County of Middlesex. Calendar To the Sessions Records: New Series, Volume 2, 1614-15. Originally published by Clerk of the Peace, London, 1936.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
In my preface to the first volume of the New Series of Calendars to the Sessions Records of the ancient County of Middlesex published in 1935, I described at some length the work which had previously been done on those documents and remarked on the general procedure of the Court. I must therefore beg leave of readers who have not consulted the previous volume to refer them to it, in order that I may not burden those who are well versed in these circumstances with vain repetition.
The present volume contains a calendar to the Sessions Rolls, Gaol Delivery Register, Sessions Register, and Process Register Book of Indictments from July in the 12th year of the reign of King James I [A.D. 1614] to August, 1615. These are the only classes of documents which are known to have been preserved at the Guildhall at Westminster, which relate to that period.
Criticisms were made that the last Calendar was compiled with some unnecessary detail, and suggestions were added that much which is of pure routine could be omitted. The present calendar was already in type at the date of the publication of the first volume and it was not found possible to alter the general principles upon which the calendar had been compiled, but, after giving the matter my deep consideration, I have evolved a scheme whereby, in future volumes, certain routine matters will be set out in tabulated form. The difficulty of departing from the method adopted in the compilation of Volume I and of the present volume, i.e. of mentioning every person, place and subject which occurs in the originals, is to find a mean between giving what would be a mere menu of contents and providing the more rapacious student with a satisfying meal. In my opinion, no book of reference should discharge a student altogether of the onus of original research, and I am framing future calendars in such a way that the layman in such matters will not be swamped in a sea of routine matters, and yet the student will, I hope, be directed to the original documents which bear upon his subject.
The Sessions Rolls are missing for the Sessions held in February, 1614–15, July, 1615, (fn. 1) and August, 1615, while only a few fragments are extant for May, 1615 (fn. 1). Except for these irregularities, the records for each Session are complete and normal. "General Sessions" were held at Westminster in October, 1614, and April, 1615.
Nothing of importance occurred in the world of politics to alter in any degree the routine in the daily lives of the inhabitants from that of the period covered by the last Calendar. An increased severity in the punishments awarded by the justices is perhaps noticeable during the latter part of the fourteen months under review, when, omitting those who were remanded, fined, "at large," discharged before trial, and those who had their licences withdrawn, there is a record of the following punishments having been awarded:—
Whereas one hundred and ten persons indicted were found to be not guilty. It will therefore be realized that out of four hundred and twenty-one persons tried, one hundred and sixty were condemned to death, though fifty-seven of these saved their necks by a capacity to read; one hundred and ten were discharged, seventy-three got off with a whipping when the major charge had been withdrawn; twenty-two were outlawed or transported and the remaining fifty-six were awarded minor punishments. Two died before reaching trial (pp. 158, 320).
Of the persons who unsuccessfully claimed benefit of clergy, sixteen were unable to read and were therefore hanged, one had been branded before and was transported to the Bermudas (p. 22), and four were sent to other counties, in which indictments had been laid against them (pp. 23, 247).
Of the one hundred persons condemned to be hanged, thirty-five were convicted of burglary or housebreaking, six of stealing sheep and pigs, twelve of stealing horses and cattle, four of murder, two of witchcraft, twelve of highway robbery and of cutting purses, twenty-three of ordinary larceny and the crime of six is not mentioned in this volume. Of these condemned persons, four were transported to the Bermudas and one to the West Indies (pp. 22, 25, 38, 108), six were respited to prison after judgement and one delivered by warrant (p. 251), four women failed to establish their claim to pregnancy, and were therefore hanged (pp. 61, 161, 250, 282), whereas of six others making the same unfounded claim, one was let free, one not tried, and the fate of the remaining four remains unknown for lack of information. Of those who escaped the gallows by being able to read a passage from the Bible, twenty-six were charged with ordinary larceny, ten with housebreaking, twelve with sheepstealing, five with stealing hogs or cattle, three with stealing a rope from a crane at Tower Wharf, and one with manslaughter.
Three people who were found guilty of counterfeiting "Zeland dollars" forfeited all their lands and chattels and were condemned to remain in prison "during the will of the Lord the King" (p. 163), and two others who were found guilty of treason for "washing and clipping of goulde" were subsequently set free (p. 337).
In the preface to Volume I, I drew attention to two early cases of transportation, under the Act of 39 Elizabeth, Cap 4. In the present Calendar we find that fourteen persons were transported either to the West Indies or the Bermudas, including three women (pp. 25, 106, 114).
