Agnes Whitingdon c. John Ely

In January 1487, Agnes Whitingdon sued John Ely to enforce a marriage contract they allegedly made in September 1486. Ely claimed he had not contracted marriage with her, although they had had some discussions about it: he laid out a specific dowry he required as a minimum. Witnesses, on the other hand, testified that theyContinue reading “Agnes Whitingdon c. John Ely”

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

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

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”

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