A gentlewoman seeking sanctuary for homicide

This is a rare example of a woman seeking sanctuary for homicide: in September 1480 Robert Beawmont, “litteratus” of Almondbury, Yorkshire, and Elizabeth Beauwmont, gentlewoman of Hedon, Yorkshire, sought asylum at Beverley. The two Beawmonts confessed the killing of Thomas Aldirlay of Almondbury, eleven months before.

Elizabeth Beauwmont is one of only seven women I’ve found between 1400 and 1550 who sought sanctuary for homicide. Why so few? Murder was definitely gendered masculine – but the extreme rarity is hard to explain.

Image

Other Unanswered Questions [UQ]:

UQ1: The two Beauwmonts had the same name, but lived in different places, so they were not married. Mother and son? Siblings?

UQ2: Elizabeth was a gentlewoman–maybe related to the viscounts Beaumont? Or was she more obscure?

UQ3: Robert is termed “litteratus” as his status. This is a vague status designation for circa 1480; perhaps he was a relatively young man potentially headed for priesthood but not there yet?

UQ4: And of course what led these two to kill Thomas Aldirlay? … I haven’t been able to dig up any backstory on that, so let your imagination run wild.

SDSB, 162. Top image Pieter Bruegel source

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