Tally sticks were a form of receipt for government income which originated in the middle ages. Tallies were regularly destroyed over the centuries by the Exchequer which had offices in the Palace of Westminster, but following its abolition in 1826, a large quantity of tallies - some two cartloads - were left behind. It was the decision by the Palace's Clerk of Works to burn them in the furnaces rather than in an open-air bonfire or to give them away as firewood, that led to the fateful fire of 16 October 1834.
Description page 1
From Roger de Boulton of a fine. Lancashire. In the 21st year of King Edward I. Michaelmas, 1293. Amount 1.11.0
From the hamlet of Huntingdon for several transgressions and contempt. Hunts. In the 22nd year of King Edward I. Easter, 1294. Amount £3.6.8
From Ralph, son of Ancher, of two debts. Amount £3.6.8
Medieval Tally Sticks, similar to those that caused the 1834 fire when they were burned
Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/RO/1/195