The king’s favour

In the early days of the reign of Henry V, several sanctuary seekers who were somehow connected to the king or at least to his military forces were given special signs of favour. Some were offered pardons so they could fight in the war; in this case the king gave the abjuring felons expensive gowns and hoods.

On 1 July 1413 two men, John Brounyng of Gloucester and John Pygon alias Cheyne of Worcester, took sanctuary at the church of St. James in the Fields (now in Piccadilly). We don’t know why they were together; they each confessed separate felonies to the coroner (Brounyng had killed a man in Herefordshire in 1412; Pygon had recently stolen a horse from a man in Westminster). Judging by other similar cases where two felons end up together in the same church, they had either simply joined forces while they were on the run, or they had been in custody together somewhere, charged with these separate crimes, but had made a gaolbreak/jailbreak. Both abjured the realm before the coroner and were assigned different ports (Brounyng Dover; Pygon Orwell).

TNA, KB 9/993, m. 7

Interestingly – and I don’t think I’ve seen this elsewhere – the coroner’s report indicates that they were also, at the order of the king, given gowns and hoods worth 8s 6d (relatively expensive, seems to me). Henry V had been king for about 3 months at this point; maybe this was a show of royal mercy and magnanimity, or maybe he had a tie to one or both of them.

“per preceptum domini Regis et cetera,” by order of the king. Detail from image above

Medievalsoldier.org tells me there was a John Brounyng who served as an archer in expeditions in Scotland and France in 1400, 1415, and 1418, and the same or another listed as man-at-arms in 1415; if the same as our abjurer, then he had a pardon later. Similarly, there are quite a number of John Pegeon/Pygan/etc. and John Cheynes active in the 1410s, so that may explain the king’s gift. Royal pardons to soldiers useful in the king’s military forces had long been common, so quite possible here.

TNA, KB 9/993, m. 7. Top image: English soldiers at Agincourt, 1415, from Chroniques d’Enguerrand de Monstrelet.

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