CRIME DURING THE REIGN OF JAMES 1

James 1 who was the only son of Mary Queen of Scots became King of Scotland in July 1567 and then unified Britain by becoming King of England, Scotland and Ireland in March 1603 throne following the death of Elizabeth 1.

The times were comparatively turbulent although for most people there was little crime.

The below table looks at people from villages in the East Essex area who appeared before the Assize Courts at Chelmsford and Brentwood for the last  years of the reign on James 1 from 1606 to 1624 .

The crimes took place in the home village of the defendant unless otherwise stated. Family historians are able to use the records to trace ancestors who were either  defendants and aggrieved.

Sentencing was very harsh especially for poor illiterate people. The standard of investigation was of dubious quality and often trials especially murder too the form of murder trial and inquest and could often find the accused innocent and name a third party who was not initially accused as guilty.

Many of the criminals appeared from crime such as theft, burglary and highway robbery which are still recognisable today. A few of the reasons for appearing are more unusual to modern minds hence a brief explanation about religious offences, ecclesiastical courts and witchcraft all of which feature in the case list.

 

 

Catholic Religion

Although a Protestant James 1 was comparatively tolerant to Catholics but this changed on 5 November 1605 when Guy Fawkes made a botched attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in what became known at the catholic Plot.

Within a few months an enraged Parliament has passed an Act which required citizens to take an oath of allegiance that included denial of the Popes authority over the King. In some areas this included  the appearance before Assises of people holding illegal catholic Services. This included several incidents in Essex especially in the western part of our area which seemed a hotbed of Catholicism.

The legal term used for this offence was recusant.

 

Allowed Clergy

Until 1575 the Clergy were not able to be dealt with by Civil Courts and faced Ecclesiastical courts if accused of any crime. Due to lenient sentences and different standards of proof few Clergy were punished.

There was no formal proof of membership of the Clergy and so anyone accused before a civil court could claim the right to be allowed clergy. The proof of clergy was to be able to read a passage from the bible. At this time few people could read and  clergymen were drawn from the population who received a good education.

This quickly became a loophole for secular people who could read and even some criminals who could  not read memorised whole psalms to give the impression that they were reading. So popular was psalm 51 that it became known as the neck verse.

On being allowed clergy the criminal appeared before an ecclasiatical court where the sentence even for serious offences would be one of penance.

In 1575 Elizabeth 1 was concerned at the number of criminals who were escaping justice and abolished the right to be referred to an ecclesiastical court. being allowed clergy was still a valuable tool as the maximum sentence allowable was one year or a whipping that was much preferable to hanging which was given for comparatively minor offences.

 Thomas Banckes appeared before the assises for theft  three times in this period . Once in 1610 where he was whipped, again in 1610 when he claimed Clergy but on his third appearance in 1616 his luck ran out as Clergy could only be claimed once and he was hung.

 

Witchcraft

Before ascending the English Throne James 1 attended a trial at North Berwick of several women accused of trying to create a storm that would drown James 1 and his wife on a recent trip to Denmark.

He became so convinced about the threat  that in 1597 he wrote a book called  wrote the Daemonologie which condemned witchcraft..

There were already laws in place to outlaw witchcraft but in 1604 James 1 passed a new stronger statute which contained his statement that witches were loathe to confess without torture.

This site has a page on witchcraft. To visit this page please click the below link.

ALTHORNE

Defendant

John Pigeon

Date

Offence

1615

Stole 2 pair of stockings, a silver whistle and 5 shillings from Robert Tiffin

Sentence

Claimed Clergy but unable to read and Hung

 

Defendant

Hugh Baker

Date

                                              Offence

1617

Stole a brewing lead and a kettle at Gt Baddow

Sentence

Warrant Issued - Still at large

 

ASHELDHAM

Defendant

John Warren

Date

                                   Offence

1618

Burgled home of William Wale and stole a firkin and butter, a petticoat and a kettle

1618

Burgled home of Thomas Collis and stole 5 flitches of bacon and 4 loins of pork

1618

Stole brown gelding from Edmund Kinge at Southminster

1619

Stole bay gelding and bay mare from William Walle

1619

Burgled parish Church and stole a silver communion cup, a surplice, a carpet and a communion tablecloth

Sentence

Hung

 

