The Foxearth and District Local History Society

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fovet Lenocinium

The sins of the Essex priesthood in the age of the first Elizabeth are quite eye-popping. The Vicar of Aveley, for example was accused of having committed bawdery with his maidservant, his wife was suspected of incontinence (a delicate way of saying that she was being adulterous), and his mother was pregnant in his house. Then, there was the 'Whoremaster Knave' of Blackmoor, one Edward Binder, who 'pays honest women to commit adultery with him'. One cannot help thinking that he'd have had better luck with the dishonest ones. William Kyreby, Rector of East Donyland was 'accused by Maydstone's wife to be a common alehouse haunter and a frequenter of a harlot's house. viz Pitcher's wife there , who is suspected to be a light woman and a harlot.'

Pentlow priests featured strongly too. Our own rector, Mr Nicholas Walles, parson of Pentlow, was in trouble for incontinency in 1582. in 1586 he was mentioned in a warrant...
'NICHOLAS Wallis, parson of the parish church of Pentlow abovesaid, the first day of the next General Sessions for the peace holden within the said county of Essex, personally to appear before us answer to such matters as on her highness's behalf shall be objected against him. Whereof fail you not as you will answer the contrary at your uttermost perils'.
And again...
'Nicholas Wallis, clerk, rector of Pentlow, Thomas Deereman and Thomas Chrissall [Cressall] of the same, yeomen, for the said NICHOLAS to appear and do and receive what the Court shall then enjoin, and in the meanwhile to keep the peace towards John Sharpington of "Candishe" [Cavendish], co.Suffolk, labourer, and to do no bodily harm to him or to any other of the Queen's liege people.'.
There was obviously some local ill-feeling toward Nicholas Walles because, in 1573....
'George Smythe of Pentlow, gentleman, (was indicted) for expelling and disserising Nicholas Walles, clerk, rector of the rectory of Pentlow, and Thomas Strachie of the same, his farmer, from a parcel of land called Gadds garden, a field called Woodfield, a parcel containing one acre of land lying next the lane called Pyttmans lane, also two and a half acres of land in a field called Muchesfield lying in the said parish of Pentlow, parcel of the glebe lands of the rectory afoxesaid, contrary to the statute of 8 Henry VI.

It was the previous incumbent, Nicholas Bushe, (rector of Pentlow from 1560 to 1571) that made his mark. We read of him in 1568 having a writ against him. In 1567 He, two millers, Robert Marshall of Shrimpling and John Marshal of Boxsted assaulted the two constables of Pentlow as they were sent to arrest the two millers, under a warrant issued by Sir William Cordell, master of the rolls. Nicholas Bushe enabled them to escape, but one of the unfortunate constables was afterwards charged with negligence, suggesting that he possibly sympathised with the two men. Then there are a series of incidents involving Thomas Strache, who we have already come across, who was already, at this time occupying the rectory....
Thomas Crisshall of Pentlow, yeoman, William Grigges, John Crisshall and George Fenne, yeoman, all of the same, for Francis Hibble, Browne and Henry Smythe of same, all to keep the peace towards Mercy, wife of Thomas Strache, and Thomas Strache their son.'
They were not the only ones to take a pop at Thomas Strachie, because in 1573...
'George Smyth of PENTLOW, yeoman, Thomas Smyth of the same, gentleman, Thomas Lale of "Foxesheere" [Foxearth], labourer, and Thomas Scotte of the same, husbandman, for an unlawful assembly at the same, and for an assault and battery on Thomas Strachie, yeoman, and Thomas Strachie the younger, esquire, both of PENTLOW, at the same.'
Then follows another writ, mentioning...
' Nicholas Bushe, clerk, rector of PENTLOW, Francis Hible and Henry Smythe, husbandmen, Rose Hyble, Margaret Brown, and Elizabeth Stevens, spinters, all of the same, Peter Wellis of Foxeyarde, husbandman, and Thomad Smythe of Candishe, Suffolk, yeoman, for unlawfully enterting the tenement called the Parsonage of Pentlow aforesaid belonging to Thomas Strachie of Walden, draper, contrary to the statute of 5 Richard II.'
Soon afterwards, we hear....
'Frances Hible, Margaret Browne, and Henry Smyther of Pentlow, Nicholas Busshe, clerk, rector of the same, and John Cryshall, of the same, clothier, for the said Francis, Margaret and Henry to keep the peace towards Mercy, wife of Thomas Strachie. The said Francis is dead and the rest discharged by the court.'
Feelings must have been running high, because others seem to have been queueing up to have a go at Thomas Strachie. in June 1572..
Thomas Smith of Pentlow, gentleman, and Robert [blank] of the same, labourer, together with four other unknown malefactors, for an unlawful assembly at the same, for assaulting Thomas Strachie, husbandman, and Peter Wengrave, labourer, both of the same, servants to Thomas Strachie of the same, yeoman, and taking a cartload of hay, belonging to the said Thomas Strachie, yeoman, away from the said Thomas Strachie and Peter Wengrave.'

We then have a whole trail of writs against Nicholas Bushe leading finally to his nemesis.
'Witnessed by Sir Anthony Cooke, knight, at Chelmsford, to outlaw Nicholas Bushe, rector of Pentlow, clerke, Francis Hible and Henry Smythe, husbandmen, Rose Hible, Margaret Browne and Elizabeth Stevens, spinsters, all of the same...all allowed one county court held at Chelmsford on 24 November, 15 Elizabeth [A.D.1572]; at which court the justices sent to the General Sessions held on the feast of the Epiphany last past that the aforesaid Nicholas Bushe and the rest were called did not appear:and because there were not more courts held between the day of the reception of the same writ the return thereof, therefore they were not able to proceed for the further execution of the same writ as appears by record, so it is prayed that at the four next courts to be held, the said Nicholas Bushe and the rest are to be further called, and if they do not appear they are to be outlawed, and if they appear they are to be taken and safely kept in order that they may be brought before the Justices at Chelmsford on Thursday after the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul next coming, to answer for the trespass and contempt whereof they stand indicted,and whereof it was returned on Thursday after the Feast of the Epiphany last that they were not found in the bailiwick. Endorsed:- Allowed one court to which NICHOLAS Bushe and the rest within-mentioned were called and did not appear, further at the next monthly court then next following to wit 23 December 15 Elizabeth [A.D.1572] the said NICHOLAS and the rest were secondly called and did not appear. And at a monthly court held at Chelmsford on 20 January 15 Elizabeth [A.D.1572-3],the said NICHOLAS and the rest were thirdly called and did not appear. And they were fourthly and fifthly called at courts held on 17 February and 17 March 15 Elizabeth [A.D>1572-3], and did not appear, therefore by judgment of the coroners they are outlawed.'

One wants to know more. What on earth was Thomas Strachie up to and why was he occupying the Rectory? Why was everyone having a go at him? Why did Nicholas Bushe fail to turn up to court?


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