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the sheriff stating in his return the names of the individuals whom he had summoned or distrained to perform military service, or to take the degree of knighthood. Two only of such original returns have been seen by the editor in the Tower; but transcripts of many more have been preserved amongst the Cottonian and Harleian MSS., and they are extremely curious and valuable, inasmuch as they furnish the names of those individuals who seem to correspond with the * Minores Barones' of the Magna Charta of King John. There are also returns of an analogous nature made by inquisitions ; two such inquisitions are extant amongst the Harleian Charters (v. p. 267, No. 425.), which were certainly obtained from the Tower.
“ VIII. Commissions of array, and other instruments relating to the military levies.-It being frequently difficult to distinguish between the service due by reason of tenure, and the service which was performed under the general obligation of allegiance, it has been judged expedient to unite the principal documents explaining the ancient military policy of the realm.
« IX. Records affording evidence of the names of the individuals who actually attended or deliberated in parliaments or councils.The judgments and resolutions of parliament, &c. are usually expressed in general terms. In some instances, however, the individuals who attended or concurred in legislative, political, or judicial proceedings, are specifically named.
". X. Records affording evidence of the actual performance of military service.—The rolls of marshalsey are the most important of this class. Upon this roll the service was recorded; and if a question arose respecting the due performance thereof, the entry on the roll was pleaded in discharge of the claim of the crown. Such a roll was made up on every muster of the king's host; but very few have escaped the general wreck.
« The documents comprehended under the foregoing ten sections constitute the body of the collection ; those considered as forming the appendixes are of a more miscellaneous description; such documents having been selected as explain particular facts and proceedings, or which tend to elucidate the main points of inquiry within the purview of the collection: the latter may be thus enumerated :
“1. Records showing the rank and condition of individuals composing the parliament. — These are chiefly the commissions by which the royal authority was delegated for the conservancy of the peace, the execution of statutes, &c.; and it is important to remark how very generally the members of parliament were selected for the discharge of such duties.
« 2. Records relating to elections of coroners, verdurers, &c. which took place in the county court; and other documents showing the constitution of that assembly, and elucidating the history of the elective franchise*.
“ 3. Records relating to the customs and constitutions of boroughs*. -Some few custumals and other documents of this description have
* These documents will appear in a future volume...
been obtained ; and it is hoped that the collection may be enlarged when the officers, having the custody of corporate archives, are aware how much historical information may be concealed without in the slightest degree compromising the rights and privileges of their corporations. ·
“In order to render the work more accessible to the reader, it has been accompanied by a chronological abstract of the documents, with historical notes; a calendar of the writs of election and the returns thereof; and an alphabetical digest of the facts relating to persons. In consequence of the great bulk of this volume, the digests of places and of principal matters have not been appended hereto, but will be given on a future occasion."
In the chronological abstract, the editor has very properly introduced such extracts from contemporary historians, or other sources, as illustrate the subject. Many of those notes contain original information of great value, particularly in the correction of the dates of instruments. In his observations, however, he appears to shrink with horror from citing any existing writer, excepting the author of " The Lords' Reports,” for which his veneration seems to be of the highest nature, though we could fill several sheets with the gross blunders that are to be found in them : but it is an official document, and as such it becomes, we presume, a sacred object in the eyes of a sub-commissioner. Some people may, however, be sufficiently“ unofficial” in their opinions as to consider that it was rather the editor's duty to have cited such works, whether they emanated from authority or from private persons, as contained the most ample illustration of the respective records. Were it not for reasons which we cannot explain, we would point out one instance in which he has omitted to allude to an elaborate article written exclusively to prove the authenticity of the document to which he has appended a note; and which article we are prepared to show was the sole cause of the appearance of those" valuable remarks” in the “ Fourth Peerage Report,” to which he refers. Of this fact Mr. Palgrave was not ignorant; and we could specify other places where similar, though somewhat less flagrant, disregard of the exertions of his fellow-labourers in the historical vineyard are to be found.
The editor has so ably described the nature of the records in those parts of his preface which we have extracted, that it is pot necessary for us to do so. The Alphabetical Digest commences at page 410, prefixed to which is a copy of the roll of the name and arms of the bannerets of England, compiled in the early part of the reign of Edward the Second; and now printed from a contemporary MS. in the British Museum*. In the introduction
* A copy of this valuable heraldic MS. has been for some time in the press, and will be published in a small octavo for a few shillings.
to the Digest are the following useful observations respecting names:
« Surnames originally derived from places, and ascribed to the family of the parties, were occasionally dropped for others derived from residence; or, in other words, the surname was merged in the local description. With respect to the by-names' of persons belonging to the inferior classes, they are subjected to very perplexing changes. The clerks by whom the records were written either translated them into Latin or French, or retained them in the vernacular dialect, at their pleasure, and without being guided by any fixed rule. Thus, the - Thomas de la Guttere' of one year appears as • Thomas atte Shete' in the next return. Personal descriptions, for they can scarcely be called surnames, derived from trades, offices, or occupations, were shifted and exchanged for local descriptions, with an equal disregard of any regular system. To these sources of confusion must be added the obscurities arising from the fluctuating and unsettled orthography, and, in very many instances, from the difficulty of discovering the true reading of the record. Some letters, such as t and c, n and u, are written precisely in the same manner ; f and ļ, h, l, and b, A and D, E and R, &c. are nearly alike; and the casual obliteration of a hair-stroke will destroy the distinguishing feature. The dot of the i is generally omitted; and in the combinations of the letters formed by parallel strokes, such as m, n, u, i, the eye is unable to develop the elements of which the group is composed. In familiar and well-known names the true reading is obtained by the previous knowledge of the word; but by far the most numerous names belong to families long since extinct, or to persons of obscure and unknown lineage. Thus, a name, which may be either Hauvil or Hanvil, has also been read as Haunil, Hannil, and Hamul; Gouiz as Goniz: Haudlo as Handlo; and it is probable that the name of the baronial family of Novant ought to be read Nonant, though in the present work, the first orthography has been adopted, on the authority of Dugdale and his successors. Occasionally, the employment of a letter of equivalent sound affords a satisfactory solution. Thus, the name Gouiz, being sometimes, though rarely, spelled Gowiz, the true sound is ascertained.”