William Backe, a yeoman of Stanwell, who with John Biggs broke into the house of Dorothy Pigge at midnight and stole clothing to the value of 40s. and afterwards burgled the house of Edmund Doubledaye, esquire, and stole goods to the value of 23s. 6d., elected to stand mute but whether the drastic punishment of the peine forte et dure was ever imposed seems doubtful, as apparently Edmund Doubledaye spoke on the prisoner's behalf. His accomplice was found innocent of the second charge, but pleaded his benefit of clergy on the first and was branded (pp. 110–11). Peter Longe, a yeoman of Westminster, and three others broke into the house of Sir Robert Mansfield at midnight, and took away silver and linen to the value of £82. Longe stood mute and suffered the full penalty, while his three companions were hanged (p. 245). Henry Elliott of Holywell Street, a yeoman, Emma his wife and Thomas Pierson, broke into the houses in Holywell Street of Richard and Cuthbert Burbage, both of whom were described as of St. Leonards' Shoreditch. They there stole various cloaks valued at £6 5s., a carpet, a "fowling-piece", pewter and a great quantity of clothing to the value of over £11. The Burbage brothers were the famous proprietors of "The Theatre" which stood in Holywell Street, which is reputed to have been pulled down when they built the "Globe" Theatre in South-wark. This entry appears to show that the Burbages retained their possessions in Holywell Street for many years after they had built their new theatre on the other side of the river, and it would be interesting if one could allow one's imagination to transform the articles stolen into stage properties, which had been used in some of the original productions of Shakespeare's plays, but we must stick to the bare facts recorded in the Calendar. Henry Elliott stood mute and was no doubt pressed to death by slow torture; Emma was found not guilty, while Thomas Pierson read his verse and was branded (p. 250).
Although upwards of seventeen persons were charged with murder, several were wholly acquitted and a verdict of manslaughter was found in some of the other cases. The jury found that the child which Charles Flood, a gentleman, was accused of "throwing to the ground" had "died by the visitation of God"; and that Dorothy Salter, to whom John Loder was alleged to have given ratsbane "knowing it to be poison", had died from natural causes (p. 107). Ann Capell, a spinster, who was charged with causing the death of Abigail Scowler, aged two, "by holding up the clothes of the said Abigail and putting her so near to a fire, unlawfully and of malice aforethought, that her back, buttocks and thighs were burnt"; and Joan Tacke, a spinster who took her new-born baby and threw it down a privy "where it remained for the space of three hours" but being taken out it lived for twelve more days, were both found not guilty (pp. 204, 329). George Oles, who was charged with bruising and crushing the left side of the head of Alban Sympson at Tottenham so that he died; and Thomas French the elder, Thomas French the younger and George French, all of Cambridge, charged with striking Robert Hunter with a pike-staff, were all found to be innocent (pp. 59, 103, 108). In the cases where Robert Perkyns, "a brewer's clerk," (p. 139), William Piggen (p. 192), John Quince (p. 319), Thomas Seely (p. 13), George Barghe (p. 16), Henry Bowman and Lucretia his wife, and Margaret Bowforthe their servant (p. 302), and Henry Addyson (p. 303) were charged with murder, no verdict is recorded, nor do we learn the result of a similar charge against four women and a man for the murder and robbery of Hugh Hasmett (p. 337). Others were able to show that the action which caused death was done in self-defence as for instance when Richard Newe struck Richard Powis with a handbill (p. 158), and when Abraham Wetherall and Richard Gildinge caused the death of John Ellys (pp. 172–3). Richard Taverner was outlawed for murder (p. 338), but John Heydon and Sarah Harrys were less fortunate, for after poisoning Charles Harryson they suffered the supreme penalty (p. 175). A woman who was accused of giving another "a drincke to have killed her childe within her" was discharged (p. 345).
Other cases of alleged murder are reported in the few coroner's inquests which are found filed with the Sessions Rolls. At an inquest held on the death of an infant of Alice Milles it was found that the said Alice, "not having the fear of God in her heart or bearing the love due to the said infant, did unwrap the clothing of the said infant and held it naked so that it was exposed to the cold" and so died (p. 61). Another inquest records that the child of Katherine Davis, spinster, died in being brought to birth (p. 205); while a third gives an account of the murder by John Arter of Christiana Willson, a widow in St. Giles'-without-Cripplegate. This relates how John Arter "with cunning and malicious intention lured and incited" the widow to go and walk with him in the Fields, and then threw her to the ground and kept her down "fastening a leather girdle with a buckle round her neck and so strangled her" (p. 28).