BRADWELL ON SEA

Defendant

John Ellis

Date

                                  Offence

1607

Stole 6 sheep and 6 lambs at North Fambridge the property of Peter Osborne

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

Defendant

John Trappes

Date

                                  Offence

1608

Burgled home of John Powlter and stole a pair of sheets

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

Defendant

Thomas Tailor

Date

                                  Offence

1614

Stole a sheep from Abraham Bridge

1614

Stole a sheep from Andrew White

1614

Stole a sheep from Abraham Bridge

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

 

Defendant

Walter Rayner and Henry Abbott

Date

                                  Offence

1615

Stole 4 . 11 shillings from William Thurgood

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

BURNHAM ON CROUCH

Defendant

Thomas Bright

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Stole 20 pounds of butter from Richard Wistocke

Sentence

Whipped

 

Defendant

Thomas Banckes

Date

                                  Offence

1616

Grand Larceny - Stole one sheep  and one bushel of rye from William Eley

Sentence

Hung

 

Defendant

John Hockett and Helen Bone

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Stole 3. 5 shillings from Ralph Rushden

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

Defendant

Margaret Asher

Date

                                  Offence

1620

Infanticide - In the house of John Duckett , her master, she gave birth to a male child which she killed by knocking it's head against a post

Sentence

Hung

 

COLD NORTON

Defendant

Richard Denham

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Cozening - gave Joan Ely for payment of goods a King Edward shilling which he fraudulently represented as a King James half piece of gold worth 11 shillings.

Sentence

Fined 2

 

Defendant

Margaret Harris , Rachel Clarke and Anne Wilson

Date

                                  Offence

1618

Recusancy

Sentence

Proclaimed according to statute

 

Defendant

John Smythe and Richard Sigg

Date

                                  Offence

1623

Stole 10 cheeses and a posnett from William Walker

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

HAZELEIGH

Defendant

John Mott

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Stole 4 sheep from John Lovedale

1610

Stole 3 sheep from John Boilard

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

Defendant

John Laie and Henry Cason

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Stole 5 sheep from Thomas Free

Sentence

Not guilty

 

Defendant

Thomas Free

Date

                                  Offence

1620

Stole 30 Quarters of wheat from Thomas Free ( Father)

Sentence

Hung

 

 

LATCHINGDON

Defendant

William Wright

Date

                                  Offence

1614

Stole 4 cows

Sentence

Broke Gaol

 

Defendant

John Parris

Date

                                  Offence

1607

Burgled house of John Hatchman and stole a cloth jerkin, 2 pieces of canvas, 2 shirtbands, a doublet, a pair of breeches, a hat and a jerkin.

Sentence

Allowed clergy

 

MAYLAND

Defendant

Robert King

Date

                                  Offence

1615

Burgled house of Richard Fuller and stole 4 cheeses , 2 cheesecloth's and 4 aprons.

1615

Highway Robbery - Assaulted Thomas Cowper and stole 3 in money at Colchester

Sentence

Hung

 

MUNDON

Defendant

John Trappes

Date

                                  Offence

1605

Burgled House of Thomas Safford and stole a silver thimble and 30 in money

1609

Burgled House of Thomas Safford and stole a silver thimble , 2 pairs of knives, a boardcloth and 12 silk points

Sentence

Hung

 

Defendant

Samuel Edwards

Date

                                  Offence

1609

Burgled house of Thomas Vincent

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

Defendant

  ? Wright ( Mrs)

Date

                                  Offence

1615

  The wife of Henry Wright of White Notley has seduced Anne Eve wife of Richard Eve of Mundon away from an established religion

Sentence

Proclaimed according to statute

 

Defendant

William King

Date

                                  Offence

1622

Stole 4 sheepskins from Edward Harslott

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

 

PURLEIGH

Defendant

Edward Offyn , William Secres and Anthony Browne

Date

                                  Offence

1608

Stole 3 lbs of beef from John Brett

Sentence

Whipped

 

 

Defendant

Thomas Graves

Date

                                  Offence

1608

Erected a cottage  without the 4 acres of land stipulated in statute and for enclosing part of Westmer Lane leading to Gallows Common , Purleigh

Sentence

Process to indict was judged sufficient punishment

 

 

Defendant

William Frost

Date

                                  Offence

1606

Keeping an alehouse as an unfit place without the approval of parishioners at Purleigh

Sentence

Not recorded

 

