The Conundrum of the Missing Women Sanctuary Seekers

As I discuss in several of these posts, very few women sought sanctuary in English churches and religious houses in the late Middle Ages: my research has uncovered that women constituted about 1% of felons and about 1.6% of all sanctuary seekers. Seekers of all kinds Felons Female Seekers 30 (1.63%) 15 (1.01%) Male SeekersContinue reading “The Conundrum of the Missing Women Sanctuary Seekers”

Quarrel over a “frowe”

On 30 November 1394, after sundown, three men were amongst a large group drinking in the King’s Head tavern in St Magnus’s parish near London bridge. Two, Herman Stokfyssh and Nicholas Clarebount, were ‘Doche’, a word late medieval English people applied to anyone coming from the lower Rhineland area that now includes the Netherlands, Belgium,Continue reading “Quarrel over a “frowe””

All about abjuration

Coroners’ rolls through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries recorded many sanctuary seekers taking refuge in churches and then abjuring the realm. The coroner’s roll for Leicestershire, 1393-1413, for instance, records that John Middleton of Yorkshire fled to the church of St. John the Baptist at Dalby on the Wolds on 1 June 1400, confessing theft.Continue reading “All about abjuration”

Robbery at Charing Cross

A coroner’s memorandum records that on 5 November 1395 Richard Bone of London took sanctuary at St. Stephen’s church within the palace at Westminster. He confessed to the coroner that in September 1392 he had robbed a man on horseback of 20d [pence, i.e. 1 shilling] in money at Charing Cross. When someone took sanctuaryContinue reading “Robbery at Charing Cross”

Missing the target

A Middlesex jury charged with giving information on local crimes reported to the court that on 29 June 1399 a hosteler (innkeeper) of Clerkenwell, Thomas Redyng, hired Robert Stanwardyn to kill Robert de Malteby of London, a bladesmith. Stanwardyn missed his target and instead killed Malteby’s servant Nicholas Roper. Afterwards Redyng and his wife ElizabethContinue reading “Missing the target”

Pardon for a “travelynggeman”

A coroner’s memorandum records that on 30 April 1397 at the church of St. Martin Outwich in London, John Stokes, “Travelynggeman*, ” took sanctuary. When the coroner appeared, he confessing that he had killed Nicholas Wodyngton, esquire, with a poleaxe, in the midst of an argument. There’s also a second record of the same homicide,Continue reading “Pardon for a “travelynggeman””

Abjurers who don’t leave the realm

According to a coroner’s memorandum written at Cowley, Middlesex on 8 November 1400, the villagers of Cowley had arrested one John Smyth of Colham, Middlesex, for felony and imprisoned him, but Smyth escaped and fled to the Cowley parish church. In the church Smyth confessed to the coroner that he had assaulted and killed aContinue reading “Abjurers who don’t leave the realm”

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”

Mysterious pardons and time machines

Although some seekers, such as John Sutton, were hanged when found in the realm after abjuration, that was not always the outcome: on 1 Dec. 1405, Alexander Copeman was pardoned by the king not only for all his felonies but also for “being in the realm without licence” after abjuration. I’m not sure what exactlyContinue reading “Mysterious pardons and time machines”

Escape from sanctuary

On 23 March 1405, William Holt, esquire, of Sussex took sanctuary in the church of St. Martin in the Fields (now on Trafalgar Square). He confessed to the coroner that he was an accessory to a decade-old homicide. The coroner, however, was suspicious about the long time lag: he thought Holt had already abjured forContinue reading “Escape from sanctuary”