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The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland
A selection of these rolls to illustrate their research potential


Just to illustrate what can be found in these Rolls I am going to give you below a bit of the Preface from the 1455 to 1460 volume and at the end will provide links to that and another 3 volumes that you can download. I should mention here that the Preface of each volume is very large and it needs to be as it explains in considerable detail what is contained in these Rolls.  The Rolls themselves are in Latin and so I guess few reading them will be able to translate them and hence the Preface is where you'll get good information for the time period of each volume.

Here is part of the Preface for the 1455 - 1460 volume...

The present volume contains the Exchequer accounts rendered during the last six years of the reign of James ii., or from 1455 to 1460 inclusive. The audits took place in the summer or autumn of each of these years at Edinburgh, Linlithgow, or Perth. The rolls of the custumars and bailies of the burghs, and also of the managers of the Crown lands, are complete. There are two rolls of the Sheriffs, containing the accounts audited in 1455 and 1456, a separate account of the Comptroller for 1456, and a few miscellaneous accounts inserted in the already mentioned rolls. The rebellion of James ninth and last Earl of Douglas had been to appearance put down in 1452, and the Earl himself ostensibly received into favour. But his secret disaffection continued, and was fomented by the English government. On 22nd May 1453, he had a safe-conduct, in which his brothers were included, and he himself was designed Earl of Douglas, Wigtown and Annandale, and Lord of Galloway, to pass with a large following through England to Rome; and a similar passport was at the same time given to Hamilton. But it does not appear that either Douglas or Hamilton proceeded further than England; and the English records throw some light on their movements. On 17th June 1453, Malise, Earl of Strathern (formerly Earl of Menteith), was liberated from the captivity in which he had been held for twenty-five years as a hostage for the ransom of the King who had so deeply wronged him, this being done at the instance and on the petition of the Earl of Douglas and Lord Hamilton, and the evident motive being to involve James ii. in trouble by a revival of the old question regarding the respective rights of the two families of Robert ii. On 19th February 1453-4, a disbursement of £16, 13s. 4d. occurs in the English Exchequer accounts to Garter King of Arms for a journey undertaken by him to the borders to make certain appointments with the Earl of Douglas, for more than five weeks' attendance on Lord Hamilton in London and elsewhere, and for six weeks' attendance on the King while an answer was prepared to the Commissioners and the Earl of Douglas, who was then in these parts.

We are ignorant of the exact mode in which Douglas's revolt broke out. Perhaps the King obtained unequivocal evidence of his traffickings with England, his complicity with Donald Balloch, and the insincerity of his submission, and felt himself strong enough by a powerful effort to crush the Douglas influence for ever. The campaign was conducted on James's part with extraordinary vigour and celerity. In the beginning of March 1454-5, the Asloan MS. tells us, the King "kest doune the castell of Inveravyne," a place whose ruins, near the mouth of the Avon, may still be traced. A march to Glasgow followed, whence, with a force of westland men and Highlanders, he proceeded to Lanark. At Lanark—as appears from the narrative in the Act of Forfeiture as against the Douglases—an armed encounter occurred between the King's forces and the adherents of the Earl of Douglas. The King is said to have successively wasted with fire and sword Douglasdale, Avondale, and the country of the Hamiltons. Returning to Edinburgh he then made a dash into Ettrick Forest with a lowland force, compelling the whole gentry to follow his standard under pain of having their lands burned and their houses pulled down. James next proceeded in person to besiege Douglas's castle of Abercorn. Of the siege of Abercorn and later proceedings we have the King's own account in an interesting letter to Charles VII From this source we learn that the siege began on Easter week, that is the first week of April. On the seventh day of the siege, according to the Asloan ms., Hamilton, who had shortly before been making unsuccessful efforts to obtain pecuniary aid for the rebels in England, was induced by the persuasions of his uncle. Sir James Livingston, to come over to the King's side with his whole following, and put himself and his lands at James's unconditional disposal. He was received into favour, though placed for a time in Rosslyn Castle under custody of the Earl of Orkney; and his desertion of the Douglases contributed greatly to James's further successes, Hamilton, in his account as Sheriff of Lanark, a post in which he soon replaced Livingston, is allowed £10 "pro feodo suo, laboribus et expensis factis signanter tempore guerrarum."

There was no loss of life on the King's side, according to the Asloan MS., until St. George's day (23d April), when Alan Pantour, the most ingenious man in Scotland, and most subtle in many divers things, was slain with an arrow "throw misgovernyng of himself," and was much missed by the King and Lords. Many of the towers were, according to the same authority, struck down by " the gret gun, the quhilk a Frenchman "schot richt wele, and falyeit na shot within a faldome quhar it was charged him to hit." A hiatus occurs in the MS. immediately after these words; but James's letter tells us that at the end of the month the place was taken by escalade and razed to the ground, and the principal defenders of it hanged.

We find the custumars of Linlithgow credited with military engines (instrumentis), carriages, iron, timber, barrels, and other necessaries for the siege and destruction of the castle of Abercorn and tower of Inveravon, and the Sheriff of Linlithgow with £3, 5s. for engines for the siege of Abercorn, namely, five-score spades and trowels (vangis et tribulis), eleven "pikkis" and five mattocks. The custumars of Edinburgh are allowed 24s. for a helmet bought by them and delivered to David Smyth at the time of the siege, 50s. for a bombard and three "chambers," besides large sums for putting Edinburgh Castle, and more especially its great tower, in a state of defence.

And so this is an example of what you will find but this Preface is considerably longer that the part I added above.

And so here are the 4 volumes in pdf format that I selected to give you a flavour of what is available...

1455 - 1460  |  1460 - 1469  |  1568 - 1579  |  1580 - 1588

other volumes are available on the Internet Archive.


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