII’s reign. CIPM Henry VII, i, p.x seems to imply that it was routine, even before this reign, but McGuinness, ‘Inquisitions Post Mortem’, p.237, says that it only became so under Henry VII and that the exchequer’s copies before then came from the escheators when they delivered them as accounting vouchers. If the order of 1325 (above, p.23) remained in force, then McGuinness would seem to be correct and the origin of the exchequer copies is clear. The fact that neither Dr Noble nor Dr Parkin has found a writ from exchequer to chancery asking for a copy suggests that, however the exchequer obtained its copies, they did not have to be specially requested from chancery. However, a comparison made by Dr Noble and Dr David Crook of the PRO of a sample of thirteen chancery IPMs from C139/34 with their exchequer copies revealed not a single clear-cut instance of the same scribe doing both copies and only two where there was real uncertainty. It therefore seems improbable that the escheator or his clerk had indeed returned both copies and more likely that chancery was routinely submitting a copy to the exchequer. Dr Parkin has observed that the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire IPMs for Thomas earl of Exeter survive only in the exchequer series E149 and E152 (CIPM XXII, nos 801–2), and that E149/137/6 apparently includes the original chancery material as well as the exchequer copy, since it contains not only the writ but two identical versions of each of the resulting IPMs, each clearly in a different hand.
94 E152/6/260 m.5
95 For a further comment on this, see below, p.27.
96 Above, pp.6, 10. See e.g. CIPM XXII, no. 815; Stevenson, ‘Escheator’, p.126. In CIPM XIX, no. 680 there is a writ of 1409 to the exchequer asking for a transcript of an inquisition done under Richard II which is marginated as ‘not yet executed’ (ex inf. Dr Parkin). For more on this margination and its implications, see below, p.26.
97 CIPM XXII, nos 658, 201, 118. However, this was delivered in response to a chancery writ and it is therefore unclear why it had originally been returned to the exchequer.
98 CIPM XXII, nos 760, 768, 738.
99 CIPM XXII, nos 550, 771.
100 CIPM XXII, no. 398.
101 CIPM XXII, nos 766, 769, 768.
102 C139/35/50 mm.11–12; E149/139/13; E152/6/260 m.23d. For the status of Compton as a parish, see F. A. Youngs, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, I (Royal Historical Society, 1979), p.170.
103 CIPM XXII, nos 513, 688, 112, 381. See also above, n.93. For discussion of the process leading to extents, see above, n.48.
104 Waugh, Lordship of England, p.114.
105 V. H. Galbraith, ‘The Tower as an Exchequer Record Office in the Reign of Edward II’, Essays in Medieval History Presented to T. F. Tout, ed. A. G. Little and F. M. Powicke (Manchester, 1925), pp.231–47; Inquisitions Post Mortem Henry V–Richard III; B. Wilkinson, The Chancery under Edward III (Manchester, 1929), pp.55–9.
106 C139/38/20mm.5–6, /42/69 m.11. For this writ, see above, n.96.
107 E.g. C139/41/59 m.1, /60 m.2, /44/21 m.2, /55/40 m.12.
108 McGuinness, ‘Inquisitions Post Mortem’, p.236.
109 CIPM XXII, nos 775–6.
110 C139/54/25 mm.1–7.
111 E152/6/260 m.34 no. 3.
112 See e.g. E149/135/3 m.2, the exchequer copy of CIPM XXII, no. 546 (Rutland IPM of Elizabeth, widow of William le Zouche): at the foot of this is a calculation of the proportion of the income from the estate accruing during the 69 days following her death on 17 November 1425 until 24 January 1426 when a new escheator was appointed. There is also a minimal difference between the annual value given in the original IPM and at the foot of the exchequer copy. Here, the purpose of the exchequer copy, in making available material for the escheator’s accounting, is clear.
113 E152/6/260 m.22 no. 5.
114 Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanization’, pp.487–8.
115 CIPM XXI, nos 916–17, XXII, nos 25–6.
116 CIPM XXII, no. 172.
117 Above, p.7.
118 E.g. KB27/677 Rex roti. 2d, 13d.
119 Above, p.8; KB27/723 Rex rot.4-d. The commission ordered by chancery to enquire into this, which recounts the earlier inquisitions, is Calendar of Patent Rolls 1436–41, p.503.
