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Archaeologia Cantiana - Vol. 127   2007 page 65

The Kent Hundred Rolls: Local Government and Corruption
in the Thirteenth Century.
By Jennifer Ward

assize service was time-consuming, and it is likely that men were willing to pay a small sum to avoid attendance. John Sperewe, bailiff of Christ Church, Canterbury, took money to remove five men from assizes and juries, and half a mark from Henry de Strethend because he did not come to an assize; the jurors commented that he had not been summoned. Hugh de Wy, bailiff of the seven hundreds, took two marks to remove men from assizes and put others in their place; thirty-two men were involved, paying sums of 6d. and 12d., and in one case 18d.26
    The arrest of suspects always posed problems and the arrest of innocent people happened in medieval as in modern times. The jurors of Bridge hundred complained that the hundred bailiff, John de Braburn, unjustly arrested Gunnora de Hardres and imprisoned her until she paid 30s. Hamo de la Forstall, a serjeant of the lathe of St Augustine and a frequent oppressor according to the juries, arrested Charles de Pette, falsely accusing him of theft and not releasing him until he paid £1. He falsely accused John de Bosco’s wife of a felony and kept her in prison until she handed over a cow and a pig, worth 10s. Acquittal by the justices in eyre was not necessarily accepted locally. Henry de la Woylete was acquitted of murdering a woman and throwing her body down a well, but he had to make payments to Henry de Malemains and Ivo de Merdenn. Similarly, a tithing had to make payments totalling £3 to two officials after it had been acquitted of knowing about a theft by a felon.27
   On the other hand, felonies might be concealed, felons allowed to escape, and crimes connived at. Henry de Burn, sheriff between 1265 and 1267, took five marks from William de Cruce of Chislet for a felony against John de Roffeburn, and £1 from Robert de Heliere for a felony against Giles de Or; presumably this was to say nothing about the felony. William Hogheman and John Moys killed two men, but had the support of the sheriff, Henry Malemains, and the jurors did not know where they were now.28
   Officials were in an advantageous position to seize money and land. They had the right to demand hospitality when they were carrying out their duties, and Thomas de Pote lost half a mark because he did not want to entertain the sheriff’s official with his four horses and greyhounds. Hamo de la Forstall is said to have grabbed five perches of land, with the crops, by authority of his office. Elias the clerk took money from William Gunnild because William’s mare was loose on the royal road and because his horse followed the mare. Seizures were sometimes related to the civil war situation. After the battle of Evesham, Bartholomew de Woteringebur’ was a prisoner in Dover castle and the king’s bailiff seized his hay and two oxen; then Nigel de Chetham had twenty loads of his barley and fifteen loads of his wheat threshed.29
   Court orders were enforced by distraint, usually the seizure of goods, which caused widespread problems. Distraint was subject to detailed

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