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Just Another Day in Chancery Lane: Disorder and the Law in London's Legal Quarter in the Fifteenth Century

  • Hannes Kleineke and James Ross

Scarcely any turbulence, quarrels or disturbance ever occur there, but delinquents are punished with no other punishment than expulsion from communion with their society, which is a penalty they fear more than criminals elsewhere fear imprisonment and fetters. For a man once expelled from one of these societies is never received into the fellowship of any other of those societies. Hence the peace is unbroken and the conversation of all of them is as the friendship of united folk.

This was Sir John Fortescue's idealized account to the exiled prince of Wales, Edward of Lancaster, of the peace-loving nature of London's Inns of Court and Chancery in the mid-fifteenth century. Fortescue was not concerned with the reality, which, as he knew all too well, was different. He was concerned with impressing on his young pupil the perfection of the English law and the education of its practitioners, rather than the imperfections that existed in a society that the prince, as he explicitly told him, would never experience. Few who were familiar with the legal quarter that surrounded the Inns would have recognized the Arcadia that Fortescue described. Far from being the peaceful and well-ordered district that the former chief justice invoked, in the period when he wrote the area to the west of London's Temple Bar was a liminal space, populated by—among others—large numbers of young trainee lawyers, in whom the kind of unruly behaviour otherwise also associated with the early universities, not least the western suburb's Paris counterpart, the quartier latin to the south of the river Seine, was endemic. Among the most important factors that made it so was the very existence of the established, and to some extent tribal, all-male societies of the Inns of Court and of Chancery, at close quarters with the royal law courts and their heady mix of disputants and hired legal counsellors in permanent competition with each other.

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The authors are grateful to Drs. Linda Clark and Simon Payling, and to this journal's editor and anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. A version was presented to the Late Medieval Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London, in October 2013. The authors are indebted to the members of the seminar for their comments.

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1. Sir Fortescue, John (ed. Chrimes, Stanley B.), De Laudibus Legum Anglie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1942), 118–19.

2. The importance of the Holborn area in this context is highlighted by Rexroth, Frank, Deviance and Power in Late Medieval London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 2021 . More recently, Jayne Archer has gone further, and characterized the early modern district as “a physical and conceptual space … simultaneously central and marginal in early modern London and the nation more generally”: Archer, Jayne E., “Education, Religion, Politics, and the Law at the Early Modern Inns of Court,” in The Intellectual and Cultural World of the Early Modern Inns of Court, ed. Archer, Jayne E., Goldring, Elizabeth, and Knight, Sarah (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 2731 , at 27–28. On student disorder in the quartier latin see, for example, Geremek, Bronislaw, The Margins of Society in Late Medieval Paris (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 147–58. The most recent study of student-led disorder in medieval university towns and districts is Scot Jenkins, “Medieval Student Violence: Oxford and Bologna, c.1250–1400” (PhD diss., Swansea University, 2014), which contains an extensive bibliography of the subject. The concept of the Inns of Court as London's “university” was first spelled out by Sir George Buck in his treatise The Third Vniuersitie of England,” published in Stow, John, The Annales, or Generall Chronicle of England (London: Thomas Adams, 1615).

3. Kleineke, Hannes, “Carleton's Book: William FitzStephen's ‘Description of London’ in a Late Fourteenth-Century Common-Place Book,” Historical Research 74 (2001): 117–26, at 119–20.

4. Ford, Mark, ed. London: A History in Verse (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2012), 4953 .

5. For such descriptions, see, for example, Radzikowski, Piotr, ed. Reisebeschreibung Niclas von Popplau, Ritters, bürtig von Breslau (Krakow: Prace Instytutu Historii WSP Kielcach, 8, 1998); and Letts, Malcolm, ed., The Travels of Leo of Rozmital through Germany, Flanders, England, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, 1465–1467 (Cambridge: Hakluyt Soc., 1967).

6. Kingsford, Charles L., ed. A Survey of London by John Stow, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908), 2:89 , 90.

7. In 1582, the city recorder was said to have attempted to put a stop to this mischief. This observation is not found in the 1603 edition of Stow's Survey, but was evidently added by one of his later continuators and editors: Strype, John, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 2 vols. (London: A. Churchill, J. Knapton, R. Knaplock, J. Walthoe, E. Horne, B. Tooke, D. Midwinter, B. Cowse, R. Robinson, and T. Ward, 1720), 2(4):113.

8. Lindley, Keith J., “Riot Prevention and Control in Early Stuart London,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th ser. 33 (1983): 109–26, esp. 113–14; Hooper, Wilfrid, “The Tudor Sumptuary Laws,” English Historical Review 30 (1915): 433–49, at 447; and Fisher, Rodney M., “Reform, Repression and Unrest at the Inns of Court, 1518–58,” The Historical Journal 20 (1977): 783801 .

9. Rexroth, Deviance and Power, 20–21; and Hanawalt, Barbara, “The Host, the Law and the Ambiguous Space of medieval London Taverns,” in Medieval Crime and Social Control, ed. Hanawalt, Barbara A. and Wallace, David (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 212 . Following in Fortescue's and Stow's footsteps, most modern students of the western suburb in the middle ages have concerned themselves with the internal workings of the legal profession, and of the law schools and courts, rather than with their failings. See, for example, Thorne, Samuel E., “The Early History of the Inns of Court with Special Reference to Gray's Inn,” in Essays in English Legal History (London: Hambledon Press, 1985), 137–54; Baker, John H., “The Inns of Court and Chancery as Voluntary Associations,” in The Legal Profession and the Common Law (London: Hambledon, 1986), 4574 ; John H. Baker, “The Third University 1450–1550: Law School or Finishing School?,” in Intellectual and Cultural World of the Inns of Court, 8–24; John H. Baker, “The Inns of Court in 1388,” in Legal Profession and the Common Law, 3–6. Similarly, the aristocratic residences in the Strand have continued to fascinate scholars: Barron, Caroline M., “Centres of Conspicuous Consumption: The Aristocratic Town House in London 1200–1550,” The London Journal 20 (1995): 116 ; and Croot, Patricia, “A Place in Town in Medieval and Early Modern Westminster: The Origins and History of the Palaces in the Strand,” The London Journal 39 (2014): 85101 .

10. The classic account, of regional disorder and politics, using the records of the King's Bench, is Storey, Robin L., The End of the House of Lancaster (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1966), ch. V–XIII. More recent examples include Maddern, Philippa, Violence and Social Order (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992); Kleineke, Hannes, “Why the West Was Wild: Law and Disorder in Fifteenth-Century Cornwall and Devon,” in The Fifteenth Century III: Authority and Subversion, ed. Clark, Linda (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2003), 7593 ; Peter Booth, “Men Behaving Badly? The West March Towards Scotland and the Percy-Neville Feud,” in The Fifteenth Century III, 95–116; and Prange, Mathis, “Das englisch-schottische Grenzgebiet im Spätmittelalter. Der ‘raid’ im Kontext königlicher Politik,” in Fehdehandlungen und Fehdegruppen im spätmittelalterlichen und frühneuzeitlichen Europa, ed. Prange, Mathis and Reinle, Christine (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), 3959 .

11. Only occasionally did the activities of lesser courts and officials find reflection in the fuller records of the King's Bench: see, for example, The National Archives (Public Record Office), Kew, England (hereafter TNA), KB 27/828, rex rot. 2d, and the evidence of inquiries into the character and wrongdoing of individuals arrested by various bailiffs, constables, and other officers regularly found in the term indictment files of the King's Bench, TNA, KB 9.

12. For fourteenth century examples of riots in the western suburbs caused by or involving “apprentices of the bench,” see Sharpe, Reginald R., ed. Calendar of Coroners’ Rolls of the City of London, A.D. 1300–1378 (London: Richard Clay and Sons, 1913), 134–35, 225–26. A particularly lurid case is that of Roger Legett, a man killed by the rebels during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, at least partially because he had been wont to set up man-traps in Lincoln's Inn Fields: Hilton, Rodney H., Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (London: Temple Smith, 1973), 194 .

13. Kingsford, Charles L., ed. Chronicles of London (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), 155 , 169; Baker, John H., The Men of Court 1440–1550: A Prosopography of the Inns of Court and Chancery and the Courts of Law, 2 vols. (London: Selden Society Supplementary Series 18, 2012), 1:818–19.

14. Powell, Edward, Kingship, Law and Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 149, 158.

15. TNA, KB 27/695, rex rot. 4d; KB 27/746, rot. 115; KB 27/828, rex rot. 2d; and KB 145/6/25 (no internal foliation).

16. For the final chapter of the story see Colin F. Richmond, “The Murder of Thomas Dennis,” Common Knowledge 2 (1993): 85–98.

17. Denys must be distinguished from a contemporary namesake, an Ipswich lawyer, whose career of office-holding was concentrated in that town, and who died in 1464: Wedgwood, Josiah C. and Holt, Anne, ed. The History of Parliament: Biographies of the Members of the Commons House 1439–1509 (London: H.M.S.O., 1936), 269 .

18. Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” 89.

19. For Denys's career, Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” 88–95; and Baker, Men of Court, 1:587–88.

20. Davis, Norman, Beadle, Richard, and Richmond, Colin, eds. Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, 3 vols. (Oxford: Early English Text Society, Special Series 20–22, 2004), 2, no. 490.

21. Ibid., 2, no. 452.

22. Richmond, following Davis, assumed that the letter of May 17 dated from 1450, as did James Ross, on the basis of the similar subject matter of a letter dated May 13, more securely datable to 1450: Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” 87–88; and Ross, James, John de Vere, Thirteenth Earl of Oxford, 1442–1513 (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2011), 178–79. The letter of May 13, 1450 from Denys to John Paston I notes that he had “fully conquered my lady sith ye went, so that I haf hir promise to be my good lady”: Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 452. The close proximity of the dates would suggest both were from 1450; however, there are some problems. If Denys had “fully conquered” his lady by May 13 with the help of Paston, it seems unlikely that the earl would be writing to Paston 4 days later, as if Paston were unaware of the match, and asking for his help in the matter, and, as James Gairdner has pointed out, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that the earl was at East Winch in Norfolk on May 13 and at Wivenhoe in Essex on May 17, the places from which the two letters were dated, and which are 135 km apart: Gairdner, James, ed. The Paston Letters, 6 vols., (London: Chatto & Windus, 1904), 2:151. The lady was named in the letter of May 13, as “mastress Anne” whereas the “gentilwoman” of May 17 was probably Denys's future wife Agnes Ingham neé Grene. Davis pointed out that Agnes and Anne were not clearly distinguished as Christian names at this date (Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 490). However, the letter of May 13, 1450 cannot refer to Denys's future wife, as her first husband Thomas Ingham the younger did not die until January or February 1452.

23. Paston Letters and Papers, 1, no. 49.

24. British Library, London, England, Lansdowne Charter 56; Essex Record Office, Chelmsford, England (hereafter ERO), D/DPr 138 (receiver-general's account of the earl of Oxford). Denys wrote at least four letters preserved among the Paston collection on behalf of the earl between 1450 and 1453 (Paston Letters and Papers, 2, nos. 456, 490; 3, nos. 999, 1,000). One of these, showing Denys's hand, is reproduced in 3, plate XXVII. Other letters from the earl composed during the same period are in another unidentified hand; therefore, Denys was not the earl's only secretary. If it was the same Thomas Denys, he was also acquiring land in Essex on a small scale in the 1440s, including a messuage in Harwich (1441) and a weir in Orwell (1449): Kirk, Richard E.G., Fowler, Robert C., Ratcliff, Sidney C., Reaney, Percy H. and Fitch, Marc, eds. Feet of Fines for Essex, 4 vols. (Colchester: Essex Archaeological Society, 1899–1964), 4:29, 43 .

25. C[alendar] of P[atent] R[olls], 1452–61 (London: H.M.S.O., 1910), 197 . Thomas Ingham's will mentions three children, Emma, Thomas and Margery.

