Previous Toc Next

  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM       A LAWLESS FAMILY  
             
have traced the fugitive.   They are too late to take her, for none dare violate the privilege of sanctuary.   'him for three days," but whether she was a party to her husband's crime does not appear. John confessed to the Coroner the crime of murder and robbery, abjured the Realm and his goods were forfeited.   Joan had no desire to share her husband's banishment. She seems to have left him to his fate.   When the three days were up " she came out of the church " only to be taken by Robert de Haleghton, the constable of Bramber Castle, who promptly clapped her into prison and "kept her there for fifteen days." This was a high-handed action for which he was subsequently rapped over the knuckles by the Sheriff.   The latter informed him that " no one taken anywhere in the county, except in the Castle of Pevensey, ought to remain more than three nights {in custody) before being put in the King's prison."
In due time comes the Coroner and Isabel confesses her crime -the homicide of her two children.   She was destitute, it seems, for the record tells us "she had no goods."   So is the story of this tragedy handed down to us-the murder of two helpless infants.   Yet may it not be possible to read between the lines ? " She had no goods " is a statement which seems to give a clue to the mother's unnatural crime.   Without money to buy bread or other sustenance for her children, in the madness of her own hunger she killed them.   Such crimes have been known even in our own day.  
However, as this may be, in accordance with the law of those times, Isabel had to take an oath to depart from the Realm within a given time and never to return " without special grace of our lord the King."   And so we see her no more.  
  Nicholas de Barlynglyde and Roger le Fishere, having waylaid John Mahun outside Shoreham town and " beat and wounded him so that he died the next day, fled, and put themselves in the church," and took the usual oath to depart from the Realm. They were strangers to the town and because " they had no goods in the tithing " the murder was put on the Borough of Shoreham.
More heartless, it would seem, was the crime of " a certain strange woman " who killed her male child and threw him down a well in the town of Shoreham and at once fled-" no one knew whither." In this case, as the murderess could not be traced, the verdict was " murder upon the town of Shoreham "-a quite usual method of fastening the crime on the community and making them responsible when they failed to produce the criminal, or, in some cases, when there was no property to confiscate, as in the following cases.  
  But the case did not end with this decision.   We learn that Isabel, the widow of John Mahun of Shoreham " called in the county court " Nicholas and Roger for the death of her husband, but did not appear when the case was to be heard.   Later, she withdrew her charges against Roger who, it appears, had already fled overseas.   The case was finally wound up at an Assize held at Chichester " on the morrow of Ascension Day, 16 Edward I," when Nicholas appeared to answer the charge against him, and the jurors and witnesses from the neighbourhood of Shoreham said " he is not guilty, therefore he is quit."
John de Edulnebregg, a stranger to the town, was taken for burgling the house of Henry Hobeday, and imprisoned, but escaped from custody. Judgment of escape was made against the town while the criminal, " who had no goods in the tithing because a stranger," remaining a fugitive, was outlawed.  
  In the same year (1288) another sanctuary case is recorded. It was the sequel to a murder and robbery at Findon, in which the dramatis personae were a man, a woman, and a priest.
" Simon de Ponte of Beddinge " having been murdered in Shoreham, " the first finder and four neighbours come and are not suspected " (i.e., of the crime). Afterwards it was discovered that John Baudefar and others who fled out of the town had committed the crime.   Later these men returned " and because the inhabitants did not take them " judgment was pronounced against them.  
  Agnes, the wife of Robert Cole, who seems to have been as faithless as she was doubtless fair, had fallen in love with a priest -Richard le Chanceleur. She admitted him to her dwelling, and the intercourse of the guilty pair eventually led to the murder of the goodman of the house.   While the woman found a city of refuge in her own parish church the priest fled for sanctuary to the Church of Shoreham.   Richard, the priest, confessed to the Coroner that he had killed Robert Cole, and also William de Wynton.   It is possible that the latter had made an attempt to
The Baudefars seem to have been a very lawless family. John, son of John Baudefar, and Adam le Mounier, having killed Godfrey le Beicher, Adam fled, but John sought sanctuary in the church, whither Joan, his wife, followed him and "stayed with  

Previous Toc Next

Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002