Court rolls recording the proceedings of public, franchise, manorial and other local courts.

Sheffield City Archives holds examples from the manors of Sheffield, Darnall, Ecclesall, Owlerton, Tinsley (Rotherham) and Worksop (Nottinghamshire); as well as Austerfield, Bradfield, Dinnington, Ecclesfield, Greasborough, Hartington (Derbyshire), Hooton Roberts, Hoyland Swaine, Wentworth, Worsbrough and Wortley, from 1275 to 1800.

Location

Sheffield City Archives, 52 Shoreham Street

Copies

The photocopying of parchment items and bound volumes is not permitted.

Photographic copies may be supplied as part of Sheffield City Archives’ copying service, or with the use of customers’ own cameras in the search room (for which there is no charge). 

Please contact us for further information.

Background information

Court rolls record the proceedings of public, franchise, manorial and other local courts. The principle courts were the court baron and court leet.

The court baron was the court of the chief tenants of the manor. It was responsible for the internal regulation of the local affairs within the manor.

The court was attended by all those free tenants whose attendance at court was a condition of their tenure, and by customary tenants.

Customary tenants, the most significant of which were copyholders, held land by an agreement made at the manor court which was entered on its roll, a 'copy' of which was regarded as proof of title.

A court leet exercised the peace-keeping jurisdiction of the sheriff's twice-yearly tourn of the hundred courts.

Court rolls contain a wealth of information, often about the lowest members of the social hierarchy, and concerning local issues, including:

  • cases of transferring property rights, notably copyhold tenure
  • occupation of land at a given time
  • the enforcement of law and order, including cases of minor disputes and debts, theft or petty assault
  • the regulation of agricultural affairs such as the allocation of strips of land
  • the enforcement of bye-laws about common land, ditches and crops
  • the enforcement of labour services
  • the election of local officials
  • the obstruction of highways and watercourses
  • the name of the lord of the manor

As from the 18th century onwards, the courts became increasingly concerned with the surrender of and admittance to copyhold land, so the variety of business conducted in manor courts declined.

At this time, land was continually being converted into leasehold which reduced the amount of copyhold land.

Surviving manorial records of the old West Riding of Yorkshire (including the manor of Sheffield), can be searched on the Manorial Documents Register (National Archives).

Format

Early court rolls were generally written on parchment. Later court rolls (16th century onwards) tend to be in book form. 

Up until 1733, court rolls are likely to be written in Latin.

City Archives

Ask us a question

0114 2039395 Saturday, Monday and Tuesday

52 Shoreham Street

Sheffield


S1 4SP