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, https://www.gla.ac.uk/myglasgow/library/files/special/images/chaucer/H371_0109r.jpg

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. The short timeline suggests that rather than being caught off the straight road he should have taken into exile, Spaldying perhaps 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.

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