Murder outside a Stewside brothel

On 23 March 1444 a Norwich skinner named John Spaldyng was visiting a brothel in Stewside – the red-candle district on the south bank across from London – when he fell into a quarrel with one John Salman. Spaldyng stabbed Salman with a dagger and then dumped his body into the Thames. About five weeks later – perhaps after the body had shown up and been linked to him – Spaldyng sought sanctuary at St Saviour’s church in Bermondsey and abjured the realm.

Glasgow University Library, MS Hunter 371,

The coroner send him on his way to Orwell in Suffolk to take a boat into exile, but only two days afterwards Spaldyng was in court. Perhaps he was simply arrested again because he deviated from the straight road to the port he was supposed to take, but the short timeline suggests instead that Spaldying decided to try another mitigation instead of abjuration: at King’s Bench he successfully pleaded benefit of clergy and was send to ecclesiastical authorities for punishment.

For more on the Stewside neighbourhood of brothels, see this Sanctuary Seekers post and Hannes Kleineke’s post on the History of Parliament site, “Sex (almost) in the City.”

TNA, KB 9/245, m. 83; KB 27/732, rex m. 6. Thanks to Graham Dawson again for Surrey KB 27 references.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: