Violence in Croydon, 1523

In 1523, William Wyld, a landlord in Croydon, employed local labourer Nicholas Drakes as his rent-collector. On 10 November around 9 in the morning, Drakes showed up at the door of the Storer family. The Storers’ rent was overdue and Drakes asked the household head, William Storer the elder, to pay up. Storer refused, DrakesContinue reading “Violence in Croydon, 1523”

Two sides to a story

In late August 1524, two husbandmen of Worth in Kent quarrelled, and one ended up dead. Two different versions of this homicide were presented in court when the case came up for trial: one laying guilt on the perpetrator, the other on the victim. When a coroner’s inquest was convened over the body of EdwardContinue reading “Two sides to a story”

Poaching in the king’s deer park

Though we often think of deer-poaching as a medieval thing, Henry VIII still kept deer parks where only he and his companions could hunt. In 1526, an altercation between the king’s gamekeeper and a poacher ended in the poacher’s death. One day in late May, yeoman Thomas Otefeld of Narborough, Leicestershire, entered the Chase ofContinue reading “Poaching in the king’s deer park”

Death of a tinker

A 1526 coroner’s inquest jury reported that Stafford dyer John Ithel had been minding his own business in the suburb of Forebridge when tinker Gilbert Hethe attacked him. Ithell struck back (the jurors said) in self-defence. Immediately after their encounter, as Hethe hung between life and death from the wound Ithell had inflicted on him,Continue reading “Death of a tinker”

Cop takes sanctuary, London 1528

The London civic government and especially its sheriffs were hostile and aggressive towords felons who avoided arrest by running to sanctuary. So it was pretty embarrassing in 1528 when one of the sheriff’s staff had to flee to St Martin le Grand. On 16 April 1528, sheriff’s servant Robert Panke was in the Rose tavernContinue reading “Cop takes sanctuary, London 1528”

Quarrel with a “master of fence”

One day in early spring 1538, gentleman Edward Wolff was in the precinct of St Martin le Grand visiting the shop of a goldsmith. Wolff was servant to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford and brother of the recently deceased Queen Jane. St Martin’s was home to a number of alien (immigrant) goldsmiths, whose work wasContinue reading “Quarrel with a “master of fence””

Seeking sanctuary after 1540

Only about six* records survive of men seeking sanctuary under the new post-1540 system; of those, Westminster remained the most popular choice – three of six went there. One was a labourer from Cambridge, Robert Mere. He’d stolen a grey horse in the university town, but something evidently went wrong with his getaway plan asContinue reading “Seeking sanctuary after 1540”