Three cases of threatened arson came before the Justices. Alice Clarkson, a baker's wife, threatened to fire the house of John Sly (p. 46); William Brewer of St. Martins-in-the-Fields threatened to burn his neighbours' houses (p. 70); and Julian Hall of Cow Cross, spinster, threatened to fire the house of Francis Seelye (p. 170).
Several persons of note were victims of house-breaking. The King had a silver dish stolen from him (p. 304); the garner adjoining the Palace was broken into and three quarters of wheat stolen (p. 327); cushions and pieces of needlework of great value were taken from Sir Thomas Walsingham, the famous courtier, in Whitehall Palace (pp. 106–7). Goods from other persons of interest were stolen, i.e., Richard Caverley, esquire, one of the Gentlemen of His Majesty's Privy Chamber (p. 142); Sir Edmund Verney (p. 197); Sir Thomas Parry, possibly the Ambassador to France who had the custody of the Lady Arabella Stuart (p. 203); the servant of Lady "Willoby" (p. 231); the servant of John Laitham, "Master of the Requests" (p. 275); Sir Edward Hoby [Hobbye] the famous politician and scholar and owner of Bisham (pp. 8, 300); Francis, Lord Russell of Thornhaugh, and subsequently Earl of Bedford (p. 327); Catherine, widow of Henry, third Earl of Huntingdon, and daughter of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland (p. 324); the Countess of Dorset (p. 349); Ludovic, Duke of Lennox (p. 15); Sir Michael Stanhope (p. 100); Anne, Lady Harrington, widow of Sir James Harrington (p. 27); Sir William Killigrewe, politician and courtier (p. 112); Sir John Ashley (p. 348); Sir John Cage (p. 217); Sir Simeon Steward, the famous politician and poet (pp. 170, 219); Sir Peter Saltington (p. 180); and others too numerous to mention here.
The mention of some persons who were "suspected to have robbed a shippe" (p. 132), and of a sailor of Shadwell who stole a boat belonging to a ship called the "Bonaventure" (p. 171), are sufficient evidence of the seafaring life in the county at this date.
In the indictment against Henry Pyke of Cow Cross, a bookbinder, for stealing books which belonged to another book-binder of St. Faith's parish, a list of the volumes stolen are set out. They include twenty-six "grammars" worth 24s., ten books called "Virgells" worth 10s., "Sutten on the Sacraments" worth 2s. 6d., two books called "To learne to live" worth 2s. and three called "The Practise of Piety" worth 5s. The accused person made good his escape (p. 241). Alexander Browne, a tailor of St. James, Clerkenwell, was accused to have stolen "a dozen of pickadillyes" (fn. 2) from Thomas Atkins (p. 221).
When the house of Thomas Hayward of Highgate was broken into, cloaks belonging to seven persons were stolen, and it would be interesting to know how this varied collection came to be found in the residence of one who is described as a gentleman. The accused were wanted for another burglary which had been done in Hertfordshire and one of them was therefore handed over to the Gaol Delivery at St. Albans, while the other two, although they pleaded their clergy, were not allowed the book because of the previous charge and were presumably hanged (p. 247). Several interesting articles of jewelry and plate of great value were recorded as being stolen, for example, a "gemoll" (fn. 3) ring of gold (p. 109), a ewer and basin of silver worth £12 and twenty silver plates worth £40 (p. 245), a gilt salt worth £17 (p. 278), a pewter thirdendeal (fn. 4) pot worth is, and a pewter "chamber pot" worth 6d. (p. 331), six needleworked cushions worth £11, six needleworked covers for stools worth £8, three needleworked covers for chairs worth £6, and 40 lbs. of silk worth £20 (pp. 106–7), a loop of sapphires with a pearl worth 15s. and a pair of gold aglettes (fn. 5) worth 10s. (p. 165), and a diamond ring worth £22 (p. 330).
Highway robbery was no uncommon occurrence, but there is a curious case of forgiveness when John Hambleton was bound over to give evidence against Richard Bardoll, for robbing him and others in the highway. Hambleton said he would be contented to give 6s. "towards the relief of the said Bardoll, prisoner in Newgate" (p. 39).
