The Court of Augmentations
was established during the reign of King Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...
along with three lesser courts (those of General Surveyors
The Court of General Surveyors was established during the reign of King Henry VIII of England, along with three other courts following the dissolution of the monasteries...
, First Fruit and Tenths
-First Fruits and Tenths:First Fruits and Tenths was a form of tax on clergy taking up a benefice or ecclesiastical position in Great Britain. The Court of First Fruits and Tenths was established in 1540 to collect from clerical benefices certain monies that had previously been sent to Rome...
, and Wards and Liveries
The Court of Wards and Liveries was a court established during the reign of Henry VIII in England. Its purpose was to administer a system of feudal dues; but as well as the revenue collection, the court was also responsible for wardship and livery issues....
) following the dissolution of the monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...
. Its primary function was to gain better control over the land and finances formerly held by the Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...
in the kingdom. It was incorporated into the Exchequer in 1554 as the augmentation office
History and structure
The Court of Augmentations was one of a number of financial courts established during Henry's reign. It was founded in 1536 to administer monastic properties and revenues confiscated by the crown at the dissolution of the monasteries. The court had its own chancellor, treasurer, lawyers, receivers and auditors.
In 1547, the Court of Augmentations was amalgamated with the Court of General Surveyors, which had been established in 1542 to administer crown lands. In 1554, the roles of the Courts of
Augmentations, General Surveyors, and First Fruits and Tenths were taken over by the Exchequer.
In 1536, religious establishments with annual incomes of less than £200 per annum were
dissolved. The attention of Henry and his chief minister Thomas Cromwell turned to the friaries in 1537, and thereafter to the rest of the religious houses. By 1540, they had all gone, the last to fall being Waltham Abbey
The Abbey Church of Waltham Abbey has been a place of worship since at least 1030, and is in the town of Waltham Abbey, Essex, England. The Prime Meridian passes through its grounds. Harold Godwinson is said to be buried just outside the present abbey...
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...
. Their lands, properties and incomes went to the Crown.
Some of the monastic buildings remained in religious use - Henry allowed some monasteries to
be refounded as secular cathedrals served by dean and chapter instead of priors and monks, and in rare cases the church buildings, or parts of them, were bought by locals to act as the
parish church. Generally, however, the properties and lands were simply sold off to wealthy lay people, with the Court of Augmentations set up to deal with the spoils.
On the annexation of the court of augmentations to the Exchequer in 1554, the twelve receiverships of land revenues of the counties of England and Wales in the employment of the former were incorporated in the latter.
Until the Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...
in 1660, appointments were made by the crown by letters patent under the great seal. Unless otherwise indicated these were for life. While in some cases this practice was followed into the eighteenth century, appointments were increasingly made by other means, for example by letters patent under the seal of the exchequer, by the treasury, the chancellor of the exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...
Procedures for sale of property
Particulars for the sale of a property that came to the Crown at the dissolution of the monasteries were produced by the auditors (who were appraisers) of the Court of Augmentations of the King's Revenue, created in 1536. The particulars would be produced in response to a warrant from the commissioners for the sale of Crown lands. A prospective purchaser of Crown land would return with the auditor's signed particular and have it rated (or reviewed and approved, sometimes with modifications) by the commissioners. The details of the rated particular would form the basis for the warrant authorizing the purchase. Particulars were usually prepared for the actual purchaser of the land. They described the nature of the land, its value, the purchase price and any restrictions on the sale.