Robert Warde c. Joan Qualley or Whalley

Within about five or six weeks of her husband William’s death in September 1491, London widow Joan Qualley or Whalley was receiving offers for her hand. She evidently considered Robert Warde, an ostler working for a local brewer, John Knap (likely the trade her late husband had also followed), but instead chose William Dichand. When banns were read between Qualley and Dichand in their parish churches, Robert Warde sued Qualley, claiming that she had made a contract of marriage with him before she exchanged vows with Dichand. Both Warde’s employers, John and Eleanor Knap, and one of Qualley’s own servants testified on Warde’s behalf. Qualley’s witnesses argued that the Knaps were unfairly biased towards Warde, as he was their servant (something they had not themselves indicated in their testimony) and had been working to promote this union with the presumably relatively well-to-do widow Qualley. Relations between the Knaps and Joan Qualley were not good. One witness, John Smyth, indicated Eleanor Knap quarreled with Joan Qualley outside St Paul’s cathedral after giving testimony in the case and called her a harlot and a whore. Another witness testified to an earlier run-in between John Knap and Qualley in relation to the probate of Qualley’s husband’s will. These witnesses were brought into court over several months, between November 1491 and late January 1492. By February, William Dichand and Joan Qualley decided to circumvent the court’s processes and solemnize their marriage, though at least Qualley had been strictly forbidden from doing so while the case was still being decided (as was usual for parties to marital litigation). On about 6 February 1492, the couple were married in the chapel within the Tower of London, outside the bishop of London’s jurisdiction. The last two entries for this case are appearances of the couple, chastising them for the illicit solemnization, but evidently Qualley was acknowledged as Dichand’s wife, as she was called “Joan Whalley alias Dichand.”

We have some interesting information about those involved in this case in other records. Both William Whalley’s will, dated 17 September and probated 26 September 1491 (reference below), and John Knap’s (1525 – naming his late wife Eleanor, beside whom he wishes to be buried) survive. Whether William Dichand was already a brewer when he married Joan or took over her late husband’s brewery, he appears in various records as a brewer into the 1510s. Records in that decade, when England was at war with Scotland, indicate that he was suspected of having been born in Scotland – which not only made him a potential enemy living in Londoners’ midst but caused him to be stripped of the freedom of the City of London, which was available only to those who had been born under the king’s obeisance. LMA, DL/C/B/004/MS09171/08, fol. 25r; COL/CC/01/01/011, fol. 182v

LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fols. 6r-8r, 93v-94v, 98rv.

Testimony of Joan Qualley or Whalley, Defendant, 8 Nov. 1491

Responses personally made by Joan Qualley, 8 November, before Master Millet, in my, Richard Wood’s, presence, in Master John Millett’s house

First, this witness, questioned on the first and second positions, denies their contents. To the third position, this witness says that she received from Robert a certain gold ring which she still has, but she did not receive it on occasion of marriage, and she says moreover that she, Joan, gave Robert a silver groat [4 pence], but she does not know whether he received it in name of marriage. To the fourth position, she denies all and every one of its contents. To the fifth position, she denies its contents. To the sixth position, she says that what she said above is true, and the public voice and fame circulated and circulate concerning it in the parishes of St. Botulph and St. Dunstan of the city of London and other neighbouring places, from the time the suit began and the issuing of banns between William Dichand and Joan, and not before.

Testimony of Eleanor Knap, 10 Nov. 1491

10 November, AD 1491, by Master John [Millett?], in his dwelling-house, in my, Richard Woode’s, presence.

Eleanor Knap, the wife of John Knap, of the parish of St. Dunstan in Fleet Street, city of London, where she has lived for eleven years, of free condition, forty years old or thereabouts. Inducted as a witness, etc., she says that she has known Robert Warde for four years and more, and Joan Qualley for the same time. To the first article of the libel, she says that its contents are true. To the second article, she says that on a certain Sunday in the last month of October, in a certain house belonging to John Knap in the parish of Islington [Middlesex], in the presence of John Knap, this witness, and the contracting parties, John Knap said to Robert, “Robert, do you intend to have this woman,” indicating Joan Qualley, “as your wife, to hold only to her as a husband to a wife?” Robert said as follows these words in English, or others similar to them, “I will have you to my wife, and all other for you to forsake,” Joan responding similarly, “And I Joan will have you to my husband, and all other for you to forsake,” and they kissed one another. And immediately afterwards Robert gave her a gold ring, in the name of marriage as it appeared to this witness, and Joan gratefully accepted the ring and still keeps it with her, and also Joan gave Robert a silver groat, with a happy face as it appeared to this witness, which groat Robert gratefully accepted. Asked about the third article, this witness says as she said above. To the fourth, she says as she said above, and otherwise she has nothing to depose concerning its contents. To the fifth article, she says that she has nothing to depose concerning its contents. To the sixth article, she says that what she said above is true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate in the aforesaid parish of St. Dunstan that Robert and Joan are betrothed persons. Questioned by the lord’s official, she says that she is corrupted neither by entreaty nor by money, and does not care about victory as long as justice is done.