26. For his career, see Charles E. Moreton, “Ingham, Thomas,” unpublished article for the 1422–61 section of the History of Parliament Trust. The authors are grateful to the trustees for permission to draw upon this article. Thomas Ingham senior was no stranger to litigation in Chancery, being party to at least four other chancery suits during his career: C 1/8/26, C 1/73/130, 131; C 1/9/237, C 1/73/91; C 1/16/385; C 1/10/9.

27. A tax assessment based on property, annuities and fees saw Thomas Ingham senior and junior respectively assessed at £5 and £4; Thomas senior also held half a knight's fee in Great Melton, Norfolk: Virgoe, Roger, “A Norwich Taxation List of 1451,” Norfolk Archaeology 40 (1989): 145–54, at 150; Inquisitions and Assessments Relating to Feudal Aids, 1284–1431, 6 vols. (London: H.M.S.O., 1899–1920), 3:589. The extent of the two men's trading activities or mercantile wealth remains obscure.

28. Thomas Grene was associated with Sir John Fastolf, into whose service both Denys and John Paston later moved, and acted as a feoffee for him in 1449 and 1450: Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 900; 3, no. 986; and CPR, 1449–1452, 301, 315. He was possibly of the Grene family of Knapton in Norfolk, not far from Fastolf's castle at Caister: Rye, Walter, ed. Visitations of Norfolk, 1563, 1589 and 1613 (London: Harleian Society 32, 1891), 133 . He was styled a gentleman of Great Yarmouth in a common pleas suit of 1454: TNA, CP 40/771, rot. 658d.

29. Norfolk Record Office, Norwich, England, Norwich Consistory Court, will register Aleyn, fos. 107–108.

30. The bill has become separated from the other documents in the debt case among the chancery records in the National Archives, and the latter are out of order. The correct procedural order is as follows: Petition (C 1/22/130); writ sub poena, dated  October 17 (C 253/34/445); answer (C 4/26/3/8); replication (C 4/26/3/6); rejoinder (C 4/26/3/5); interrogatory and depositions of Agnes Denys (C 4/26/3/7); and proffer of Thomas Denys (C 4/26/3/3). C 4/26/3/1, 2 and 4 are the witnesses’ statements about the confrontation in Chancery Lane, printed in the appendix.

31. TNA, C 1/22/130, on which this paragraph is based.

32. The following paragraph is based on C 4/26/3/8. On the evolution of the concept of usury and the laws governing it, see Munro, John H., “The Medieval Origins of the Financial Revolution: Usury, Rentes, and Negotiability,” International History Review 25 (2003): 505–62, esp. 506–13, and the literature cited there.

33. TNA, C 4/26/3/6.

34. Derby (d.1474), educated at Cambridge and rector of various churches in Lincolnshire and elsewhere, was granted the reversion of the office of prothonotary of Chancery in 1444 and had presumably succeeded to the post by 1452 when hearing this case: Emden, Alfred B., ed. A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), 184; and Richter, Janice G., “Education and Association: the Bureaucrat in the Reign of Henry VI,” Journal of Medieval History 12 (1986): 8196 .

35. TNA, C 4/26/3/7.

36. TNA, C 4/26/3/5.

37. The manuscript gives £280 (fourteen score), but this is clearly a scribal error for the intended £260.

38. TNA, C 4/26/3/3. Denys demanded the aldermen make their statement by the feast of Candlemas next (February 2). In his original draft, he had promised payment despite maintaining that Thomas Ingham had already been satisfied; however, he subsequently amended his offer with the proviso that he would only pay if he failed to prove his case.

39. The series of Decree rolls (C 78) and Entry Books of Decrees and Orders (C 33) in the National Archives only survive from the 1530s onwards.

40. TNA, CP 40/771, rot. 658d.

41. Thomas junior's age, the date of Thomas senior's marriage, and the identity of his wife remain obscure. The younger man was admitted to the freedom of Norwich as a mercer in 29 Henry VI (1450–51): L'Estrange, John (ed. Rye, Walter), Calendar of Freemen of Norwich (London: Elliot Stock, 1888), 78 . His father was admitted to the freedom as early as 1401–02: Norfolk Record Office, NCR 17c (“Old Free Book”), fo. 40.

