|TOWER of London. Office of the Records. ||110
pel, under the Leads in the White Tower, Multitudes of Records in several
(some relating to State Matters, and others to Proceedings in Courts of Justice)
laid in confused Heaps, and that if Care were not speedily taken of them, would
great Danger of utter perishing. That it would be a publick Damage (as well as
Dishonour) to the Kingdom, to suffer such Monuments of Antiquity to be lost.
the preserving of them would be too great Work to be undertaken by the Keeper of
Records, unless there were Allowances made to him for a sufficient Number of
who understood the Languages and Hands wherein the Records were written, and
capable of making Abstracts of them, under the Care and Direction of that
Further, That it did appear by the Writs, De Calendariis faciendis, De Rotulis
in recto ordine ponendis, & Expensis Clericis ministrandis, that these
been anciently made to Clerks attending the Office of Records within the Tower.
lastly, That if these Records were made clean, and reduced into Order, the same
be placed in the Room where the present Office is kept, at a small Expence.
This was the Substance of the Reports. Hereupon it was immediately ordered,
30. 1704. That the Lord Treasurer should lay the said Report before her Majesty,
humbly moving her to give Directions thereon.
The Queen's Order.
The next Session, the Lord Treasurer gave the House an Account, That her Majesty
signed a Warrant, directed to Sir Christopher Wren, Knight, Surveyor General of
Works, William Lowndes, Esq; John Anstis, Esq; William Petyt, Esq; Peter Le
Esq; and William Grymes, Gent. requiring them, or any Three of them, to repair
Tower of London, and there to view and inspect Cæsar's Chapel, and examine
how and in what manner the Records there might be preserved; as also the Place
the present Office is kept in the said Tower, and what Works were necessary for
receiving, placing, and digesting of the said Records. These Commissioners went
accordingly, and made their Report: Upon which the Lord Treasurer ordered 150l.
providing Presses, Drawers and Shelves, for the Records in Cæsar's Chapel,
the Office was too scanty to hold them:] And for the demolishing a Room, which
(having been lately on fire) was thought to be dangerous. And William Petyt,
[Keeper of the Records] was appointed to supervise the digesting, &c. of the
with Power to take in Three Clerks for that Service at 150l. per Annum, from
Michaelmas 1704, over and above a chief Clerk at 100l. Who was Mr. George
[now Deputy Recorder.]
The Lords Committees continued their Care for some Winters following, in the
Progress of this Affair. And (after occasional Enquiries in about Five
forenamed Noble Lord reported, (viz. April 20. 1709.) That a great Progress was
in this Affair. That the confused Heap (which lay before covered with Dust) was
thoroughly cleansed, and put into Chests, Baskets and Shelves, in order to be
That the Rolls (from the first Year of King John, to the last of Edward IV.) and
Escheat Bundles, (from Henry III. to Richard III.) were placed under their
Years; and a Catalogue made of them. That Abstracts were made of the Norman,
Scotch, Welsh and Irish Rolls; with Alphabetical Indexes of the Names of Persons
Places. That Depositions in Chancery (of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, and
downwards) were bundled up Alphabetically. That
several Things still remained to be done, for putting all in right Order: As
some Foreign Rolls, Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Chartæ Antiquæ,
the Clerks were still employed in this Work; and when finished, the Records
in very exact and good Order. That the Shelves and Presses were so well made,
the Office fitted up in such manner, that the Records were very dry. And
there was Room made for a great Number of other Records, which might be
hither. As since there hath been from the Rolls.
These Clerks are still (to this Year 1718) very diligently at Work daily in
Chapel; and like so to be, the Records are so numerous.
The Records that lye in the Office do begin in the first Year of King John. For
that Time there were no Rolls, but only Chartæ Antiquæ, i.e. Ancient
Charters or Transcripts, made and done, a few before, the rest since the
the Beginning of the said K. John. Then follow the Rolls of his Son, King Henry
IIId; where the first Inquisitions post Mortem begin. Then the Rolls of K.
K. Edward II. K. Edward III. Of K. Richard II. K. Henry IV. K. Henry V. K.
Henry VI. K. Edward IV. But the Rolls of K. Richard III. are kept in the
the Rolls in Chancery-lane: Where be also the Rolls of the succeeding Kings.
Account of the Rolls.
And as the said Chapel of the Rolls, and the Petty Bag Office, do fill with
of other Offices, they have been, and still ought to be transmitted into the
some Years. And there is at this Time a special Order in hand, to be had from
Crown, for the bringing the Records, that lye in the Chapel of the Rolls, or
into the Tower; there being now very capacious and convenient Places made for
Chapel of the Rolls.
These Records in the Tower, among other Things, contain the Foundations of
and other Religious Houses. And those of later Date in the Chapel of the Rolls,
the Dissolution of them, and also the Donation of the Lands belonging to them;
many Families are now possessed.
What the Records contain.
These Records consist also of Leagues of Foreign Princes, and Treaties with
(Whereof several Volumes have been of late transcribed and printed, by the Pains
Mr. Rymer, the late Queen's Historiographer:) All the Atchievements of this
France, and other Foreign Parts: The Originals of all the Laws that have been
or recorded, unto the Reign of Richard III. The Homage and Dependency of
upon England: The Establishment of Ireland, and its Laws and Dominions: The
Dominion of the British Seas; totally excluding both French and Dutch from
therein, without Licence from England; proved by several Prescriptions, and
before the Conquest: The Interest of the Isles of Man, and of Jersey, Guernsey,
and Alderney, being the only remaining Parts of the Norman Possession left to
Crown of England: The Title to the Realm of France; and by what means obtained:
all that the Kings or Princes of this Realm, to the Time aforesaid, have done
granted and confirmed unto their Subjects at Home or Abroad: Tenures of all the
in England; Extents, or Surveys of Manors or Lands: Inquisitions post Mortem, of
great Use upon Trials of Interest or Descent: Liberties and Privileges granted
and Towns Corporate, or to private Men; as Court
Mr. Rymer's Pains.