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The county account

County accounts make up the bulk of each pipe roll. As noted above, such accounts sometimes covered more than one year, and as time passed they tended to become cluttered with obsolete material which was simply copied from one year to the next. Nevertheless, it is possible to provide a rough outline of the way in which a typical acccount might be laid out for a single year, in the mid-thirteenth century. (For guides more specifically concerned with the twelfth-century pipe rolls, see the bibliography below.)

The account is headed by the name of the county or pair of counties concerned. The account is in the name of the sheriff for that year (or the sheriffs, if there was a change in the course of the year), and begins by stating how much he owes for the farm. If a deputy accounted on behalf of the sheriff that is recorded too, in the form: sheriff's name, deputy's name pro eo, accounts for a certain amount for the farm of the county; he has paid so much into the Treasury. This first item is, unfortunately, the most confusing: the amount the sheriff owes for the county farm, and the amount of cash he has paid into the Treasury.