Robbery at Charing Cross

A coroner’s memorandum records that on 5 November 1395 Richard Bone of London took sanctuary at St. Stephen’s church within the palace at Westminster. He confessed to the coroner that in September 1392 he had robbed a man on horseback of 20d [pence, i.e. 1 shilling] in money at Charing Cross. When someone took sanctuaryContinue reading “Robbery at Charing Cross”

Missing the target

A Middlesex jury charged with giving information on local crimes reported to the court that on 29 June 1399 a hosteler (innkeeper) of Clerkenwell, Thomas Redyng, hired Robert Stanwardyn to kill Robert de Malteby of London, a bladesmith. Stanwardyn missed his target and instead killed Malteby’s servant Nicholas Roper. Afterwards Redyng and his wife ElizabethContinue reading “Missing the target”

Pardon for a “travelynggeman”

A coroner’s memorandum records that on 30 April 1397 at the church of St. Martin Outwich in London, John Stokes, “Travelynggeman*, ” took sanctuary. When the coroner appeared, he confessing that he had killed Nicholas Wodyngton, esquire, with a poleaxe, in the midst of an argument. There’s also a second record of the same homicide,Continue reading “Pardon for a “travelynggeman””

Escape from sanctuary

On 23 March 1405, William Holt, esquire, of Sussex took sanctuary in the church of St. Martin in the Fields (now on Trafalgar Square). He confessed to the coroner that he was an accessory to a decade-old homicide. The coroner, however, was suspicious about the long time lag: he thought Holt had already abjured forContinue reading “Escape from sanctuary”

When you gotta go, you gotta go

This is a case that Euan Roger has tweeted about, with a toilet humour twist, but also some interesting early uses of mitigation claims in court (i.e. defendants’ appeal to loopholes to escape capital punishment). On 4 February 1402 a coroner was summoned to the church of St. Mary Somerset in London to hear theContinue reading “When you gotta go, you gotta go”

Parish chaplain helps Irish horse thief escape

A Middlesex jury reported in October 1403 that Nicholas Cusak of Ireland had stolen a horse at Uxbridge from an unknown man, and then fled to the church of St. James in the Fields (now in Piccadilly – then literally in the fields between London and Westminster). Cusak confessed his crime to the coroner. TheContinue reading “Parish chaplain helps Irish horse thief escape”

Murder and robbery

In October 1407 Adam James alias Clifford fled to sanctuary in the church of St. Mary at Hill in London. He confessed to coroner John Dalton that in 1405 at Wroxham, Somerset, he had shot Nicholas Broun with an arrow, killing him. He also confessed a more recent crime, probably the one that drove hisContinue reading “Murder and robbery”

Burglary at the king’s palace

In 1406 a thief was bold enough to steal from the royal treasure itself – and as far as we know get away with it. In Easter term 1408, the Middlesex coroner John Lilleston submitted a membrane to the court of King’s Bench with seven cases from the previous year. One of these was aContinue reading “Burglary at the king’s palace”

Escape from Strand Church

On 5 November 1410, William Orwell took sanctuary at the church of St. Mary le Strand for “divers felonies”; after he confessed to the coroner, the townspeople of Westminster were set to watch over him. They guarded him for two days (perhaps wondering when he was actually going to abjure and get out of theirContinue reading “Escape from Strand Church”

Escape from the bishop’s prison

In March 1418, Peter Hughebard, labourer of Woodchurch, Kent, was arrested for theft and put into the prison of Christchurch cathedral priory in Canterbury (presumably because he had been arrested within the liberty of the priory). Though we don’t usually think about churches as needing prisons, English bishops and other ecclesiastical leaders often acted asContinue reading “Escape from the bishop’s prison”