Homicide and the Canons of Egglestone Abbey

In 1496, three canons and a servant of a Premonstratensian Abbey in Yorkshire, Egglestone Abbey, took sanctuary at Durham after they had an altercation with Richard Appleby of Cotherstone and killed him. It’s not quite clear what was happening here, but it’s worthy of note that a number of Applebys of Cotherstone and region were involved in an all-out feud the following decade for which more Durham sanctuary was sought: they appear not to have been peaceable men.

Appleby and his retinue attacked canons John Wakefeld, Thomas Walkar, and William Hall as they were traveling with their servant Robert Walkar; Robert Walkar struck back with a welsh bill and gave Appleby a mortal wound.

(not premonstratensians, but close?) | Source

Robert Walkar thus sought sanctuary as principal felon, and the three canons as accessories. Though it’s unclear what happened with the prosecution, John Wakefeld at least managed to get out of the charge, as he was elected prior of Egglestone Abbey in 1503.

This is another case where I’d really like to know what was going on: why did Appleby attack them? Why were they traveling with an armed servant – because they anticipated an attack? Or because that was normal, even for religious, in 1496?

SDSB, 27. Top image, Egglestone Abbey (English Heritage).

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