Memorials: 1385

Pages 483-486

Memorials of London and London Life in the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. Originally published by Longmans, Green, London, 1868.

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Unlawful Nets ordered to be burnt.

8 Richard II. A.D. 1385. Letter-Book H. fol. clxxxvi. (Latin.)

On the 10th day of January, in the 8th year etc., John Chipstede, bailiff of Queen Hythe, brought here, before Nicholas Brembre, Knight, the Mayor, and the Aldermen, eight nets called "smeltnet," taken, as being used for fishing in the water of Thames, between London Bridge and Westminster, which belonged to the following men;—one net to John Fynch of Batricheseye, (fn. 1) one to John Bukke of the same, one to Richard Fynch of the same, one to John Newerk of the same, one to Stephen Clement of the same, one to Robert Buntelle of the same, one to John Edriche of Hamersmyth, and one to John Broun of the same; asserting that the same nets were false, for that their meshes were too narrow; to the destruction of the small fish, and against the custom and Ordinance of the City of London, whereby the meshes of those nets, and of all other nets for fishing in the same water and in Medeweye, were to be at least two inches wide between the knots; whereas here, the meshes of the same nets were only an inch and a half at most in width between the knots; to the damage of all the people, and against the Ordinance and custom aforesaid.

Which nets having been viewed and examined, according to custom, by fishmongers having knowledge as to the same, namely, John Trigge, Clement Lavender, Elias Braibrok, and John Queldrik, of Oldefisshstret, Richard Stile, John Ridere, Nicholas Rameseye, and John Ledrede, of Briggestrete, it was found on their oath, that the said nets were false, their meshes being too narrow, as before stated. Therefore it was ordered that the same nets should be burnt.

Punishment of the Pillory, inflicted upon a Procuress.

9 Richard II. A.D. 1385. Letter-Book H. fol. cxciv. (Latin.)

On the 27th day of July, in the 9th year etc., Elizabeth, the wife of Henry Moring, was brought before Nicholas Brembre, Knight, the Mayor, the Aldermen, and the Sheriffs of London, in the Guildhall, for that, as well at the information of divers persons, as upon the acknowledgment and confession of one Johanna, her serving-woman, the same Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs, were given to understand that the said Elizabeth, under colour of the craft of broidery, which she pretended to follow, took in and retained the same Johanna and divers other women, as her apprentices, and bound them to serve her after the manner of apprentices in such art; whereas the truth of the matter was, that she did not follow that craft, but that, after so retaining them, she incited the same Johanna and the other women who were with her, and in her service, to live a lewd life, and to consort with friars, chaplains, and all other such men as desired to have their company, as well in her own house, in the Parish of All Hallows near the Wall, in the Ward of Bradstret, (fn. 2) in London, as elsewhere; and used to hire them out to the same friars, chaplains, and other men, for such stipulated sum as they might agree upon, as well in her own house as elsewhere, she retaining in her own possession the sum so agreed upon.

And in particular, on Thursday the 4th day of May last past, by the compassing and procuring of the said Elizabeth, and of a certain chaplain, whose name is unknown, she sent the same Johanna, and ordered her to accompany the said chaplain at night, that she might carry a lantern before him to his chamber—but in what Parish (fn. 3) is likewise unknown;—it being her intention that the said Johanna should stay the night there with the chaplain; of their own con triving, while the said Johanna herself, as she says, knew nothing about it. Still, she remained there with such chaplain the whole of that night; and when she returned home to her mistress on the morrow, this Elizabeth asked her if she had brought anything with her for her trouble that night; (fn. 4) to which she made answer that she had not. Whereupon, the same Elizabeth used words of reproof to her, and ordered her to go back again to the chaplain on the following night, and whatever she should be able to lay hold of, to take the same for her trouble, and bring it to her. Accordingly, Johanna by her command went back on the following night to the said chaplain, at his chamber aforesaid, and again passed the night there: and on the morrow she rose very early in the morning, and bearing in mind the words of her mistress, and being afraid to go back without carrying something to her said mistress, she took a Portifory (fn. 5) that belonged to the chaplain, and carried it off, the chaplain himself knowing nothing about it; which Portifory she delivered to the said Elizabeth, who took it, well knowing how and in what manner the same Johanna had come by it. And after this, the said Elizabeth pledged this Portifory for eight pence, to a man whose name is unknown.

And many other times this Elizabeth received the like base gains from the same Johanna, and her other serving-women, and retained the same for her own use; living thus abominably and damnably, and inciting other women to live in the like manner; she herself being a common harlot and a procuress.

Whereupon, on the same day, the said Elizabeth was asked by the Court, how she would acquit herself thereof; to which she made answer, that she was in no way guilty, and put herself upon the country as to the same. Therefore the Sheriffs were instructed to summon twelve good men of the venue aforesaid to appear here on the 28th day of the same month, to make a Jury thereon; and the said Elizabeth was in the meantime committed to prison.

Upon which day the good men of the venue aforesaid appeared, by Robert Tawyere and eleven others etc.; who declared upon their oath, the same Elizabeth to be guilty of all the things above imputed to her; and that she was a common harlot, and a common procuress. And because that through such women and the like deeds many scandals had befallen the said city, and great peril might through such transactions in future arise; therefore, according to the custom of the City of London in such and the like cases provided, and in order that other women might beware of doing the like; it was adjudged that the said Elizabeth should be taken from the Guildhall aforesaid to Cornhulle, and be put upon the thewe, there to remain for one hour of the day, the cause thereof being publicly proclaimed. And afterwards, she was to be taken to some Gate of the City, and there be made to forswear the City, and the liberty thereof, to the effect that she would never again enter the same; on pain of imprisonment for three years, and the said punishment of the thewe, at the discretion of the Mayor and Aldermen for the time being, so often as it should please them that she should suffer such punishment.

Punishment of the Pillory, for selling false bowstrings.

9 Richard II. A.D. 1385. Letter-Book H. fol. cxciv. (Latin.)

On the 3rd day of August, in the 9th year etc., Alan Birchore, strengere, (fn. 6) dwelling near to Turhille, (fn. 7) in London, was brought before the Mayor and Aldermen, for that, whereas he was a maker of bowstrings, and sold them, as well within the liberty of the said city as without, to persons wishing to buy the same, on the 2nd day of August last past he brought within the liberty of the city aforesaid four dozens of bow-strings for sale; all of which, as well upon the information of other reputable men of that trade, as upon assay made thereof with bows, were found to be false and deceptive, in deceit of the common people, and to their manifest peril etc.

Whereupon, being asked how he would acquit himself thereof, of his own accord he acknowledged that the said strings were false, and made to deceive, as imputed to him. And because that through such and the like strings, so falsely and deceitfully made, the greatest damage might easily ensue unto our Lord the King and his realm—and might such not be the case—and to the end that other persons might abstain from doing the like;—it was adjudged that the same Alan should be taken to the pillory on Cornhulle, and be put upon the same, there to stand for one hour of the day, and that the said strings should be burnt beneath him. And precept was given to the Sheriffs, to cause proclamation to be made of the reason for the same.


  • 1. Battersea.
  • 2. Broad Street.
  • 3. This careful profession of ignorance as to the chaplain's name and residence deserves remark.
  • 4. pro labore suo.
  • 5. See page 263 ante, Note 1.
  • 6. Stringer.
  • 7. Tower Hill.