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Medieval Murder in Melchbourne

Volume 41 produced by Bedfordshire Historical Records Society in 1961 is devoted to 13th and 14th century coroner's rolls for Bedfordshire from the National Archives, edited and translated by R. F. Hunnisett.

Entry 188 for 17th December 1274 reads as follows: "On 3rd December John of Rushall, knight, and his esquire Henry of Hastings Wrestlingworth entertained at the parson of Melchbourne's house [he was William de Manneby] and Henry took provisions necessary for his lord's use from many men in Melchbourne. Those whom they owed money for food and oats came and asked for it. John and Henry said that they had no ready money in Melchbourne and asked them to send a man with them to Cambridge and [said] that they should have the ready money there. They unanimously sent Ellis of Astwood with them. Ellis followed them from Melchbourne to 'le Rode', where John and Henry and others unknown of John's household cut his throat. Robert le Blunt of Melchbourne came from Melchbourne mill, first found him slain in the said place, immediately raised the hue, which was followed, and found pledges, William Hautman and Ambrose Godefrey. The neighbours were attached: Walter Est by Nicholas Hosebern and William Seward; Ralph del Haycroft by Nicholas de Fengers and Walter Est of Melchbourne." At the inquest the sheriff was told to arrest the perpetrators if he found them. At the later eyre it was presented that Ellis was found slain in Melchbourne Field. No Englishry was presented so a murdrum fine was imposed on the whole hundred. John of Rushall was acquitted by the jury.

A later case involves an accident, probably common enough in its day. "On 26th March 1316 Richard of Hogshaw mounted a horse of Thomas son of Neil in his master's stable at Melchbourne. While the horse was without reins he wished to ride out of the stable door and in doing so [struck] his head against the door beam, from which he died on the following day, having had the rites of the church".