The death of Geoffrey Jones, member of the king’s household

Aristocratic retainers and servants weren’t part of the civic political community in London, but they often lived there, certainly walked its streets, and killed one another there from time to time. On 7 March 1536 around 8pm, Geoffrey Jones, yeoman, was found dead in Tower Street on the east side of the City of London. He was identified as a member of the king’s household and servant to gentleman usher of the king’s chamber, Henry Parker.

The coroner’s inquest jurors reported that Jones had been attacked by one Henry Andrewes, servant of Sir John Daunce, knight; Andrewes assaulted Jones with a sword, giving him a mortal wound from which he died. Andrewes (the jurors continued) was aided and abetted by another aristocratic retainer, Richard Bayly, servant of Sir Arthur Darcy, knight. After the altercation both Andrewes and Bayly immediately fled to Westminster Abbey for sanctuary.

Who knows if this was a spontaneous quarrel after a night in the pub or part of some broader aristocratic feud. In any case, the wheels of patronage and influence must have started turning fairly quickly. The two accused perpetrators appeared in King’s Bench by July 1536. They pleaded not guilty to the felony and asked for the case to be put to a jury; in the meantime, they were each bailed by their patrons: Sir John Daunce and Sir Arthur Darcy each pledged 100 marks (~£66) that their men would reappear to face trial in due course.

In November 1536, Henry Andrewes did appear and circumvented a trial by presenting a pardon for the murder. This was presumably arranged by Daunce, who had held a host of crown offices from the 1510s and surely knew his way around the system. Sir Arthur Darcy’s servant Bayly, however, skipped bail. Perhaps he or Darcy didn’t want to pony up the money to acquire a pardon. Or maybe Bayly just decided he was tired of the rat race and went off to find a new life. In due course he was outlawed.

TNA, KB, 9/977, mm. 17-18; KB 27/1100, rex m. 3; KB 27/1101, rex m. 1; KB 29/169, m. 14d, 19; L&P, 11:490. Top image source

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