D-1566: (9 ¾ x 10 ¾’’ A very fine manuscript document on parchment, executed in Gloucestershire, England, 25 October 1589.
This official document, known as a “Sheriff’s Roll”, or “Great Roll of the Exchequer”, is written in Latin in a very elaborate legal hand. According to it, Ralph Cotton, gentleman, owed a year’s rent on Crown property. He paid it on 25 October 1589, in the 31st year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (one year after the defeat of the Spanish Armada). It is attested and signed by William Butler, High Sheriff of Gloustershire.
In medieval and renaissance England, the High Sheriff of a County was the most important person in a county - the representative of the Sovereign, directly appointed by the crown. The sheriff’s roll was the official record of yearly bill of expenses, debts or revenues incurred in the Sovereign’s name.
Another example of the Gloucestershire roll, showing payment by the same Ralph Cotton in 1590, is in the Special Collections of the Ohio State University Library (ms II-21).