Taking “the privilege of St John’s at Paris Garden”

In 1484, Agnes Curteys submitted two petitions to the Chancellor complaining that she had been so harassed by lawsuits for debt that she’d been forced to “take the privilege of St John’s at Paris Garden” in Surrey across the Thames from London.

Paris Garden. Source

Paris Garden was a somewhat odd sanctuary – it was a manor of the Hospitaller Order. I wrote about it here. Agnes Curteys fled there when a Southwark bailiff sued her vexatiously (or so she said) in the manor court at Bermondsey. Curteys was forced to stay at Paris Garden “in great poverty, and dare not go at her liberty but secretly at this time to sue to your good grace for her remedy.”


My eye was caught long ago by this petition because Agnes Curteys shares a name with a woman I wrote an article about. In the end I had to conclude that this Agnes Curteys in sanctuary was not the same as the one I had followed through two troubled marriages. It would have been very interesting for the other Agnes Curteys to have been in sanctuary in 1484 – but she was not named Agnes Curteys (her second married name) until she married Piers Curteys in 1487. (Coincidentally, Piers Curteys was himself a sanctuary seeker in 1485.)

I know only a bit more about this particular Agnes Curteys: tantalizingly, one of the details is that she was sued as a surety (loan guarantor) for one Everard Orwyche, then overseas, so she was answerable for his debt (or so plaintiff said).

TNA, C 1/37/8

She denied that she had ever stood as Orwyche’s surety. No indication in the petitions of her marital status. Interesting that she could have served as surety. In any case, hope she was able to solve her problem.

TNA, C 1/64/120; C 1/37/8. Top image British Library

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