 

Defendant

Matthew Chapman

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Highway robbery - Assaulted Thomas Hullman and stole 3 shillings and a hat

Sentence

Hung

 

 

Defendant

Clarefaunce

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Alehousekeeper and Constable of Purleigh was drunk in his house on 1 July 1610 and allowed John Allen to be so drunk that he died upon the surfeit of his drunkenness

Sentence

Not recorded

 

 

Defendant

William Frost

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Kept a disorderly alehouse

Sentence

Not recorded

 

 

Defendant

Thomas Stebbinge

Date

                                  Offence

1611

Stole 2 pecks of oats from Robert Perry

Sentence

Whipped

 

Defendant

Loer Arnold - Wife of Edward Arnold

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Murder-  Loer assaulted Mercy Arnold, her servant, by throwing her to the ground and while she way lying there kicked and punched her on the head until she was dead

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

 

Defendant

Zachary Jones and John Lay

Date

                                  Offence

1620

Stole a gelding from Richard Pollard

Sentence

Not guilty

 

SOUTHMINSTER

Defendant

Thomas Last

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Broke into the home of Agnes Evans and stole 8 shillings 6 pence , a silver ring and a pair of stockings

Sentence

Hung

 

Defendant

Thomas Banckes

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Stole a cauldron , a pair of stockings and a hat from Agnes Dobson

Sentence

Whipped

 

Defendant

Thomas Banckes -  second appearance that year

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Stole an iron coulter and a pair of birlinges from Bartholemew Reynold

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

Defendant

Christopher Kynge

Date

                                  Offence

1605

Murder - Attacked Thomas Cole with a dagger and stabbed him to death

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

STEEPLE

Defendant

Henry Gage

Date

                                  Offence

1606

Stole coverlet , a blanket and 2 sheets from Henry Wall

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

STOW MARIES

Defendant

Edward Meade

Date

                                  Offence

1610

Felonious Killing - On 3 February 1610 at Stow Maries attached Abraham Seawell and struck him causing death

Sentence

Not guilty - John Astille killed him

 

 

Defendant

Thomas Scott

Date

                                  Offence

1612

Broke into the home of Robert Spillman and stole a pair of hose, a coverlet and 3 neckchiefs.

Sentence

Hung

 

 

Defendant

Grace Tabor

Date

                                  Offence

1614

Witchcraft - Bewitched 2 cows belong to Edward Meade causing their death

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

Defendant

Edward Hills

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Broke into the house of Joan Coache and stole a pair of buskins, a kerchief, 2 aprons and 8 pence on money.

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

 

Defendant

John White

Date

                                  Offence

1619

Broke into the house of William Wikeman and stole a jerkin and a pair of sheets

Sentence

Not guilty

 

 

 

TILLINGHAM

Defendant

Henry Pennell

Date

                                  Offence

1611

Murder of John Savage - Pennell attacked savage with a mole spade and knocked him to the ground. As he lay there Pennell cut his throat with a knife.

Sentence

To hang in chains as near to the scene of the crime as possible

 

WOODHAM MORTIMER

Defendant

John Chapman

Date

                                  Offence

1608

Felonious Killing- Attacked Richard Sexton with a shovel  bound by iron and struck him a blow to the head that killed him

Sentence

Not Guilty - John Anokes killed him

 

Defendant

John Marryam

Date

                                  Offence

1608

Stole 2 sheepskins from John Wright and William Archer

Sentence

Whipped

 

Defendant

John Dodd and Johan Milles

Date

                                  Offence

1609

Coining - Manafactured King James shillings from base metal and uttered them to John Launcy , Oliver Higham and John Moncke

Sentence

Not Guilty

 

Defendant

Richard Turner

Date

                                  Offence

1613

Theft of brown nag

Sentence

Not guilty

 

 

WOODHAM WALTER

 

Defendant

William Halt

Date

                                  Offence

1614

Stole 15 sheep and 2 rams from Richard Garrett

Sentence

Allowed Clergy

 

Defendant

Richard Haddon

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Assaulted William Albert

Sentence

Fined 10 shillings

 

Defendant

Elizabeth Wager

Date

                                  Offence

1617

Harbours recusants who have been seen going to her house at night to the intent to infect and poison minds of His Majesties subjects with the dregs of popery.

Sentence

Not Recorded

 

 

 

 

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