120 Rotuli Parliamentorum, iv, p.319; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1422–9, pp.450–1; CIPM XXI, nos 836–54; C139/36/74 mm.1–2.
121 Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.132–4.
122 T. F. T. Plucknett, The Legislation of Edward I (Oxford, 1949), pp.102–8; G. Holmes, The Estates of the Higher Nobility in Fourteenth–Century England (Cambridge, 1957), p.83; A. Harding, England in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge, 1993), p.222; J. A. Green, The Aristocracy of Norman England (Cambridge, 1997), pp.380–1; Bean, Decline of English Feudalism, pp.66–103. See also Tuck, ‘System of Patronage’, pp.9–14 on private enterprise in discovering the need for IPMs.
123 See e.g. CIPM XXII, nos 153, 438, 563, 705; C139/32/8 mm.1–2, /32/23 mm.4, 6, /33/30 mm.3–4, /32 mm.7, 9, /33 mm.1–2. However, CIPM XXII, nos 119–20 show that chancery was not always content with failure to identify lordship.
124 See above, pp.14–16.
125 Above, pp.7–8, 15, 19–20.
126 S. J. Payling, ‘Arbitration, Perpetual Entails and Collateral Warranties in Late-Medieval England’, Journal of Legal History, 13 (1992), pp.41–4. These IPMs will appear in the next calendar in this series: C139/34/45 mm.1–17. For another example, see Payling, Political Society in Lancastrian England, p.209.
127 Rot. Parl., i, p.368.
128 Carpenter, Locality and Polity, p.356. Bearing in mind that the sum paid in 1480 to the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire escheator by Willam Gascoigne in return for being allowed to name the jury was also £4, it is possible that Beauchamp was paying for the same privilege and that this was effectively a recognised procedure with a standard fee (see above, p.20).
129 E.g. clearly both the extents mentioned above (p.28) cannot have been correct.
130 N. Denholm-Young, Seignorial Administration in Medieval England (London, 1937), pp.116– 17. The possible use of an existing extent can be deduced from the wording in writs to assign dower ‘iuxta extentam inde factam vel aliam si necesse fuerit iterato faciendam’. Such instructions notwithstanding, it might be necessary to draw up extents specially for processes like assignment of dower or partition, if an up-to-date one was not available. Dr Noble has found one extent drawn up apparently entirely for the family’s purposes, to record what had happened to the various parts of the estate after assignment of dower and while the heir was still a minor. This one is, interestingly, acknowledged by the tenants whose tenure was recorded in it (C139/42/85 m.1).
131 For an up-to-date listing of the large bibliography on the subject of the late-medieval landlord economy, see B. M. S. Campbell, English Seigniorial Agriculture 1250 –1450 (Cambridge, 2000). An example of an IPM listing of fees clearly based on an existing list which has not been brought up to date is C139/174/34 (Warks.).
132 C. Ross and T. B. Pugh, ‘Materials for the Study of Baronial Incomes in Fifteenth-Century England’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 6 (1953–4), pp.185–94; Carpenter, Locality and Polity, pp.52–3, 57–9; C. E. Moreton, The Townshends and their World (Oxford, 1992), pp.130–2. For Henry VII and feudal revenues, see above, p.4. For more on sources and figures for noble incomes at this time, see e.g. R. R. Davies, ‘Baronial Accounts, Incomes and Arrears in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., 21 (1968), pp.211–29; J. T. Rosenthal, ‘The Estates and Finances of Richard, Duke of York’, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, 2 (1965), ‘Fifteenth-Century Baronial Incomes and Richard, Duke of York’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 37 (1964), pp.233–9; P. A. Johnson, Duke Richard of York 1411– 1460 (Oxford, 1988), chaps 1 and 2. NB When comparing other figures with valors, the generally accepted tendency of valors to be over-optimistic should be noted (see Ross and Pugh and Davies as immediately above and J. Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy 1348–1530 (London, 1977, p.41)).
