Beatrice Smyth c John Crote

In July 1487, Beatrice Smyth sued John Crote to enforce a marriage contract she claimed they had made around 1482 while Crote lay ill in a chamber in the tower of the parish church of St Michael Queenhithe, where he worked. Witnesses testified that after this bedside exchange of consent, however, the couple could notContinue reading “Beatrice Smyth c John Crote”

Alice Rokewode c Peter Hanham

This case offers a rare instance of a man claiming he could only marry with his family’s consent. In November 1487, Alice Rokewood sued Peter Hanham to enforce a marriage contract she claimed they had made in 1485. Rokewode had two witnesses who testified they had witnessed an exchange of present consent. Her father, RobertContinue reading “Alice Rokewode c Peter Hanham”

Thomas Byrch c. Elizabeth Barker

The examinations in this case do not much concern the marriage case in question, in which (we can infer) Thomas Byrch claimed that he had made a contract of marriage with Elizabeth Barker three years before, which she denied; Christopher Rotherey, the first person examined, appears to have been organizing a solemnization of marriage withContinue reading Thomas Byrch c. Elizabeth Barker

Margaret Niter and Agnes Skern c. Piers Curtes

This is a juicy case that brought in some of the highest in the land to pressure a reluctant man to go through with a marriage. In January 1488, widows Agnes Skern and Margaret Niter both sued Piers Curtes, each claiming that he had made a contract of marriage with them. Curtes was an importantContinue reading “Margaret Niter and Agnes Skern c. Piers Curtes”

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

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