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:—
|Stood mute and had punishment of the terrible peine forte et dure||3|
|Successfully pleaded benefit of clergy and branded||57|
|Branded as rogues||2|
|Set in the stocks||7|
|Committed to the Bridewell, Gatehouse, etc.||34|
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,
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
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).
One case of sacrilege is recorded when two persons were hanged
for "burglary in the parish church of Hornsey" (p. 304).
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).
Cozenage was constantly reported. On one occasion two men
were cozened of £5 5s. "at cards at a fair at Ingatestone in Essex"
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"
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
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
Those who kept bowling alleys, tables and cards, were brought
before the justices and bound over to see that good behaviour was
kept in their houses (e.g. p. 68).
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
Two men who were "drinking dronck in an Alehouse at Hackney
in Evenprayer time" and abused an "honest woman" were bound
over (p. 52), as was a ship-carpenter who was "dailie drunke" (p.
John Boyse was committed by the Lord Chamberlain for his
misdemeanours at Whitehall "at the Maske" (p. 263).
John Shanke of St. Giles' was accused by Henry Udall of Drury
Lane with buying goods at "the Playhouse" which had been previously stolen from him (p. 188).
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"
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"
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).
Four persons who refused to take the Oath of Allegiance had all
their lands and chattels forfeited and were placed "outside the
protection of the Lord the King" (pp. 30, 60–1).
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.