JOHN PASTON TO [THE EARL OF OXFORD][306.2]
[Sidenote: 1454 / MARCH 31]
Right wurchepfull and my right especiall Lord, I recomaund me to your gode Lordshep, besechyng your Lordshep that ye take not to displesauns thow I write you, as I here say that Agnes Denyes, be the meanes of your Lordshep and of my Lord the Cardynall,[306.3] hos sowle God assoyle and forgeve, was set in preson, beyng with child--which, and the sorough and shame there of, was nygh her deth--and yet dayly is vexed and trobled, and her servauntes in like wyse, to the uttermest distruccion of her person and godes. In which, my Lord, at the reverens of God, remembre sche was maried be you and be my meanes, be your comaundement and writyng, and draw therto full sore ageyn her entent in the begynnynge; and was worth v.^c.  marc and better, and shuld have had a gentilman of this contre of an C. marc of lond and wele born, ne had be your gode Lordshep and writyng to her and me. And this considered in your wise discrecion, I trost, my Lord, thow her prisonyng were of oderes labore, ye wuld helpe her; and if she be destroyd be this mariage, my conscyens thynketh I am bownd to recompense her after my pore and sympill power. My Lord, ye know I had litill cause to do for Thomas Denyes, savyng only for your gode Lordshep. Also, my Lord, I know wele that Water Ingham was bete, the mater hangyng in myn award, right fowle and shamefully; and also how the seid Thomas Denyes hath, this last terme, ageyn your nobill estat, right unwysely demened hym to his shame and grettest rebuke that ever he had in his lyve. Where fore it is right wele do his person be ponysshed as it pleaseth you. But this not withstondyng for Godds love, my Lord, remembre how the gentilwoman is accombred only for yowr sake, and help her; and if aught lyth in my power to do that that myght please yowr Lordshep, or cowde fynde any way for Water Ingham avayll and wurchep, I wull do it to my power; and the rather if your Lordshep support the jentilwoman, for I know the mater and that longe plee is litill avayll, and every thyng must have an ende.
I have told my brother Mathew Drury more to enforme yowre Lordshep than I may have leyser to write for his hasty departyng. Right wurchepfull and my right especiall Lord, I besech All myghty God send you asmych joy and wurchep as ever had any of my Lords yowr aunceters, and kepe you and all yowres. Wretyn at Norwich the iiij. Sonday of Lent.
Yowre servaunte to his powr,
[Footnote 306.2: [From Paston MSS., B.M.] This letter was so manifestly written on the receipt of the last, that there can be no question about the date. It bears no address upon the back, so that it is probably only a copy, or, if an original, it certainly was not sent; but the person for whom it was intended was evidently the Earl of Oxford.]
[Footnote 306.3: Cardinal Kemp.]
INFORMATION AGAINST ROBERT LEDHAM[307.1]
Thees be the persons that enformyd the Justicez of the Kyngis Benche the last terme of suche ryottis as hath be done be Robert Ledham: The Lord Skales, Sir Thomas Todenham, Sir John Chalers, Edmond Clere, Water George, John Alyngton, Gilbert Debenham, John Denston, William Whit, William Alyngton, Reynald Rows, John Berney, Richard Suthwell, John Paston, John Henyngham, Raff Shelton, Henry Grey.
These be the names of the knyghtes and esquyers that endittyd Robert Ledham:--Thomas Todenham, knyght, Andrew Ogard, knyght, John Henygham, knyght, William Calthorp, esquyer, Bryan Stapelton, esquyer, Osbert Mondford, esquyer, John Groos, esquyer, William Rokwod, esquyer, Thomas Morle, esquyer, Thomas Scholdham, esquyer, John Wyndham, esquyer, John Berney, esquyer, William Narbow, esquyer, John Chippysby, esquyer, William White, esquyer, John Bryston, esquyer, John Paston, esquyer.
These be dyvers of the ryottis and offensis done in the hundred of Blofeld in the counte of Norffolk, and in other townys be Robert Lethum, otherwyse callyd Robert Ledham of Wytton, be Blofeld in the counte of Norffolk, and by his ryottys men and by other of his affinitez and knowleche, whos names folowyn, and that they contynually folow and resorte unto his hous, and ther be supported and maynteynet and confortid.
These be the principall menealle men of the sayd Robert Ledham ys hous be the whiche the sayd ryottys have be done, that use in substaunce non other occupacion but ryottys:--_In primis_, John Cokett, Thomas Bury, Thomas Cokowe, Cristofer Bradlee, Elys Dukworth, William Donmowe, Cristofer Grenesheve, Roger Chirche. Notwythstondyng the sayd Robert Ledham kypith dayly many mo in his house and chaungeth such as have be oppenly knowyn for riottis and takith other for hem as evill as they.
And these be the most principale persons comyng and resortyng unto the house of the sayd Robert Ledham, and ther be supportid and mayntened in ryottes be whom the sayd ryottes have be don, that ys to sey: _In primis_, Robert Taillor, Henry Bang, Robert Dallyng, John Beston, Charles Navell, John, the sone of Roger Ratclyff, Robert Berton; notwythstondyng ther be money moo whos names ben unknowyn. With the which persons, and many moo unknowyn, the sayd Robert Ledham kept atte his hous in maner of a forcelet and issith ouute atte here pleaysour and atte his lust, the sayd Ledham to assigne, somtyme vj. and sometyme xij., somtyme xxx^ti and moo, armyd, jakkid, and salettyd, with bowys and arrowys, speris, billys, and over ryde the countrey and oppressid the Kyngs peple, and didde mony oryble and abhomynable dedes, like to have be destruccion of the enhabitantes in the sayd hundred, in the forme that folowyth, and warse.
