The Bowles of Canada and their Roots in Ireland and England 

The Great Roll of the Pipe for 1259

The Great Roll of the Pipe of 1259 (43 Henry III) (PRO E 372/103)


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In 1258 the Barons forced Henry III to initiate several reforms which shifted some of his absolute power to them.  One of his concessions included the way the country would be governed and particularly how its finances would be collected and spent.  In 1259 the financial records of every county were recorded, the first under the new governing council, including the payments of feudal dues and taxes, 'offerings' to the king in connection with legal disputes, records of penalties (fines and amercements) imposed by the itinerant justices, which were then transcribed by the Treasurer’s clerk onto a long sewn together membrane wound into a tight roll resembling a pipe. 


The pipe roll of that year records the amercements, fines, taxes, rents and customary dues collected by the county sheriffs and other government officials between Michaelmas, 30 September, 1258 and the same day in 1259.  One of the categories of records kept was the amercements and fines assessed by senior justice officials who were sent out from London to hold courts in each county.  Henry of Bath assigned himself to visit Kent in January of that year and held court in Canterbury.  Offences against the Law were brought forward by the county sheriff and private differences between citizens could be heard by the judge upon a sum being paid by the offended party to the sheriff.   The judge would hear the case and issue a ruling usually involving fines, an amount to be paid by the guilty party for breaking the law, or amerciments, amounts paid by the guilty party for being given misericordia, the mercy of the court.  A murder charge might bring other actions such as hangings but there would also be a fine and only the fine was recorded in this particular roll.  There were also separate records kept of the court actions, stating the charges, all the parties involved and the ruling, but this roll only recorded the resulting income from each case. 


The Kent section runs from paragraphs 2046 to 2204 in the roll with the Amercements Issued by Henry of Bath, the Chief Justice of England under Henry III starting at paragraph 2104 (the page numbers from 167 to 183 are the page numbers from the transcription of the roll as written in his Doctoral Thesis by Richard Cassidy of King’s College which was published in 2012):

In the first entry (paragraph 3105 of the roll), ‘Rogerus Harang et socii sui r. c. de xlj s. viij    d. de fine et pro murdro sicut continetur infra. In thes. xl d. Et debent xxxviij s. (et iiij d.i)’, Roger Harang and company was assessed a fine for their acts including murders committed.  It also mentions fines to the Prior of Horton and the Prior of St Trinity of Kent for an issue involving Roger Syward and Walter Strom’s land and so on.  The Alanus de Legh who, along with others named in his part of the case, was assessed a fine after the judgement, was Allan, Lord of Lee near Ickham.


In paragraph 2104 a Hamo Bolle is mentioned.  His offence was tried in Kent which along with his small amerciment of 7 pence along with the mercy of the court implies he was a local with a minor offence.

The following may be wrong as I can only struggle through Latin with the use of a dictionary.


d. = denarius = penny or pence

ob. = obolus = a type of coin

Hamo Bolle 7 pence for the mercy of a whale (this is a statement of penance to God for his sins (a biblical reference to Jonah’s penance in the whale) but may also be a reference to his involvement to the early whaling industry in medieval England).

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This page was last updated 10/18/18