Murder in Staffordshire, 1496

On 27 April 1496 at Alrewas, Staffordshire, a coroner’s inquest was held over the body of John Hunt. Jurors reported that seven men–artisans of different trades in nearby Lichfield–had murdered him and then run to sanctuary.

The seven men were a baker, a dyer, a draper, a fletcher, a tallowchandler, and two pewterers. According to the inquest jurors, they had lain in wait near Hunt’s house and then attacked and killed him with swords, daggers, and bows and arrows.


A frustration with these records is the complete lack of back-story: we don’t know Hunt’s occupation, and we’re given no clues as to why these seven Lichfield artisans would have traveled to Alrewas to kill him. Another mystery Wikipedia solved for me: it’s pronounced all-re-was.

After the killing, the seven Lichfield men ran back to Lichfield (nice 10k run) and took sanctuary at the Franciscan friary there. With friaries, it’s often not clear if this is temporary asylum before abjuration, or a claim of permanent sanctuary.


All we know about their subsequent fate is that they were all outlawed by fall 1497, so it appears that in any case sanctuary worked for them to escape immediate arrest and then prosecution.

TNA, KB 9/410, m. 90; KB 29/127, m. 1. Top image, P. Bruegel, source.

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