In 1488, Margaret Heed, daughter of a wealthy London merchant, agreed to marry William Hawkyns, another merchant and clearly her father’s choice. As the witnesses testify, Margaret Heed said the binding words of a marriage contract several times in front of a number of prominent people, but she vacillated, promising to marry Hawkyns at one moment and then changing her mind the next. Her father was both cajoling and coercive; according to some witnesses, he beat her when she went back on his wishes. Though the witnesses indicate that after some back and forth she gave in and agreed to say the binding words in front of several witnesses, she must again have rescinded her agreement, or she would not have ended in court in this marriage suit. It is notable that the five witnesses who testified against her included her father, her stepmother, and her grandfather (probably her maternal grandfather). Sadly for Margaret Heed, she was cornered both socially and legally; no one testified on her behalf (though the evidence about her father beating her could potentially have been interpreted as coercion, which would have invalidated the contract). Outside records indicate that she lost her suit and married Hawkyns.
LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065B, fols. 11v-12v, 13r-15r
Testimony of Henry Heed, Witness for the Plaintiff,  Jun. 1488
On behalf of Hawkyns c. Heed
Henry Heed of the parish of St. Sepulchre in London, where he has lived for twenty-one years, literate, of free condition, forty-nine years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known Margaret Heed his daughter from the time of her birth, and William Hawkyns for sixteen years. To the first article of the libel, he says that its contents are true because many times they discussed together concerning contracting marriage since last Palm Sunday [30 Mar.]. To the second article, he says that on Saturday a fortnight ago [31 May?] Margaret and William Hawkyns contracted marriage together in this witness’s house, this witness saying, “Margaret, will ye have William Hawkyns here to your husband and him to honour and worship for your husband?” And she answered with a happy spirit as it appeared to this witness, “Ye, forsooth.” And then this witness said to William, “William, will ye have Margaret here to your wife and her to endow with such goods as ye have until death you depart?” And he responded, “I will have you to my wife, Margaret, and thereto I plight you my troth.” And he says that these words were spoken with both their hands joined and after the speaking they unclasped them. To the third article, he says that its contents are true and that he heard the acknowledgement in the Consistory of London and elsewhere. And he says that on the day of the contract Margaret showed this witness a certain gold ring and a rial which she said William had conveyed to her. To the fourth and fifth articles, he says that their contents are true and that voice and fame circulated and circulate in the parish that Margaret and William were and are husband and wife. Asked about compulsion, he said that he said to Margaret, “It is my will thou have him, if thou have him not thou wilt never thrive.”
Testimony of Margaret Heed, Witness for the Plaintiff,  Jun. 1488
Margaret Heed, wife of Henry Heed, of the parish of St. Sepulchre, in which parish she was born and has lived since the time of her birth, twenty-nine years old, as she says. Inducted as a witness etc., she says that she has known William Hawkyns since last Palm Sunday, Margaret Heed from the time of her birth, as she says. To the first article, she says that on many occasions since Palm Sunday Margaret and William have in this witness’s house discussed contracting marriage between them. To the second article, she says that on the last vigil of the Trinity [31 May], Margaret and William contracted marriage in this witness’s house, in the presence of this witness, her husband, William Flete, Joan Flete, John Goldington, Gregory Bourn, and a certain man named Smyth. The aforesaid Henry Heed first said to Margaret, “Margaret, wilt thou have William here to thy husband, him to honour and keep as thy husband?” And she answered, “Yea, forsooth.” And what words this witness’s husband spoke she cannot remember, but she says that immediately after the speaking of those words William took Margaret by her right hand and said words which she cannot now recall, and then they unclasped their hands and kissed one another. This witness deposes these things from her own sight and hearing. And she says that on the Tuesday following Whit Sunday [27 May], the husband of this witness, in the presence of Hawkyns, said to Margaret, “I have been with thy eme [uncle], the prior of Hertford, and it is his will and mine also that thou shalt have thy free liberty to take a husband where thou wilt, and not to take Hawkyns but it come of thine own stomach.” And she said, “I may well find in mine heart to have him to my husband, and him I will have and none other.” And after that William gave Margaret a certain gold ring which she received from him then and there. To the third article, she says that Margaret told this witness that William gave her a pin case, a gold ring, and a rial, but as for acknowledgement she knows nothing. To the fourth article, she says that William and Margaret are reputed as man and wife in the parish. To the fifth article, she says that the things she said above are true and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate in the parish concerning them because banns were issued between them in the church of St. Sepulchre. To the first interrogatory, she says that on the Thursday before the contract the words contained in the interrogatory were said in the house of Henry, both on his part and on the part of Margaret. To the second interrogatory, she says that on that Thursday, Henry beat the aforesaid Margaret because Margaret herself many times said in Henry’s presence that she would have William as her husband, concerning which marriage banns had been twice issued and many ornaments had been been fit and prepared for Margaret’s body towards the nuptials to be celebrated between them, and that then she said that she would not have him. And at the time of the beating Margaret said, “I will never have Hawkyns.” And otherwise she knows nothing concerning its contents.
