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Medieval Murder in Chalgrave

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 83 reads as follows.

"About midday on 28th October 1270 Gilbert son of Richard the Reeve of Chalgrave and William son of John the Reeve of Tilsworth came from Dunstable market to Houghton Regis field on the east side by Bidwell and a quarrel arose between them. William struck Gilbert on the top of the head, apparently with a Danish axe, giving him a wound four inches long and to the depth of the brain, so that his brain flowed forth. He had the rites of the church and died about midday on 31st October. The hue was raised and followed. Richard the Reeve, in whose house he was found slain found pledges, Richard le Blonde and Ralph of Leagrave of Chalgrave".

"Inquest before Geoffrey Rodland, coroner, by Chalgrave, Hockliffe, Milton Bryan and Battlesden. It was ordered that William be arrested. They also said he had no goods".

Reeves were important men, usually elected by his fellow tenants, who organised the daily business of the manor. This could mean that he negotiated on behalf of his fellow tenants with the Lord of the Manor as well as enforcing the manor's rules. One wonders if this argument between reeve's sons of neighbouring parishes reflected local rivalry or a particular local disagreement.

At the eyre it was actually presented that Gilbert was struck in Chalgrave field, rather than in Houghton Regis and that William immediately fled. He was exacted and outlawed, his tithing in Tilsworth was amerced.