The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) 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 Historical information doesn't really go out of date!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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Sunday, December 09, 2012

SMUGGLING –Old Bailey Trial 1748

308 (M) Robert Davis was indicted for not surrendering himself according to the king's order in council . *

Charles Chaworth. "I am clerk to Mr. Symonds, sollicitor for the customs ; I was at Mr. John Oxenford's, on the 22d of June, 1748, (he is justice of peace for the liberty of the Tower) there was Samuel Collington there, whom I saw give information before the justice, and saw the justice sign and seal it."

Q. "Look at this information, do you know it?"

Chaworth. "I do, here is my hand-writing, (that is my name as a witness ) I saw Samuel Collington write this his name, and the name Oxenford I believe the justice wrote.
 It is read, the purport as follows:
 That it is the information of Samuel Collington , against divers persons, among whom is Robert Davis of Oxenford Green, carpenter, taken upon oath the 22d of June, 1748.

That Samuel Fox , Jacob Carter , Benjamin Watts otherwise Rott, Robert Davis , and others to the number of forty persons and upwards on the 8th of October, 1746, being armed with fire arms, and other offensive weapons, were assembled at Benacre, in the county of Suff, in order to be aiding and assisting in landing and running uncustomed goods, and goods liable to pay duty, which had not been paid or secured, that they did run out of a cutter wine brandy and tea, which they loaded upon their horses and in waggons, and lodged them at the house of William Denne Fox"

Chaworth. "I took this information from the justice, and delivered it the same day to Mr Richardson, office-keeper in one of the duke of Bedford's offices, who was then one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state. Mr. Oxenford subscribed this certificate also.
It is read to this purport:
 Pursuant to an Act of Parliament, intitled, An Act for the farther punishment of persons concerned in the landing and carrying away uncustom'd goods, &c. I do hereby commend this Information under my hand and seal, and return it to his grace the duke of Bedford, one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state, which was taken upon Oath before me, June 22,

John Oxenford ."

Mr. Sharp. "I am clerk to his majesty's privy-council

(He is shewn an information and certificate.)

This information and certificate was laid before the then lords justices, (the King being then absent) in the King's privy council by the Duke of Bedford, who was at that time one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state: And at that time I received the lords justices order to give orders requiring all the persons named in this information to surrender themselves in forty days after the publication thereof, which order I sent, I believe, the very same day to the printer of the King's gazette, to have it published in the two next succeeding gazettes. Pursuant also to the direction I sent an order to Mr. Lamb Bury, the then high
See original sheriff of the county of Suffolk, that he might cause the order to be proclaim'd, in the manner the law required.
The Order of Council read to this purport:

At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, June 23, 1748, Present their Excellencies the Lords Justices, &c.

'' Whereas Samuel Fox , Jacob Carter , Benj. '' Watts otherwise Ratton, Richard Richards , and '' Robert Davis, of Coleford Green, were on the '' 22d of this instant June, charg'd by information '' of a credible person upon oath before John '' Oxenford, Esq ; with having been guilty on the '' 8th of October, 1746, of being assembled together '' with divers other persons, being armed '' with fire-arms and other offensive weapons, at '' Benacre, in the county of Suffolk, in order to be '' aiding and assisting in the landing and running '' uncustom'd goods, &c. which was afterwards '' certified before us in his majesty's absence, by '' John Oxenford , Esq; and laid before their excellencies '' the lords justices. Pursuant to the Act '' of Parliament the lords justices do, by the advice '' of his majesty's privy council, require and '' command that each of them do surrender within '' the space of forty days, after the date hereof, '' to the lord chief justice of his majesty's '' court of King's Bench, or any other of his majesty's '' justices of the peace, &c.''

Mr. Owen. "I am printer of the gazette.

He produced the Order be received from Mr. Sharp.

This I printed in the two next gazette's, which was from Tuesday the 21st, to Saturday 25, and from Saturday the 25th to Tuesday the 28th."

The printed order read in court, and compared with the written one.

Richard Crowfoot . "I was under sheriff for the county of Suffolk,

He is shewn a letter.

I believe this letter is the hand-writing of Mr. Bury, the then high sheriff for the county of Suffolk

Sharp. This letter I received by the post, the 28th of June, from Mr. Lamb Bury, high sheriff, giving me an account that he did lawfully observe the order he received it in me.

