Hanged for their crimes

Justice in the 1500 and 1600's was harsh on poor people with judges donning the black cap and sentencing prisoners to death by hanging for comparatively mundane reasons.

Records of many of the sittings of the Essex Assize Courts are held at Essex Records Office allowing a glimpse of justice at its most brutal.

Below is a list of people taken from the Assize records who were from Eastern Essex or who committed crimes in Eastern Essex and were sentenced to hang.

Some of the spelling may seem wrong but this reflects the practice in the 1600's where spelling was often guesswork based on the sound of the word.

Of the 34 people listed the last one was reprieved and the remainder hung.

Only four of the prisoners killed anyone and these cases involved an all female fight, alleged witchcraft and a young mother killing her illegitimate son.

Several of the prisoners were hung for theft and offences that nowadays would not even attract a short prison sentence.

The list is in Parish Order.


John Pidgeon alias Damon of Althorne

Assizes held at Chelmsford 24 July 1615

Stole two pairs of stockings  worth 8s., "a silver whissell" worth 10s.and  money, belonging to Rob.Tiffen.  

 

John Hun of Althorne

Coroners enquiry held at Burnham on 1 February 1569

Assaulted Agnes Stephen previously Cobler, struck her on the head with an iron bodkin, killing her instantly

 

William Cravens of Asheldham 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 14 March 1650

Stole a brown gelding worth 10, belonging to John Blackwell.

 

John Rawe of Bradwell-juxta-Mare 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 18 March 1629

Between 12 and 1 at night broke into the house of Henry Byford with the intention of taking his property, the said Henry being therein.

 

Richard Hewes of Bradwell Juxta Mare 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 14 March 1610

Broke into the house of William Dedham and stole five elles of lockeram worth 6s.8d., twelve Elles of quarter cloth 16s., fifteen elles of canvas worth 25s. and nine yards of wollen cloth worth 20s., beonging to Gregory Smyth. 

Thomas Wayer of Bradwell next to Sea

Assizes held at Chelmsford 26 July 1566

Broke into the house of William Fleminge of Wratting and stole 21 pieces of cloth.

 

Joan Thorocke of Burnham on Crouch

Assizes held at Witham 27 July 1584

  1. Bewitched Thomas son of Thomas Owgham so that he died
  2. Bewitched to death 3 horses belonging to William Leper
  3. Bewitched to death 2 cows belonging to John Gybbons
  4. Bewitched Jasper son of William Leper so that he died
  5. Bewitched Mary wife of Isaac Bowls so that she died
  6. Bewitched to death 4 hogs belonging to John Lawe

 

 Nicholas Oliver of Burnham on Crouch

Brentwood 22 July 1696

Stole a bay mare worth 8, belonging to John Middleton.

 

 Thomas Banckes of Burnham on Crouch

Assizes held at Brentwood 4 March 1616

Stole a white ewe worth 10s., belonging to Wm.Eley.

 Indicted afterwards for robbery near the highway 

 

Francis Parker of Cold Norton

Assizes held at Chelmsford February 1597

Between 6 and 7p.m. broke into the house of Henry Midmaye and stole a freese coate worth 5s.,a doublet fo fustian worth 10s., two breeches worth 12s. and  a shirt worth 2s., belonging to William Brayford.  

James Osborne of Creeksea 

Assizes held at Brentwood 3 August 1698

Stole a brown bay gelding worth 6, belonging to Richard Willis. 

 

William Barker of Hazeleigh 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 18 July 1694

stole a grey mare worth 4, belonging to Robert Davidge 

 

George Osborne of Hazeleigh 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 12 March 1592

Stole a boar from John Argent

Osborne had been allowed clergy for 6 thefts of livestock in 1591

 

Thomas Andrewe of Latchingdon 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 12 January 1576

Stole a sorrell gelding at Purleigh  belonging to Thomas Kynge.

Stole a black gelding at Mundon

 

William Brighte of Latchingdon 

Assizes held at Brentwood 19 July 1585

Stole 37 sheep and 25 lambs at Margaret Roding

Brighte had been allowed clergy for 4 thefts of livestock in 1580

 

Thomas Turner of Mayland 

Assizes held at Brentwood 13 August 1712

Stole a brown gelding worth 7, belonging to Rich.Larke.


Robert Kinge of Mayland 

Assizes held at Brentwood 4 March 1616

Broke into the house of Rich.Fuller and stole four cheeses worth 20s., two "cheese clothes"a worth 12d., and four aprons worth 2s.  

Also indicted for highway robbery

 

Joan Caston of Mundon

Assizes held at Chelmsford 26 June 1638

Was delivered of a bastard male child whom she strangled.

 

John Trappes of Mundon

Assizes held at Chelmsford 24 July 1609

at night broke into the house of the same Thomas Saffold and stole two pairs of knives worth 3s., "a handkerchere" worth 6d., "a borde cloth worth 12d., a silver thimble worth 18d. and twelve silke pointes worth 12d. 

