Thomas Wulley c. Margaret Isot and John Heth

This is a fascinating case: witnesses give detailed stories about a local official, with a posse of neighbourhood elders, who burst in on a man and woman, Thomas Wulley and Margaret Isot, engaging in sex.  When questioned, the man claimed that the two were, in fact, husband and wife. Calling their bluff, the official askedContinue reading Thomas Wulley c. Margaret Isot and John Heth

Robert Philipson c Joan Corney

This is a rural Essex case of lovers pledging their love over a fruit tart eaten in a field – until a father’s hostility split them up. In 1489, Robert Philipson sued Joan Corney to enforce a marriage contract he claimed they had made. Corney, when examined, said that she had agreed to marry himContinue reading “Robert Philipson c Joan Corney”

Richard Cressy c. Alice Scrace

Cressy c. Scrace is an example of an uncontested lawsuit, where the point was not for the plaintiff to confirm or annul a marriage with the defendant but rather for both parties to have the court declare the validity of their union in the face of family hostility. It was not Alice Scrace, but herContinue reading Richard Cressy c. Alice Scrace”

Thomas Hall and Thomas Salmon alias Miller c. Denise Pogger

In 1489, two men competed for the hand of widow Denise Pogger of Leyton, Essex, a woman who had her own house and perhaps more property. Both men presented a set of witnesses, each with a familiar-sounding story, the first of love thwarted by the materialist motives of the woman’s relatives and friends, the secondContinue reading Thomas Hall and Thomas Salmon alias Miller c. Denise Pogger

John Jenyn c Alice Seton and John Grose

In a complicated three-cornered case that ran over more than a year, two men, John Jenyn and John Grose, each claimed to be married to Alice Seton. Jenyn’s claim was that he and Seton had married in May 1489, exchanging consent in the George tavern on Fleet Street before a number of witnesses. Several whoContinue reading “John Jenyn c Alice Seton and John Grose”

Henry Kyrkeby c. Eleanor Roberts

Testimony in this case gives us fascinating insights into women’s employment conditions and the arrangement of marriage in rural Essex. Henry Kyrkeby’s witnesses claimed that Eleanor Roberts, a servant, agreed to marry him after meeting him once, exchanging binding vows of marriage with him at the four elms at the Hornchurch crossroads. Kyrkeby’s witnesses didn’tContinue reading Henry Kyrkeby c. Eleanor Roberts

Christian Hilles c. Robert Padley

The town of Stanford Rivers, Essex, saw a drama of thwarted love and premarital pregnancy in 1489 and 1490. Christian Hilles and Robert Padley, two servants who worked for the same employer, courted seriously with one another between March and October 1489, exchanging gifts and talk of marriage. According to local rumour, they had aContinue reading Christian Hilles c. Robert Padley

William Calverley and William Case c. Joan Brown

The recently widowed Joan Brown lived in Stratford Langthorne, in a house large enough to have both a hall and a parlour. Widows with property were attractive marriage prospects, and in the summer of 1490 two men, William Calverley and William Case, sued her in the Consistory court, each presenting witnesses claiming to have beenContinue reading “William Calverley and William Case c. Joan Brown”

Alice Barbour c. William Barbour

A mind-boggling aspect of late medieval church courts was the employment of “juries of matrons” in suits for divorce by reason of impotence: the court could order a group of women to investigate on its behalf whether a man was capable of “having carnal knowledge” of a woman. In other words, they performed a court-orderedContinue reading “Alice Barbour c. William Barbour”

Richard Chevircourt and Margery Phillips c. Robert Dow

The making of a marriage in the fifteenth-century diocese of London was a process rather a single event. One common path was the making of the contract of marriage, an unbreakable bond, in a domestic setting with a few close friends and relations as witnesses, followed by several weeks or longer of preparations before aContinue reading “Richard Chevircourt and Margery Phillips c. Robert Dow”