“The white hare should drive the white greyhound into the root of an oak”: Prophecies and mitigations

Thomas Cheselet was an operator who knew his way around mitigations – and a dab hand at treasonous prophecies. The tale starts in 1519 when Cheselet, a tailor of Mere, Wiltshire, took sanctuary at the Dominican priory at Fisherton Anger. He asked for the coroner, confessing to him that earlier that year he had stolenContinue reading ““The white hare should drive the white greyhound into the root of an oak”: Prophecies and mitigations”

Murder on the Thames: John and Alice Wolfe

In mid-July 1533, Cologne merchant and gunpowder-maker John Wolfe and his wife Alice Wolfe led a group of co-conspirators in the heinous murder of two Italian merchants on a boat in the Thames. The home base for their elaborate plot was the sanctuary precinct at Westminster: John Wolfe was registered there as a debtor andContinue reading “Murder on the Thames: John and Alice Wolfe”

Rubbing Cromwell the wrong way

This sanctuary seeker seems to have been another felon who rubbed Cromwell the wrong way, and was not fortunate enough to successfully use Westminster’s asylum to gain time to organize a pardon. In February 1539 a London yeoman named George Brewce was tried for burglary in Colchester. He claimed benefit of clergy in an attemptContinue reading “Rubbing Cromwell the wrong way”

Sanctuary in the reign of Mary I

There were few seekers in the 1540s – and I’ve found none at all in the short reign of Edward VI. In theory sanctuary was still operating in the sanctuary cities and parliament tweaked the legislation twice, suggesting it was being used. But no actual records of cases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, there was a smallContinue reading “Sanctuary in the reign of Mary I”

Escape from the Tower

On 29 July 1557 Henry Machyn wrote in his diary that the constable of the Tower of London went to Westminster sanctuary to take “one Waxham” into custody. Waxham, Machyn said, had earlier broken out of the Tower and run to sanctuary. Machyn’s diary entry matches with the minutes of the Privy Council regarding oneContinue reading “Escape from the Tower”