Hemmant, M., ed., Select Cases in the Exchequer Chamber Before All the Justices of England (Selden Society, vol. 64)
Number of pages of primary source text: 371
Dates: 1377 - 1509
Archival Reference: British Library, Cambridge University Library, Lincoln's Inn Library, Bodleian Library
- Translated into English.
- Original language included.
Translation Comments: Facing Page Translation
- Court Roll
- Economy - Crafts and Industry
- Economy - Trade
- Education / Universities
- Family / Children
- Law - Crime
- Law - Secular
- Material Culture: Food, Clothing, Household
- Nobility / Gentry
- Towns / Cities
- Women / Gender
This volume contains 87 cases that were heard before the Exchequer Chamber that were contained in the Year Books, which are medieval law books that recorded discussions between judges on particular legal cases in order to provide instructional material for novices. The Year Books first refer to the proceeding in the Exchequer Chamber in the reign of Henry IV (1399-1413), though the court was set up by statute in the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) to address the errors in the Exchequer (the department of the government that collected the king’s revenues). In practice, however, many of the cases that fell within the court’s jurisdiction were not heard there because the court only had authority when either Treasurer or Chancellor was present, and it only heard cases that were referred to it by lower courts. Over time, however, the assembly of justices in the Exchequer Chamber came to compromise the most authoritative and learned legal opinion in England. Eventually the most respectable courts referred difficult cases there. Although this volume was assembled to further the study of legal history, the cases it contains are invaluable to social and legal historians since they include incidental references to women, mercantile transactions, property disputes and material culture among other things.
For more information about the court see Hemmant’s clear and thorough introduction.
The introduction (98 pages) begins with a discussion of the constitution and function of the assembly. Hemmant goes on to discuss the use of the Exchequer Chamber as a meeting place for judges and the jurisdiction of the judges that assembled there. The introduction includes an extensive history of these judges, the rules governing them, and their procedure for hearing cases. The introduction ends with an estimate of the importance of the assembly, a description of the manuscripts, and notes on some of the cases.