 

 John Raynor of Purleigh

Assizes held at Chelmsford 31 August 1685

committed buggery with  a bitch.

 

 Thomas Rampton of Purleigh

Assizes held at Chelmsford 2 March 1592

At North Fambridge, stole 21 sheep from James Osborne.

At Colchester ,stole 3 heifers from Edward Webbe

Rampton had previously been allowed clergy

 

 John Yonge of Purleigh

Assizes held at Chelmsford 3 March 1575

Broke into the close of John Lock at hazeleigh and stole a Grey Gelding.

 

Thomas Wright of Purleigh 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 26 February 1634.

Stole 34s.8d., belonging to Thomas Anvill.

 

Mathew Chapman of Purleigh 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 16 July 1610

On the highway assualted Thomas Hullman and took 3s. in money and a hat worth 12d. from him.

 

 Robert Offyn of Purleigh

Assizes held at Brentwood 10 March 1628

stole two black oxen worth 5 and two brown oxen worth 5, belonging to Richard Hale

 

Elizabeth Glascock of Purleigh

Assizes held at Chelmsford 28 February 1676

Assaulted and struck and kicked  Elizabeth Williams upon the chest and stomach, giving her a mortal bruise of which she died 

 

Thomas Last of Southminster

Assizes held at Chelmsford 1 January 1610

In the daytime broke into the house of Agnes Evans widow and stole 8s.6d. in money, a silver ring worth 18d. and  a paire of stockinges worth 12d.

 

Ralph Johnson of Stow Maries

Assizes held at Chelmsford 13 March 1587 

At Althorne stole 5 7s 6d in money, 3 silver rings, a silver pin, a fustian doublet and other items from William Munte.

 

William Sayers of Woodham Mortimer

Assizes held at Chelmsford 9 March 1685 

Stole a brown mare worth 50s., belonging to Thomas Underwood

 

Robert Berdsell of Woodham Mortimer 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 27 February 1598


Stole a sorrell dunne gelding worth 60s., belonging to Ralph Cortman

 

Richard Fisher of Woodham Mortimer 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 14 March 1610

Broke into the house of William Harrys knt., and stole "fower paire of sheetes" worth 20s. a Pair, a sheet worth 5s. and "a velvitt cull" worth 4.

 

James Ewers and George Burleigh of Woodham Walter

Assizes held at Brentwood 19 July 1699

On the highway assaulted John Royse and tock from him a cloth coat worth 20s., "one calicoe waistcoat" worth 10s., a pair of red shag breeches worth 20s., "one caster hat" worth 16s., a pair of shoes worth 3s., a pair of gloves worth 18s., "one muslin flowered neckcloth" worth 3s., two linen handkerchiefs worth 2s., a satin cap worth 18d., a tobacco box worth 6d., a key worth 1d. and 13s. in money.

 

 Richard Warde of Inworth

Assizes held at Chelmsford 27 February 1598

At Woodham Mortimer between 1 and 5 O'clock in the morning, broke into the house of Nicholas Johnson clerk, he and his household being therein, and stole a black cloak worth 13s.4d.,four neckerchefes worth 12s., three crosse clothes worth 3s.4d., three "coifes worth 4s., two holland bandes worth 6s.8d., one table clothe worth 2s., three napkyns worth 2s., a pewter ewer worth 3s., six pieces kof pewter worth 4s., two candlestickes of latyn and a le posnett of brasse worth 3s.,le chafyngdyshe of latynworth 12d., le morter with a a pastle worth 2s., a greate rybb of beafe worth 3s.4d., a legg of porke, a foreloyne of porke and a brest of porke worth 5s.

 

Jesper Harman of Earls Colne 

Assizes held at Chelmsford  5 November, 1597

At Woodham Walter breaking into the house of John Saunders  between the hours of 4 and 5 p.m. and stealing a pair of breaches worth 8s a frieze jerkin, two pairs of stocking worth 4s, a hat worth 3s a waistcoat, a shirt worth 3s, three ruff-bands worth 7s, seven falling-bands worth 7s a sheet worth 6s, three pillow beers, five kerchiefs worth 10s, two silver rings worth 2s, a silk girdle worth 2s, tw smocks worth 6s and four cheeces worth 4s

The one that got away

 

Elizabeth Shoncke of Purleigh 

Assizes held at Chelmsford 24 March 1656

About 4 p.m. broke into the house of John Browne, no one being therein, and stole "one purple tawny gowne" worth 20s., 1 3/4 yards of cloth worth 7s., a hat worth 3s., a petticoat worth 3s., two spoons worth 6d., and a silver bodkin worth 6d.

Sentenced to be hung but reprieved after judgement 

 

 

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