A series of major confiscations of crown and royalist lands took place during the Civil War and Interregnum. No detailed analysis of all the separate phases of the confiscations and sales of Crown, church and royalist lands has as yet been published. This research guide describes the principal sources for these transactions. Note that the records are not conveniently arranged and that they have in some cases suffered heavy losses.
2. Church lands
The lands of bishops, deans and chapters were sequestrated (appropriated) from 1643, but at this stage only their revenue was put to other uses such as army pay and public finance. Sales of Episcopal lands began in 1646 and of dean and chapter lands in 1649. The lands were committed to trustees who were aldermen and/or citizens of London, and the sales were made to contractors. Almost all the original records of these bodies have been lost, but the deeds of purchase, enrolled on the Close Rolls (C 54), provide useful information. They have been described in précis in IND 1/17355 and indexed in IND 1/17356.
See also the treasurers' declared accounts of revenue, 1646-1660, in E 351/453 and AO 1/367/1-4; trustees' accounts and papers, etc, 1646-48, in SP 28/289; vouchers of receivers' accounts for Canterbury in SP 28/291; and lists of revenues of St Paul's, London, 1644-46, in SP 28/355/1 and of Rochester Cathedral, 1644-46, in SP 28/355/3.
3. Crown goods and lands
Sales of the lands of the late King and of Queen Henrietta Maria and Prince Charles were governed by an Act of 16 July 1649. The lands were vested in trustees and the profits from them were used to pay off army arrears. Contractors were nominated to conclude agreements with the purchasers, and treasurers to receive the money and settle any administrative expenses. A registrar and deputy registrar kept the records, enrolled the transactions, and gave the purchasers their deeds of title. The trustees appointed surveyors for the lands, and the Act named a surveyor general (see Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, ii (1911), pp. 168-91).
Parliamentary surveys of Crown lands are in E 317 (with duplicates in DL 32 and LR 2); see also the typescript calendar, including references to related material and strays. An entry book of orders and minutes of the contractors, 1649-59, is in E 315/314, with some original orders in SP 28/286. E 320 contains particulars drawn up by the registrar (there is an index available at The National Archives), and C 54, the close rolls, includes the enrolments of the deeds of sale (see the calendar, IND 1/17353, and the index, IND 1/17354).
There are certificates of sale in E 121, E 308/7 pt I, SP 28/286, ff 425-55, and SP 28/289. SP 26/1-4 contains contracts, 1650-59, and E 315/173-174, entry books of contracts, 1649-53. Only a portion of the correspondence between the trustees and contractors survives, in SP 46/109, SP 46/128, SP 28/286 and E 315/481 (see also the Calendars of State Papers Domestic). Original warrants to the treasurers, 1649-59, occur in SP 28/271-277, SP 28/330; treasurers' accounts, 1649-59 are located in SP 28/350/8 and declared accounts, 1649-56 in E 351/602-4; acquittance books, 1651-59 are in SP 28/330; and orders to regional sequestrators are in SP 23/18. See also LR 2/81, LR 2/82, LR 2/83 and E 367.
S J Madge, The Domesday of Crown Lands (1938), is a useful analysis of the parliamentary surveys.
4. Sales of fee farm rents
Local auditors' certificates of extant fee-farm rents are to be found mainly in E 315/37, with strays in SP 28/286, SP 28/288, SP 28/289, E 308/7 pt II and LR 13/16/7. E 308/7 and E 315/145 contain certificates of sale, and there are enrolments of sales on the close rolls (C 54) with an abstract in IND 1/17347. Particulars of sale are in E 308 and scattered among the particulars for leases in E 367. LR 10/24 contains regional entry books of particulars for Herts, Suff, Cambs, Hunts and Norfolk. There are requests to purchase in SP 28/286, counterpart deeds of sale in E 307, entry books of contracts, 1650-55, in E 308/7 pt I and E 315/141, E 315/144, and a chronological summary of purchases, 1650-58, in SP 28/288.
SP 28/286, ff 401-24 contains an entry book of payments by the treasurers, 1650-58; E 315/143, warrants from the trustees to the treasurers; E 369/121 a list of sums offset against fee-farm rents, 1651-52; and SP 28/278, original warrants to treasurers. Trustees' orders (1651) are entered in E 315/139, and parts of their correspondence in SP 46/109, SP 46/128, E 315/481 and SP 28/286. E 308/7 pt I gives a chronological list of sales, March-June 1650, and SP 26/1-4 contains entry books of agreements to purchase.
There are auditors' entry books of orders for London, Midd, Norf, Suff, Herts and Essex, 1650-53, in E 164/53, and for the south-western counties, 1649-55, in LR 1/308. See also the parliamentary surveys in E 317, LR 2/276-304 and DL 32.
5. Forfeited royalist lands
Royalist delinquents' estates were generally forfeited until they paid a fine to the Committee for Compounding, when their lands were returned: see the Calendars of the Committee for Compounding, HMSO, (1889-93). Those who refused or were not permitted to compound had their estates remitted to the treason trustees (or Drury House trustees), the papers of whom have largely disappeared.
Sales of such lands may be traced via the close rolls (C 54 with a calendar in IND 1/17353 and index in IND 1/17354). The names of the new owners were notified to the Committee for Compounding (see the Calendars cited above), but those noted in its papers must be treated with caution for some are the agents of the real purchasers and others are prospective buyers who failed to proceed further.
7. The Restoration
From 1660 commissioners to investigate the 'late pretended sales' were appointed. Although most of their records were lost, there are some individual commissions of inquiry in E 178 and E 134 and there are many references in the Calendars of State Papers Domestic. CRES 6/1-8, the constat books of the surveyor-general of Crown lands, contain material on restitutions: CRES 6/3 is a book of orders to the commissioners and notes of action taken, 1660-66. Developments at a local level may be traced through the entry books of the regional officers of land revenue in LR 1. Related matters in Treasury records may be found via the index of the Calendar of Treasury Books, 1660-67 (1904), under the heading 'Crown lands'.
8. Other related records
Further light is shed on the activities of the trustees etc. in the directives sent to the auditors and receivers of land revenue and in their accounts and correspondence. See LR 9 (auditors' memoranda) and SC 6 (ministers' accounts). There are also a few strays in Exchequer miscellanea (for example E 163/19/4; E 163/19/10; E 163/24/24). The bills and answers against defaulting accountants in E 113 are concerned primarily with taxes and other assessments, but include claims connected with tithes and sequestrated lands.