Testimony of William Smyth, Witness for the Plaintiff, 25 Jun. 1488
Further on behalf of Hawkyns c. Heed
William Smyth of the parish of St. Michael Queenhithe, London, where he has lived for twenty-eight years and more, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known William Hawkyns for twelve years, and Margaret Heed from the feast of Easter last past. To the first and second articles of the libel, he says that on a certain Friday or fasting day around three or four weeks ago, which day he cannot further specify, and between eight and nine a.m. of that day, this witness was in the hall of Henry Heed’s dwelling-house together with Henry Heed, his wife, William Hawkyns, Margaret Heed, William Flete, his wife, and others. There and then the aforesaid Henry Heed asked Margaret whether she could find it in her heart to have William Hawkyns as her husband, to which she said yes. And then this witness said to her that he had heard that after banns of marriage had already been issued between them, Margaret had turned her heart from William, as it was said, and because of this he urged her to say the truth before those present whether she had previously contracted with another man and whether she was compelled to contract marriage with William, and she said no, and that she would have William as her husband. And then Henry said to Margaret, “Mayest thou find in thyne heart to have William Hawkyns here […], by thy faith and thy troth,” and she answered, “Yea, by my faith and my troth.” And he took William by the hand and likewise asked him thus, “William, may ye find in your heart to have Margaret here present to your wife?” and he responded “Yea, by my faith and by my troth.” And they unclasped their hands and kissed one another. This witness deposes these things from his own sight and hearing, as he says. to the third article, he knows nothing regarding its contents. To the fourth article, he says that its contents are true according to his knowledge, because they are reputed as such in the parish of St. Michael and in the parish of St. Sepulchre, as he says. To the fifth article, he says that the things he said above are true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate about them in the parishes of St. Sepulchre and St. Michael, as he says. Asked about any compulsion, violence, or fear, he said that he heard that after the banns were twice isued between William and Margaret and before the day of contract this witness heard that Henry Heed was displeased with Margaret because as it was said she changed her mind about William. But this witness does not know [whether] he beat her or spoke to her threatening words, as he says.
Testimony of William Flete, Witness for the Plaintiff,  Jul. 1488
[?First day] of July, in the place of the [Consistory], by [the lord] Official
William Flete, smith, of the parish of St. Sepulchre, where he has lived for thirty years, literate, of free condition, sixty-six years, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known William Hawkyns since last Easter, and Margaret Heed from the time of her infancy. To the first and second articles of the libel, he says that on the vigil of the Trinity last past [31 May], this witness was in the home of Henry Heed, who married this witness’s daughter, that is in the hall of the house, when Henry said to Margaret thus, “Margaret, how sayest thou, wilt thou have William Hawkyns to thine husband, him to love above all men, and forsake all other till death you depart?” And she answered, “Yea, forsooth.” And in a similar way he said to William, “William, will ye have Margaret here present to your wife, her to love and all other women forsake and only take you to her, till death you depart?” And he responded, “Yea, by my troth.” At the time of the speaking of the words their hands were joined and after the speaking they unclasped them and kissed one another. To the third article, he says he knows nothing concerning its contents except as related by William Hawkyns and others. To the fourth and fifth articles, he says that the things he said above are true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate in the parish of St. Sepulchre that they were man and wife and that they had contracted marriage together, as he says. Asked whether he knew about any compulsion, violence, or fear laid upon Margaret, he says that for the last four years this witness has heard Heed when speaking of Margaret saying that she was free to choose a husband for herself where she would. And on the Thursday in Pentecost week [29 May] and after the banns had been issued between them, Margaret came to the house of this witness before noon and said that her father had compelled her to contract marriage with William and that she would never have him as her husband. And then this witness chided her because she should have told her father her feelings before the banns were issued between her and William. And thus Margaret as he recalls stayed in this witness’s house that day and the following night, and the next day a certain Gregory and this witness led her back to her father’s house and left her there. And he says that on that Thursday this witness told Henry Heed that Copwode’s father said to this witness that Margaret loved his son better than William Hawkyns, and Margaret, examined by Heed, affirmed this, to which Henry said, “Thou whore, why didst not thou tell me this before?” and he gave her a stripe with a certain Key clogs. He knows nothing concerning other compulsion, as he says, but at the time of the contract Margaret was happy enough and willing to have William as her husband as it appeared to this witness, as he says.
