Bolland, William Craddock, ed., Select Bills in Eyre, A.D. 1292-1333. (Selden Society, vol. 30) Read this source online
Number of pages of primary source text: 151
Dates: 1292 - 1333
- Translated into English.
- Original language included.
Translation Comments: Facing Page Translation
County/Region: Shropshire; Staffordshire; Lincolnshire; Derbyshire
- Court Roll - Eyre
- Architecture and Buildings
- Economy - Crafts and Industry
- Economy - Guilds and Labor
- Economy - Trade
- Family / Children
- Law - Crime
- Law - Secular
- Material Culture: Food, Clothing, Household
- Nobility / Gentry
- Poverty / Charity
- Towns / Cities
- Travel / Pilgrimage
- Women / Gender
This volume contains selected bills presented to the Eyre courts in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. These bills were “humble petition[s] for the remedy of a stated grievance” (xi). They were presented before the Eyre courts, which were run by traveling justices empowered by the king to give remedy for all wrongs within the shire. For all but the wealthiest people the Eyre courts provided their only access to the king’s plenary power. All of the bills in this volume, extracted from the Eyre records in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire, are in Anglo-Norman or in Latin. They must, therefore, have been composed with some sort of assistance since petty farmers, servant girls and widows were not able to speak fluently in these languages let alone write their grievances. Nevertheless, the editor doubts that they were composed by professionals as we can see from the “almost unintelligible uncouthness of the language.” These bills were used to address a wide range of grievances including the recovery of debts, the enforcement of contracts, redress for trespass or wrongful imprisonment, and accusations of conspiracy. In short, bills could be used to address almost any act by which an individual might be damaged. These bills, therefore, can be used to illuminate the types of wrongdoings that were common in the middle ages. They also have incidental references that can be used to study many other facets of economic and social history.
For more information about the Eyre courts and an extensive list of additional sources see: David Crook, ed., Records of the General Eyre, Public Record Office Handbooks, No. 20 (London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1981).
In his introduction (63 pages) William Craddock Bolland discusses the derivation of the word “bill” before discussing the authority of the Eyre and the Delivery of Bills in the Eyre. He goes on to specify what happened when the authorities failed to prosecute bills and the endorsement of bills. Finally he discusses the language of the bills and the specific contents of this volume.