Thomas Lak c. Ann Munden

This case has a dramatic allegation. It starts with an ordinary path to marriage: Ann Munden made a contract of marriage with Thomas Lak in early January 1482 and then banns were read in church on three successive Sundays prior to the planned solemnization of the marriage. But then a man named Richard Bulle cameContinue reading “Thomas Lak c. Ann Munden”

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”

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”

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 

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

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