The Wakefield Court Rolls SectionYorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society - YAHS

The manor of Wakefield, lying in the heart of the West Riding, is now acknowledged as truly remarkable for the wealth of its legacy of records. In May 2011, their exceptional importance was recognised when the archives of the manor were enrolled on the Memory of the World Register maintained by the Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation of the United Nations (UNESCO).

The records of its manorial court begin in 1274 and are virtually complete for the six centuries from 1328 down to the last manorial court held in 1925. There are more than 670 court rolls in the archive and many other types of records. The lands that lay within the manor were concentrated around Wakefield and included land in half an dozen surrounding townships. The manor court met every three weeks to deal with the great variety of business that came to its sessions. The manor also held courts, or ‘tourns’ at other places in the West Riding that lay within the manor several times a year to regulate a wide range of aspects of life and commerce.

The historical significance of the Wakefield manorial records was first recognised at the end of the nineteenth century, and the YAHS published many early of its court rolls as part of the Record Series. In 1977, it was decided that publishing the rolls merited a place as a specific project of the Society, and the Wakefield Court Roll Section was created to undertake this task. The committee decided that it would publish the rolls translated from their original Latin into English and, usually, produce a detailed summary of the contents, rather than a word-for-word transcript, with the many repetitions and redundancies of language this would entail.

Over the last three decades, the project, formerly chaired by distinguished medievalist Professor Paul Harvey, and now chaired by John Chartres, professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Leeds, has achieved a remarkable record of publication. Fifteen volumes have appeared, in which every century from the fourteenth to the eighteenth have been represented, with explanatory introductions by scholars from Britain and the United States. The volumes have proved to be a vital source for local and family historians and many other aspects of history.

Individual copies of the Wakefield Court Roll Publishing Section can be purchased through the YAHS online shop or from the Hon Sales Officer.

Subscribers receive a copy of each volume as it is published and an invitation to attend a day school organised to launch each volume.

If you would like to become a member of the section, please send a cheque for £9 (UK) or £13 (overseas) made out to the Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society to Hon. Treasurer, YAHS, Claremont, 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9NZ. Subscriptions are due annually on 1 January.

New members will be sent a copy of the last publication. Copies of earlier volumes, where still in print, are also available to purchase.


Volume 1 1639-40 edited by Dr C M Fraser and K Emsley
Volume 2 1348-50 edited by Dr H M Jewell
Volume 3 1331-33 edited by Professor S S Walker
Volume 4 1583-75 edited by Professor A Weikel
Volume 5 1664-65 edited by Dr C M Fraser
Volume 6 1350-52 edited by M Habberjam, M O’Regan and B Hale
Volume 7 1550-53 edited by Professor A Weikel
Volume 8 1651-52 edited by L Robinson
Volume 9 1537-40 edited by Professor A Weikel
Volume 10 1790-92 edited by A Brent with Dr B J Barber
Volume 11 1608-09 edited by Dr C M Fraser
Volume 12 1338-40 edited by Dr K M Troup
Volume 13 1687-88 edited by Dr C M Fraser
Volume 14 1688-89 edited by Dr C M Fraser
Volume 15 1433-36 edited by Dr C M Fraser
Volume 16 1812-13 edited by John Hargreaves

If you are interested in editing a court roll for publication in the series please contact the general editor


Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society - YAHS