Welsh swords for hire

On 14 April 1474 William Forster alias William Launder sought sanctuary in the church of St Clement Danes, west of London. The coroner’s memo of the abjuration is unusual: it was written in the first person, from the point of view of the abjurer. Forster identified himself as a yeoman of London but also ofContinue reading “Welsh swords for hire”

Getting away with murder

On 20 February 1478, gentleman George Gray of London took sanctuary at the parish church of All Saints, Marsworth, Buckinghamshire. Gray confessed to the coroner that more than a year before he had killed one John Skynner with his dagger in the parish of St Martin in the Fields – which was, indeed, then inContinue reading “Getting away with murder”

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”

A petty thief hanged

On 4 April 1481, Richard Aleyn, yeoman of Wimborne Minster, Dorset, took sanctuary in Winchester Cathedral: his is an all-too-typical story of what seems outsized consequences for small-scale theft. Aleyn confessed to the coroner that a week before he’d broken into John North’s house at Gulford in Wiltshire and stolen 12 yards of woolen cloth,Continue reading “A petty thief hanged”

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”

Ordinary life in political chaos

In the midst of political chaos, ordinary and unconnected crises in people’s lives continued. On 12 June 1483, a sawyer from London named John Stokes took sanctuary at the parish church of St. Mary in Reading. Mid-June 1483 was a time of high drama in England: Stokes sought sanctuary just as Richard, duke of Gloucester,Continue reading “Ordinary life in political chaos”

Murder and horse theft, 1483

William Savage, a skinner of Sandwich, Kent, took refuge at St Botolph without Aldgate in London on 23 September 1484. Savage confessed to the coroner that on 12 April 1483 at Winchester, he killed chapman John Brande and stole his horse. This is maybe irrelevant, but he committed this crime only three days after EdwardContinue reading “Murder and horse theft, 1483”

Abjurer found in the realm, 1486

In July 1485 John Walworth, yeoman of Weston, Northants, assaulted Hugh Peke at Clifton in Nottinghamshire, killing him. Six months later, Walworth took asylum at the parish church of St. Andrew in Kingston, Cambridgeshire. Walworth abjured the realm, but by the fall of 1486 he had been found in London: probably he hoped the anonymityContinue reading “Abjurer found in the realm, 1486”

A Herefordshire murder

Thomas White, yeoman of Clehonger, Herefordshire, sought sanctuary in the church of All Hallows London Wall on 19 March 1486. He confessed to murder. White told the coroner that on 26 December 1482 he attacked John Corter, another yeoman of Clehonger, with a staff, killing him. White apparently got away with this for more thanContinue reading “A Herefordshire murder”

A Suffolk mercer goes wild

On 20 August 1487, John Boole, mercer of Westhorpe, Suffolk, took sanctuary in his own parish church. He confessed robberies, thefts, and a murder. About eight months before, Boole and his partner in crime, John Herward, a tailor of Beltham, Essex, had robbed a man at Holkham Market in Norfolk, stealing cloth and various otherContinue reading “A Suffolk mercer goes wild”