42. TNA, CP 40/785, rot. 409d. The earl claimed that Denys was supervising his manors of “Nowers et Sutton” (“Nowers” is not otherwise known to be a de Vere manor; “Sutton” is likely to be the manor of Suttons in Walton, Essex), overseeing repairs and the sale of wood there, as well as overseeing the governance of the earl's household, a more senior post, for Denys's holding of which there is no other evidence: James Ross, “The de Vere Earls of Oxford, 1400–1513” (DPhil diss., Oxford University, 2003), ch. 3, 5. Taken together, the details of service are unconvincing.

43. It is just possible that the date of October 1 was a generic one, given in the pleading as the plaintiff was able to remember the month, but not the precise date of the event in question. The suit was postponed until the following Trinity term; however, no continuation has been found on the plea roll of that term (TNA, CP 40/786).

44. It is impossible to be certain of this man's identity, as there were several Robsons in the earl's service at this time: William Robson was a feoffee for de Vere in 1456 (TNA, C 140/10/23); John Robson (d.1468) was constable of his castle at Hedingham, Essex (Philip Morant, The History and Antiquities of Essex, 2 vols. [London: T. Osborne, J. Whiston, S. Baker, L. Davis, C. Reymers and B. White, 1768], 2:296); and Henry Robson, esquire, acted as an attorney for the earl's son in 1465 (British Library, London, England, Additional Charter 28620; Ross, “De Vere Earls,” 228, 239). One “Robson … a squyer of my lordys” is mentioned in December 1450 by Sir John Fastolf, and “Robson, my lord of Oxford man” by William Wayte in January 1451: Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 471; 3, no. 996.

45. Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 447; Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” 91–93; Carthew, George A., The Hundred of Launditch, 3 vols. (Norwich: Miller & Leavins, 1877), 2:554, for an abstract of an enfeoffment by Denys of his property in Brisley and other places in Norfolk to Paston and others, dated September 29, 1454. This evidence somewhat undermines Paston's claim to the earl of Oxford in March 1454 that “I had litill cause to do for Thomas Denyes, saving only for your gode lordship”: Paston Letters and Papers, 1, no. 49.

46. TNA, C 140/10/23; ERO, D/DYf/6; and Ross, “De Vere Earls,” 227–29.

47. TNA, CP 40/779, rot. 407; CP 40/781, rot. 368d.

48. The bearing of factors such as space and environment on many aspects of medieval life has for some time been recognized by historians, and of late, some of the institutions of government have also come to be studied in this way. See, for example, Chris R. Kyle, “Parliament and the Palace of Westminster: An Exploration of Public Space in the Early Seventeenth Century,” in Housing Parliament. Dublin, Edinburgh and Westminster, ed. Clyve Jones and Sean Kelsey (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), 85–98; and Kyle, Chris R. and Peacey, Jason, “‘Under Cover of So Much Coming and Going’: Public Access to Parliament and the Political Process in Early Modern England,” in Parliament at Work, ed. Kyle, Chris R. and Peacey, Jason (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2002), 123 .

49. The literature on the early history of the Inns of Court and Chancery is extensive. A starting point is provided by Nigel L. Ramsay, “The English Legal Profession, c.1340–c.1450,” (PhD diss., University of Cambridge  1985), app. 5, pp. xv–xlii, and also see Thorne, “The Early History of the Inns of Court,” 137–54; and John H. Baker, “The Inns of Court and Chancery as Voluntary Associations,” in Legal Profession and the Common Law, 45–74. In 1574, 1,100 were  thought to possess chambers in the Inns, and Baker suggests similar numbers in the fifteenth century, although Fortescue's numbers would suggest that there were closer to 1,800: John H. Baker, “The English Legal Profession, 1450–1550,” in Legal Profession and the Common Law, 93–97.

50. For occasional snapshots of such activity from the alehouses of the district, see, for example, TNA, KB 146/6/32/1; E 159/235, recorda Easter rot. 35; E 207/18/4, no. 29.

