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Medieval Murder in Whipsnade

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. This is the entry for 1st October 1274: "On 17th September William Slanoch of Eaton Bray, Simon Morice of Whipsnade and Richard of Hatch of Studham came together from Houghton Regis to a tavern at Markyate. Later, in the night, Simon carrying "apik" axe and Richard a spade or an auger or twibill, they left and came into Whipsnade Wood in the parish of Houghton Regis, where Richard and Simon slew William. Nicholas Maynard of Studham first found him dead, raised the hue, which was followed, and found pledges, Adam Est and Simon Suonild, both of Studham".

"Inquest before the same coroner [Geoffrey Rodland] by Houghton Regis, Eaton Bray, Studham and Whipsnade: as above. Asked about the felons' chattels, they said that Richard had a house, of which the year and waste were worth 4s. 6d., and in the barn there were 6 bushels of wheat worth 6d. a bushel and ½ acre of vetch worth 6d.; and Simon had a horse worth 6s. 8d., a quarter of wheat worth 4s., 2 bushels of vetch worth 8d., ½ quarter of oats wroth 8d. and year and waste worth ½ mark. They were delivered to Houghton Regis".

Every few years the king's justices visited the county and held a court called an eyre. At the next eyre it was stated that the crime had taken place in "Bokwode", today's Buckswood and that the perpetrators immediately fled. They were accordingly outlawed. It was later found that Simon had died in prison. Richard's chattels worth 3s. 7d., the year and waste of his freehold land, worth 4s. 6d., and its issues with 6s. were all forfeit. Walter of Bottesford was amerced for taking these chattels without a warrant.