133 B. M. S. Campbell, J. A. Galloway, M. Murphy, ‘Rural Land-use in the Metropolitan Hinterland, 1270–1339: the evidence of the Inquisitiones Post Mortem’, Agricultural History Review, 40 (1992), pp.1–22; below, pp.41–2. See also the comments of Waugh, Lordship of England, pp.281–3.
134 Hilton, ‘Low-Level Urbanization’, pp.147–8; above, pp.27–8.
135 CIPM XXII, nos 818–19; C139/34/47 mm.1–7.
136 J. C. Russell, British Medieval Population (Albuquerque, 1948), pp.99–110; Bedell, ‘Memory and Proof of Age’, pp.10–12; Rosenthal, Old Age in Late Medieval England, pp.16–17. For more on Russell’s use of IPMs, see below, pp.38–9.
137 Above, p.18 on the type of juror.
138 CIPM XX, nos 263, 269 (given incorrectly as ‘Ninehead’), 130–1.
139 R. C. Fowler, ‘Legal Proofs of Age’, English Historical Review, 22 (1907), pp.101–3, 526–7; CIPM XXII, nos 189, 360–1, 528.
140 CIPM XXII, nos 221, 224, 226–7, 229–30; see also L. Poos, A Rural Society after the Black Death: Essex 1350–1525 (Cambridge, 1991), p.190.
141 E. Gillett, ‘Proofs of Age’, The Amateur Historian, 5 (1961–3), 7, pp.224–30; CIPM XXII, nos 829–30; note that these two proofs are for the two Sumpter sisters, above, p.15.
142 A. E. Stamp, ‘Legal Proofs of Age’, English Historical Review, 29 (1914), pp.323–4.
143 Bedell, ‘Memory and Proof of Age’; Rosenthal, Old Age in Late Medieval England, esp. chap. 2. The most fashionable historian of this subject is Pierre Nora: see e.g. Realms of Memory: rethinking the French past, ed. Nora, trans. A. Goldhammer (New York, 1996–).
144 A similar point is made in L. B. Smith, ‘Proofs of Age in Medieval Wales’, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, 38 (1991), pp.134–44.
145 CIPM XXII, no. 231.
146 See e.g. The Reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. J. H. Baker, 2 vols, Selden Soc., 93–4 (1976–8); Hunnisett, ‘Reliability of Inquisitions’, pp.206–35; J. B. Post, ‘Crime in Later Medieval England: some historiographical limitations’, Continuity and Change, 2 (1987), pp.211–24; E. Powell, Kingship, Law, and Society: criminal justice in the reign of Henry V (Oxford, 1989); Carpenter, Locality and Polity, pp.705–9; P. Maddern, Violence and Social Order: East Anglia 1422–1442 (Oxford, 1992); Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. Razi and Smith; Twelve Good Men and True, ed. Green; C. Smith, ‘Medieval Coroners’ Rolls: legal fiction or historical fact?’, Courts, Counties and the Capital, ed. Dunn, pp.93–116. For the extremes of uncritical acceptance on the one hand and treatment of legal records as fiction on the other, see J. G. Bellamy, Crime and Public Order in England in the Later Middle Ages (London and Toronto, 1973) and P. Strohm, England’s Empty Throne: usurpation and the language of legitimation 1399–1422 (New Haven and London, 1998), chaps 2 and 5.
147 See Bedell and Rosenthal, as in n.143, above, esp. Bedell. See also Poos, A Rural Society, pp.282–3 for making reference to land transactions and hence to dated deeds (but again there is no record of their introduction into the proceedings as evidence). The classic study of the development of the written word as evidence in medieval England is of course M. T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record (2nd edn, London, 1992). As Colin Richmond points out, a precise record of birth, even down to the hour, would be necessary for the not uncommon late-medieval practice of casting horoscopes (Richmond, ‘Margins and Marginality: English devotion in the later middle ages’, England in the Fifteenth Century, ed. N. Rogers (Stamford, 1994), pp.245–6).
148 Bedell, ‘Memory and Proof of Age’; CIPM XX, no. 184; H. Hudson and F. Neale, ‘A Busy day in Wedmore Church’, Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset, 33 (1991–4), pp.171–3; see also other proofs cited above and those printed in this volume.