John Mr . Crowfoot being absent at the time in the year 1748, June 29. I voluntarily his place as under sheriff; on the day mentioned received a letter from Mr. Bury, with the order of council; he desired I would order copies of it to be made, which I did two by Robert Swetman , and examin'd them either the evening of that day, or the next morning."

Robert Swetman . "I receiv'd this order, which I proclaim'd, (they are all originals under seal from the council) from Mr. Ingham, and made two copies of it, which I examin'd on Thursday the 30th of June, 1748, and went to Southwold in Suffolk that day, it being market-day, and read over the order very loud, between the hours of twelve and one at the market-cross, after which I fixed up a true copy of it on the market-place, the most notorious place in the town; and on Saturday the 2d of July following, I went to Beccles, another market-town in the county of Suffolk, being the market-day there, I read over the same order again, betwixt the hours of twelve and one, at the market-cross, and fix'd up a true copy there."

Q." Are these the two nearest market towns to Benacre, in that county?"

Swetman. "They are reputed so to be, and I believe they are the nearest."

Q. "How far is Beccles from Benacre ?"

Swetman. "I believe it is about four or five miles."
 
Samuel Collington . !I am the person that made the information before justice Oxenford, the prisoner is the person meant in that information, his name is Robert Davis , and he did live at Coleford Green."

Q. "What is his trade?"

Collington. "I have heard say that he is a carpenter ?"

Q. "Did you ever hear any other name he went by besides Robert Davis ?"

Collington. "No, I never did."

See original Prisoner's Defence.
 "My name is not Davis"

For the prisoner.


Jacob Bonice . "I live at Aldbrough, in Suffolk, three miles from Coleford Green. I have known the prisoner between twelve and fifteen years, his name is Robert Davie , and I never heard him called by any other name; he is a farmer, I never heard him call'd by that of a carpenter, nor don't know that he was ever employ'd as a carpenter : he has a son about eighteen years of age a carpenter. The prisoner liv'd in a place of his own."

Q. "How many acres of land ?"

Bonice. "I can't justly say."

Q. "Is there five acres of it?"

Bonice. "There are and above."

Q. "Is there ten acres?"

Bonice. "I don't know."

Q. "Did he keep any horses?"

Bonice. "I fancy he kept two."

Q. "How do you spell his name?"

Bonice. "I have not learning enough for that, I can't spell."

Q. to Collington. "Do you know any thing of the prisoner's son a carpenter?"

Collington. "I know nothing of a son, I made information against the prisoner."

William Gray . "I have known the prisoner ten years, his name is Robert Davie , and I never heard him called by the name of Davis in my life."

Q. "Where did the prisoner live in the year 1748?"

Gray. "He liv'd at a place call'd Elbury, joining close to Coleford Green."

Matthew Thorp . "I have known the prisoner at the bar about ten or twelve years, his name is Robert Davie" .

- Osbourne. "I have known the prisoner about fourteen or fifteen years, his name is Robert Davie , and I never heard him called by any other name."

Q. "Upon your oath, if any in the neighbourhood had asked for Robert Davis , should you not have taken the prisoner to be the person intended?"

Osbourne. "No, I should have said I knew no such man."

John Lilley. "I have known the prisoner about twenty-eight years, and his name is Robert Davie".

Mr. Ingham again. "When the prisoner was a lad he lived servant with me a year, I hired him by the name of Davie, his mother I knew long before, I never heard any other name of him in the country, and if any body had come to me, and asked for Robert Davis , I should not have thought of the prisoner."

Q. "When you proclaim'd it did you think the prisoner was the person intended?"

Ingham. "I did imagine by the place of abode he was the person."

The jury found the issues for the king .

Death .

The Peasants Revolt in East Anglia: John Wraw


The key point of the peasants revolt started in Liston and Pentlow.  From the contemporary chronicle, the ‘Anonimal Chronicle of St. Mary’s, York’.
'At this same time the commons had risen in Suffolk in great numbers, and had as their chief Sir John Wraw, who brought with him more than 10,000 men. And they robbed many good folks, and cast their houses to the ground. And the said Sir John [to get] gold and silver [for his own profit?], came to Cambridge. There they did great damage by burning houses, and then they went to Bury, and found in that town a justice, Sir John Cavendish, Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and brought him to the pillory, and cut off his head and set it on the pillory. And afterwards they dragged to the pillory the Prior of that abbey, a good man and wise, and an accomplished singer, and a certain monk with him, and cut off their heads. And they set them on poles before the pillory, that all who passed down that street might see them. This Sir John Wraw their leader was afterwards taken as a traitor, and brought to London and condemned to death, and hanged, drawn, and quartered, and beheaded.'

