A robber’s miscalculation

On 18 May 1428, John Ledbury, a London joiner, took sanctuary in the church of St. Andrew Undershaft. He confessed to the coroner that together with William Scardeburgh he had robbed a man on the road to Edgware, telling the victim that he was the constable of Edgware and demanding that he hand over his goods and money.

St Andrew Undershaft, London, Photo Elisa Rolle,

The record documents Ledbury’s confession but indicates nothing about his abjuring, so possibly he was trying instead to “turn approver” (crown witness) on Scardeburgh. Ledbury’s accomplice may be the same William Scarburgh who in 1416 had abjured for a homicide near Ware, but (if it was indeed him) he was obviously still in the realm and back to his criminal ways.

The point of “turning approver” was to have the informer’s own sentence remitted, but they were not granted very frequently. In Ledbury’s case it evidently didn’t succeed, as a note by a court official on the memo reads, “he has nothing to say, so he is hanged.”

At bottom: Nichil dicit, ideo suspensus. TNA, KB 9/224, m. 204

TNA, KB 9/224, mm.203-204; KB 9/994, m.35. Top image: http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/175/143938

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