King’s Men and Bum-bailiffs: A Drama of State in Jacobean England

On a cold winter day in January 1619, six men arrived at an inn, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. Amongst their number was Thomas Boyes, a carpenter and bailiff, Walter Whiting, a miller, and three other men, including John Wight, a sixty-year-old yeoman from Little Coxwell, Berkshire. The sixth man, though, was different. He was their prisoner….

When was it okay to bugger a horse in 1650s Yorkshire?

I recently came across an astonishing pair of documents in the National Archives. The documents are ‘depositions’, witness statements, collected for a trial at the Yorkshire Assizes – the local court which dealt with serious crimes – from 1656. They relate to an alleged case of bestiality. William Clarke, labourer, it was alleged, had been…

The Pemberton Poisoner

Sometimes you find a source which is so rich and interesting that you have to share it straightaway. I was working through the papers of Lancashire’s Quarter Sessions for 1700 yesterday, and I stumbled across an absolutely fascinating document. It was a petition to the local magistrates, produced by (or for?) Margaret Orrell of Pemberton,…