Between 30 May  28 June 1381 half of England was in revolt. The revolt had been carefully planned. People wanted to free themselves of the feudal regulations which the Lord of Manors were still trying to impose on them 300 years after the Norman Conquest. The biggest bone of contention was the servitude of the 'unfree tenants' called 'villeins by blood', documented in the manorial rolls.The leader of the East Anglian Rising was John Wraw, (or Wrawe) a priest who was or had been a chaplain or Rector ('cappelanus') of Ringsfield. He was poor (at his trial he was said to have no property, real or personal whatever), discontented and ambitious.  It would seem that he had come straight from London on Wednesday, June 12, 1381 to raise the rebellion. There he had been conferring with the leading malcontents and had been meeting Wat Tyler on occasion.  Wraw certainly knew all that had happened in Kent, and the way for him had been prepared by emissaries from Essex, who had been carrying the news of the revolt northward for some days before the actual call to arms.  John Wraw is said to have been born in Pentlow. It is certainly possible, because he knew the area well.

On Wednesday 13 June: a large group of  people, whose leaders were a squire, Thomas Monchensey of Edwardston, and three priests from Sudbury—probably old friends and allies of the insurgent chief, set out from Sudbury to sack Lyons's manor at OverHall in Liston. Richard Lyons, who was in his London house at the time, was a wine-merchant and lapidary, created sheriff of London in 1371, and was the corrupt financier at the centre of the protests of the Good Parliament of 1376 who had finally impeached him; In the Parliament of 1379-80 he appears to have sat for Essex, Wat Tvler had formerly been his servant, as appears from his epitaph in the church of St. James, on Garlick Hill, where he was buried and Sir Richard  'on a tyme did beate him,'. If Wat Tyler had accompanied his master to Overhall on occasion, then it is likely that the two leaders of the rebellion knew each other quite well.

As Wraw and his band, containing people from Norfolk, Suffolk, Herts, and Essex, arrived at the luxurious Manor house, he made proclamation that he was come to right the grievances of all men, and called the true commons to his banner, sending a special message to the neighbouring town of Sudbury, from which he expected to raise a large contingent of allies. His band of followers grew rapidly and turned into a mob that destroyed all the documents and manorial rolls they could find that could be used as proof of feudal bondage before turning their attention to the wine-cellar. The hall was then entirely destroyed,  'breaking in both doors and windows, and destroying the tiles on the roof'. A couple of days later, Wat Tyler caught up with his old employer, Richard Lyons, in London and slaughtered him.

On the next morning, Thursday, June 13, the feast of Corpus Christi, Wraw and his mob commenced their march into Cavendish to try to capture Sir John Cavendish. According to local legend, they marched along the old road near the Stour, through the manor of Weston, through Pentlow, past the Hall, and on into Cavendish. A group of insurgents split off from the main party and, brandishing axes, attacked Pentlow Hall, which was then owned by Sir John Cavendish, and proceeded to pull it apart, throwing the timbers into the river.

Lawyers were specially obnoxious to the insurgents, and Sir John Cavendish was personally unpopular. He had been zealously enforcing the unpopular Statute of Labourers, one of the chief causes of the risings, in his native county. Presumably warned in time of the threatened invasion, the judge hid all his plate and
other valuables in Cavendish church tower, and fled in the direction of Ely. Wraw and his men had to be content, for the moment, with sacking the manor-house. They had been told that John Cavendish had hidden his valuables in the church tower, ans appear even to have taken the trouble to procure the keys, through the felonious practices of Ralph Somertou, dyer of Sudbury, who thereupon admitted John Wrawe and his crowd of followers into the church, and led them to the belfry, where they had been informed that the goods of ' John de Cavendish, late Justice _of our Lord the King,' had been hidden away. These they at once seized, taking away from the church tower, as we are told, a ' Jakke of Velvet,' price 26s. &d., a silver candlestick worth seven pounds, and other articles of value, which spoil Wrawe was called upon to divide among his followers.They ended the day by going back to the green at Melford where the local publicans at the tavern of a certain Onewene ensured that the mob were well nourished for the next stage in the revolt. They proceeded to  'adinvicem biberunt unam pipam vini rubei,' of the price of seven marks, 3s. 4d, which amount was, however, faithfully paid to the taverner from the spoils already taken.