Several cases of common assault are reported and of these mention must be made of Agnes, wife of Thomas Lee, who suffered the somewhat terrifying experience of being assaulted by Stephen Hare with the rib-bone of an ox and "a ball of wild-fire" was thrown at her (p. 169).
The offences punished by whippings were mainly petty larceny, namely those cases where the value of the goods stolen were under 1s. The margin between whipping and the loss of one's head was often trivial, and it is quite obvious that in many cases the justices deliberately underestimated the value of the goods in order to bring the case within the limits of petty larceny. In one cases the value of the goods stolen, in this instance eleven geese, was placed by the prosecutors at over £5, but was reduced by the magistrate to 6d. (p. 164). In another, when the goods were assessed at 1s., the justices placed the value at 1d. (p. 108), but even at this low valuation, the culprit was compelled to provide work for the parish carter who was responsible for leading his cart through the parish, with the victim tied to its "tail," while the constable applied his whip until the body of the prisoner was "bloody," much to the entertainment of the local inhabitants, no doubt. On two occasions sheep-stealing, for which some offenders were hanged, was brought within the terms of petty larceny, as was poultry stealing.
A cutler and three labourers were convicted of "cutting up a lead conduit pipe in St. Leonards', Shoreditch, worth 5s. belonging to the Mayor and Corporation and Citizens of the City of London." They were fined £10 and were ordered to be "set in the stocks openly three days together near unto Bunhill, being the place where the offence was done, with papers on their heads, and afterwards to be severally whipped from the gaol of Newgate to Bridewell, there to be kept at hard labour" (p. 163). When Jane the wife of Roland Somersall of High Holborn was ordered to be whipped for stealing a "wrought night-cap edged with gold lace" from Francis Greene, a gentleman, she "very maliciously and lewdly accused Mr. Greene to have had carnal copulation with her and to have begotten her with child." It appeared that she and her husband had got divers sums of money out of Greene to avoid "unjust clamours." However, she confessed before the justices that she had never had any child in her life, and "it was also proved in Court that it was a common practice of the said Jane to accuse persons of ability in such sort to the end to draw money from them." It was ordered that Jane should be openly whipped "at a cart's tail till her body be bloody, at Waltham Abbey" and then be brought back to Newgate, there to remain, until proper sureties were found for her good behaviour. This is the only case of attempted blackmail which is found in this volume (p. 164). Alice, wife of Nicholas Blaney, and John, wife of Charles Williams, cozened William Pridmore of 10s. and were ordered to be whipped at the cart's tail "from Hicks Hall up St. John Street, and so through Clerkenwell into Charterhouse, and so back again to Hicks Hall," and then to be committed until they found sureties for their good behaviour. Joan endeavoured to be released from this somewhat tedious walk by pleading pregnancy, but a sworn midwife assured the Court that "according to her skill she cannot find the said Joan to be with child" (p. 173).
Elizabeth Butcher alias Davyes, when accused of assisting Edmund Duffeild of Westminster to defraud Margaret, wife of John Fookes, gentleman, of £3 by means of a counterfeit gold chain supposed to be worth £5, was ordered to be set in the pillory and to make restitution of the £3 (p. 245).
Christopher Morgan of Limehouse, "a common barrator," was ordered to be set in the stocks at Limehouse "in the place where the stocks now stand, for two several days together by the space of six hours upon each day" and then to pay a fine of £5 "to the King's Majesty" (p. 305). Domminic Lopus, a yeoman, I suggest, of foreign extraction, was fined £3 6s. 8d. for assaulting Richard Barnes and John Bramstone, the constable and headborough of St. John Street, and was put in the stocks with a paper on his head explaining his offences, and was afterwards sent to prison until he found sureties for his good behaviour (p. 20). The inhabitants of Harlington were presented for not having a pair of stocks (p. 216). A few hours in the stocks must have been uncomfortable and somewhat humiliating, but nothing compared with the disgrace of the cucking stools. Priscilla, the wife of Thomas Cerciller of Ely Rents in Holborn, was proved to be "a common scold, to the great disturbance of all the inhabitants at the same" and was ordered to the "kuckt." The old Fleet river probably provided excellent water to soften the tongue of any scold, after a good cucking (p. 243).
