Work on this volume was begun in May, 1938, after the publication of Volume III, and the proofs of the calendar were submitted to the printers before the outbreak of the present war,
but, owing to the difficult conditions under which work on the index
had to be continued, it has not been found possible to complete
the volume for publication until this year.
The style of the volume follows closely that of the previous volume
and incorporates all the innovations introduced on that occasion (see
Vol. III, pp. vi–viii).
The period covered by the present calendar begins with the General
Sessions held in October, 1616, and closes with the Sessions held in
March, 1618. During this time fourteen Sessions were held for which
there are only nine rolls, but entries of the proceedings at all the
Sessions are recorded in the three Register Books, Sessions Register,
Volume 2, Gaol Delivery Register, Volume 2, and Process Register
Book of Indictments, Volume I.
The rolls are numbered 554 to 563, but roll 556 does not exist, the
documents having been transferred and numbered 508a, as they relate
to roll 508 for the Sessions held in December, 1611. This is prior
to the date of the beginning of the New Series and consequently has
Lists of bailiffs and constables now occur quarterly instead of twice
a year as hitherto.
A Session of Oyer and Terminer was held at the Justice Hall in the
Old Bailey on 20 March, 1617, to try certain persons accused of riotous
assaults and of breaking and pulling down houses. Three of them
were found guilty of an attack made upon the house of Christopher
Beeston, one of the players at the "Red Bull" theatre, while others,
both men and women, were charged with similar attacks upon the
houses of Richard Loe and Henry Bettes. Those who were found
guilty, including the women, were sentenced to be "reprisoned" in
irons for either three months with a fine of 40s., or a year with a fine of
£6 13s. 4d. (pp. 108–9). Christopher Beeston, alias Hutchinson,
appears elsewhere in the calendar—as the victim of a robbery in his
house (pp. 306, 309); as a recusant, together with his wife Jane, when
he is described variously as a "stageplayer", "player", gentleman, and
yeoman (pp. 91, 143, 189, 343); and as failing to repair the highways,
in company with the rest of the players at the Red Bull, i.e. Thomas
Heyward [Heywood], Richard Perkins, Thomas Drew, Richard
Harrison, and Ellis Worth. They pleaded that they had been at
great charges to amend and put new railings along the footpath leading towards Woods Close at the upper end of St. John Street, which
lay opposite their theatre, and along the church path leading to the
parish church of Clerkenwell, and therefore process upon their former
presentments was ordered to be stayed (pp. 37, 285). In the lists of
recusants there is also a Robert Beeston, with a wife Etheldred or Audrey, described variously as stageplayer and yeoman (pp. 143, 189,
343). These, incidentally, are the only references to the theatre
which occur in this calendar.
Roll 561 for the General Sessions held at Westminster on 2 and 3
October, 1617, is of unusual length, owing to the inclusion of 36
writs of outlawry (pp. 263–75). These writs were issued by Sir
Thomas Lake, knight, on 1 May, 1617, and the Sheriff was charged
to call certain persons from court to court, and if they did not appear
to outlaw and waive them. They are endorsed that the persons were
called at five courts, the last being held at Osulstone on 18 September,
1617, and did not appear, therefore by the judgment of the coroners
they were outlawed. Each writ is subscribed with the date of a Session
ranging from April, 1612, to March, 1616, and the names of the felons,
often illegible in the writs, appear in the Process Register Book of
Indictments, ff. 6d. to 68, with an inscription over each entry saying
that they were outlawed [utlagat] in the case of men, and waived
[waviat] in the case of women, on 18 September, 15 James I. Some
of the names are those of well-known recusants who recur throughout
the calendar (e.g. pp. 266–7, 269–71, 273), and who were subsequently
presented for a similar offence (e.g. pp. 287–8, 343–4).
Among the recurrent features may be noted a particularly long list
of persons charged with not working in the highways with their
labourers or with their carts (pp. 28–39). This list occurs in the
Process Register Book of Indictments, ff. 79d–92d, and includes a
number of well-known names, such as Sir Francis Bacon (p. 34),
Lady Burleigh (p. 37), and the Countess of Sussex (p. 38). Several
people were excused from paying their fines for various reasons—i.e.