Then the mob split into two. One group pursued John Cavendish and finally caught up with him next day at Lakenheath where he was attempting to cross the river Brandon.  He almost escaped, for his pursuers were still behind him when he reached the ferry over the River Brandon. But before he could enter the boat a woman named Katharine Garner pushed it into the centre of the river so that he could not cross and left him helpless on the bank. Cavendish was caught by the mob where he was beheaded and his head carried back to Bury on a pole where they went to  Cavendish's town house and destroyed it.

Another group of rebels, led by  John Wrawe, Robert Tavell, of Lavenham, and John Talmache, Esquire, had gone straight to Bury from Long Melford to Bury St Edmunds, where the townspeople gladly allowed them in. The townsfolk had sent messages to Wraw and his horde, inviting them to come to Bury. On the evening of June 13 the rebels appeared in great force, and were welcomed with open glee by the poorer classes, many of whom joined them. The wealthier burgesses affected to hold themselves aloof from the movement, but secretly gave both encouragement and advice to the invaders. For good consideration received, Wraw undertook to bring the monks to reason in his own way. There was no Abbot at the time, but the monastery was under the control of the Prior's deputy, John Cambridge. They set about plundering the houses of the Abbey officials.  Prior Cambridge, who was leader of the intransigents, heard that the rebels planned to put him to death on the following day so he escaped, but on Friday he was captured in a wood three miles from Newmarket. He was given a trial before John Wraw and was beheaded on the 15th of June. His body was left lying for five days unburied on Mildenhall Heath. His head was fixed on a pike and carried back to Bury. and set up on the pillory in the market-place. There it had for a companion that of John Cavendish. The mob amused themselves by placing the lawyer's mouth to the priest's ear, as for confession, or by setting them lip to lip. They then recieved an extra head to p[lay with,  that of  the unfortunate  John Lakenheath, a monk who, bearing the office of custos baroniae in the abbey, had been charged with the unpopular duty of exacting manorial dues and fines. Three other brethren, whose heads were also wanted for the collection, escaped, one by concealing himself, the other two by taking sanctuary at the altar, where (by some inexplicable chance) the mob did not seek them. On Sunday, one more head, that of a local notable, who was considered too friendly to the abbey, was set with the others.

The monastery had for generations been at odds with the freedom-loving burghers. In the absence of the abbot the monastery seemed defenceless, The panic-stricken monks, fearing a repetition of the sacking of 1327, now gave the townsmen a charter, and parted with their documents, silver plate, and other valuables. The sacking of the homes of the wealthy and general rioting continued over several days. At every turn the manorial rolls were burned and with them centuries of feudal bondage

For a week John Wraw reigned at Bury, sending out his lieutenants on all sides to spread the revolt and to extort blackmail wherever it could be got. His main agents were a  renegade knight, named Sir Thomas Cornerd, and two priests from Sudbury. His sphere of operations extended as far as
Bungay and Beccles

On the evening of Thursday,13th John Wraw was offered the crown of Suffolk, but he told the crowd to give it to someone else. Robert de Westerham, a mercer, was crowned king instead.

On 18 June Wraw set off for north-east Suffolk. His first exploit was the sack of Mettingham Castle. He led a strong detachment of 500 men who damaged the buildings and took £40 in cash.
Next day he held a sort of assize in Beccles, and presided at the execution of Geoffrey Southgate, an unpopular resident, who was handed over by three of his neighbours.

On the 23rd of June 500 lancers under the Earl of Suffolk William Ufford, from the Royal Army in London arrived at Bury . Before this formidable force, the rebel bands melted away, without making the least show of resistance. Wraw, showed himself an arrant coward. Instead of offering battle to the forces of order, he fled and hid himself. Probably only about twenty people on both sides were killed in Suffolk

At the trials only 20 were executed including the leader John Wraw, who fled; hid but was captured, tried to save himself by turning king’s evidence and implicating his lieutenants, but he was hanged with the others.Of the 1700 who took part 70 were women.

It is difficult to feel much sympathy for Wraw. He was a discontented, and ambitious priest who seems to have acted out of  vanity, greed  and cruelty.  In his confession, he admitted to have made a handsome profit from leading the rebellion. When it was all over he cowardly tried to save his life by turning King’s evidence. To ingratiate himself with his captors, he laid depositions against all his own lieutenant, Robert Westbroun, and two Bury squires named Denham and Halesworth, as the main agents of the Prior’s trial and death. He furnished the Government with sufficient information to hang many of his accomplices.

Wraw made splendid speeches, but when the going got tough, he caved in immediately.

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