The Savage case and sanctuary in the 1510s

The case of John Savage is one of the most famous of English sanctuary cases, about which some of the most influential scholarship on the subject has been written. I would argue, however, that the Savage case has been misinterpreted and its significance overstated. Nonetheless it reveals a lot about what was happening with sanctuaryContinue reading “The Savage case and sanctuary in the 1510s”

Another Savage sanctuary seeker

In 1518, about two years after the assassination of John Pauncefote by the two Sir John Savages and their retinue, one of those retainers, Anthony Savage, took sanctuary as an accessory at Durham Cathedral. Anthony Savage was named in the private prosecution of the homicide by Pauncefote’s widow; it’s unclear why it took him untilContinue reading “Another Savage sanctuary seeker”

The Southwell-Pennington feud

On 20 April 1532, near the king’s palace at Westminster, two gentlemen, Richard Southwell, esquire, and Sir William Pennington, faced one another in a sword fight, a quarrel that ended in Pennington’s death. The slaying came at a sensitive time in Henry VIII’s reign: much attention was focused that spring on ‘the King’s Great Matter’,Continue reading “The Southwell-Pennington feud”

A serjeant of the mace slain

On 4 March 1533, John Ode alias Wode, serjeant of the mace (one of the London sheriffs’ officers) had an altercation with George Cornwall, a young Hereford gentleman known for his unruly life. Though the records don’t say so, it seems quite likely that their quarrel had something to do with Ode’s job, which includedContinue reading “A serjeant of the mace slain”

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap: Humphrey Eye runs to Bewdley

Violence was a vital tool for male aristocrats in the reign of Henry VIII; presumably not all gentlemen and noblemen assassinated their enemies at the drop of a hat, but the records of criminal prosecution show that some not only did so but did it with impunity. Much of the time the high-status men whoContinue reading “Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap: Humphrey Eye runs to Bewdley”

The death of Geoffrey Jones, member of the king’s household

Aristocratic retainers and servants weren’t part of the civic political community in London, but they often lived there, certainly walked its streets, and killed one another there from time to time. On 7 March 1536 around 8pm, Geoffrey Jones, yeoman, was found dead in Tower Street on the east side of the City of London.Continue reading “The death of Geoffrey Jones, member of the king’s household”

Gentry feuds, highway robbery, mistaken identity

In 1537, yeoman Thomas Foteman was among thirty-one men accused in the death of William Jackson in Gloucestershire. Foteman was a retainer of Sir John Brydges, later 1st Baron Chandos, career soldier and man of “intense personality,” as his ODNB biographer put it. Brydges was evidently feuding with another aristocrat, Sir John Huddleston, who’d hadContinue reading “Gentry feuds, highway robbery, mistaken identity”

Cheshire feuds

Cheshire was a hotbed of violent gentry rivalries. The violence wasn’t confined to Cheshire itself: in 1539, two killings occurred in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The first: on 10 February 1539, a coroner’s inquest was held over the body of gentleman Richard Cholmeley of Cheshire, who lay “feloniously murdered” near StContinue reading “Cheshire feuds”

Henry Machyn, George Darcy, and sanctuary in the 1550s

Much of our (scant) knowledge of sanctuary at Westminster Abbey during the reign of Mary I comes from the diary of London citizen Henry Machyn, who recorded notable events in his tumultuous lifetime. Machyn had several entries related to a gentry feud in far-away Yorkshire between the West and Darcy families. First, on 25 MayContinue reading “Henry Machyn, George Darcy, and sanctuary in the 1550s”