The Conundrum of the Missing Women Sanctuary Seekers

As I discuss in several of these posts, very few women sought sanctuary in English churches and religious houses in the late Middle Ages: my research has uncovered that women constituted about 1% of felons and about 1.6% of all sanctuary seekers. Seekers of all kinds Felons Female Seekers 30 (1.63%) 15 (1.01%) Male SeekersContinue reading “The Conundrum of the Missing Women Sanctuary Seekers”

A gentlewoman and a homicide

This is a rare example of a woman seeking sanctuary for homicide: in September 1480 Robert Beawmont, “litteratus” of Almondbury, Yorkshire, and Elizabeth Beawmont, gentlewoman of Hedon, Yorkshire, sought asylum at Beverley. The two Beawmonts confessed the killing of Thomas Aldirlay of Almondbury, eleven months before. Elizabeth Beawmont is one of only seven women I’veContinue reading “A gentlewoman and a homicide”

Arsenic and old lace

A rare woman sanctuary seeker, an alleged husband-murderer no less: in July 1503, a coroner’s inquest over the body of Richard Bery at Sevenoaks, Kent, ruled that he had been murdered by his wife Agnes. The jurors reported that Agnes had administered ratsbane (arsenic) to her husband in his food and drink. They reported thatContinue reading “Arsenic and old lace”

The Bradshaws and the death of John Bell

In the spring of 1519, one John Bell was found dead at Westminster. A married couple – Robert and Joan Bradshaw – were accused in his death. The inquest jurors stated that Robert Bradshaw, yeoman of Westminster, attacked Bell between 9 and 10 pm with a sword, giving Bell a mortal wound from which heContinue reading “The Bradshaws and the death of John Bell”

Mistress Chauncy

This is another of those rare women who sought sanctuary – this time a really rare bird, a married woman who sought sanctuary for debt without her husband. In 1536, Gerard Chauncy, stockfishmonger of London and “yeoman of the King’s Chamber and waiter in the Tower of London,” wrote a petition to the Chancellor toContinue reading “Mistress Chauncy”