On 20 April 1401 William Clerk, a hosier, took sanctuary In St. Saviour’s church in Faversham, Kent. He confessed to the coroner that in December 1400 he had stolen beads (probably a rosary) worth two shillings from Agnes Thomson at Newcastle-upon-Tyne – a very long way away from Faversham! He abjured the realm through Dover.
This was recorded (on fol. 16r) in the Faversham borough custumal, helpfully calendared on TNA Discovery.
Such a record raises as many questions as it answers: Why go all the way to Kent to take sanctuary? Was the theft of a rosary a full account of his felonies, or had he seized upon this for his confession because he didn’t want to reveal something more heinous? Did he actually take a ship into exile – and if he did, what became of him?
Top image: Egmont breviary, Netherlands, Utrecht, ca. 1440, Morgan Library MS M.87 fol. 146r, http://ica.themorgan.org/manuscript/page/106/76967