Alice Parker c. Richard Tenwinter

This case involves ambiguous promises and different interpretations of the meaning of sex. Alice Parker probably lived in the parish of St Nicholas Shambles by the butchers’ stalls towards the western edge of city of London. She received a visit in December 1487 from Richard Tenwinter and his friend, Robert Adcok. Tenwinter and Parker wentContinue reading Alice Parker c. Richard Tenwinter

William Halley c. Agnes Wellis

In this case, we see Agnes Wellis, a young woman living with her widowed mother and her new husband, courted by William Halley, a young man with a “pretty livelihood.” At the request of Agnes Wellis’s mother, a neighbour, Henry Brond, took on the paternal role of asking the two whether their visits together wereContinue reading William Halley c. Agnes Wellis

Alice Billingham c John (or Thomas) Wellis

In 1488, Alice Billingam sued John Wellis, claiming that they had contracted marriage on Valentine’s Day 1486. The witnesses for the case had interesting things to say about how an employer might try to find a husband or wife for a servant; what a young man or woman on the market for a spouse wouldContinue reading “Alice Billingham c John (or Thomas) Wellis”

William Hawkyns c. Margaret Heed

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 oneContinue reading William Hawkyns c. Margaret Heed

Enquiry into an accidental death in building an anchorhold

In June 1488, a worker, John Ferres, was killed while doing demolition work on a house being renovated for the enclosure of an anchorite, a person who for spiritual reasons chose to live enclosed in a cell attached to a church, in this case an unspecified church dedicated to St Botulph in London. The testimonyContinue reading “Enquiry into an accidental death in building an anchorhold”

John Hill and Emma Wright c. Elizabeth Leg alias Hill 

Despite the rigid once-you’re-married-it’s-for-life nature of medieval Catholic marriage, in practice people practised some DIY when it came to marriage dissolution. The case had two alleged self-divorces. It is a bit complicated, but here’s a guess at the back-story. Around 1469 or 1470, John Hill of Hadley, Middlesex, married a woman named Elizabeth Leg. TheyContinue reading John Hill and Emma Wright c. Elizabeth Leg alias Hill 

Ann Styward c. Richard Styward

When Ann, the widow of tallowchandler Richard Alpe and mother of four underage children, married another tallowchandler, Richard Styward, in early 1488, something resembling a nightmare resulted. By Styward’s own admission, after their marriage was solemnized, he “violently and seriously beat” her and spent much of Richard Alpe’s (considerable) estate. As he noted, his assumptionContinue reading Ann Styward c. Richard Styward

Sir John Bolsar c. Thomas Pumpe

There’s some interesting evidence about local conflict-resolution through arbitration in this case. It involves a quarrel between a vicar and a layman about rent on a piece of land; there is also something obscure about the defendant having to perform penance, which may simply relate to an earlier stage of this same case or hintContinue reading “Sir John Bolsar c. Thomas Pumpe”

Joan Essex c. Agnes Badcock

In late September 1488, Agnes Badcock allegedly accused a neighbour, Joan Essex, of committing adultery with Agnes’s husband John. The testimony offered by four men who lived nearby is fascinating and appalling in various ways: Agnes Badcock’s accusation against Joan Essex was delivered in dramatic fashion, screamed on the street after Agnes had fled aContinue reading Joan Essex c. Agnes Badcock

John Mendis c. John Adam

In April 1488, several Middlesex men were talking together in the yard of a manor house following a wedding feast when one accused another of being a thief and threatened to drive him from their town of Edgware. The witnesses’ testimony tells us not only about the circumstances of this defamatory insult but capture briefContinue reading John Mendis c. John Adam