Edward Norgate, gentleman, was discharged because he was the servant of Sir Thomas Lake, First Secretary of State to the King (p. 38),
and John Warren because he was ordered to do double labour instead (p. 39).
Among those prisoners mentioned in Gaol Delivery calendars,
whose names are not found elsewhere, Lewis Marcott may be noted
as being detained in Newgate for stealing the Lord Treasurer's goods,
and Andrew Browne for making a collection in aid of churches by
false letters (p. 204).
Only one coroner's inquest is bound up with the rolls, although
there are references to two others (pp. 107, 115, 196–7). Two informations were laid by Bartholomew Benson, a well-known informer,
one against John Carre for receiving 100 loads of hay with intent to
re-sell the same (p. 61), and one against Oswald Smith for maintaining
unlawful games (p. 82). In certain cases money was demanded from
innocent persons as a composition for imaginary offences where no
informations had actually been laid against them (e.g. pp. 165, 213).
Such a case against Robert Yeomans and John Hammond, brought
by Gilbert Hayes and Thomas Chapman, resulted in the former pair
being indicted in London, and the latter being found not guilty of
perjury (p. 194). After Matthew Hitchcock, a common informer, had
given information against three men for divers offences, he took
composition money, which resulted in a judgment being given against
him that he was to be set upon a horse with his face to its tail, and to
ride thus to the pillory, and there to stand for two hours in the open
market with a paper over his head inscribed "for unjust compounding
upon severall informacons without lycence", and afterwards to pay
a fine of £10 (p. 235).
Most of the treasonable offences are concerned with the debasing,
clipping, or counterfeiting of the coinage. Cuthbert Hulton was
charged with such an offence, and respited to the "Compter of London" (pp. 103–4); Richard Slowe with uttering counterfeit money
(p. 107); and Eustace Bissaker with washing and diminishing gold,
for which he received sentence to be drawn [on a hurdle] and hanged
(p. 290). Richard and Joan Thompson were charged with helping a
prisoner, "one Reignolds", to escape out of Newgate through a vault.
This "Reignolds" had been committed for clipping silver (p. 347),
and in the next Sessions we find a certain Henry Reynoldes, possibly
the same man, listed in the Gaol Delivery Register as not guilty of
clipping money but respited without bail to the next Sessions (p. 368).
Thomas and John Hanby were detained in Newgate for receiving an
escaped prisoner, being a traitor, out of the Tower (pp. 239, 304).
A blacksmith was bound over by a recognizance entered into at the
General Gaol Delivery held at Canterbury Castle in July 1616, to appear at the "Sessions of the Peace to be held at Newgate" in the following Michaelmas term to prosecute two men for suspicion of treason,
but no details are given, and one of the prisoners was delivered by
proclamation in the subsequent December Sessions (pp. 60, 80).
James Howeston of Stepney was bound to answer William Housigoe
of Limehouse for treason, the specific charge being that of traitorous
words spoken against the King, but no true bill was found and he
was merely bound over to be of good behaviour (p. 211).
Several cases of counterfeiting or forgery are mentioned (pp. 54,
132, 177, 191, 310, 312, 317), the most important being that of Edward
Yarworth of New Brentford, clerk, who counterfeited the hands of
the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and other members of the Privy Council (pp. 132, 310). Two men of St. Martin'sin-the-Fields were accused of conspiring to injure a man called
Cornelius Vandernaught by forging a warrant for his arrest purporting
to come from William Knollys, Viscount Wallingford, under colour
of which one of the men, Robert Hamilton by name, arrested the said
Cornelius, with intent to detain him injuriously in prison; but the
forgery was discovered and Hamilton suffered the punishment of
having to stand in the pillory with a paper over his head showing his
offence; the other man was not caught (p. 191). There are also many
cases of cheating or cozening, either by the use of false tokens, or at
games of cards or dice. For example, three London cheats, who were
wont to lie in wait in the highway to lure unsuspecting countrymen,
persuaded two millers travelling from Canterbury to London to go
with them to a certain house in East Smithfield, where they "seduced
them to play at cards" and won over £10 from them "at decoy".