Those who remember the preface to the last volume will recall that well-named enchantress, Dorothy Magicke, who had been accused, in conjunction with Susan Poole, of endeavouring, by the exercise of her diabolical arts, to do away with Thomas Poole, the husband of Susan, and Thomasine, wife of Walter Heath, Susan's mother-in-law, and was bound over to appear when called upon. Apparently, she did not desist from her attempts to free her friend Susan from such domestic encumbrances, and so, six months later, she again appeared, but this time was sent to prison for a year. It was ordered that during her imprisonment she was to be brought out on four occasions to be placed in the pillory, there openly to confess her offence (p. 20). Further cases of witchcraft are reported when Joan, wife of William Hunt was hanged for "exercising witchcrafts, enchantments, charms and sorceries" upon an infant as a result of which it became mortally ill and died (pp. 279–280). Elizabeth Gibson was committed as a wizard for "taking upon her to tell what is become of stolen goods," but she was released to find sureties and left the lease of her house as security (p. 45). Elizabeth Rutter of Finchley was hanged for exercising witchcrafts upon William Lyon "so that his whole body is wasted away and he scarcely now can live," and upon Priscilla, Frances, and John Field "so that they languished and died" (p. 242).
A curious procedure by the justices was taken when John Bishop was acquitted by the jury on a charge of theft, although "upon the evidence it seemed to the Court to be very apparently proved against him." The justices therefore ruled that he should remain in prison until he should make satisfaction to the person from whom the goods were alleged to have been stolen. It would be interesting to know what action the legal advisors, if any, of Bishop, had to say on this ruling (p. 58).
Sport and other unlawful amusement figure largely in the calendar now before us. In January, 1614–15, an order was made that whereas "greate disorders and tumults doe often arise and happen within the streetes and lanes neere adioyninge to ye Citye of London by playinge at the footeball," the constables were to "represse and restrayne all manner of footeballplaye" (p. 213). This shows the opinion held by the justices on such dangerous pastimes, but quite apart from the fact that the football of those days was not confined to any limits either as to ground or number of players, and was therefore somewhat inconvenient for those who did not actually take part, the more serious aspect was that it distracted the youth of the county from the more honest and useful (at any rate from the country's point of view) pastime of archery. This is borne out by the brazen statement of Edward Wharton of Edgware, who told the constable that he would not come to the musters and would dissuade others by asking them if they "woulde goe see a football playe" (p. 344). As an officer in the present Territorial Army, I realize how many descendants of Edward Wharton now inhabit London and its environs, and still cherish his views.
Hunting in the parks was no uncommon offence, and this is exemplified in the case of a buck which was stolen in St. James Park (p. 90); Ferdinand Lilfond of Stepney broke open a "hawkes mewe" and stole a goshawk belonging to Sir Peter Saltington (p. 150); Edward Carter was charged with "havinge a greyhound dogge that was taken a-huntinge at midnighte in Hyde Parke" (p. 169), and John Welbeloved of Laleham took a salmon trout (p. 310).
The holding of St. James Fair in July was generally responsible for disorderly conduct. Thomas Brasier was charged with "keepinge a whore in his tente which laye with ij men in one nighte," while Robert Hunte rescued "a quean from the constables, at St. James Fair" (pp. 38, 345, 346).
A riot occurred on Shrove Tuesday in 1615, when Roger Usherwood of St. Giles'-in-the-Fields was charged with "pulling down of one Goodman's house" (p. 225). Others at the same Sessions were charged with riotous behaviour at Finchley (p. 254), and several men were accused of causing a riot in the house of one Edward Sherle (pp. 270–1).
An ugly brawl took place between Robert Bowes and Robert Coale of Gray's Inn, gentlemen, Edward Catlin and Capcoates Mollyneux of Lincoln's Inn, gentlemen, and Matthew Suger of Shoreditch, in which "a poore man or two" were "much hurt" (p. 326). Persons who brawled with their husbands and disturbers of their neighbours were only bound over (e.g. pp. 47, 134, 182).
