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Medieval Murder in Clifton

Volume XLI of Bedfordshire Historical Records Society series comprises translation by R. F. Hunnisett of medieval coroner's rolls for the county, entry 47 reads: "About bed-time on 15 Nov 1269 felons and thieves came to the house of Edmund le Mastref of Clifton on the fee of the hospital at Clifton, broke and entered it, tied up Edmund, his wife Maud and house-maid Sarah and then stole and carried away all the goods of the house. From there they went to the house of Agnes Colbrun of Clifton, broke and entered it, struck her servant John le Toutere of Daintry [Daventry, Northamptonshire?] on the crown of the head with an axe [giving him] a wound 5 inches long to the brain, of which he immediately died, struck Beatrice le Sarreman of Clifton in the mouth with a knife and again in the head to the brain, apparently with a "denesch" [Danish] axe, of which she immediately died, and then took Agnes by force to the house of Godfrey of Hoo in Clifton and asked her to ask to enter. She would not, and the felons immediately struck her on the right arm, breaking it, apparently with an axe, and gave her a wound in the head above the right ear 5 inches long. Godfrey saw that they were thieves and that they intended to burn his house, and immediately raised the hue; the neighbours came and the felons immediately fled. Alice le Sarman first found her mother, Beatrice and John le Toutere…."

At the following eyre, it was stated that the only houses burgled were those of Raymond the Hayward of Clifton and Agnes Colrun. No Englishry was presented. Because of this a murdrum, or fine for murder, was imposed upon the whole Clifton Hundred.

Entry 129 in the coroner's rolls reads as follows: "At twilight on 27 Aug [1273] Richard son of Peter del Torail of Campton, his brother John and a certain Galopinus verbally insulted William son of Thomas the Hayward, Simon of Chicksands and William and Alan, strangers who were with Simon, at Clifton. William le Pitcher struck Richard on the head under the right ear with a maple staff, of which he immediately died. His father Peter first found him dead", at the inquest William le Pitcher was arrested and put in Bedford gaol. Juliana, Peter del Torail's wife came before the county court and appealed le Pitcher of having killed her son but before the eyre le Pitcher died in gaol. Again Englishry was not proved so the whole Hundred was fined.