The following is short introduction to the medieval records that were compiled, either regularly or on a one-off basis, by the English Crown, that we have searched for references relating to Sutton Poyntz and its owners. For a much fuller explanation and reference list, see Chris Phillips' outstanding Medieval Genealogy website.

  1. Sawyer: This is a compilation of Saxon documents. It is available in electronic form.
  2. Domesday Book: A register of land holdings prepared for King William in 1086; the register lists who held the various holdings both before and after the Conquest, and also dealt with land sizes and values. The Domesday Book has not been available electronically on the internet for a little time, but a new Domesday Map website has now been opened up, which allows you to search for entries geographically or by land-holder's name.
  3. Cartae Baronum: A tax register collected in 1166 and recorded in Liber Rubeus (The Red Book of the Exchequer), an early compilation of tax-related records.
  4. Testa de Nevill: This book, also known as Liber Feodorum (Book of Fees), is a compilation of several early lists of knight's 'fees', between 1198 and 1293, originally collected for taxation purposes. A fee, in this sense, was absolutely central to the Feudal system - it was the duty paid by a land-holder to the king or to a land-holder in chief for the right to hold the land. The duty was often (but not always) defined in terms of military service. This book is therefore an early register of land ownership (although ownership is strictly not the correct term). The source of the rather strange name for this compilation is not known.
  5. Book of Aids: This was another compilation of tax records, for 'aids' collected for a variety of purposes between 1284 and 1431. The aids were taxes on land-holders, for war expenses or other royal prerogatives such as the marriage of the king's daughter. The first  such recording is known as "Kirby's Quest", after the Treasury officer, John Kirby, who organised the collection of the information in 1284/5; interestingly Kirby's Quest records that a John de Kirkby held Preston, but this is probably not the same person, since it seems to relate to church land.
  6. Close Rolls: The Crown's record of 'closed' correspondence i.e. correspondence that was sent out under seal, often containing commissions or orders to crown officers such as county sheriffs.
  7. Patent Rolls: The Crown's record of open correspondence, sent out without seal. These included grants of royal monopoly, leading to the modern use of the term Patent in the context of protected inventions.
  8. Fine Rolls: In medieval times, a 'fine' was a payment made to the crown for a service (for example a writ, concession or licence) granted by the crown. The Fine Rolls were a record of such fines. The earliest Fine Rolls that still exist are from the reign of King John, and have been published in Latin "Rotuli de oblatis et finibusin Turri Londinensi asservati, tempore Regis Johannes". The Fine Rolls for the reign of Henry III have recently been digitised and indexed as part of a King's College London project; we have searched these for relevant records. Note that links to this website are at present unreliable - perseve. Later Fine Rolls, up to 1509, have been translated and compiled into book form in 22 Volumes, "Calendar of the Fine Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office".
  9. Inquisitions post mortem: These are records of enquiries held after the death of any land-holder, to establish the name and date of death of the land-holder, the name and age of the heir, and the identity and extent of the land held direct from the king or from others. These records provide an important and fairly continuous record from about 1240 until 1660, although only those for up to 1509 are easily accessible, being published in a series of volumes under the title "Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and other analagous documents preserved in the Public Record Office". We have searched all these. Where we refer to an Inquisition Post Mortem, we have generally given the date recorded for the death, rather than the date of the inquisition itself. The Latin originals contain details of size and divisions (the "extent") for the properties held, but these are not generally recorded in the "Calendar" - we intend to do a separate search of records of the "extent" of Sutton Poyntz manor. An older transcription of some Inquisitions Post Mortem is contained in the four volume "Calendarium inquisitionum post mortem sive escaetarum" published 1806-1828. This gives less information than the later "Calendar", but does include a few valuable references from sources other than the Inquisitions Post Mortem. An excellent discussion on Inquisitions post mortem can be found at the University of Winchester website.
  10. Feet of Fines: These are records of agreements reached between parties, and recorded at a royal court (usually the Court of Common Pleas). Normally, an actual court hearing was not needed - the court simply recorded what the parties had agreed between them. Multiple copies of the agreement were written on a single parchment. Each party to the agreement received one copy - the copy at the foot of the parchment was kept as the official copy (hence, extraordinarily, the name Feet of Fines). These records have been abstracted from "Full abstracts of the Feet of Fines relating to the county of Dorset", edited by Edward and George Fry, and published in two volumes (Dorset Records Volume 5 for the years 1195-1326 and Dorset Records Volume 10 for 1327-1485).
  11. Ancient Deeds: A number of medieval deeds are held in the archives of the Dorset History Centre. However, the deeds referred to here as "Ancient Deeds" come from a set of 6 volumes of transcriptions entitled "Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the Public Record Office".
  12. Charter Rolls: These were records of all the official Charters issued by the Crown, and are documented in a set of volumes entitled "Calendar of Charter Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office". We have so far only studied those for 1341-1417.