51. Antonia Gransden, “Realistic Observation in Twelfth-Century England,” Speculum 47 (1972): 29–51, at 30.

52. FitzStephen, “Description of London,” 49.

53. Survey of London by John Stow, 2:89, 90.

54. Strype, Survey, 1(1):120–23 (quotation at 121).

55. Roger, Euan C., “Blakberd's Treasure: A Study in Fifteenth-Century Administration at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London,” in The Fifteenth Century XIII: Exploring the Evidence, ed. Clark, Linda (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2014), 81107 , at 103.

56. Compare notes 12–15.

57. Gray's Inn, Staple Inn, Furnival's Inn, Barnard's Inn and Thavie's Inn.

58. TNA, KB 145/6/25; KB 27/746, rot. 115; C 1/27/446, 473; Baildon, W. Paley, Walker, J. Douglas, Roxburgh, Ronald F., and Baker, Paul V., eds. The Records of the Honorable Society of Lincoln's Inn: The Black Books, 6 vols. (London: Inn, Lincoln's, 1897–2001), 1:135, 143.

59. Woolley, David, “The Inn as a Disciplinary Body,” in History of the Middle Temple, ed. Havery, Richard O. (Oxford and Portland: Hart Publishing, 2011), 337–72, at 339.

60. Nelson, Alan H. and Elliott, John R. Jr., eds. Records of Early English Drama: Inns of Court, 3 vols. (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2011), 1:xxxvii.

61. TNA, C 4/49/14.

62. TNA, CP 40/782, rot. 323.

63. TNA, KB 9/993, no. 10; KB 27/609, rex rot. 16, fines rot. 1d; KB 146/6/36/1, nos. 69–70.

64. Saul, Nigel, Richard II (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997), 64 .

65. Chronicles of London, 155; Baker, Men of Court, 1:818–19.

66. Flenley, Ralph, ed., Six Town Chronicles of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1911), 113 , 146; Chronicles of London, 169; Gairdner, James, Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles (London: Camden New Series 28, 1881), 71 ; Harriss, Gerald L. and Harriss, M. Anne, eds. “John Benet's Chronicle for the years 1400 to 1462,” in Camden Miscellany Vol. XXIV (London: Camden Fourth Ser. 9, 1972), 222–23; Brie, Friedrich W.D., ed. The Brut, or the Chronicles of England (London: Early English Text Society, 1906), 525 .

67. Black Books, 1:40, 43–44, 48, 63, 78, 81, 91, 97, 125–27, 129, 136, 138, 152.

68. Ibid., 1:89–90.

69. Ibid., 1:79, 139.

70. A useful point of entry into the growing literature on the medieval court of Chancery is provided by Tucker, Penny, “The Early History of the Court of Chancery: A Comparative Study,” English Historical Review 115 (2000): 791811 .

71. The formal process of chancery, and the role of the keeper of the rolls and his staff in it has been discussed by Malcolm Richardson, but the Denys case provides a unique illustration of the working conditions at Chancery Lane: Richardson, Malcolm, “Early Equity Judges: Keepers of the Rolls of Chancery, 1415–1447,” American Journal of Legal History 36 (1992): 441–65, esp. 443–49.

72. Sweetinburgh, Sheila, “Mayor-Making and Other Ceremonies: Shared Uses of Sacred Space Among the Kentish Cinque Ports,” in The Use and Abuse of Sacred Places in Late Medieval Towns, ed. Trio, Paul and de Smet, Marjan (Leuven: Mediaevalia Lovaniensia, 1st ser. 38, 2006), 165–87.

73. TNA, SP 46/183/83, 87, 101, 122; C 146/913, 1145, 1170; C 47/10/28/27; Kleineke, Hannes, ed. The Chancery Case Between Nicholas Radford and Thomas Tremayne: The Exeter Depositions of 1439 (Exeter: Devon and Cornwall Record Society 55, 2013), 44 .

74. Holford, Matthew L., “‘Testimony (to some extent fictitious)’: Proofs of Age in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century,” Historical Research 82 (2009): 635–54.