As a practicable index, it is impossible to praise Mr. Palgrave's “ Digest” too highly. No one but those who have undergone the wearying and disgusting labour of compiling such an extensive index can adequately estimate the time and patience necessary for the task : nor was it a mere work of scissors and paste, as it requires a perfect knowledge of the contents of every document. It is no trifling merit in the publications of the Record Commission, that each contains extensive indexes; but neither of them approaches in utility the “ Digest" under our
It affords the most and perhaps the only satisfactory evidence of the arms of the knights in this country at the commencement of the fourteenth century, which is extant.
notice. Instead of mere names, which, when referred to in the body of the work, we find were only recorded on an occasion not at all connected with the object of the search, Mr. Palgrave's arrangement states at once what is said of them, the year and day on which each document was dated, and the part of the page where it occurs. The subjoined are sufficient specimens of his plan; and of the facts which the writs contain:
Page. No. “ 1297. CROFTE, JOHN DE, (Johannes de Crofic,) re
turned from the County of Hereford as holding lands
25 Edw. I. 286 15 « 1305. CROFT, JOHN DE, (Johannes de Croft,) Manu
captor of Johannes de Pabenham, Knight of the Shire,
33 Edw. I. 141 12 “ 1301. CROFT, PETER DE, summoned from the Coun
ties of Cambridge and Huntingdon to perform Military
When the same person is mentioned in two or more places, the name is repeated in italics, thus :
Page. No. “ ERCEDEKNE, JOHN LE, (Johannes le Ercedekne.) “ 1302. Ercedekne, Johannes le, one of the “ Fideles” of
Ireland.- Letter of credence addressed to him concern-
Tested at Morpeth, 23 February . 30 Edw. I. 363 11 “ Ercedekne, Johannes le, one of the “ Fideles” of Ire
land.—Letter of credence addressed to him concerning
. . . . . 30 Edw. I. 365 16
We have been thus particular in giving examples of the “ Digest” for two reasons: the one because we were desirous of making our readers acquainted with it; and the other because it affords a specimen of how such references ought to be formed. To the volume the usual kind of alphabetical index of names is added, which is useful, because, from the variations in the spelling, it is impossible to introduce the name in every place where a strict adherence to the orthography would require it. In pointing out the faults in the indexes to the other publications of the Record Commission, we shall, we hope, both induce those who compile them to benefit by our remarks; and explain the propriety of Mr. Palgrave's giving an alphabetical index nominum as well as an alphabetical digest. Let us suppose the name sought to be “ Deincourt.” It would require an accurate knowledge of the plan of an index to induce a person to turn to “ Ayncourt,” « Deincourt,” “ Deyncourt," and “ Deyngcourt;” or if it be “ Greystock," the uninitiated would fancy they had exhausted the references when they had consulted all those under that word, and would be as much disappointed as surprised on learning that they had omitted the most important, which were under“ Craystock,” “ Graystock,” or “ Creystock.” In many cases the same person is referred to in several places, because the letters in his name were repeated in some records, or because the vowels were changed. Mr. Palgrave refers in his general index to the same name, under every form in which it is written, whilst in his “ Digest” he has introduced all notices of persons under the name by which they are most commonly known. The fault in the other indexes alluded to is, not that names occur in several places according to the various modes of spelling them, but that references are not given to these variations, or that they are not likewise all inserted under the name, spelt in the most usual manner. For example, either by placing every reference to Deincourt, whether spelt Dyncourt, Deincourt, Deyngcourt, Diencourt, &c. under “ Deincourt,” or by referring to each of the various modes in which it is to be found.
We cannot conclude this subject without alluding to the numerous times great part of the contents of the volume before us has been printed at the charge of the public; and consequently of the waste of money which ought to be most judiciously expended, so as to accomplish all that remains to be done. Nothing can be farther from our thoughts than to wish to cramp the powers of the Record Commission by pecuniary considerations : on the contrary, the object is one of such national importance, that if more funds be wanted, we should strongly recommend an application for increased resources, which there can be little doubt would be cheerfully granted, even by those who most vigilantly watch the public expenditure. But it is little short of a profligate waste of money to print the same documents two, three, or, in one case, even five times *, simply
* The Letter from the Barons to Pope Boniface VIII., in February, 1301, relative to his Claim to the Kingdom of Scotland. It was printed, though most inaccurately, in the new edition of the “ Fædera" in 1818; again in the Appendix to the First and Second Peerage