An exile’s after-story

Here, a rare case where we know what an abjurer did when he went into exile across the Channel. On 4 June 1438, William Roper of Goudhurst, Kent, took sanctuary in the church at Marden after killing one John Sponle in what he described as self-defence.


Presumably he thought the circumstance would not give him a self-defence verdict at trial, so he abjured the realm and crossed to Normandy. There he became a soldier in the English army – a bit odd, not exactly “exile” as he was still under king’s rule. But work is work, and it presumably served him in good stead when he asked for a pardon in 1444, which was granted to him. There are several William Ropers in the Medieval Soldier database; one of them may be him.

CPR 1441-46, 313. Top image:

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