Testimony of John Knap, 10 Nov. 1491

John Knap of the parish of St. Dunstan in Fleet Street, city of London, where he has lived for eleven years or thereabouts, literate, of free condition, forty years or thereabouts as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Robert Warde for four years or thereabouts, and Joan Qualley for eight years. To the first article of the libel, he says that its contents are true. To the second article, he says that he agrees with Eleanor Knap examined above. To the third article, he says that he agrees with Eleanor examined above. To the fourth article, he says that he has nothing to depose concerning its contents. To the fifth article, he says that Robert and Joan were and are commonly said, taken, had, named, and reputed, openly, publicly, and notoriously, for betrothed persons in the parishes of St. Dunstan and St. Botulph and other neighbouring places and parishes. To the sixth article, he says that what he said above is true, and public voice and fame circulated and circulates concerning it in the parishes of St. Botolph and St. Dunstan and in neighbouring places and parishes. Moreover he says that he is corrupted neither by entreaty nor by money, nor does he expect to receive anything for his testimony, nor does he care about victory as long as justice is done.

Testimony of Thomas Martyn, 17 Nov. 1491

17 November

Thomas Martyn, servant of Joan Qualley, of the parish of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate, city of London, where he has lived for two years, illiterate, of free condition, forty years old or thereabouts, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc. on the libel etc., he says that he has known Robert Warde for two years and Joan Qualley for five years. To the first, second, third, and fourth articles, he says that he has nothing to depose concerning their contents. To the fifth article, he says that he heard from many living both in the parish of St. Botulph and in the parish of St. Dunstan in the West of the said city, that Robert and Joan were and are husband and wife, and for such are named and reputed. To the sixth article, he says that what he deposed above is true, and concerning fame he has nothing to depose other than what he has already deposed above. The witness, questioned, says that he is corrupted neither by entreaty nor by money, but equally he would that justice be done between the parties.

Testimony of Robert Holden, 17 Nov. 1491

Robert Holden, living with Joan Qualley, widow, of the parish of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate, city of London, with whom he has lived for almost two years, illiterate, of free condition, twenty-four years old as he says. Inducted as a witness etc. on the libel etc., he says that he has known Robert Warde for three years and more, and Joan Qualley for the same time. To the first, second, third, and fourth articles of the libel, he says that has nothing to depose concerning their contents, but he heard from Robert that Robert gave Joan a ring, what kind or how large a ring this witness does not know. And that Joan gave several gifts to Robert, but this witness does not know what they were or for what reason she gave them. To the fifth article, he says that he has nothing to depose about their contents, and he says that he never […] heard, before this present suit was moved between Robert and Joan, about any contract of marriage had or made between Robert and Joan. And otherwise he has nothing to depose about its contents. To the sixth article, he says that what he said above is true, and concerning the fame he knows nothing to depose. The witness, questioned, says that he is corrupted neither by entreaty nor by money, but he would that justice be done between the parties.

Testimony of John Smyth, 22 Dec. 1491

John Smyth of the parish of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate, London, where he has lived for twelve years and more, literate, of free condition, forty-seven years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Joan Whalley for three years or thereabouts, Robert Warde for a quarter of a year, John Knap for seven or nine years, and he first saw a certain woman called the wife of John Knap on a certain day near the last feast of All Saints, the same day that John Knap was brought forward and sworn in this cause in the Consistory of London, which day he cannot further specify. To the first part of the exceptions, he refers to what the other witnesses said, and otherwise he has nothing to testify about the contents other than what he will testify below. To the second, third, and fourth parts of the exceptions, he says that Robert Warde for the last year was and still is a household servant of the said John and Eleanor and in their house has worked as a stableman or groom, in English an ostler, and John and his wife were very familiar and affectionate with Robert as their servant and wanted his rise and promotion. Asked how he knows this, he says that Robert was and is their servant, and because on the day that Eleanor was brought forward as a witness in the Consistory, Eleanor, after she had sworn her oath to speak the truth in the church of St. Paul, London, rebuked Joan Whalley, saying to her, “Thou has been at Coventry and bought twenty-four shillings of truth for a penny,” and when she [Joan] said that she had only one faith that she would serve, Eleanor replied, “Thou art a false harlot and a false quean [whore] and so shalt thou be proved.” This witness, hearing this, told Master Millet, the judge sitting at that time, in the presence of Eleanor’s husband, and he came down from the place where the Consistory was being held and put a stop to Eleanor’s arguing. And otherwise he has nothing to testify about their contents. To the fifth part of the exceptions, he says he has nothing to testify about its contents. To the sixth part, he says that he believes its contents are true, and that John Knap has commonly been said, held, had, named and reputed as a mediator and broker for the contracting of marriage between Joan and Robert. To the seventh part, he says that Eleanor was and still is hostile to Joan and a special friend to Robert and patroness in this cause, and he knows this by what he has said above and otherwise he has nothing to testify about its contents. To the eighth part, he says that what he said above is true, and he has nothing to testify about the fame.

