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Medieval Murder in Little Staughton

Jeanette Atkinson and Brenda Foster have been working on adding Community History pages for Little Staughton.

Volume III of The Victoria County History for Bedfordshire, 1912, page165 notes that on the evening of 18th June 1271, Hugh le Prest (outlaw and felon in the county of Lincoln and murderer in the county of Huntingdon) took refuge in the house of Roger, a servant of the Knights Templar. He was being pursued by the Sheriffs of two counties (Huntingdonshire and Lincolnshire) and their men. He was discovered and after a brief defence he was cut down and slain; his head was given to the parish. Hugh’s horse was found grazing in a corn field and became the property of the parish.

A fuller account is given in Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Volume 41 of 1961 devoted to 13th and 14th century coroner's rolls for Bedfordshire from the National Archives, edited and translated by R. F. Hunnisett: "On the night of 18th June 1271 unknown and armed men from Lincolnshire led by Thomas of Boulton [sheriff of Lincolnshire] and men of Huntingdonshire led by the sheriff of that county [Robert de Eastrea] pursued Hugh le Prest to Roger del Temple's house in Little Staughton and assaulted the house in which Hugh was with Roger's wife Beatrice. When Hugh saw that the house was assaulted and beset, he leapt to the west door and defended himself. The said men killed him and cut off his head. Afterwards they raised the hue, to which the township came. The said men delivered Hugh's head to the township to carry away, as by law should have been done, and they told the township that they were from the said counties and that they had pursued Hugh in the said manner as a felon and outlaw in Lincolnshire and as a homicide in Huntingdonshire".

"Inquest before Roger de Goldington, coroner, by Little Staughton, Pertenhall, Keysoe and Colmworth, who said as above and that Hugh was a felon. Asked about his chattels, they said that they only knew of an haqueton [a jacket worn for protection] and a sword, which he had on him at the time of his death and which were carried away by his slayers, and a horse, which was found the next day in the cornfields 'del Temple'; it was appraised at ten shillings and delivered to Little Staghton. Asked about those who harboured him, they said that they knew nothing, except that he was found at the house 'le Keu' of Little Staughton with Beatrice, who did not dare and was unable to deny him; she well knew that he was a felon and received him of her own free will". 

An altogether sadder case took place in 1273: "About tierce on 4th November, Richard son  of Thomas le Cereter, aged two, went into his father's court-yard in Little Staughton, by misadventure fell into a ditch and drowned. His father first found him drowned and found pledges, Hugh son of William and William son of Philip of Little Staughton".