Joan Austy c. William Codding

This case involves a complicated love quadrangle and allegations of poisoning in Whitechapel on the east end of London. We have in the Consistory records only the February 1487 examination of the defendant, William Codding, perhaps some months into the case (other records do not survive). Joan Austy had sued him, alleging that they hadContinue reading “Joan Austy c. William Codding”

John Call c. Elizabeth Hertford

In this defamation case, Elizabeth Hertford of Islington was accused of grievously insulting her neighbour John Call, calling him a thief, a cuckold, and various other names (accusations that tell us some interesting things about the construction of masculine gender identity). The legal basis of a defamation claim required that the witnesses testify to howContinue reading John Call c. Elizabeth Hertford

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

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

Office c. Emma Hasill and Sir William Gavon

The examination of Emma Hasill, though brief, gives us a complex and sad story. A priest, Sir William Gavon, counselled Hasill to leave her husband; this was evidently more than simply pastoral advice, as she then moved into his “chamber” (his bedroom). Her admission that he “held” her is a euphemism for sex. The restContinue reading “Office c. Emma Hasill and Sir William Gavon”

Joan Ponder c. Margaret Samer

In early 1490, Margaret Samer of Buttsbury, Essex, allegedly said a number of scurrilous things about her neighbour Joan Ponder or more precisely about Joan’s mother: that Joan was not her father’s daughter but instead the product of her mother’s adulterous liaison with a friar; that Joan’s mother had been a “harlot.” As the witnessesContinue reading Joan Ponder c. Margaret Samer

William Newport c. Isabel Newport

According to the testimony in this case, Isabel Newport was about as bad a wife as it was possible to be in late fifteenth-century London: she was violent, disobedient, sexually promiscuous, and dishonest. The legal basis for the lawsuit, apparently a petition for a judicial separation brought by William Newport against Isabel Newton, is somewhatContinue reading William Newport c. Isabel Newport

Elizabeth Brown and Marion Lauson  c. Laurence Gilis 

This is one of the more complicated and interesting cases at the late fifteenth-century London consistory court. The basic case is straightforward: two women, Elizabeth Brown and Marion Lauson, each claim that they contracted marriage with Laurence Gilis. In the end, Gilis and Lauson circumvented the lengthy court procedures and went ahead and married; thoughContinue reading “Elizabeth Brown and Marion Lauson  c. Laurence Gilis “

Agnes Moyne and Margaret Broke c Christopher Kechyn

Christopher Kechyn, a carpenter of mature years, was busy in 1496, contracting marriage with at least three young women. This brought him in early 1497 before both the Consistory – where two of those women, Agnes Moyne and Margaret Broke, sued him to enforce the contracts they claim to have made with him – andContinue reading “Agnes Moyne and Margaret Broke c Christopher Kechyn”