Perhaps the most important event of local interest to which reference is found in the Calendar is the building of a new House of Correction. It will be remembered that up to this date the Bridewell was the only place of custody in Middlesex for the persons indicted or convicted of serious offences, except Newgate and the various prisons for debtors. At the October General Sessions, 1614, the matter was first considered. Apparently no attempt had been made by the county to build a House of Correction "because of expectation of receiving composition from the City of London for their pretended right and interest in the Hospital of Bridewell, founded by King Edward VI." It was ordered that a committee of justices be formed to ascertain the exact position in regard to the Bridewell and in the meanwhile £2,000 was to be raised by a special rate upon the whole county (pp. 118–19). Sir Baptist Hicks was elected the Treasurer and "divers honourable, worshipful and well affected persons" had offered sums of money for the "furtherance of so good and worthy a work," and it was hoped that others would do likewise. As is usually the case with any new imposition, the raising of the rate was not popular in the county and Michael Shorditche, a gentleman of Ickenham, was brought before the justices "for speaking divers unfit and mutinous speeches touching the rate" (p. 169). In January, 1614–15, an order was laid before the Court that "the capital messuage, stable, curtilage and other premises" in the occupation of Henry Norwood and George Sherley, esquires, and "the great orchard or garden" in the occupation of James Thurleby, in the parish of Clerkenwell, should be purchased in the names of Sir Thomas Lake, the Custos Rotulorum of the county, and other justices, for the use of the county, and that it was intended to erect a House of Correction on the site for "the employment in labour for rogues, vagabonds, sturdy beggars, or idle wandering persons." The rate was ordered to be raised, and powers were given to the constables to levy by distress or sale of the goods of those persons who refused to pay their assessments (pp. 214–15). Many persons were brought before the Court for such refusal to pay (pp. 251, 255, 301, 339). Even the collection of the rate was not always popular and some constables were summoned for refusing to collect the rate (pp. 255, 291, 292, 344).
The unlimited powers of search enjoyed by the parish constable led to what, in the opinion of modern readers, must appear to be outrageous infringement of the private privileges of the home. Thomas Stuttfield, a gentleman of Aldersgate Street stood surety for his brother William when he was "taken by the constable of St. Giles'-without-Cripplegate in bed with Grace Palmer," a widow, but by the time the charge was brought, William had "gone to sea" and his brother undertook to discharge the parish "for the keeping of the child whereof the said Grace shall be delivered" (p. 232).
The suppression of immoral houses was the particular task of the constables, and in a search of a bawdy-house in St. Giles'-in-the-Fields, they discovered three persons described as being gentlemen of Westminster, whom they brought before the justices (p. 183). The woman who was named somewhat appropriately Mistress Ilove was committed for keeping a bawdy-house in Holborn (p. 32), while Margaret Jenings of Wapping Wall, whom the constables described as a "common strumpet," was bound over (p. 226), as was also a man because he and a "common whore" were "taken at midnight together alone in the street very lewdly" (p. 224). Nicholas Blaney and George Caddaway, when accused of theft by John Green, were able to turn the tables upon their accuser, for not only did they clear themselves of the charge, but were able to shew that they had seen Green "in carnal copulation at Coleman hedge with a whore" (p. 44). The consequences of a festive evening when Thomas Hughes and James Wood called at the house of Joan Wood, a widow, in St. Clement Danes, ended in the Courts. The widow accused Thomas of "unlawful copulation and use of the body of Joan Grant" and James of partaking in his "misbehaviour and drunkenness"; while, on the other hand, the visitors accused Joan Wood with keeping a bawdy-house and "prostreatinge her body to the unlawful use of the said Hughes" (p. 264).
It is not surprising to read that the constables come in for much abuse, and several cases of rescue, or attempted rescue, of persons in custody are reported (e.g. pp. 14, 221). Thomas Butteridge was put in the stocks and ordered to pay 5s. to the poor for calling the constable of Cow Cross a "shitepott" when he was drunk (p. 346); and Teague Orurke, whose nationality seems obvious, assaulted a headborough of St. John Street, and wounded him, but two surgeons certified that "by their knowledge and skill" they do not find that the headborough "is in any danger of death by reason of the wound" (pp. 195–6). Richard Leared slandered one of the constables of the parish of St. Giles'-in-the-Fields by saying "that he punished all the whores, because one of them refused to let him have to doe with her" (p. 338).
Several insulting remarks were levelled at the justices. John Noye, a gentleman, who was charged with assault and battery at Hammersmith, holding his sword in his hand, said to Sir William Smith "Are you a justice?" (p. 18); but when a man told Sir William Waad that he did not do him justice, Sir William overlooked it for that he knew "that he is often troubled in mind with mad fits" (p. 33).
John Foster, a goldsmith, was brought into Court for abusing the Yeomen of the Guard, some witnesses declaring that he had said that they may "well be called the King's oxen or butchers," and others that he had called them "the King's oxen, slaughtermen and butcherly slaves" (p. 174).
