John Jarard c. Joan Nele alias Fysshe

In 1492, John Jarard sued Joan Nele, claiming her as his wife; Nele herself admitted that three years before he had given her two gifts, but denied that she received them “for the sake of a marriage” (again, that argument about the meaning of a gift). The only part of this case that survives is her response to his case: she admitted that he later urged her to marry him but said that she had always rejected him, telling him he was but a child to love someone who did not love him back (poor John Jarard).

LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fol. 111r

Response of Joan Nele alias Fysshe, 11 May 1492

Responses made personally by Joan Neele alias Fysshe, before Master Blodewell of the lord dean of Arches, Commissary, in the dwelling house of Richard Spencer, 11 May, A.D. etc. [14]92, in my, Richard Wood’s, presence.

Joan Nele, sworn and summarily and fully examined, says that on a certain around the feast of the Circumcision[1] three years ago, John Jarard gave to this witness in the name of a New Year’s gift a pair of gloves. And she says that a quarter of a year after that John sent this witness by a servant of John’s master a belt, that is a wreath[2] of silk; this witness received this belt but not for the sake of a marriage to follow. There was no discussion of marriage at that point between them. And she says that afterwards, on a certain day which she cannot specify, in her parents’ dwelling house, John urged this witness that he should take her ask his wife, saying to this witness that he greatly loved her. This witness responded to John in these words or others similar in effect, “Ye be but a child to love there as ye be not loved again.” There were no others present at that time who heard this discussion. And many times, John spoke to this witness about marriage, and as often as he urged her, she turned him down.

[1] 1 Jan.

[2] Something wound and in a circular shape; in this case likely to be worn around the waist.

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