Rather surprisingly the victims received most of their money back,
as it appears that Thomas Wolfe, constable of the Tower Liberty,
caught the cheats, and although one of them escaped out of his
custody, he had managed to get £9 11s. from them, out of which he
was ordered to pay 20s. to the use of the poor of that Liberty and
return the balance to the former owners (pp. 64–6).
Out of thirteen cases of persons charged with murder only one, a
woman, was found guilty and hanged (p. 168). Of the others a verdict of manslaughter was brought in on four occasions, although one
of the accused was hanged after an unsuccessful plea of benefit of
clergy, and the rest, of whom four were women accused of childmurder, were found not guilty, respited further, or delivered by proclamation; in one case the charge was perforce dropped because the
accused had already died and been buried, as was sworn on oath by
his former sureties (p. 83). In one case, Richard Ingram of Islington
successfully pleaded benefit of clergy when charged with the murder
of Samuel Armitage; at the inquest it was related how a drunken
quarrel had sprung up in an inn between the two men who had
fought together and made an affray, and it was held that the victim
had struck the first blow, and as a result had been killed by a knifethrust in his side (pp. 196–7).
Out of a further eighteen cases of persons charged with manslaughter, seven were found not guilty, the victims of three being
declared to have died by the visitation of God, although it would
seem difficult to exculpate Henry Bull, who led a horse-drawn cart over
the body of Thomas Haggert, giving him a mortal bruise on the
head (p. 142); two were found guilty and hanged; a similar sentence
passed on Stephen Rogers was altered to transportation to Virginia
"because he is of the Art of the Carpenters" (p. 115); while the ultimate fate of eight remains unknown. One would like to know what
became of Lady Cornelia Farmer, wife of Sir Richard Farmer of
Somerton, co. Oxford, knight, who shot John Onley, a gentleman,
with a pistol, wounding him in the leg, after which he eventually
died (pp. 133–4).
There are two cases of causing death by poison, in one of which
the defendant was found not guilty, as it was judged that the victim
had committed suicide (pp. 110, 356); in a third case the charge included the employment of witchcraft as well as poison, when John
Chaunsey and Joan Brombricke were charged with practising to
destroy Edmond Moore by these means, and the same John and
Katherine Spencer with taking away the wife, children and goods of
the said Edmond; but the plot must have miscarried because Edmond
was present to give evidence against them, and they were assessed at
very heavy fines, £200, £100, and £50 respectively (pp. 303, 310).
Witchcraft on enchantment is also referred to when the wife of a
brewer at Edmonton was accused of bewitching a child (p. 133), and
when Mathias Evans of Rosemary Lane, gentleman, was bound in
£100 to answer "concerninge the erectinge of figures and southsayinge" (p. 309).
There are four cases of bigamy, one of which continues the story of
John Jolles which is recorded in Vol. III, p. 182; he was found not
guilty (p. 83). One man was charged with having become "suitor
to Hellen Fludd in the way of marryage having a wife living" (p. 123).
There are also two cases of women being charged with having two
husbands, Alice Barnaby alias Pennington (p. 339), and Frances
Carpenter, formerly Williams, who was found not guilty (pp. 6, 73).
In addition to the riots already mentioned in connection with the
Session of Oyer and Terminer, there were several other tumults,
among which may be noted the riotous de meanour of five carpenters
"at the Bulwark of the Tower of London" (p. 211); an assault by two
men and a woman on some boys in Whitechapel, the woman threatening them with a knife (p. 236); a riot at the house of Bridget
Pasmore, a notorious keeper of a bawdy-house and alehouse, who
although suppressed continued on her disorderly course (pp. 336,
352); and a riotous assault made by some wine-porters on Doctor
James Chambers, the King's Physician, and Dennis Lee his servant,
as they were passing peaceably through Holborn (pp. 354–5). The
usual disturbances seem to have occurred on Shrove Tuesday, both
in 1617 and 1618. On the former occasion a baker who refused to
aid the constable in keeping the peace was fined £20, and had to
stand in the open with a paper over his head, seek the constable's
pardon, and go to prison for one year (p. 146); in 1618 fourteen persons were committed by order of the Lord Chief Justice; of these, two
were fined, two discharged, three respited further, and seven sent to
the House of Correction (p. 341).
