Pardoned decades later

A curious case featuring Westminster gentlemen who seems to have committed a series of attacks on foreigners (or strangers, as the contemporary term was) in 1491, one ending in death.

First, in mid-September 1491, William Bartholomew, Westminster gentleman, together with John Bartholomew, also gentleman of Westminster (some relation, presumably) and William Chawcey, gentleman, attacked two men named as Allonsius Delatours and Allonsius Sysners, at Tottenham.


Then later in September William Bartholomew and a slightly different crew attacked Henry Fitzherbert between Westminster and London; Fitzherbert was English judging by his name. The indictments indicate that none of these victims died, so this was assault, not felony.


A third incident occurred a few days after Christmas: in that case, William Bartholomew, together with his groom, Robert Besseley, attacked and killed Fernando de Molina at Westminster by stabbing him in the chest. That was obviously murder.


After that attack, the coroner’s inquest jurors said, Bartholomew and Besseley fled to sanctuary at St Martin le Grand in London. Besseley’s fate following that is a bit more straightforward than Bartholomew’s: he was outlawed in 1493 and we don’t hear of him again.

William Bartholomew, on the other hand, turned up in court 20 years later, in 1512, and presented a pardon for all these offences. His relative John Bartholomew showed up even later, in 1521 (30 years on!), also to claim a pardon for his part in the earlier assaults.

Where were they in the meantime? Well, that’s a mystery, though a reasonable guess is that they weren’t in the country. That made me think that perhaps the Bartholomews – prone to attacking foreigners in 1491 – were themselves strangers. Hard to say: their name is ambiguous.

TNA, KB 9/393, m 22; KB 9/394, mm 19-20; KB 29/122, m. 16d, 20d; KB 27/1004, rex m 12.

Top image: Source

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