Page:English Historical Review Volume 37.djvu/489

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The 'Domesday' Roll of Chester

There has been, and still is, the strangest misconception of the true nature of the so-called 'Domesday' Roll of Chester, the Magnus Rotulus Comitatus Cestrie qui vocatur Domesday. Ormerod, writing in 1819, speaks of earlier vague surmises on the subject, and, in spite of the fact that he made it abundantly clear that this roll cannot have had the slightest resemblance to, or analogy with, the great Domesday Inquest, many later writers, both learned and otherwise, have ignored his investigations and persisted in adding to the confusion. We shall refer below to what was known about the roll by the older Cheshire collectors, such as Booth, Vernon, and Leycester, and shall begin with Dr. Foote Gower, a later would-be historian of the county palatine. In 1771–2 Dr. Gower, issued proposals for a new history of Cheshire with a Sketch of the Materials available for that purpose. After referring to Domesday Book proper he has the following remarks:[2]

But besides this general survey … there was a Domes-day Book peculiar only to our Palatinate; and which undoubtedly took its rise from this sensible institution of the Norman Conqueror.

He then mentions Sir Peter Leycester's statement as to the loss of the original roll and proceeds:

But with the leave of our great antiquary this invaluable record, or at least a record which ascertains the lineal and uninterrupted succession of almost every single acre of Cheshire property for at least five hundred years, is now in my possession. I should be sorry to suppose it the stolen and the precious casket of ancient charts which Sir Peter tells us was taken away. But I own my heart beats with a provincial joy when I reflect
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  2. A Sketch of the Materials for a New and Compleat History of Cheshire, p. 13. A third edition was issued in 1800, 4to. For bibliography see Palatine Note-Book, ii. (1882) 120, &c.