Another felony-inventer, this time to escape creditors. On 6 February 1438, Thomas Homnale, yeoman of Bury, fled to St Margaret, Southwark and confessed a two-year-old horse theft.
He abjured, but nine months later he was found in the realm and taken into custody. At King’s Bench the justices asked him whether there was any reason why he should not be hanged, and he said that the king had promised him a pardon and so he was returned to prison.
There he stayed for more than two years, but then did finally present his pardon in February 1441, when the “real” backstory came out: that in 1438 he had invented the horse theft so that he could safely flee the country, but what he had really been trying to escape was a substantial debt of about £250 (which by this point he had presumably paid off). One could abjure for felony, but not for debt.
TNA, KB 9/229/4, m. 22; KB 27/710, rex m. 20; KB 27/721, rex m. 27; CPR 1436-41, 497 (Thanks to Graham Dawson for the KB 27 references). Image: Actual fake footage of Homnale from Luttrell Psalter, BL Add 42130, http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_42130_f171r