The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Highwayman Rector and Tapyrestone

Rev William Baret de Cratfield, the rector of Wortham, near Diss, in the St Edmundsbury diocese, made a radical change in career when he was deprived of his living through his general incompetence, and became a highwayman. He eventually died in Newgate prison.

This colourful character seems to be the inspiration of one of the better 'Carry On' films, starring Sid James. However, I can only find mention of him in one book, 'Colourful Characters of East Anglia', by Harold Mills West, who gives no sources or dates (my guess is early sixteenth century). I would therefore like to make the plea for more information

It would seem that William Cratfield's departure as rector was celebrated by his parishioners by a glorious party in which the rector was burned in effigy. Cratfield fell in with a villain called Thomas Tapyrestone (or Tepytrone) who was a failed Hosier from London, and together they robbed travellers on Newmarket heath. They enjoyed a nine year career which included extorting 'protection' fees from other robbers. He then moved to London where, during a long career of crime, they robbed a goldsmith in Faringdon, called Bottomer. He then was able to give a description that led to Cratfield's identification. Despite a writ for his arrest, he eluded arrest for two further years before being made an outlaw. At this stage he returned to his haunts in Newmarket along with the faithful Tapyrestone. All went well until Cratfield fell in love with a young lady. Tapyrestone, feeling a bit of a gooseberry, left and was soon caught. Cratfield was then also caught along with young lady, referred to as a 'concubine', and both were conveyed to Newgate where he died.


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