Violence in Croydon, 1523

In 1523, William Wyld, a landlord in Croydon, employed local labourer Nicholas Drakes as his rent-collector. On 10 November around 9 in the morning, Drakes showed up at the door of the Storer family. The Storers’ rent was overdue and Drakes asked the household head, William Storer the elder, to pay up. Storer refused, Drakes threatened, and it turned nasty.

According to a later report, William Storer the elder and his wife Agnes attacked Drakes; joining in were their son and daughter-in-law, William Storer the younger and Agnes the younger, along with another man, William Gromell.

Drakes had come armed and likely with other men – and a full-scale brawl ensued. In the fray, Drakes hit Agnes senior in the chest and the hedge bill, injuring her badly. She died four days later. (This is, by the way, a rare early 16th-century English example of a woman killed in a brawl.)

The coroner’s inquest report hints at, though does not make explicit, a self-defence scenario for Drakes, but nonetheless he fled from the scene to sanctuary at Westminster. The last we hear of him is that he was outlawed in June 1525.

TNA, KB 9/495, m. 137; KB 29/156, m. 17. Top image P. Bruegel.

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