A pesky bit of youthful murder

One October afternoon in 1534, two lawyers fell into a quarrel. Both were at Barnard’s Inn (one of the “law inns,” where common lawyers received their training), and they may have been students. John Margettes, an Irishman, mortally wounded John Yaxley, stabbing him in the stomach. Margettes immediately fled to Westminster Abbey. This allowed him to shelter from an appeal (private prosecution) of murder brought by Yaxley’s brother and heir Richard. For at least five years Richard Yaxley repeatedly came to court for the suit but Margettes could not be arrested.

It’s not clear if Margettes remained in Westminster that whole time, or if he escaped back home to Ireland. He was certainly in Dublin in 1544, when he was granted a government office there.

Small problem, though: in 1544 he still had the murder indictment over his head. Perhaps someone noticed when he was given the crown appointment and he decided to do something about it. He received a pardon for the homicide in 1546.

If that pesky murder charge caused Margettes a bit of trouble in the mid-1540s, it didn’t do him any particular harm in the long run, as he still had the same post in Dublin in 1551.

TNA, KB 9/531, mm 54-55; KB 27/1113, m 44d; Baker, Men of Court, 1059, 1731; L&P, 21/2:235. Top image source

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