Cattle theft and homicide

One April day in 1490, John Abrey of Wendlebury, Oxfordshire, was crossing the king’s road when he saw a husbandman named John Carteworth leading away three of his (Abrey’s) cows from the common field.

Abrey tried to stop him and the quarrel became violent. Carteworth pierced Abrey’s head with a pitchfork, giving Abrey a head wound from which he died five days later. Meanwhile Carteworth fled to nearby Bicester priory, a house of Augustinian canons.


We don’t have a record of abjuration for Carteworth, and it’s unclear whether he was seeking permanent sanctuary there (as at monasteries like Westminster), or asylum prior to abjuration of the realm. We don’t have any other evidence for sanctuary-seeking at Bicester.

It’s also not clear what became of Carteworth: he was outlawed twice (just because there were two different indictments for the homicide floating around) and probably just disappeared.

TNA, KB 9/387, m. 60; KB 9/393, m. 5; KB 29/121, m. 1d; KB 29/122, m. 17. Top image, Morgan library (source).

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