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Exchequer

From Academic Kids

The Exchequer was that part of the government responsible for the management and collection of the royal revenues of the King of England. At an early stage (certainly by 1190) it split into a purely administrative part (the Exchequer of Receipt) which collected revenue, and a judicial part the Exchequer of Pleas, which was a court concerned with the King's revenue.

Originally the Exchequer referred to a large table, 10 feet by 5, on which counters were placed representing various values. According to the Dialogue concerning the Exchequer -- an early Medieval work describing the practice of the Exchequer -- the name referred to the resemblance of the table with that of a chess board.

The term "Exchequer" then came to refer to the twice yearly meetings held at Easter and Michaelmas at which government financial business was transacted and an audit held of sheriff's returns.

Under Henry I, the procedure for the audit adopted would involve the Treasurer drawing up a summons which would be sent to each Sheriff, which they would be required to answer. The Treasurer would call on each Sheriff to give account of Royal income in their Shire. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would then question them concerning debts owed by private individuals. The results of the audit were recorded in a series of records known as the Pipe Rolls

The Exchequer became unnecessary as a revenue collecting department as a result of Pitt's reforms. It was abolished in 1834. Those government departments collecting revenue paid it directly to the Bank of England

By extension exchequer has come to mean the Treasury; and, colloquially, pecuniary possessions in general; as, 'the company's exchequer' is low.

See also

External link

References

  • Keir, D. L. The Constitutional History of Modern Britain 1485-1937. Third Edition. A & C Black 1946.
  • Warren, W. L. The Governance of Norman and Agnevin England 1086-1272. Edward Arnold 1987. ISBN 0-7131-6378.
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