Testimony of William Brignell, 22 Dec. 1491

William Brignell, of the parish of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate, London, where he has lived for almost twenty years, literate, of free condition, fifty years old or thereabouts, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Joan Whalley for three years or thereabouts, Robert Warde he does not know, John Knap for half a year, and he first saw Eleanor his wife on the day this witness was admitted as a witness and sworn in relation to the present business in the church of St. Paul, as he recalls. To the first, second, third, and [fourth] parts of the exceptions, he agrees with James Smyth examined above, adding this, that before that day, this witness was present at Paul’s Chain [in St Paul’s Cathedral complex] before Master John Bellato and heard when John Knap, at the time that Joan was trying to have the testament of her previous late husband proved, rebuked and reproached Joan, asserting that she was false and had breached her husband’s last will, and spoke many words against Joan, from which, and not because of any solicitation [….], this witness in his conscience believes that John is not a friend, nor is indifferent in this case or [….]. To the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight parts, he agrees with the previous witness examined above.

Testimony of John Smyth, 22 Dec. 1491

John Smyth re-examined on the interrogatories. To the first interrogatory, he says as he said above etc. To the second interrogatory, he says that he was requested on behalf of Joan Qualley to come and offer testimony of the truth and he had no expenses, and he solicited for her in the probate of her late husband’s will, and he responds negatively to its other contents. To the third interrogatory, he says as he said above, and he believes them to be of good fame, although he has heard many negative things about John Knap. To the fourth interrogatory, he responds negatively to all its contents.

Testimony of William Brignell, 27 Jan. 1492

27 January, before the lord Official, in his dwelling-house, in my, Richard Wood’s, presence.

William Brignell re-examined on the interrogatories etc. To the first interrogatory, he says as he said above. To the second interrogatory, he says that, requested by Joan Qualley and at Joan’s expenses, he came to give testimony of the truth in this case, and to its other contents he responds negatively. To the third interrogatory, he says as he said above. And he says that John Knap and his wife are persons of good fame, unwounded reputation, and honest conversation, as far as this witness ever knew, understood, or heard. To the fourth interrogatory, he responds negatively to all its contents.

Testimony of William Dichand, 24 Feb. 1492

Responses personally made by William Dichand, 24 February.

William Dichand, sworn etc. on the interrogatories, etc. To the first, he admits that around the feast of All Hallows [1 Nov.] last past, he heard of a marriage case pending before the Consistory of London between Robert Warde and Joan Whalley. To the second [interrogatory], he says that he believes that the case has been pending in the Consistory between the parties for some time, and is ongoing. To the third [interrogatory], he does not recall any such warning as regards himself. And whether Joan was warned, as the interrogatory claims, he knows nothing about such a warning being said, as he recalls. To the fourth interrogatory, he says that he does not recall the warning specified in the interrogatory. To the fifth interrogatory, he admits its contents and that [the priest?] warned him as the interrogatory states. To the sixth interrogatory, he says that he knows nothing about such a con[science?] but refers himself to the laws. To the seventh interrogatory, he says that on the Sunday just before the last feast of All Hallows, or the Sunday immediately following, this witness contracted marriage with Joan Qualley in the house at the sign of the Swan, and procured the marriage’s solemnization on Monday a fortnight ago in the chapel of the parish church within the Tower, between the hours of eight and nine, there being present Brignell, Newport, Henry Castell, John Richardson [and] his wife, of Whitechapel, and others whom he cannot now recall.

Testimony of Joan Qualley or Whalley alias Dichand, 24 Feb. 1492

Joan Whalley alias Dichand of the parish of St. Botulph without Bishopsgate, London. To the first, second, and third interrogatories, she admits their contents. To the fourth and fifth interrogatories, she heard that the rector of St. Botulph was forbidden to solemnize marriage between her and the said William. To the sixth interrogatory, she knows nothing to respond about its contents, but refers herself to the laws. To the seventh interrogatory, she says that on the Sunday before the last feast of All Hallows this witness contracted marriage with William, and on Monday a fortnight ago marriage was solemnized between her and William in the chapel in the Tower of London, there being present John Richardson, Henry Castell, the wife of Tukker, William Newport, and others whom she does not now recall.

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