In 1491 Joan Patryk accused Robert Woode, a shearman, of having “cut her purse,” literally cutting the cord from which a woman’s pouch or purse hung from her girdle or belt. She alleged this had happened while they, their spouses, and several other people had been socializing and drinking in the house of Joan and her husband. This suit in the Consistory was Robert Woode’s answer to Joan Patryk’s spreading of her allegation: he sued her for defamation. The witnesses did not explicitly refute her claims, but instead focused on the legal issue at hand in a defamation suit: the loss of reputation her accusations had caused.
LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fols. 84rv
Testimony of Thomas Dod, 7 Jun. 1491
On behalf of Robert Woode c. Joan Patryk, before the lord Official, in the presence of Richard Wode, 7 June in the year 1491, in the cathedral church of St. Paul, London.
Thomas Dod of the parish of St. Mary Woolnoth, city of London, where he has lived for almost three parts of a year, and before that time in the parish of St. Mildred the Virgin next to Grocer’s hall [St Mildred Walbrook] of the same city for a year and more, literate, of free condition, twenty-seven years old or thereabouts, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Robert Wood for seven years, and Joan Patryk for twelve years. To the first, second, third, and fourth articles of the libel, he says that he believes their contents to be true. To the fifth article of the libel, he says that on a certain day falling in last Lent and as he believes on the day of the Annunciation of the blessed Mary [25 Mar.] or thereabouts, this witness went to the dwelling-house of John Patryk, Joan’s husband, within the parish of St. Sepulchre in the city of London, for the sake of drinking with John Patryk and Joan his wife, and after a while at this witness’s request Robert Woode and his wife and another widow whose name this witness does not know entered to have a drink. And when they had sat drinking and talking for a while, they went back together to their own dwelling-houses. Later, on the Thursday after the Sunday following Easter, commonly called Low Sunday [14 Apr. 1491], when this witness was in his dwelling-house, Joan came to him along with a youth who he believes is Joan’s servant, and there in the presence of this witness, Margaret his wife, and Thomas Soorton at that time this witness’s servant, Joan said these words in English or something similar, “Cousin Thomas, that man that drank at home in my house with you last cut my purse,” meaning Robert. This witness replied, “Be you wise what you say.” And she said, “It was none other body but he,” and she said other words affirming that what she had said was true. To the sixth article, he says that Robert has spent a good deal of money by reason of this suit moved between him and Joan, and he has also suffered much vexation and effort by reason of the suit. And concerning its other contents this witness has nothing to depose. But he says that this witness has less confidence in Robert because of the speaking of those words, and he will continue to trust Robert less until he proves himself innocent of the crime of which Joan has accused him. To the seventh article, he says that what he has said above is true, and that he does not know about the fame other than what he has already deposed above. Questioned further, he says that he is related by marriage to John Patryk, Joan’s husband, and that he has not been led or corrupted, nor does he care who has victory as long as justice is done.
Testimony of Thomas Soorton, 7 Jun. 1491
Thomas Soorton of the parish of St. Mary Woolnoth in Lombard street, of the city of London, where he has lived for almost a quarter of a year, and before that time in the parish of St. Benet near the house of the Austin friars [St Benet Fink] of this city for a quarter of a year and more, illiterate, of free condition, twenty-six years old and more, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Robert Woode for six years, and he first saw and knew Joan Patryk on the day about which he will depose below. To the first, second, and third articles, he says that their contents are true. To the fourth article, he says that he knows nothing about its contents, but he says he knows where Joan lives. To the fifth article, he says that on a certain Thursday after the second Sunday of Easter, commonly called Low Sunday [14 Apr. 1491], this witness, Thomas Dod, his wife, and others then being present in John’s dwelling-house, when and where Joan, with an angry and malicious spirit as it appeared to this witness said these words or ones similar in effect, that is, “Cousin Thomas, that man that was at my house last with you to drink cut my purse that time there sitting,” meaning Robert. And Thomas Dod said to Joan that she did not believe Robert would do such a thing. And Joan responded by an oath on the Lord and by the other members and creatures of Christ that Robert cut her purse from her girdle. To the sixth article, he says that its contents are true. To the seventh article, he says that what he said above is true and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate concerning it in the said parish and in other neighbouring places, and especially among the good and serious men of the guild and occupation of Shearmen, that is Shearman’s craft, of the city of London. And he says that fame and opinion fell and was injured among good and serious men of the parish and particularly among the good and serious men of the Shearman’s guild, that is Shearman’s craft, of the city of London. Questioned further, this witness says that he is related by neither blood nor marriage to the parties, nor is he corrupted nor led, nor does he care who has victory as long as justice is done.
 John’s: this is likely a scribal error for Thomas’s, as Thomas Dod, the previous witness, described the scene as having taken place in his (Thomas’s) own dwelling-house.