Campden Lawbreakers in 1221

Jill Wilson

In this year, during the reign of Henry III, the king’s judges visited Gloucestershire and the record of the Eyre (which was what the circuit they followed was called), written in Latin, includes many who came from Campden and the surrounding district.

Against the laconic notes the clerk has written his abbreviated comment of the ruling.  Case number 7 was ‘mdr’: Matilla of Charingworth had been killed by a thief who could not be found. There were other murders, one by Radulfus le Blodletere (‘Bloodletter’?).  Campden itself was somewhat lawless too it seems for Reginaldus Rug, (we might call him Rough Reg) himself a thief, killed another thief in ‘Campden field’ then fled the scene.  Later it was recorded that he had been hanged for ‘another deed’.

But the court dealt also in other matters. Henry and Robert the clerk, both of Campden, were convicted of having sold wine contrary to the regulations. They were fined. Worse still, in case no 25, judgement was made that ‘the regulations on the size of cloths are not carried out in Campden’ a fine was considered and it was decided that the matter needed further discussion.

It was not always possible to come to a conclusion.  In one case the jury failed to agree on whether Walter of Asperton died of a wound or of plague while in the house of the widow Aldithe. She herself was dead and could not be interrogated. The record does not say why he was there or what she had died of, so we can but wonder about what had happened. Did they both suffer from plague or robbery with violence – and why were the jury not asked to consider the reason for her decease too? Later the same jury members were themselves in trouble for having concealed certain ?allegations (translation uncertain) made against Geoffrey Wood and were fined.

There are many more such cases, all in a medieval Latin with abbreviations known only to the clerk of the court, and I hope to continue translating them one day to find out exactly what Philip of Mickleton, mentioned more than once, had been up to.

Other transcriptions and translations in hand by members of CCHS include wills, inventories and parish registers. If you are interested in finding out more and perhaps helping with the transcriptions (a knowledge of Latin is not essential!) please contact the Archive Room in the Old Police Station in Campden High Street.

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