Self-defence with bow-and-arrow

Robert Person, a carpenter from Barnard Castle, county Durham, sought sanctuary at Durham Cathedral on 2 February 1480 because four years before at Haldworth near Halifax, Yorkshire, he shot an arrow at Thomas Ferrour. Person claimed self-defence. I guess the idea was that Ferrour attacked, and somehow Person whipped out his bow and could getContinue reading “Self-defence with bow-and-arrow”

Sanctuary Seekers: The erroneous geography episode

On 7 February 1485 Richard Perpound of “Chipstede,” Essex [there is a Chipstead in Surrey, but I can’t find one in Essex…?] sought sanctuary at Durham Cathedral. He confessed to the registrar that near Ipswich in the county of “Nothfolch,” he had stabbed gentleman Robert Hause on the arm with a wood knife. Ipswich isContinue reading “Sanctuary Seekers: The erroneous geography episode”

Murdering the parish priest

In 1486, a gentleman of the village of Wycliffe in county Durham, James Manfeeld, together with a number of other men, attacked the parish priest of Wycliffe, Roland Mebburn. Manfeeld struck Mebburn with a welsh bill – a very frightening agricultural tool/weapon -and killed him. A month later, on 25 February 1486, Manfeeld appeared atContinue reading “Murdering the parish priest”

Ringing the bells at Durham cathedral

Robert Lonysdale and Christopher Lyndesey of Dent (then Yorkshire, now Cumbria), arrived at Durham Cathedral in mid-July 1486, rang the bells, and sought sanctuary for a decade-old homicide. They told the cathedral’s registrar that in November 1476 or 1477 they had quarrelled with Laurence Falshed at the manor of Howgill in Dent. One or bothContinue reading “Ringing the bells at Durham cathedral”

A murder in Allendale

Another Durham case where something must have come up to prompt two brothers to run to sanctuary for a homicide they’d committed more than eighteen years before. In August 1488, Richard Hawden, a husbandman of Whickham, county Durham, sought sanctuary. He told the cathedral registrar that around 1470, he and his three brothers quarrelled withContinue reading “A murder in Allendale”

Ambiguities of sanctuary

Another Durham case with interesting evidence about the ambiguities of sanctuary – how permissible was it to help a felon escape to asylum? Was it an act of Christian charity, or accessory to felony? In August 1484, John Hudson, a shoemaker of Ripon, came to Durham because a week before he and others had assaultedContinue reading “Ambiguities of sanctuary”

Toxic masculinity medieval-style

The Durham sanctuary register records that on 27 November 1491 John Joy of Amcotts, Lincs, sought asylum. As he explained, he’d been indicted for the murder of John Portyngton of Amcotts, but he wasn’t guilty. … Or, well, maybe he was a bit guilty: he hadn’t been present when other men had killed Portyngton, butContinue reading “Toxic masculinity medieval-style”

Prosecuting crime in the Durham palatinate

In 1492 Robert Atkynson of Nether Crosby, Cumbria, sought sanctuary because a month before he’d killed William Skoloke at Warwick Bridge. Atkynson’s garden-variety request for sanctuary had a couple of interesting diversions from the ordinary. His case hints at a relationship between the administration of the Durham sanctuary and the system of criminal prosecution inContinue reading “Prosecuting crime in the Durham palatinate”

Struck by a Scottish axe

Betrayal from within the household in 15th century Newcastle: in August 1493, Robert Grene of South Shields was in Newcastle, “in a lane called the Close” (down by the Tyne), when Robert Nicholson attacked him. Nicholson, from Winlaton on the other side of Newcastle, had been part of Grene’s own household in South Shields untilContinue reading “Struck by a Scottish axe”

Reasonable and unreasonable force

Two Yorkshire brothers—one a law-enforcement officer—fled to the sanctuary at Durham Cathedral when an arrest went wrong. Then, as now, the line between allowable and unreasonable force in arrests was controversial. In May 1495, Christopher Easby of Ripon took along his brother William when he went to arrest John Dixson for an unspecified offence. DixsonContinue reading “Reasonable and unreasonable force”