The Public Record Office of Ireland became active in publication from the 1890s onwards as means of expanding access to the foundational early legal and parliamentary records held by the office. The two seminal series of medieval Justiciary Rolls and Statute Rolls produced by the office are included here. The series of medieval statute rolls was interrupted by the fire and completed as recently as 2002. We gratefully acknowledge Four Courts Press for permission to reproduce in digital form the fifth and final volume in the series, edited by the late Dr Philomena Connolly, National Archives (Ireland).
The collection provides access to two seminal series of medieval Justiciary Rolls and Statute Rolls produced by the office.
The Justiciary Rolls (PROI PUB/JUST) are among the most intensively-used records for social and cultural history in later medieval Ireland. Dating from a century after the Anglo-Norman invasion, they provide a record of court proceedings held before the ‘Justiciar’ — or viceroy — who was the representative on the island of the king of England.
Equally important are the five volumes of medieval statute rolls, which were published across a period spanning almost a century from 1907 to 2022.
The first volumes of ‘Early Irish Statutes’ were edited by Henry F. Berry (d. 1932), assistant deputy keeper of the records at the PROI (that is, the second highest role within the office hierarchy, the deputy keeper being the head of the archive). He planned and edited the first four, massive, volumes in the ‘early statutes’ series, totaling over 2,500 pages of text, translations and apparatus. Berry opened the first volume in the reign of King John (1199–1216), and for the rest of the period up to 1422 he created an archivally artificial, but historically invaluable, miscellany from various repositories in Ireland and Britain, which he entitled Statutes and ordinances and acts of the parliament of Ireland, King John to Henry V. It was this first volume that included what was to become the standard critical edition of the ‘Statute of Kilkenny, 1366’.
Berry went on to prepare three more volumes of ‘early statutes, Ireland’, now taken directly from the PROI’s own collection of original Irish statute rolls. Two were published before 1922: Statute rolls of the … reign of King Henry the sixth in 1910; and, two years after Berry’s retirement as assistant deputy keeper (1912), Statute rolls of the … first to the twelfth years of the reign of King Edward the fourth (1914). These volumes covered 1427 to 1472.
The First World War delayed progress on the fourth volume, which was to cover the later reign of Edward IV from his readeption, and included statutes rolls from 1473 to 1481: Statute rolls of the … twelfth and thirteenth to the twenty-first and twenty-second years of the reign of King Edward the fourth (1939).
The sole survivor of 1922 among the statutes was the roll for the ‘reformation parliament’ of 1536–7, which happened to be in use when the Four Courts was occupied at Easter 1922. Protected in the strong room adjacent to the public reading room of the Public Record Office of Ireland, the parchment roll survived the cataclysm. It has pride of place in Philomena Connolly’s edition of the statutes of Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII, alongside reconstructions of other statute rolls drawing on the nineteenth-century transcriptions of the Irish Record Commission: Statute rolls of the Irish parliament, Richard III–Henry VIII (2002). We gratefully acknowledge Four Courts Press for permission to reproduce in digital form the fifth and final volume in the series, edited by the late Dr Philomena Connolly, National Archives (Ireland).