Double robbery and a hanging

Another abjurer found in the realm: in July 1406, John Sutton of Kingston-on-Thames took sanctuary in the church of St. Margaret in Merrow, Surrey. He confessed to the coroner that four days before he had robbed an unknown man on the highway between Kingston and Wandsworth, stealing five shillings; and that on the same dayContinue reading “Double robbery and a hanging”

Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies

In 1399, Henry of Derby overthrew his cousin, King Richard II, to seize the English throne, having himself crowned as Henry IV. Though Richard was probably murdered soon after the coup at the orders of his cousin, his death was concealed and rumours circulated through Henry IV’s reign (1399-1413) and into that of his son,Continue reading “Undead kings and treasonous conspiracies”

The multiple mitigation man

Some medieval felons used every escape hatch — also known as mitigations — available to them. Often they started with sanctuary. In a 1423 case, the sanctuary seeker moved on to grassing up his mates before claiming the benefit of clergy. Third time was the charm. In April 1423, John Digelot, a yeoman of HolmburyContinue reading “The multiple mitigation man”

Another fake confession

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 reasonContinue reading “Another fake confession”

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 weeksContinue reading “Murder outside a Stewside brothel”

Bagpipes and cheese: an unsuccessful burglary

Who amongst us has not had the urge to steal a set of bagpipes and eight large cheeses? Basic party kit, as presumably John Esteneys, a weaver from Southwark, thought when he broke into two houses in Walton on Thames in 1451 to steal those items. The party apparently went wrong, however, and on 28Continue reading “Bagpipes and cheese: an unsuccessful burglary”

What was he thinking?

Here’s an odd case. Richard Wode, mercer of Worcester, took sanctuary at St. Mary’s in Newington, Surrey, in 1460. He confessed to the coroner that he had stolen a horse from Angelo Spynell, merchant of Genoa, at Southampton. The coroner asked if he wanted to abjure the realm, but Wode said he would instead stayContinue reading “What was he thinking?”

The failed sanctuary at Paris Garden

Here, a more or less failed sanctuary — some caught on, some didn’t. On 1 May 1468, Thomas Huntley paid 6d to be admitted to sanctuary in the manor of Paris Garden located on the south bank of the Thames, now at the foot of Blackfriars Bridge. The manor of Paris Garden belonged to theContinue reading “The failed sanctuary at Paris Garden”

An abjurer found in the realm

At the end of March 1480 John Bere, a cutler from Bristol, took sanctuary at the parish church at Water Lambeth, Surrey, across the Thames from Westminster. Bere confessed to the coroner that more than three years before, just before Christmas 1476, he had murdered a certain Richard Hylles at Sampford Peverell, Devon. He choseContinue reading “An abjurer found in the realm”

Last-minute reprieve

Here’s a drama! On 28 April 1481 Geoffrey Gwynnyth, yeoman of London, took sanctuary in St George’s church in Southwark, confessing to the coroner that he had stabbed John Sander at Tottenham in 1478, killing him. Gwynnyth abjured the realm, and was to leave by Dover; a week later, however, he had been found inContinue reading “Last-minute reprieve”