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”

Hugh Harvey and the sanctuary town of Knowle

Hugh Harvey worked as a servant at The Goat Inn on the Strand near London. One day in 1537 he robbed a guest, royal chaplain Dr Richard Croke, of a bag of money and then scampered off to sanctuary. Rather than running to nearby Westminster Abbey, though, Harvey made his way westward towards Warwickshire, whichContinue reading “Hugh Harvey and the sanctuary town of Knowle”

Lucky man

In some 1539 cases, sanctuary seekers seized from church precincts on Thomas Cromwell’s orders had unhappy endings. Anthony Spencer was also unceremoniously grabbed from the Westminster sanctuary late that year, but the conclusion of his case was quite different. In mid-October 1539, Spencer, a “yeoman of London,” robbed and murdered one John Morres in Surrey.Continue reading “Lucky man”

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”