Introduction: The rolls - character and omissions from the calendar

Pages vii-viii

Calendar of the Plea and Memoranda Rolls of the City of London: Volume 2, 1364-1381. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section



The Plea and Memoranda Rolls calendared in this volume cover the period 1364-81, each roll being the record of a year's mayoralty. Early in the 19th century, when the present numbering was adopted, the rolls for the two years 1377-8 and 1378-9 were missing. Subsequently fragments of a mutilated roll of the former year were discovered. A précis of its contents is printed below between A 22 and A 23 on pages 245-56. As the City records are now so fully known and listed, little hope remains that the other roll will come to light in Guildhall.

During our period the part played by the City in national affairs was recorded almost exclusively in the Letter Books, the rolls becoming for awhile purely legal in character. Nevertheless the disturbances which took place during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 came within the cognisance of the judicial courts. Apparently those inhabitants of the City who were implicated were brought to justice by means of ward presentments, and in this connection the Aldermen also returned lists of suspected persons who fled to escape apprehension. The lists (pp. 288-91) reveal that much sympathy for the insurgents was found among the lower orders, servants, journeymen and labourers. A further list of persons admitted to mainprise (pp. 300-2) is evidence to the same effect. Apart from these memoranda the main interest of the rolls is civic, legal and economic. Actions which seemed noteworthy to the clerks as illustrating City custom or recording City privileges were set out fully, and in the process much detail was included, throwing light on the conditions of London life and trade, the administration of justice and the maintenance of public order.


Side by side with such entries, there are a large number of brief notes of unimportant actions of debt for small amounts, appointments of attorneys, mainprise for appearance in court or for keeping the peace and plaints of nuisance and intrusion which were pleaded elsewhere. The editor has ventured to omit such of these notes as seemed to be of no historical value, while preserving everything which in any way adds to our knowledge of the time. He feels the more free to do so, since a complete manuscript calendar is at the service of readers in the Guildhall Records Office.