Here we see an altercation between priests over a breviary, a book containing the “divine office” for each day, which priests used to conduct church services. The Consistory paid special attention to allegations of violence against priests – even in a case such as this one where the accused assailant was a priest, too. The title of “Sir” accorded to Hode does not indicate that Hode was a knight but used for priests as well, as “Father” or “Reverend” might be used today. Row, the defendant, was given the more elevated title of Master, indicating that he had an MA degree from a university.
Both priests were associated in some way with the chapel of the hospital of St. Augustine Papey or Pappey, on the London wall: this hospital was not so much a health-care facility as an almshouse. The chapel was connected with the parish church of All Hallows London Wall; Row’s testimony suggests he may have been vicar or rector of that parish. See VCH London, 1:550-51, online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=35382.
LMA, MSS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fol. 40v-41r; DL/C/A/001/MS09065B, fol. 1v.
Testimony of Master John Row, Defendant, 13 or 14 Dec. 1487
Responses made personally made by Master John Row, Friday 13 [or 14*] December, in the place of the Consistory of London.
Master John Row sworn etc. on the positions etc. To the first position, he believes it and that its contents are true. To the second and third positions, he says that on the feast of the dedication of the church or chapel of [St. Augustine] Pappey,✤ this witness and Sir John Hode in the same church argued about a certain breviary, from which breviary this witness, as he asserted, wanted to say vespers [evening service] in that chapel, as it was incumbent upon him to do by reason of his parish church of All Hallows [London Wall]. And this witness pulling the book towards him and the aforesaid Sir John pulling the breviary the other way, this witness was troubled about the pulling back and forth and whether he would hit Sir John or not, and he says that if he did […] he did not do [it] from malice nor […] maliciously nor violently, and on this day he knew him to be a priest wearing a habit and clerical tonsure. And otherwise he does not believe its contents. To the fourth position, he says that an action has been brought, but not legitimately, as he says. To the fifth position, he believes what is believed, and does not believe what is not believed, and he does not believe the fame.
*This is a rare apparent dating error: 13 December fell on Saturday in 1488, and on Thursday in 1487.
✤It is not clear when this dedication feast fell.
Testimony of Sir David Preston, Hugh Bisop, and Robert Reme, witnesses for the plaintiff, 19 Jan. 1488
Sir David Preston, Hugh Bisop and Robert Reme, witness for the aforesaid Hode and sworn and appointed for this matter. And the first examined, Sir David Preston, [says] that on the vigil of the dedication of the church of Pappey, at the hour of vespers, he was present and saw when Hode and Row argued over a certain book, and Hode pulling the book and Row also pulling, Row, with an angry and violent countenance, as it appeared, hit Hode on his throat with his fist. And Hugh Bisop agrees with him and says that from this blow there appeared redness on Hode’s face for the following hour and more, and he was present because he had brought a number of precious objects and ornaments for the dedication feast. Robert Reme agrees with the first. And he says that the blow was given with great violence, as it appeared to this witness.