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A COLLECTION OF DOCUMENTS ANTERIOR TO THE THIRTEENTH
WILLIAM FARRER, HON.D.Litt.
EDITOR OF "THE LANCASHIRE PIPE ROLLS AND EARLY CHarters,"
IN FOUR VOLUMES
PRINTED FOR THE EDITOR BY
THE utility of good and reliable texts, printed in extenso, of charters and allied documents belonging to the period anterior to the thirteenth century, is recognised by all authorities on mediæval history. These records deal with the period of history previous to the general commencement of the magnificent series of Chancery and Exchequer enrolments known as the Public Records, which are the envy of other European nations and ought to be the pride of our own. The foundation of sound topographical and family history depends upon the aggregation of our earliest charters in separate publications for each county, in conjunction with efficient indexes. Such an undertaking is the more needful owing to the lack of local interest in the records of the past and the inevitable loss and destruction to which such apathy on the part of the educated public has contributed. Thanks to the schools of history which have now been inaugurated at several of our universities, and to the formation of societies devoted to the study and publication of historical materials, a revival of interest in our records, both national and local, has recently arisen. In other European countries much has been accomplished for the gathering together and preservation of local records by the establishment of provincial archives under the central administration of the State. In this country a beginning has been made, but much remains to be done in bringing together in provincial centres various classes of local and private records, and making adequate arrangements for their preservation, and for inspection by the literary student. A trifling portion of the large sums of money at present applied to the provision of a more or less superfluous, and sometimes injurious, curriculum in our elementary schools might well be applied towards the establishment of such archives as those mentioned, and the encouragement of the study of local history. A wider interest in local institutions, a deeper feeling of patriotism, and a larger regard for the property of others would, I believe, arise from a knowledge and understanding of the activity of village life in medieval times, with the ampler share of citizenship which the circumstances of such life in those days claimed and received from each member of the community.
But while comparatively little has hitherto been done for the preservation and publication of local records, a great amount of material for the topographical, ecclesiastical, judicial, and genealogical history of our English counties is now available to the student in the calendars of the Public Records issued under the supervision of the Master of the Rolls, the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, and the Record Commissioners. For the period before the thirteenth century may be mentioned the excellent texts, accompanied by critical observations, of the Domesday and other early surveys, published by the Victoria County History Syndicate; the rolls of the sheriffs of English counties, published by the Pipe Roll Society; and, among older publications, the selections from monastic chartularies incorporated in Dodsworth's and Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum. There yet remains in private hands, in the muniment rooms of great historic estates, in public and private libraries and museums, and in the archives of public bodies, a vast mass of unpublished matter, consisting of documents dealing with the feoffment, grant in alms, leasing and transfer of great and small tenements of land, the grant to laymen and ecclesiastics of various franchises, liberties, immunities and privileges. These documents, many of which were issued by our early kings, prelates and nobles, impart to us information of the most valuable and interesting kind. Kemble, Benjamin Thorpe, Bishop Stubbs, and in our own day Mr. Round and Mr. Birch, have emphasised their value and laboured to put good texts in the hands of the students of history. These records prove and amplify, while sometimes correcting, the chronology of the chronicles and of public events, or the era of statesmen and courtiers; they serve as a commentary on, and an exemplification of, the laws and customs of the country, casting light on various obscure problems, and illustrating the rise of monastic houses, colleges, parish churches and chapels, boroughs and town life, agriculture, trade, arts and crafts, and especially the estates of past and present families of gentlefolk, yeomen, and merchants.
The present collection of early Yorkshire charters is derived mainly from monastic chartularies in various libraries and in private hands, the manuscripts of Roger Dodsworth, the Public Records, the French Archives Nationales, charters in the British Museum and the Bodleian Library, and private muniments. Especially valuable are the transcripts made by Roger Dodsworth from the monastic records belonging to the Crown, which were stored in the tower of St. Mary's Abbey at York until its destruction in 1644 by the Parliamentarians. The bulk of those records was then destroyed, but Dodsworth