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”

False Confessions

On 25 July 1457, Richard Grene of Lincolnshire was travelling on the king’s highway from the Louth fair when a stranger attacked him and threatened his life. He fled to a sanctuary, but his enemies appeared and tried to drag him out. To stop them, he called for the coroner, falsely confessed he’d been presentContinue reading “False Confessions”

Could a house serve as sanctuary? Hospitallers and asylum in the 15th century

In 1461 a coroner’s inquest was held over the body of William Lyng, found dead in St John’s Street, which led into the priory of St John of Jerusalem, the Hospitaller Knights’ HQ in Clerkenwell. The inquest jurors ruled that Lyng was killed by Vincent Hall, baker and brewer of St John’s Street. Hall wasContinue reading “Could a house serve as sanctuary? Hospitallers and asylum in the 15th century”

Edward IV and the desecration of sanctuary at Tewkesbury

What to do, what to do, when you’re in a civil war and your enemies have flown to sanctuary? If you’re Henry VI, Richard III, or Henry VII, you let them stay because breaching sanctuary would destroy your moral standing, which you can’t afford. But if you’re Edward IV – not a man especially knownContinue reading “Edward IV and the desecration of sanctuary at Tewkesbury”

Welsh swords for hire

On 14 April 1474 William Forster alias William Launder sought sanctuary in the church of St Clement Danes, west of London. The coroner’s memo of the abjuration is unusual: it was written in the first person, from the point of view of the abjurer. Forster identified himself as a yeoman of London but also ofContinue reading “Welsh swords for hire”

Felonious priests and benefit of clergy

On 3 September 1475, a chaplain named Richard Parenet of Warwickshire took sanctuary at St Augustine’s priory in Daventry, Northants. He confessed to the coroner that 16 years before he had committed murder. Together with two yeomen of Lincolnshire, in 1459 he had assaulted William Saunderson of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, in Gainsborough, with a bastard (orContinue reading “Felonious priests and benefit of clergy”

Last-minute reprieve

Here’s a drama! On 28 April 1481 Geoffrey Gwynnyth, yeoman of London, took sanctuary in St George’s church in Southwark, confessing to the coroner that he had stabbed John Sander at Tottenham in 1478, killing him. Gwynnyth abjured the realm, and was to leave by Dover; a week later, however, he had been found inContinue reading “Last-minute reprieve”

Murder and horse theft, 1483

William Savage, a skinner of Sandwich, Kent, took refuge at St Botolph without Aldgate in London on 23 September 1484. Savage confessed to the coroner that on 12 April 1483 at Winchester, he killed chapman John Brande and stole his horse. This is maybe irrelevant, but he committed this crime only three days after EdwardContinue reading “Murder and horse theft, 1483”

Abjuring? Stick to your route

A déjà-vu-all-over-again case today. John Marten, a yeoman of London, ran into the church of St. Olave [Olaf] in Southwark at the end of January 1489. When the coroner came, he confessed murder. A few weeks before he’d been at Kilburn in Middlesex and hit William Alwen on the head with a longbill, penetrating toContinue reading “Abjuring? Stick to your route”

Pardoned decades later

A curious case featuring Westminster gentlemen who seems to have committed a series of attacks on foreigners (or strangers, as the contemporary term was) in 1491, one ending in death. First, in mid-September 1491, William Bartholomew, Westminster gentleman, together with John Bartholomew, also gentleman of Westminster (some relation, presumably) and William Chawcey, gentleman, attacked twoContinue reading “Pardoned decades later”