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Murder of a Hangman 1303

Volume XLI of Bedfordshire Historical Records Society series is a series of translations by R.F.Hunnisett of medieval coroner's rolls for the county, entry 263 reads: “On 12 Nov 1303 Henry Bobbe of Lower Caldecote hanged Robert le Bole on his gallows towards Biddenham. When Henry returned towards Bedford Thomas son of Gervase the Cobbler came and gave him three blows with his hand, whereupon Simon son of Roger le Bercher of Wilshamstead came and struck Henry between the shoulders with a staff of black-thorn. Henry then set in William Bascat’s croft and could not go any further. Richard of Old Warden then came and struck him in the chest with an iron fork, so that he immediately died. Immediately after the felony they [all] fled and had no chattels. Ralphe the Webbe, the first finder, raised the hue and was attached by Peter de Merton and John le Bole. The neighbours were attached: Simon Ravenyg by Roger Sourdow and Robert le Corder; Walter the Clerk by Robert le Webbe and Richard Dye; Walter Scotard by Ralph le Toller and Guy le Turnour; Robert le Corder by Geoffrey le Lavender and Nicholas le Messer”.

“Simon son of Roger le Bercher, who was arrested and imprisoned for his death, broke Bedford gaol, fled to St. Paul’s church and said that he was at the death and [abjured the realm before Nicholas] Feron, coroner of Bedford. He had no chattels. [At the eyre Robert le Bole was said to have been convicted of divers felonies before the Bedford Gaol Delivery justices, Henry to have been slain under the wall of the Friars Minors of Bedford and Simon confessed that he was a felon and that he had broken the gaol. It was ordered that Thomas and Richard be exacted and outlawed; they had no chattels nor were they in a tithing because they were strangers. Judgement was passed against the tenants of the lands and tenements of William Molesworth, sheriff, for Simon’s escape from his custody. No Englishry was presented and so murdrum was imposed upon Bedford. The first finder and neighbours died”. The line about the first finder and neighbours having died seems, from other cases in the volume, to be formulaic and not to be taken as the literal truth. One might speculate that Bobbe’s gallows was at Gallows Corner along Bromham Road.