Three cases of alleged rape came before the justices (pp. 109, 188, 212), but in no case is the accused found guilty. A remarkable case of abduction is told when three men named Billin, who each employed many aliases, assaulted Susan Wittey, the daughter of Thomas Wittey, in the highway at Stepney. They obviously knew that she was only fourteen years old, but possessed of much property in East Smithfield and £100 in money, so they carried her off against her will, and one of them married her in Essex (pp. 111–12).
Another curious story is told when James Bottleson, a gardener of Goswell Street, and Lucy his wife, were accused of plotting to assist Francis Tailor to marry Dorcas, the wife of Thomas Clingo, pretending her to be a rich widow but knowing all the time that she was already married (pp. 71–2). Other cases of matrimonial interest are brought to light, as for instance when Peter Woolman was detained in gaol "for having two wives alive" (p. 253); and when Edward Harrison was bound over "to abandon and forswear from henceforth the company of Jone White, widowe, untill such tyme as they bee lawfully married according to the rules of the Church of England" (p. 152).
A case which the justices looked upon with suspicion was brought before them when the mother of a bastard child did not charge the reputed father until two years after the child was born, and when the accused was married to another woman (p. 144).
Long lists of persons who had not attended church for three months or more, of those who refused to attend altogether, and of others whose unorthodox behaviour caused suspicion, are given at many of the Sessions. Most of these people no doubt were popish recusants, but the others may have been nonconformists of the Brownist sect, or of one of the many others which were gaining strength in England at this date. Many famous names will be found in these lists (e.g. pp. 124, 154, 239–40, 295–6, 324–5).
Town planning appears to have been a going concern even in these Jacobean days, and no new house was allowed to be erected unless the Commissioners of Annoyances had passed it. Information was laid against Stephen Thompson of Whitechapel and several others, for building cottages, none of them having four acres of land allotted to them. The informer demanded that a fine of £110 should be imposed, i.e. £10 a cottage, of which he would receive a proportion (p. 67). John Buggs and John Roberts were bound over for dividing their houses into tenements (pp. 123, 228).
The upkeep of roads and bridges was under the supervision of the justices, and we find orders for the repair of a bridge over the common sewer leading from Kentish Town to the parish church of St. Pancrasin-the-Fields, and for William Page of Alperton to be fined for turning a highway and watercourse "out of their places" (p. 216). The inhabitants of Ealing were presented for failure to repair a bridge in Hangerwood Lane (p. 124); Sarah Draper for not renewing Stone Bridge in Hornsey (p. 341); and the Bishop of London for not repairing Stickleton Bridge in the parish of Greenford (p. 296).
Five road accidents are recorded:—Libia, daughter of Rowland Carter was injured on the head by a brewer's dray (p. 17); Thomas Bower hurt Priscilla Dewberry "with a cart" (p. 10); Roland Merricke of Holborn broke the leg of a child by "leading a brewers dray" over it, and was fined 3s. 6d. (p. 244); Thomas Weane and Thomas Burte of Ealing drove a cart "over the head of Thomas Coates, who is in danger of death" (p. 342); and Robert Smythe, an Irishman, was fined 10s. and ordered to compensate John Paley "for running his horse over" Paley's child (p. 349).
The health of the inhabitants of the county was of concern to the justices, but their efforts to see that the laws relating to the sale of unwholesome meat were carried out, sometimes resulted in insults being hurled at the inspectors (p. 136). The restrictions imposed on the sale of commodities were not always actuated by reasons of health. Religion also played its part and selling flesh in Lent or retailing goods on the Sabbath were matters with which the justices had to deal (pp. 225–6, 244). When a complaint was lodged against the poulterers, butchers and others who "keep open shambles and sell their wares and commodities upon the Sabbath day to the great dishonour of Almighty God and the slander of religion and government," order was made that only cooks, innkeepers and victuallers were allowed to sell any manner of flesh victuals or other commodity, and then only for "necessary food upon the Sabbath day" (p. 213).
The sale of beer to unlicensed persons who retailed it to others was prohibited (p. 54). Information was laid against James Desmaisters, a brewer of East Smithfield, and others, for selling beer contrary to the act of 21 Henry VIII, whereby he was liable to a fine of £300, but the records are silent as to whether this was imposed or not (p. 68). Such cases were generally brought to light by an informer who hoped to make a comfortable living out of the proportion of the fine due to him. If he could not obtain enough evidence to bring the case to Court, he might at least be able to take bribes from any of his victims who suffered from a guilty conscience. These activities were not confined to the unlawful sale of food and drink, and an informer came to the Sessions and informed the Court that Lawrence Penn of Whitechapel had not been to church for eleven months and that he ought therefore to forfeit £ 220, i.e. £10 for each month (p. 282). We do not learn whether this fine was imposed, but if it was, there can be little doubt that Penn would have found it cheaper to attend church and contribute to the offertory.
