There is a basic pattern which applies to all the entries on a pipe roll. Each entry should answer a few questions - who? how much do they owe? what for? how much have they paid? do they still owe anything? - in that order. At its simplest:
Angerus de Lutcuit r.c. de xij d. de firma molendini. In thes. lib. Et Q.E.
[All examples are from the pipe roll for 7 Henry III, 1222-23.]
This records that he accounts for a sum, the reason for the debt, that he has paid the full amount into the Treasury, and he is quit - there is nothing left to pay. Partial payments take the form:
In thes. vj d. Et debet vj d.
And where there is only a debt to record, the entry will read:
Galfridus clericus de Busseie debet dim. m. pro falso clamore.
Very often, there is a gap between the name and the sum owed. This is presumably because the rolls were written out in advance of the audit, with the clerk leaving a space where r.c. de or debet could be entered when the account was audited, but in the event nothing was done.
There are occasional entries where the debtor has paid more than he owes. This surplus is carried forward, to set against another debt or to be credited to the debtor in the following year. The point to remember is that a surplus on an account means that the Exchequer owes the money to the person making the payment:
Homines de Kingeston' r.c. de xxviij li. et x s. bl. de firma ville sue. In thes. liiij li. et iij s. bl. Et habent de superplus xxv li. et xiij s. bl. quod totum locatur eis infra.
There are also debts in kind (sparrowhawks, spurs, cumin etc.) rather than or as well as cash:
Vitalis Engainne r.c. de xviij m. et iiij vulpeculariis. In thes. c s. Et debet vij li. et iiij vulpeculariis.
The pipe rolls are formulaic and repetitive. The clerks who wrote them naturally wanted to save time ...
View the full list of sections included in this Introduction to Pipe Rolls.
The Dialogue, and books based on it, make much of the process of assaying coins brought to the Treasury ...