Sources for Medieval Ireland in the National Archives of the United Kingdom, c. 1200 - c. 1485

The aims of the research project from which this digital resource arose were to facilitate more effective research into the history of Anglo-Irish relations in the Middle Ages, with special emphasis on the economic and social aspects of these relations, and to broaden the knowledge base of scholars working on economic relations between England and Ireland in the medieval period. The objectives were to identify Irish material from TNA which already existed in print and assess the reliability of these publications in order to decide whether researchers should be advised to consult the original documents, to publish previously unpublished Irish records, and to indicate to researchers where more unpublished Irish material might be found. Historians working on late medieval Ireland have tended to concentrate on a small number of series kept in TNA in search of relevant material. This project should encourage them to cast their nets much wider in the realistic hope of profitable catches. It has also proved difficult in the past to know which TNA documents have appeared in print, and how much reliance to place on these published transcripts and calendars. This project goes a long way towards removing this difficulty. In terms of new documents brought to light, the project should stimulate renewed interest in the fifteenth century, which has been relatively neglected in the past, partly because of the assumption that little surviving manuscript material remained. The digital resource consists of two files. One made up of documents relating to Ireland from series catalogued by TNA as 'Ancient Deeds', the other of Irish material from series of inquisition material. Most of the 64,000 documents in the Ancient Deeds series concern conveyances of land between private individuals or those pertaining to religious houses in England, which had subsequently been acquired by the Crown through forfeiture, purchase, escheat upon death without heir, or the dissolution of the monasteries. Others relate to transactions concerning individuals or ecclesiastical establishments in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, while a sizeable and significant miscellany of exchequer bills, writs and receipts, bonds and indentures, letters patent of appointment, attorney and indulgence, and wills and testaments supply the remainder. They thus constitute one of the most important resources for the study of landholding within the medieval British Isles. An inquisition was a legal enquiry held at the command of the king to provide answers to specific questions concerning the rights of the Crown. The different kinds of inquisition shared important features: they were conducted before officers of the Crown in or near the locality with which they were concerned; they heard evidence from local witnesses; they relied upon juries of local men to answer the questions asked.

Creator(s) Smith, B., University of Bristol. Department of Historical Studies
Funder Economic and Social Research Council
Publisher UK Data Service
DOI 10.5255/UKDA-SN-4848-1
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