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

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

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

John Bradfeld c. Joan John

Witnesses for this defamation case depict a vivid scene of Joan John and John Bradfeld arguing with one another by the Hythe[1], Colchester’s harbour some distance from the city itself. Joan accused John Bradfeld of being a “strong thief” and “a false extortioner.”  The witnesses called to support John Bradfeld’s defamation suit against Joan JohnContinue reading “John Bradfeld c. Joan John”

William Pepard c. Alice Mayte

This is an unusual defamation case: a mother, Alice Mayt, publicly accused a man, William Pepard, of having murdered her son, a child. The witnesses give some interesting details about precisely where each was standing when the words were spoken, at a corner by the church in the parish of St. Lawrence Jewry, the variousContinue reading William Pepard c. Alice Mayte”

Maude Bywel c. Elisabeth or Isabel Jeld

A husband and wife from Edmonton, Middlesex, testified in 1494 about a quarrel amongst women on the street outside their house. A physical altercation was followed by insulting words, and it was the words and their effect that were at issue here (as assaults were not in the Consistory court’s jurisdiction). LMA, MS DL/C/A/001/MS09065, fols.Continue reading Maude Bywel c. Elisabeth or Isabel Jeld