Assaults in the highway, without robbery, were dealt with leniently,
the only punishment inflicted being a fine (e.g., pp. 15–16, 229), but
highway robbery was a different matter. All those found guilty of
such an offence were sentenced to be hanged, although one at least
was subsequently respited and three others were outlawed (pp. 90,
106). The death penalty was even incurred for robbing the victim
of such trifles as a cloak worth 20s. and a handkerchief worth 2d. with
10s. in it, or 6s. out of a lady's purse (pp. 326, 365); but when one
highway robber had been proved to be not guilty of robbery, but
merely of assault and wounding, he was fined £40 and respited for
good sureties during his life (p. 344).
References to the stealing of horses, cattle and sheep are numerous,
and in at least one instance seem to indicate the existence of a gang of
thieves who systematically stole the horses of countrymen when they
had come to London. In this incident one of the men endured the
punishment of the peine forte et dure, and the others either escaped or
were presumably respited to the Buckinghamshire Assizes, their
prosecutors having been bound over to appear there (p. 323). Another horse-thief also underwent the torture of the peine forte et dure
(p. 77). There are two cases of stealing tame deer (pp. 76, 163),
and two of hunting the King's deer in Hyde Park (pp. 345, 366).
Other thefts from the King include a pair of iron racks (p. 105), 40lb.
weight of lead (p. 116), and divers unspecified goods (p. 345). There
was also an attempt to rob "the King's payhouse at Whitehall" at
10 o'clock one night, but both the thieves escaped (p. 229).
Among the many cases of burglary, house-breaking and larceny
there are very few that call for special mention. Four thefts from
gardens are recorded, when artichokes, cabbages and young trees
were removed (pp. 173, 210, 295, 298), and some iron was stolen from
a forge in the French Ambassador's garden (p. 198); after one burglary,
when clothes, a carpet and a pewter charger were taken, one of the
accused escaped, two were found not guilty, but the third stood mute
and had judgment of the peine forte et dure (p. 362), as did another man
in a burglary charge whereof no details are given (p. 291); a mariner
of Limehouse stole three barrels and a half of pitch and tar worth
30s. belonging to the East India Company, but he was found guilty
of petty larceny only, to the value of 11d., and sentenced to be whipped
in the place where the offence was done (p. 77); the thief who stole
some curtains out of Sir Ralph Winwood's coach pleaded benefit of
clergy, but as it was found he had made this claim before, he was
not allowed the book and was sentenced to be hanged (p. 303).
There are two cases mentioned of the robbing of ships; in one,
James Burte of Shadwell, sailor, Thomas Slater and four others of the
same place were indicted for stealing a number of valuable goods,
including pillowbeers wrought with silk and gold worth £20, six
pairs of holland sheets worth £30 and a piece of tapestry hanging worth
£20, belonging to Sir Edward Coke, knight, out of a barque near
Woolwich, for which crime the four who were found guilty sought
the book, but as the said James could not read he was hanged (pp.
67–8); in the other case, William Reignoldes, Agnes Cooke and Robert
Slater were charged with taking away a box and £8 in money out of
the ship called the "Mary Fortune" of Lynn, but were found not
guilty (p. 180).
The suppression of nuisances is exemplified when a maltster and a
brewer caused annoyances with their brew-houses (pp. 208, 367), and
when a baker greatly annoyed and injured his neighbours by enclosing
a pump and a common "house of easement" (p. 217). There are two
cases of injury to passers-by in the streets through dangerous driving
or riding (pp. 42, 142).
The unlawful sale of tobacco was greatly on the increase, and it
would seem that the habit of smoking was apt to interfere with
the duties of the Watch (pp. 221, 241). In September 1617 seven
tobacco-sellers were bound over because, having been formerly
warned by the Lord Chief Justice's order to desist from victualling,
they yet continued to do so (p. 215).
