An exile’s after-story

Here, a rare case where we know what an abjurer did when he went into exile across the Channel. On 4 June 1438, William Roper of Goudhurst, Kent, took sanctuary in the church at Marden after killing one John Sponle in what he described as self-defence. Presumably he thought the circumstance would not give himContinue reading “An exile’s after-story”

Abjuration in the Channel Islands

One day in the mid-1450s, as mariner John de Nermont of Guernsey later recounted, gentleman Simon le Cauf le younger came to him demanding money; John refused, and Simon attacked him. John responded in self-defence, killing Simon. John ran to sanctuary in St. Mary’s church in the king’s castle (Ste-Marie-de-Castel?), and there “he abjured theContinue reading “Abjuration in the Channel Islands”

Durham as a royally-chartered sanctuary

On 22 July 1464 William Hogeson of Fulford, Yorkshire sought sanctuary at Durham Cathedral. Before the constable of Durham, cathedral clergy, and others, he confessed that “in defence of his body” he had killed John Staynton also of Fulford. He sought and was granted “the immunity and liberty of St. Cuthbert,” the patron saint ofContinue reading “Durham as a royally-chartered sanctuary”

Murder with a turf spade

On 12 June 1467, William Laydman of Bowes sought sanctuary at Durham Cathedral. He confessed that nine days before at Moss Sike Head he had mortally wounded John Williamson, also of Bowes, with a turf spade. He said that he did this “against his will and in defence of his body,” a frequent refrain inContinue reading “Murder with a turf spade”

Another ‘self-defence’ homicide seeker at Durham

In October 1479, Gilbert Heg of Lambeth, Surrey, assaulted a constable, presumably in Lambeth. He struck him with a dagger known as a wynyard, wounding him in the chest. Gilbert claimed that he did this in self-defence. Five days after their encounter the constable died – and so Gilbert was on the hook for homicide.Continue reading “Another ‘self-defence’ homicide seeker at Durham”

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”

Insult and murder in Staffordshire

In July 1502, Nicholas Stonewall, a husbandman of Longdon, Staffordshire, confronted his neighbour Robert Wright for having called Stonewall’s father a “carlabundum,” a bound churl or serf. That started a quarrel. Stonewall assaulted Wright and Wright struck back, killing Stonewall. The inquest jury might have recounted the fight to put the blame square on Wright:Continue reading “Insult and murder in Staffordshire”

Feud in Teesdale

Eight men from villages in Teesdale – six of them with the surname Appleby – sought sanctuary at Durham Cathedral for two different homicides in 1505. This seems to have a spiralling feud of some sort; it may have had a prelude in 1496 involving canons from a Premonstratensian abbey. In March 1505 John, Thomas,Continue reading “Feud in Teesdale”

Cornered in the York Minster churchyard

In mid-April 1518 at five in the afternoon, William Stokall of York attacked William Rygg alias Scaff, a yeoman also of York, in the churchyard of York Minster. In order to defend himself, Rygg struck back, killing Stokall. In describing the circumstances of the killing, the coroner’s inquest gave the standard self-defence narrative of beingContinue reading “Cornered in the York Minster churchyard”

“In defence of his own body”: a killing in Lincolnshire

In May 1518, John Watson of Swineshead, Lincolnshire, was minding his own business near the town of Stamford when two unknown men attacked him. He struck back “in defence of his own body” with a sword (which he conveniently enough happened to have on him), and wounded his assailants in many parts of their bodies.Continue reading ““In defence of his own body”: a killing in Lincolnshire”