75. A copy of Walter's petition to the Lords in Parliament (then sitting) is preserved among the Paston Letters: Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 491A. For the parliamentary context see Given–Wilson, Chris, Brand, Paul, Phillips, Seymour, Ormrod, Mark, Martin, Geoffrey, Curry, Anne and Horrox, Rosemary, eds. Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1275–1504, 16 vols. (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), 12:227, 322 .

76. Paston Letters and Papers, 1, no. 49.

77. Ibid., 2, no. 491A.

78. Ibid.

79. Ibid. Parliament was sitting at Westminster between February 14 and April 17: Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 12:210, 227, 322 for reference to Ingham's petition.

80. Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 491.

81. Ibid., 2, no. 492.

82. Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, Gough MS Norfolk 33, fo. 42, summarized in Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” 89.

83. Although the duke and the earl of Oxford had acted together in local politics in 1450 and 1451 against the duke of Suffolk's unpopular affinity, by early 1454 they were not particularly close; in 1453, Norfolk had been bound over to keep the peace toward the earl under pain of £2,000: TNA, KB 9/118/2, part 1, no. 21, and for the political context see Ross, “De Vere Earls”, 126–28. Thus poaching a useful servant from the earl might have had its attractions for the duke.

84. He was paid the (small) fee of 1 mark: Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 551.

85. C 140/10/23. Evidence of the enfeoffment survives only for the counties of Cornwall, Oxfordshire, and Buckinghamshire, the only counties for which the earl's inquisition post mortem is extant; however, the presence of several East Anglian landowners among the feoffees makes it likely that the enfeoffment also encompassed most of the earl's estates elsewhere.

86. ERO, D/P 227/25/1A.

87. CPR, 1452–61, 197.

88. TNA, C 66/479, m. 18. The standard grant of protection is TNA, C 81/1280, no. 68. Other sequences within the series C 81 do not appear to contain a further warrant or draft for the letters patent.

89. Paston Letters and Papers, 2, no. 491A.

90. Denys's murder is discussed in detail by Richmond, “Murder of Thomas Dennis,” and appears to be essentially unconnected with the Denys–Ingham dispute that came before. In brief, on July 2, 1461 Denys was taken from his house by the parson of Snoring, who, as Richmond surmised, was the earl of Warwick's appointee Richard Cheyne. Their quarrel was apparently, in the first instance, personal: Cheyne accused Denys of having “made bills” against him and John Twyer. Whether these bills were in the nature of lawsuits, or simply slanderous, is unclear. More clear-cut was the second allegation, that Denys had “take sowdyours out of hys felashep whan he went to Seynt Albons.” Here the quarrel assumed a very definite political color. Cheyne and Denys had both been part of the army that Warwick had raised by commissions of array in Henry VI's name in the first days of February 1461 to counter the threat of the force that Queen Margaret of Anjou was bringing from the north. Drawing men from the contingent Cheyne was bringing to the earl in his hour of need could seriously imperil relations between lord and servant. Cheyne was eventually arrested in Norwich at some point between October 1461 and September 1462 on suspicion of complicity in the murder: TNA, C 244/95/92. The murder itself took place 2 days after Cheyne seized Denys, on July 4, when according to the indictment three laborers broke into his house, seized a horse and some cash, removed him to Egmere, a place 12 km distant from Denys's house at Gateley in Norfolk, and there killed him: TNA, KB 9/298, nos. 24–25.

91. Compare the literature cited in note 10.

92. Barron, “Centres of Conspicuous Consumption,” 1–16; and Croot, “A Place in Town,” 85–101. The earl of Oxford's inn was situated in the northeast of the city near Bishopsgate, rather than in the Strand: John L. Kirby, ed. Calendar of Inquisitions post Mortem XX (London: H.M.S.O., 1995), no. 635.

93. For the related documents, see note 30.

The authors are grateful to Drs. Linda Clark and Simon Payling, and to this journal's editor and anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. A version was presented to the Late Medieval Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, London, in October 2013. The authors are indebted to the members of the seminar for their comments.

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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