Provision of supplies for the King's Household was extremely unpopular, and the "undertakers" for such provisions had a hard task to see these duties performed. In October, 1614, the purveyor came to the Court and said that divers persons pretended exemption from payment and it was agreed that the justices should consult with the "officers of the Counting House" and see that grievances on both sides were reduced (p. 117). The County agreed to pay £40 a year in fulfilment of all demands by the Board of Green Cloth for wood and the carriage of wood for the Royal Household (p. 293).
Apprentices were the special care of the justices and some cases are found where the masters served out too harsh treatment to the apprentices, and others where the misbehaviour of the apprentices had to be punished. The master and mistress of Joan Akerley were shown to have given her undue correction and to have thrown a naked knife at her. Joan accused her master of immoral conduct towards her, and the master retaliated by accusing Joan of stealing "a kidney and half a loin of mutton" (p. 64). John Taylor was ordered to "make satisfaction to the surgeon for the cure and healing" of his apprentice (p. 78). Moses Smith and his wife were ordered "not to beat or abuse" their apprentice other than with "due and orderly correccion by a birch rodd not giveing her above six stripes at any one tyme" (p. 238). John Reynolds who used a "whip bound about with a wire" on his apprentice was ordered to give up such unreasonable correction (p. 238). Joan, wife of John Sallas turned her apprentice out of doors (p. 267). When the justices had arranged an apprenticeship, the deed was enrolled in the records of the Sessions (pp. 34, 174, 293); and when an apprentice changed his master, the deed was brought into Court to be duly amended (pp. 118, 172).
Several personages of historical interest are mentioned in the records. Deagoe Desea the Spanish Ambassador was abused by William White and Stephen Heywood, but at the Ambassador's special request to the King, they were released (pp. 299, 303). Richard Hackley and Thomas Ayre of St. Clement Danes unlawfully detained two gowns belonging to "Mistress Elizabeth and Mistress Frances Bronckerd" (p. 143). These ladies were probably sisters to Sir Henry Brouncker, first Viscount Brouncker. Lady Wenman, the wife of Sir Richard Wenman, afterwards first Viscount Wenman, was assaulted by an innkeeper of Islington so that she was "in danger of death" (p. 298). This lady is reputed to have been an ardent Catholic and to have translated the "History of the World," by John Zonaras, from the French. A person was bound over to keep the peace towards Abraham Cowper, "the Deputy Almager" (p. 15).
The trades followed by persons mentioned in the Calendar are often unusual, We have, for instance, a "gladiator" (probably a swordmaker), a "horse-quorser," a compass-maker, a dice-maker, several musicians, a trumpeter and a sailmaker (vide Index under Trades). Two schoolmasters are mentioned, David Flud of Gray's Inn Lane (p. 8) and William Armestrong of St. John Street, (p. 229). A spurrier and a locksmith of Westminster were accused of stealing a "bickhorne" (fn. 6) and other working tools from William Edlett, a blacksmith (p. 237).
The East India Company which had been formed in 1600 is twice referred to in the Calendar, once when 3,000 nails belonging to it were stolen (p. 175), and again when John Tucker was bound over for begetting the wife of Richard Furbisher with child while her husband was in the East Indies (p. 179).
Having, I hope, referred my readers to a general view of the type of information which is to be found in these records, I will now leave the seeker after other subjects to deal with the index which has been compiled with assiduous care by Miss Cicely Baker, who has also assisted me to a very large extent in the compilation of the Calendar.
This work would not have been possible without the help which
the Standing Joint Committee and the Staff of the Middlesex Guildhall
are always prepared to extend to me, and my especial thanks are due
to Mr. Forrester Clayton, Sir Montague Sharpe, K.C., D.L., and Sir
Ernest Hart for reading the proofs of Volume I, and to Mr. C. W.
Radcliffe, Mr. E. E. Hart, Mr. Jolliff, Miss McEwen and Miss Cameron
for their co-operation and assistance in the publication of this volume.
WILLIAM LE HARDY.