Home Site Map Back


THE Court of Exchequer is of very ancient institution. It was established by William I., and reduced to its present order by Edward I. Its duties were to regulate and enforce payment of the king's debts and duties. It has now the power of judging both according to law and equity; and this notice is therefore placed before those of the law courts. In the proceedings according to law, the lord chief baron of the exchequer and three other barons preside as judges. They are styled barons, because formerly none but barons of the realm were allowed to be judges in this court. Besides these there is a fifth called Cursitor Baron, who has not a judicial capacity, but is only employed in administering the oath to the sheriffs and other officers, and also to several of the officers of the custom house; the office however is little better than a sinecure. When this court proceeds according to equity then the lord treasurer and the chancellor of the Exchequer are always presumed to be present with the barons. All matters touching the king's revenue, treasury, customs, and fines, are here tried and determined. The king's attorney-general is made privy to all manner of pleas that are not ordinary, and of course, which rise upon the process of the court: and he puts into court, in his own name information of seizures. &c.

Besides the officers already mentioned, there are the King's remembrancer, who takes and states all accounts of the revenue, &c.

The exchequer records are of great importance; they are not inferior in interest to Domesday Book itself. From the very first establishment of the exchequer it was customary to make a great roll every year, containing an exact account of every branch of the royal revenue, as it was collected in each county. The great rolls of most of the years of Henry II, Richard I., and John, are still in existence. The most ancient of the records is THE GREAT ROLL of the fifth year of Stephen. It is a famous monument of antiquity, whether the hand-writing or the contents be considered. According to Madox's "History of the Exchequer," it consists of sixteen large rolls, written on both sides, about four feet long, one with another, (for they are not of equal length,) and a foot broad.

Related pages:


Lord Chancellor's Court

Vice-Chancellor's Court


King's Bench

Common Pleas

Exchequer Chamber

Courts of Requests

Court of Admiralty

Doctors' Common

Insolvent Debtors' Court

Law Proceedings

Mode of making a Judge

Old Bailey Sessions

Inns of Court

The Temple, Inner, Middle

Lincoln's Inn

Gray's Inn

The Inns of Chancery

Source: Leigh's New Picture of London. Printed for Samuel Leigh, 18, Strand;
by W. Clowes, Northumberland Court. 1819