149 CIPM XX, nos 267, 270; Carpenter, Locality and Polity, Part II, esp. chap. 9. The author, having done her work before the IPM calendars reached the fifteenth century and neglected to note the importance of reading the proofs of age, was both chagrined to have missed these two and encouraged by their confirmation of her deductions, especially in the case of the godparents.
150 Hudson and Neale, ‘A Busy Day’.
151 CIPM XX, no. 184; R. R. Davies, The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr (Oxford, 1995), pp.113, 116.
152 See Richmond, ‘Margins and Marginality’, pp.245–6 for examples.
153 See also Poos, A Rural Society, for discussion of proofs and some use of their evidence, esp. pp.122, 189–92, 193–4 (but the statement on p.193 that a servant of a tenant-in-chief was a ‘[person] of at least minor gentry status’ is curious).
154 Above, p.1 and see esp. introduction to the Calendarium Genealogicum. Also Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Record Offices, 32 (1871), pp.237–63.
155 For what follows see Russell, British Medieval Population; above, pp.32–3; T. H. Hollingsworth, Historical Demography, repr. edn (London, 1976), pp.220–3, 361–2, 375–88; G. Ohlin, ‘No Safety in Numbers: some pitfalls of historical statistics’, Industrialisation in Two Systems, ed. H. Roskovsky (New York, London and Sydney, 1966), pp.68–90; Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy, pp.12–15, 21–8; The Black Death, ed. R. Horrox (Manchester, 1994), p.3; Campbell, English Seigniorial Agriculture, pp.402–4; M. Bailey, ‘Demographic Decline in Late Medieval England: some thoughts on recent research’, Economic History Review, 49 (1996), pp.1–19; R. Smith, ‘Demographic Developments in Rural England before the Black Death, 1300–48’, Before the Black Death, ed. B. M. S. Campbell (Manchester, 1991), pp.46–7. Hollingsworth has some very curious statements about the class of people found in IPMs (Hollingsworth, op. cit., p.221).
156 CIPM XXII, nos 158, 586–96.
157 Among the more significant works on the late-medieval gentry which use IPM evidence for some or all of the subjects discussed below (including agriculture and the family) are Payling, Political Society; Carpenter, Locality and Polity; Moreton, The Townshends; Wright, Derbyshire Gentry; Saul, Knights and Esquires. Some of the issues concerning inheritance among both nobility and gentry, from the thirteenth century onwards, especially with reference to women, are explored in P. Coss, The Lady in Medieval England 1000–1500 (Stroud, 1998); E. Spring, Law, Land and Family: aristocratic inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800 (Chapel Hill and London, 1993); S. L. Waugh, ‘Women’s Inheritance and the Growth of Bureaucratic Monarchy in Twelfth-and Thirteenth-Century England’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 34 (1990), pp.71–92; R. H. Helmholz, ‘Married Women’s Wills in Later Medieval England’, Wife and Widow, ed. Walker, pp.165–82; R. E. Archer, ‘Rich Old Ladies: the problem of late medieval dowagers’, Property and Politics, ed. A. J. Pollard (Gloucester and New York, 1984), pp.15–35. Most of these works on inheritance etc. do not use IPM evidence however. A notable exception is S. Payling, ‘Social Mobility, Demographic Change, and Landed Society in Late Medieval England’, Economic History Review, 45 (1992), pp.51–73.
158 CIPM XXII, no. 189. See also e.g. nos 533, 736.
159 The same sort of calculations but using Feet of Fines, which are socially somewhat broader, were made by Christopher Dyer for his more global study of agriculture in one county: Warwickshire Farming 1349–c.1520, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers, 27 (1981), p.10.
160 Campbell, Seigniorial Agriculture, p.40.
161 Campbell, Seigniorial Agriculture, p.38: a point Campbell does not make but see above, p.4; Buck, ‘Reform of the Exchequer’; Harriss, King, Parliament, and Public Finance, chaps 10–13, 17.
162 Campbell et al, ‘Rural Land-use in the Metropolitan Hinterland’; Campbell, Seigniorial Agriculture. See also bibliography of Seigniorial Agriculture for further work by Campbell using these records.
163 Above, pp.35–8; Bedell, ‘Memory and Proof of Age’; Rosenthal, Old Age.
164 See Rosenthal, Old Age, chaps 1, 2 and 4.