Immigrants and judicial exile

On 17 March 1432, a Dutch scrivener, Bartholomew Bertram – alias John Clerk, alias John Bartram – took sanctuary in St. Magnus’s church (one of medieval London’s largest churches, near London bridge). Bertram confessed to the coroner that he had broken into a London pointmaker’s shop in 1428 and then he abjured the realm; theContinue reading “Immigrants and judicial exile”

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”

An abjurer caught in the realm

Another soldier turned to crime in aftermath of demobilization: on 14 April 1440 John Parker of Elmstone, Kent, soldier, took sanctuary in the church of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate in London (here pictured in mid-16th century Agas map, just outside the city walls) He confessed to the coroner the burglary of Richard Hert’s house atContinue reading “An abjurer caught in the realm”

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”

“A great cross of gold”: Theft of religious objects

On 24 January 1444, William Porter, yeoman of Yorkshire, took sanctuary at the London Charterhouse for a breaking and entering at Barking nunnery, stealing a “great cross of gold” and other church plate. He abjured the realm through the port of Winchelsea. It’s ironic that he committed a theft in one religious house and thenContinue reading ““A great cross of gold”: Theft of religious objects”

Felonious monk

William Lane, a monk at Abingdon Abbey, fled to a church after having been indicted of horse theft. He abjured the realm, but did not actually leave; when he was caught and brought before the king’s justices, he then claimed benefit of clergy. He was delivered into the custody of the bishop of London, whoContinue reading “Felonious monk”

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”

Could a house serve as sanctuary? Hospitallers and asylum in the 15th century

In 1461 a coroner’s inquest was held over the body of William Lyng, found dead in St John’s Street, which led into the priory of St John of Jerusalem, the Hospitaller Knights’ HQ in Clerkenwell. The inquest jurors ruled that Lyng was killed by Vincent Hall, baker and brewer of St John’s Street. Hall wasContinue reading “Could a house serve as sanctuary? Hospitallers and asylum in the 15th century”

Benefit of clergy: another escape from the noose

On 30 December 1465, yeoman John Wynterbourne of Aldbourne Wiltshire took the church of Chipping Lambourne in Berkshire. He confessed to the coroner that on 6 June of that year he had murdered fisherman John Parker in Oxfordshire, near the Thames. After Wynterbourne killed Parker, he dragged his body to the river and threw itContinue reading “Benefit of clergy: another escape from the noose”

“Legit ut clericus”: Benefit of clergy

On the last day of December 1473 John Huchecock of Southwark, yeoman, took sanctuary in the parish church of St George in Southwark. He asked for a coroner to confess his crime. He told the coroner that in March 1470 at Fareham in Hampshire he had attacked an unknown man with a sword, beating andContinue reading ““Legit ut clericus”: Benefit of clergy”