Sanctuary at a deer park?

This is another case of a liberty, this time a royal one, claimed as a sanctuary. In 1493, coroner’s inquest jurors found that John Boteler, a bowyer of Lincoln, had stabbed and killed William Thomas.

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After the incident, the jurors reported, Boteler fled for the murder to “the franchise of Beaumontrent.” I’ve tentatively identified this as Beaumont-Leys, Leicestershire, an extra-parochial liberty. Here’s an image of beautiful Beaumont Leys today.

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Until 1482, Beaumont-Leys had been a Hospitaller property, but in 1482 it was traded to the crown and made into a royal deer park, which it remained until 1526. (VCH Leics., 4:447-456) A decade on, maybe the former tie to the Hospitallers led Boteler and/or the jurors to believe that it could serve as a shelter for felons. But it’s really unlikely that the king would want his deer park used for this purpose.

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It wasn’t tested in court, as Boteler disappeared after he ran to the liberty, but it’s very unlikely a sanctuary plea for this property would have succeeded. It worked for him in the short term, though, and that was likely all he cared about. He was outlawed in 1496.

TNA, KB 9/397, m. 23; KB 29/123, m. 15d. Top image, BNF/Gallica. Source

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