Testimony of Gregory Brent, Witness for the Plaintiff,  Jul. 1488
Gregory Brent, ironmonger of the parish of St. Sepulchre, where he has lived for seventeen years, literate, of free condition, thirty-three years old, as he says. Inducted as a witness etc., he says that he has known William Hawkyns for seven years and Margaret Heed for sixteen years. To the first and second articles of the libel, he says that after the feast of Easter, that is around a fortnight after the feast, Margaret was in the tavern at the sign of the Cardinal’s Hat together with Lord Bryan, Justice of the lord King, William Hawkyns, and the parents of Margaret. After they had talked amongst themselves there for a while, Margaret told this witness as they were going back to her father’s house, “I am sure to William Hawkyns.” And afterwards banns were issued twice between them in the church of St. Sepulchre. And afterwards this witness [heard that Margaret] changed her mind about William, and he says that he heard that her father beat her because she had allowed the banns to be issued, and after their issue and not before declared her will in that matter. And he says that on the Friday [30 May] before the contract about which he will depose below, that is in the night of that day, this witness said to Margaret, “Cousin Margaret, stablish your mind, and I pray send Hawkyns some word of comfort.” And she said, “When was he here? I have said so much against him I am ashamed to speak with him.” And afterwards this witness, with the consent of Margaret, went for William and brought him back to the house, where William asked her, “How do you?” And she said, “I am ashamed that I have said and done to you as I have. I am sure [if] you marry with me you will love me the worse.” And he said that if Margaret would make up her mind he would not love her the less but would forgive her all the things that she had done against him, and thus he did, and they kissed one another, and they happily talked together there and drank. Then Margaret’s father came in and asked her, “Thou, girl, wilt thou have Hawkyns here to thy husband?” And she answered, “Yea, father.” And then the father said, “Say not one to night and another tomorrow.” And she answered, “Nay, father.” And Hawkyns gave Margaret five nobles of silver. In the morning, that is on Saturday, the vigil of the Trinity [31 May], William and Margaret contracted marriage together in Henry Heed’s house, and in the present tense, by these words, that is Henry Heed said, “Then girl, say now before these honest men whether thou wilt have Hawkyns in thy husband or no, for it is my brother’s will, the prior of Hertford, that I shall not marry thee against thy will. Say now whether thou wilt have him or no.” And she answered, “Yea, father.” And then Henry asked William, “William, will ye have her?” and he answered, “Yea.” And he asked her, “Cousin Margaret, say now whether ever you made any contract with any other man.” And she said no. And then William, at the instruction of Henry Heed, said to her, holding her by the hand, “Here I take thee, Margaret, to my wife and thereto I plight thee my troth.” And she said, “I take you William Hawkyns to my husband, by my faith and by my troth.” And they unclasped their hands and kissed one another. And he says that the things he deposed above are true, and that public voice and fame circulated and circulate in the parish of St. Sepulchre and other neighbouring places concerning them, as he says. This witness, questioned further whether he knew about any violence, fear, or compulsion, says as he said above, and otherwise he knows nothing about it, as he says.
 A gold coin first issued by Edward IV in 1465, worth 10s. (OED, s.v. rial, 3.a).
 Although she said she had known the defendant, also named Margaret Heed, from the time of her birth and was the wife of the defendant’s father, it is likely that the witness was the younger Margaret’s stepmother rather than birth mother, judging by the witness’s age of twenty-nine. Although it is possible that she could have had a daughter of marriageable age while still less than thirty, it is unlikely, even given relatively early marriage ages for daughters of the merchant elite. It would also have been usual for the record to have indicated specifically that she was the party’s mother.
 A block or lump tied to anything for use or ornament; e.g. to a key to prevent its being lost (OED, s.v. clog).
 Presumably Sir Thomas Bryan, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, who served in this capacity from 1471 until his death in 1500 (surviving the vicissitudes of dynastic change). He was knighted by Edward IV in 1475. See Edward Foss, The Judges of England , 9 vols. (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1848-64), 5:40-41.
 Noble: A coin (originally gold) valued at 6s. 8d (half a mark) (OED, s.v. noble B.2.a).