The community of the realm in Scotland, 1249–1424
History, law and charters in a recreated kingdom

Robert I's 'missing' charters

Are there really charters of Robert I not printed in either RRS, v, OR RMS, i? Matthew Hammond sheds light on the complicated case of the three 'R's: Robert, RRS, and RMS.

In my previous posting, I wrote about how some of King Robert I’s acts were entered not from Archie Duncan’s magisterial 1988 edition, but rather from the 1914 edition of the Great Seal Register:

Thirty-six texts from which data was entered were not printed by Duncan because they appear in full in the Register of the Great Seal. Duncan included a short note for each of these documents at the appropriate chronological point in the series, but gave no details about the people or places in these texts.

Blog post no. 1

It turns out I radically underestimated the number of acts of King Robert in RMS which were not included in RRS, v. The 36 texts mentioned above are based on the short notes that were interspersed between the numbered documents in RRS, v. But Duncan only included short notes for those acts printed in RMS which had a date (even if he did not number them). The only place we find the undated acts of King Robert from the surviving intact charter roll (which Duncan calls Roll IV) and the partial transcripts of the other rolls is printed at the back of RRS, v, in the Index of the Table of the Register. To be fair, Duncan explained this, even if the following is buried on page 268 of his 288-page introduction. Noting that ‘including them all would have extended the volume needlessly’, Duncan stated:

‘The solution has been to separate the register from the numbered series of acts in the present volume and to present it in the following ways: (a) any fully dated act is presented as a very brief note giving the nature of the act (e.g. charter) and the beneficiary, with the date and the reference, and is placed at its correct chronological point, but without RRS number. (b) For any act in RRS which is also in the register, a reference to that registered text is provided. (c) A table of the register, as preserved in the lists of contents of the rolls, here called Indices, with a concordance of duplicate entries and of dates, is provided as the basis of a discussion of the practice of enrolment.’

A.A.M. Duncan, Regesta Regum Scotorum 5 (1988), p. 268.

Even once the reader has found this explanation, it is not necessarily easy to extract from this that there are a substantial number of texts of acts of Robert I printed in RMS, i, which are not noted in the main body of Duncan’s edition. While the Table of the indices makes it immediately obvious that there are 691 indexed acts from the contents of the mostly missing rolls, it takes some deduction to come to the realisation that there are also a number of ‘missing’ full texts, surviving in the charter roll of Robert I.

So, we haven’t really found ‘missing’ charters of Robert I. They have been hiding in plain sight all along. But they have been missing from the PoMS database, and their existence is extremely difficult to discern even from in-depth consultation from RRS, v. We will be adding these texts to the PoMS database soon.

So how many of these ‘missing’ acts are there? Let’s start with Roll IV, the sole surviving charter roll of King Robert, images of which you can see on this website. There are 96 documents on Roll IV (although confusingly RMS calls it Roll 1), including two on the dorse (back side of the membrane). RMS counts these as numbers 1 to 96, while Duncan numbers the 94 from the front side, but doesn’t number the two on the dorse. Of these 96 texts, 21 appear as numbered documents in RRS, v. Of these 21, nine survive in original contemporary single sheets, with a further eight texts surviving in cartularies and other copies. Of the remaining four, three appear in the main sequence only as short summaries from inventories, and the final one is listed among the lost acts.[1] Thus, despite the fact that the full texts of these sources survive in Roll IV, Duncan only printed these inferior summaries. Thus we should only count 17 of Duncan’s RRS, v, acts, given that the other four survive in better condition in Roll IV itself.

Robert charter roll

Yes .... it's 'Roll IV' again. But look at the different scribal hands!
What about the other 75 acts from Roll IV that are not numbered in RRS, v? Of these, a single charter is given an unnumbered note in the main run of Duncan’s edition. This is RMS, i, no. 11, noted on RRS, v, page 450. Another dated act, RMS, i, no. 84, and thus Roll IV, no. 84, is a private act of resignation by Agnes of Mordington, which will not be entered into the PoMS database because it is a post-1314 non-royal charter (COTR is extending the PoMS database to 1371 with the factoids from only royal charters, although in an ideal world we would like to do this). The two documents from the dorse of Roll IV, printed as RMS, i, nos 95 and 96, are also dated but not noted explicitly in Duncan’s edition. This means that, of the 95 royal acts on Roll IV, only 21 have been consulted for the PoMS database at this time (14 Sept. 2018) – the ‘lost act’ (RRS, v, no. 482) having not been entered but the dated act (RMS, i, no. 11) being included. The upshot of all of this is that 77 further texts from the surviving charter roll of Robert I must still be added to the database!

Duncan’s very useful table notes that there were once 21 rolls and one book that we know about through the 17th-century indices and various fragmentary copies. These are printed in Appendix 1 to RMS, i, where there are 109 texts of acts of Robert I. Of these, 36 have been entered into the database already.[2] How many of the remaining 73 texts in this appendix count among the ‘missing’ charters of Robert I will be the subject of my next posting. The Table below lists the documents from Roll IV which are mentioned explicitly by Duncan and thus have already been entered into PoMS.


[1] Note that RMS, i, App. 1, nos 42 and 90 are duplicates (1/53/201); that RMS, i, App. 1, no. 80 is also RRS, v, no. 274; and that RMS, i, App. 1, no. 35 is the same as one of the charters on Roll IV, RMS, i, no. 77.

[2] RRS, v, nos. 95, 105, 233, 482.

Table of Robert I acts from Roll IV already entered in the PoMS database (17/09/18)

Index no. Roll IV no. Roll duplicate? RRS number or page of note H-number
119 5 No. 99 1/53/108
124 10 No. 137 1/53/146
125 11 p. 450 1/53/198
127 13 No. 176 1/53/199
132 18 No. 95 1/53/104
133 19 71 (Roll III) No. 65 or 120 1/53/73 or 129
134 20 No. 123 1/53/132
136 22 No. 105 1/53/114
137 23 No. 88 1/53/97
152 38 No. 128 1/53/137
155 41 No. 59 1/53/67
158 44 No. 90 1/53/99
160 46 No. 67 1/53/75
168 54 218 (Roll V) No. 409 1/53/155
173 59 No. 57 1/53/64
176 62 No. 84 1/53/93
181 67 No. 92 1/53/101
184 70 525 (IX); 87 (III) No. 168 1/53/186
186 72 (= Ra 109) 604 (XV); 665 (XX) No. 51 1/53/58
189 75 669 (XX) No. 85 1/53/94
191 77 (= Ra 35) 223 (V) p. 440 1/53/180
192 78 673 (XX) No. 159 1/53/175
197 83 No. 136 1/53/145
199 85 No. 233 1/53/261