A horse thief uses the new sanctuary system, 1541

The first example I’ve found of a sanctuary seeker explicitly using the new system mandated by the 1540 statute was William Cripps, a fisher from Rye, Sussex. He took sanctuary after stealing a horse at Stratton Audeley, Oxon, in June 1541. Cripps had made his way to Bledlow, Buckinghamshire, presumably on the stolen horse, when something made him dart into the parish church in Bledlow. He called for the coroner, who administered the oath of abjuration and then branded him on his hand.


As the record says, the coroner assigned Cripps, with Cripps’s consent, to the sanctuary city of Norwich. No indication of what happened to him after that. Perhaps he settled in one of these houses in the Norwich sanctuary zone.


TNA, KB 9/550, m. 52; MPI 1/221. Top image P. Bruegel.

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