1221 Parish Records

Three Murders in Wolfhampcote in 1221

Information from parish records as discovered by Edward Reid-Smith:

At the Justices’ Court held at Coventry in 1221 were three cases of murder in the parish of Wolfhampcote, and one case of homage due.

Stenton records one of these murder trials as follows:

“Nicholas de Salesbrig’ (i.e. Sawbridge) killed Robert his brother and fled, and he was in the frankpledge* of Isaac de Salesbrig’, which is therefore in mercy**. He had no chattels. No one else is suspected. Judgement, let him be exacted and outlawed. No Englishry***. Murder. The village of Wulfhamescot’ (i.e. Wolfhampcote) has acknowledged that Robert was killed in their village by day amongst them, and they did not take him. Therefore the village is in mercy”.

This is also written in Latin as “De francoplegio Ysaac de Salebrigg’ in Salebrigg’ pro fuga Nicholai de Salebrigg’ dimidia marca’; and “De villata de Wulhamescot’ quia non fecerunt sectam post fugitum i marca.”

A second case states that Reginald, brother of the chaplain of Salebrig’ killed William del Val, who, striking back, killed Reginald.

The third murder case states that Geoffrey son of Geoffrey killed Robert son of Richard de Flecho (i.e. Flecknoe) and fled into the church acknowledging his crime and abjuring the realm****.

Additional notes on the above text:

*Frankpledge – was a system in Medieval England where responsibility was shared amongst households and groups. The group could be fined for one person’s crime.

**In mercy – from ‘Amercement’ which was a financial penalty given for various offences by the King or his justices. The offender was said to be ‘in mercy’.

***Englishry – the status of a person is an Englishman, and not a Norman. Here the text states ‘no Englishry’ so we can assume Nicholas de Salesbrig’ was a Norman.

****Abjuring the realm – means that Geoffrey was swearing an oath to leave the country immediately and not to return, unless by permission of the sovereign.

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