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Foreign accounts

In thirteenth century pipe rolls, there are generally one or more rotulets devoted to foreign accounts - accounts other than the county accounts. The foreign accounts form a separate section, known as the rotulus compotorum, often at the beginning or end of the roll, where these accounts are grouped together. The foreign accounts tend to become longer and longer with the passage of time. They record the audited accounts of a number of government institutions which reported to the Exchequer, in much the same way as the sheriffs. These institutions include: the exchanges, where silver was exchanged and coins minted; the escheators, who administered estates which came into the king's hands, for example during the minority of an heir or heiress; the Wardrobe, the department which was concerned with the finances of the royal household; the custodians of episcopal estates, which were under the king's control during the vacancy after the death of a bishop; the collectors of some taxes; and occasionally demesne manors which were being administered by custodians appointed by the king, rather than being farmed out.

Such accounts are naturally very diverse, but all follow the pattern of a named individual accounting for the income and expenditure of the institution during a defined period (often not a single year, as these institutions accounted irregularly). They also record payments into the Treasury from any positive balance, or the debt owed by the person responsible, which could be pursued in subsequent years in the appropriate county.