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A Violent Quarrel in 1272

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. The following entry is unusual in that it records a violent altercation, but not a death.

“Roger Loring of Wootton came to the Bedfordshire county court on 11th July 1272 and appealed John, son of William, son of Robert of Wootton in that at sunset on 24th June, when Roger was in “Nomanislond” [No Man’s Land] by the highway which runs east to west between Elstow and Wootton, John came and assaulted him four feet to the north of the highway, striking him with both hands with a Danish axe of iron and steel, whose handle was of hazel-wood, along the length of his right shoulder, two inches from the collar-bone and six inches from the elbow, giving him a wound six inches long and four inches deep across the shoulder joint, splitting the bone and cutting the tendons of the joint with the cutting-edge of the axe, thus maiming him, and robbed him of a black cordwain purse worth threepence and of five shillings inside it. He offered to prove or deraign against him in every way that the king’s court should award, as a maimed man can or ought, and found pledges to prosecute, John Loring and Andrew David of Wootton. Roger came to the county courts of 8th August, 5th September and 3rd October and sued. John was exacted three times and did not come. Therefore by judgement of the county Roger was given a day at the next county court. He came to the county court of 31st October and sued. John was exacted a fourth time and did not come, but William son of Robert of Wootton went surety for his appearance at the next county court”.

A note is attached to this entry: “Roger and John both came to the eyre, having concluded an agreement. Roger withdrew his appeal and was therefore committed to gaol and his pledges were amerced. The jurors found that John had not robbed Roger but had beaten him; he was therefore imprisoned. Both later came and fined with half a mark each and the same pledges, John le Sweyn and Neil Loreng”.