Robert Tapping of Charterhouse Lane was charged for his several
contempts in not appearing at the Musters (p. 282).
Definite orders by the Justices assembled in Court, and set down at
some length, include such matters as the repair of bridges (pp. 101–2,
366); the settlement of vagrants and maintenance of destitute wives
and children (e.g. pp. 158–9, 166, 207); purveyance for the Royal
Household (pp. 102–3, 335); the ordering of the House of Correction
(pp. 89–90, 157–8, 282) and a payment to its late governor (p. 367);
payments to maimed soldiers (e.g., pp. 156–7, 335–6); the appointment of a body of special informers to enquire into the negligence of
petty constables in not punishing rogues (p. 367); the prevention of
mutiny in Newgate, where a disorder had of late been committed
(p. 242); and the suppression of a particular form of begging that took
place during certain festivals known as Whitsun Ales (pp. 283–4).
At such times great numbers of women and children went about the
streets and highways begging upon pretence that it was for the
repair of churches, and many unlawful games were played, for both of
which "they allege ancient custom and long continuance", therefore
the Justices decided to order the churchwardens and constables in
the several parishes where such games and begging were used to put
an end to these practices, and to bring before the Justices any person
who resisted their authority in this matter.
Many alehouse-keepers were charged with being unlicensed or
keeping ill rule in their taverns, as well on the Sabbath as on other
days, but only one such inn is mentioned by name, the "Princes Arms"
at Hoxton, whose proprietor, Richard Ransdale, having assaulted and
wounded two gentlemen, was imprisoned in irons and suppressed
from keeping any alehouse in Middlesex, nor was any other man to
victual in that particular house thereafter (p. 117). A theft was committed at the "Black Bear" in St. Giles'-in-the-Fields (p. 318), and the
"Red Lion" in St. Katherine's is mentioned (p. 337), but these are the
only inn-signs that occur in this volume.
A gradual encroachment was already taking place on the common
land in the county. There are three entries in the Process Register
Book of Indictments relating to George Thorpe who enclosed ten
acres of land in Sunbury common (pp. 91, 160, 288). Similar charges
were brought against John Page of Bedfont, for enclosing the common
called "Hatton Moore barne" (p. 208), and against William Tuckey,
for enclosing three acres in the common at Hounslow Heath (pp.
160, 289). The highways were also sometimes enclosed and obstructed, one such being the way called "Bromehill way" leading between Teddington and Kingston Wick (p. 160). There were seven
bridges concerning which presentments were made because they
needed repairing, including Howe bridge in Sunbury, in the highway
leading from Oatelands up to Hampton Court, which Sir Thomas
Lake ought to have repaired (pp. 91, 288); Bow bridge, where Thomas
Mewtas, esquire, had defaulted in its repair (p. 287); and Maltman's
bridge in East Bedfont, for which Sir Michael Stanhope was first
presented in May 1617; he appeared in Court in July 1617, was presented again in October 1617, and finally process against him was
stayed by order of the Court in March 1617–18 because the bridge
was by then sufficiently repaired, as certain of the Justices certified the
Court (pp. 160, 288, 366).
With these few examples of the types of cases which called for the
attention of the Justices of Middlesex, I will close this preface and
refer you to the calendar and to the very ample index for further
It is hoped that the present troublous times will not altogether
interrupt continuance of this work, as it is only by making records of
this nature available to those who are not necessarily experts in paleography, that the general student of history is able to obtain an unprejudiced insight into the life and bearing of past generations living
in the county.
Furthermore the continued existence of original records is at the
present time in great jeopardy, and the transcribing and translating
of them should help to secure the preservation of valuable material,
for even if the originals were unfortunately destroyed, some at least
of the copies might be preserved.
I should again like to express my sincere thanks to Miss Cicely
Baker, who compiled the Calendar and Index, and to Miss Cameron
for the constant help she has given to me, help which was especially
valuable in the adverse circumstances during which this volume has
WILLIAM LE HARDY.