Richard Crocheman c. William Baldewyn

In July 1487, Richard Crocheman sued William Baldewyn for defamation: Baldewyn had repeatedly over the last six weeks called Crocheman a sheep thief. The witnesses, all from Barking in Essex (as presumably were also Crocheman and Baldewyn), paid close attention to the legal requirements for defamation: the plaintiff had to have suffered a loss ofContinue reading Richard Crocheman c. William Baldewyn

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

John Mendis c. John Adam

In April 1488, several Middlesex men were talking together in the yard of a manor house following a wedding feast when one accused another of being a thief and threatened to drive him from their town of Edgware. The witnesses’ testimony tells us not only about the circumstances of this defamatory insult but capture briefContinue reading John Mendis c. John Adam

Robert Woode c. Joan Patryk

In 1491 Joan Patryk accused Robert Woode, a shearman, of having “cut her purse,” literally cutting the cord from which a woman’s pouch or purse hung from her girdle or belt. She alleged this had happened while they, their spouses, and several other people had been socializing and drinking in the house of Joan andContinue reading Robert Woode c. Joan Patryk

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”