The Influence of the Commons on Early Legislation: A Study of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

By Howard L. Gray | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE STRUCTURE OF THE PARLIAMENT ROLL

THE differentiation of the types of mid- fifteenth century bills and the examination of the manner in which each type was recorded on the parliament roll have been undertaken not as ends in themselves. So far as the differentiation has been successful, it should reveal how the clerk in drawing up the roll entered upon it bills of various types. If in successive parliaments some system is perceptible in his entries, it becomes possible to speak of the structure of the parliament roll. The structure of the roll of 1509 has already been examined, primarily to see how bills which the journal of the year describes more fully were then enrolled. We may now inquire whether fifteenth-century rolls were like the later one and whether by any good fortune they are more informing. It is to be hoped that they are, since little besides them survives, apart from original bills and the statute roll, to inform us about the proceedings of parliament.1

Just as illustrations of different types of bills have been drawn from the rolls of the parliaments of 1453-1465, so the structure of the parliament roll may be studied from the rolls of the same years. The parliaments in question were six in number. Owing to adjournments, each of the first two was continued into a second year, while the sessions of the last were separated by an interval of nearly two years. We shall henceforth designate the six as the parliaments of 1453-4, 1455-6, 1459, 1460, 1461 and 1463-5. Because the second

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1
Dr. Sayles has found that the rolls of the king's bench, the rolls of the lord treasurer's remembrancer and certain chancery records tell us much about the parliaments of Edward I and Edward II. It is possible that later records of the same sort might at times give information about later parliaments.

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