As mentioned in previous posts, I’m working with Professor Brendan Smith on a small project, funded by the Jean Golding Institute, to look at the possibilities around computational analysis of a 1301–2 receipt roll from the Irish Exchequer. This post digs a little further into the sheriffs who proffered accounts in 1301–2.

In 1301–2 there were eleven shires in Ireland: Connacht, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Limerick, Louth (Uriel), Meath (Trim), Roscommon, Tipperary, and Waterford. Some of them were recent creations, with Kildare and Meath being created in 1297. Each county had one sheriff who, by a decree of 1293, was appointed by the treasurer and barons of the Irish Exchequer. It was an important royal office with numerous financial, administrative and judicial responsibilities, including collecting Crown revenues, delivering writs, repairing gaols and castles, empanelling juries for the county courts and presiding over their tourns (courts). Even though the office was a financial burden for the individual, it remained popular. According to Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven:

‘The attractiveness of the office was perhaps as much a matter of prestige as anything else, for its legitimate rewards do not seem to have been large.’[1]

If you look at the compiled list of sheriffs for Louth given by Brendan Smith in Crisis and Survival in Late Medieval Louth it is clear that reconstructing who held the office in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries involves a lot of detective work, consulting a wide and diverse set of manuscript and printed primary sources.[2]

I naïvely assumed that it would be obvious from the receipt roll who was the sheriff that year by looking at who was proffering accounts to the Exchequer. However, at best, you can make an educated guess based on patterns, but any results would need to be checked against other sources.

Table I gives a list of forty sheriffs proffering accounts for the eleven shires and the terms in which they appeared. This table was manually created from data derived from a pandas query, because I needed to resolve the inconsistent spelling of the names of the sheriffs. Hopefully, future work will use a fuzzy string-matching algorithm to reduce this overhead. Table II filters out payments that don’t mention arrears.

Since each county only had a single sheriff for a financial year, we can see that sheriffs from previous years continued to answer for arrears on their accounts. We can take Cork as an example. In Table I, William de Cauntetone seems the most likely candidate to be sheriff for that year, since he is the most active name who proffers accounts in all terms, while the others only answer for accounts in one term. Filtering out the arrears (Table II), seems to confirm Cauntetone although three other individual payments that aren’t declared as arrears.

Filtering out arrears has other interesting side-effects. Meath and Roscommon disappear! Why? Was this due to the difficulty on collecting income in these counties? Were payments often made in arrears?

Although we have only pulled out the name of the sheriffs, we can see that analysing these documents at scale will provide interesting insights into who were the sheriffs, and for how long after holding the office they were still encumbered with financial responsibilities. Do patterns of proffering and the amounts proffered reflect the ebbs and flows of English colonial rule in the various shires?

Table I. The sheriffs mentioned in the receipt roll.

The variations in spellings are given in brackets, but no effort has been given to modernise the names. For example, in the table Richard of Oxford is Richard de Oxon’ and Nicholas Devenish is Nicholas de Deveneis.

ConnachtHenry de Bermingham1 1 
ConnachtJohn le Poer 1  
CorkAdam de Creting   1
CorkCambinus Donati  1 
CorkMaurice Russel  2 
CorkRogerde Stapeltone   1
CorkThomas fitz Phillip   1
CorkWilliam de Cauntetone (de Cauntone)3121
DublinAdamCromelin (de Crumlin)5312
DublinAdam de Sancto Bosco   2
DublinJohn Wodelok (de Wodelok)511 
DublinRichard Taf (Taff) 243
DublinRichard de Exeter  22
KerryGeoffrey de Clahull1   
KerryRichardde Cantelou (de Cant ’, de Cantilupo)4 22
KildareAlbert de Kenlee  12
KildareDavid Mazener (le Mazener)2   
KildareGilbert de Suttone1   
KildareJohn de Coventre (de Coventr ’)22  
LimerickHenryle Waleis (le Walleis)111 
LimerickNicholasde Deveneis (le Deveneis, le Deveneys)111 
LimerickRichard de Assheburne1   
LimerickRobert Bagot1 2 
RoscommonRichard de Oxon’1   
TipperaryAdam de Clere    1
TipperaryGeoffrey le Bret1 1 
TipperaryHughPurcel1 1 
TipperaryNicholas de Indeberge1  1
TipperaryWalter Uncle2 11
TipperaryWalter le Bret  41
Trim (Meath)John Wodelok  1 
Uriel (Louth)Hugh de Clintone1 1 
Uriel(Louth)Roger Gernon (Gernun)2   
Uriel (Louth)Roger Roth4122
Uriel (Louth)William de la Hacche   1
WaterfordJohn Baret21  
WaterfordMaurice Russel  32
WaterfordRichardde Autone1 1 
WaterfordRichard de Valle21  

Table II. The sheriffs where the payment doesn’t mention arrears.

ConnachtHenry de Bermingham1 1 
ConnachtJohn le Poer 1  
CorkWilliamde Cauntone3121
CorkCambinus Donati  1 
CorkMaurice Russell  2 
CorkThomas fitz Phillip  1 
DublinJohn Wodelok411 
DublinAdam de Cromelin11  
DublinRichard Taff  1 
DublinAdam de Bosco   2
KerryRichard de Cantilupo4 21
KerryGeoffrey de Clahull1   
KildareDavid le Mazener1   
KildareJohn de Coventry 2  
KildareAlbert de Kenlee  12
LimerickRoger Bagot1 1 
TipperaryWalter de Bret  31
Uriel (Louth)Roger Roth2 1 
Uriel (Louth)Hugh de Clintone1   
Uriel (Louth)Roger Gernun1   
WaterfordRichard de Valle21  
WaterfordMaurice Russell  33

[1] J. Otway-Ruthven, ‘Anglo-Irish Shire Government in the Thirteenth Century’, Irish Historical Studies, Vol. 5, No. 17 (1946), 1–28 (

[2] B. Smith, Crisis and Survival in Late Medieval Ireland: The English of Louth and Their Neighbours, 1330-1450 (Oxford, 2013), p. 15 (DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594757.001.0001).