The English Historical Review/Volume 37/Early Notes of Fines
Early Notes of Fines
The Notes of Fines practically duplicate the information contained in the better-known Feet of Fines, and for this reason they have generally been used only to make good gaps or defects in the latter series. It has recently been observed, however, in the study of Fines by Sir H. C. Maxwell Lyte for Somersetshire and by Canon C. W. Foster for Lincolnshire, that some of the earliest Notes have not been engrossed as Feet, and that these can be distinguished by the absence of endorsement with the letter 'H'.
The earliest Notes preserved are not dated, but mostly appear to belong to the latter part of the reign of Edward I. Then for a period, beginning in Easter term, 2 [Edward II], the day and regnal year are given, but not the name of the king. This first appears in Hilary term, 12–13 Edward III, and is regularly given afterwards.
The original files of Notes for Edward III and later are made up in terms, the covers usually being endorsed 'Note ingrossate' with the term. The only files for Edward II which still remain unbroken are made up in counties, with cover endorsements such as 'De omnibus annis Ed. II in com' Dors' '; the Notes being endorsed with the letter 'H', signifying engrossment. There are also some covers for early files endorsed 'Veteres note', 'Nove note', and 'Note ingrossande', which presumably contained Notes before engrossment. Although the files are broken, the two classes of Notes have been kept separate; those not engrossed belonging to the reigns of Edward I and II, and those engrossed to the reigns of Edward II and later. Entries on the Curia Regis Rolls show that Notes were made in the time of Richard I or earlier; but apparently they were not at first thought worth preserving.
The effect of a Note which has not been engrossed is doubtful. Coke says: 'Yet a fine, before it is engrossed, is a perfect record, and may be executed, and the conusee ought to sue out his quid iuris clamat, per quae servitia or quem redditum reddit, as his case lies, before the engrossment of the fine.' Against this, a few of the Notes have endorsements showing that action was delayed. In a Norfolk case 'Finis iste non ingrossetur sine precepto iustic.' In a Kent case the tenant for life was a minor: 'Ideo quo ad ipsum remaneat cognicio usque ad etatem,' &c.
A careful study of the De Banco Rolls will throw more light on this subject, but from their bulk it must be slow and laborious. In any case, the information given in an unengrossed Note is of value; for the transaction was certainly contemplated, and may have been completed by deed.
R. C. Fowler.
- Final Concords (Lincoln Record Society), II. xxiii.
- Readings on Fines, vol. i.