_In primis_, on the Monday[309.1] next before Ester day and the shire daye, the xxx. yere of oure soverayne Lord the Kyng, x. persons of the sayd riottors, with a brother of the wyff of the sayd Robert Lethum, laye in awayte in the hyght way under Thorpe Wode upon Phillip Berney, esquyer, and his man comyng from the shire, and shette atte hym and smote the hors of the sayd Phillipp with arowes, and than over rode hym, and toke hym and bette hym and spoillid hym. And for thayr excuse of this ryot, they ledde hym to the Bysshopp of Norwiche, axyng seuerte of the peas wher they hadde never waraunt hym to areste. Which affray shorttyd the lyffdayes of the sayd Phillippe, whiche dyed withynne shorte tyme after the said affray.[309.2]
Item, iij. of the sayd riottys feloshippe the same day, yere, and place, laye on awayte uppon Edmond Broune, gentilman, and with naked swerdes and other wepyng faght wyth hym be the space of on qaurte (_sic_) of an houre, and toke and spoillyd hym, and kepte hym as long as them lyst, and after that lette hym goo.
Item, xl^ti of the sayd riottys felowshipp, be the comaundement of the same Robert Lethum, jakket and saletted, with bowes, arowys, billys, and gleyves, oppon Mauyndy Thursday,[309.3] atte iiij. of the clokke atte after nonne, the same yere, comyn to the White Freres in Norwyche, and wold have brokyn theyr yates and dorys, feynyng thaym that they wold hire thayre evesong. Where they ware aunswered suche service was non used to be there, nor withyn the sayd citee atte that tyme of the daye, and prayd them to departe; and they aunswered and sayd that affore thayre departyng they wold have somme persons ouute of that place, qwykke or dede, insomuch the sayd freris were fayn to kype thaire place with forsse. And the mayr and the sheriffe of the sayd cite were fayn to arere a power to resyst the sayd riotts, which to hem on that holy tyme was tediose and heynous, consedryng the losse and lettyng of the holy service of that holy nyght. And theroppon the sayd ryotors departid.
Item, the sayd Robert Lethum, on the Monday[310.1] nest after Esterne day, the same yere, toke from on John Wilton iiij. neet for rent arere, as he said, and killed hem and layd them in salte, and afterward ete hem.
Item, the sayd Robert Lethum, with vj. of his sayd ryottes, the same yere made assaute uppon John Wilton in Plumstede churche yerde, and theer so bete hym that he was in doute of his lyff; and also dede to hym many grete wronggys and oppressioun, unto the undoyng of the sayd John Wilton.
Item, in lyke wyse the sayd Robert Lethum and his men assauted on John Coke of Witton, in brekyng uppe his dorys atte a xi. of the cloke in the nyght, and wyth thaire swerdys maymed hym and gaff hym vij. grete wondys, and toke from hym certayn goodys and catalls, of the whiche he hadde, nor yitte hath, no remedy nor restitution.
Item, the same day and yere they bete the moder of the same John Coke, she beyng iiij^xx. [_four score_] yere of age and more, and smote hure uppon the crowne of here hed with a swerd; of the whiche hurte she myght never be helyd into the day of hure deth.
Item, John, the sone of Hodge Ratleffe, and other of the sayd felowshipp, toke on Thomas Baret of Byrlygham out of his house, and bete hym and wondid hym that he kept his bedde a month, and toke from hym certayn goodes and catells.
Item, the sayd Robert Taillor, because the sayd Thomas Baret complayned of the same betyng, lay in awayte oppon hym, with other of his feloushippe, and bete hym agayn.
Item, John Beston and the sayd Robert Taillor, and other of the sayd riottes felowshipp, toke on Thomas Byrden of Lyngewod and bete hym and prisoned hym till unto such tyme that he was delyvered by the mene of my Lord of Norwych; and for that sorow, distres, and grete payne and betyng, the sayd Thomas Byrden toke suche kynesse that he dyed.
Item, the sayd Robert Dallyng and Herry Bange, and other of the sayd felowshippe, toke and bete on Nicholas Chirche atte Strumpeshawe, beyng in the church of the same towne, that he was [in] dout of his lyff.
Item, the sayd Robert Dallyng lay on awayt uppon on Thomas Dallyng, and hym grevously bete.
Item, on Middleynt Sunday,[311.1] the xxx^ti yere of oure soveraigne Lorde the Kynge that now ys, Robert Dallyng, Robert Churche, Robert Taillor, Herry Bang, Adam atte More, with other unknowyn, be the comaundement and assent of the sayd Robert Ledham, made affray uppon Herry Smyth and Thomas Chambre atte Suthbirlyngham, the sayd Herry and Thomas and that tyme knelyng to see the usyng of the masse, and than and ther wold have kyllyd the sayd Herry and Thomas atte the prestys bakke, ne had they be lettyd.
Item, the sayd Robert Lethum, with his sayd ryottis felawshipp, the same yere dide and made so many ryottes in the hundred where he dwellyth that dyvers and many gentilmen, frankeleyns, and good men, durst not abyde in here mansyon place, ne ryde, nother walke aboute thaire occupacions without mo persons, arrayd in maner and forme of werre attendyng and waytyng uppon them than thayr lyvelode wold extende to fynde hem. And so, for savacion of thaire lyves, and in eschewyng of suche inordinat costys as never was seen in that countrey befor, many of them forsoke and leffte thaire owyn habitacion, wyff and childe, and drewe to fortresses and good townes as for that tyme.
_In primis_, Phillipp Berney, esquyer, Edmond Broom to Castre; Thomas Holler, John Wylton to Norwych; Oliver Kubyte to Seynt Benetts; Robert Spany to Aylesham; Thomas Baret, with many others, to Meche Yarmouth and to other placys of strenght.
Item, the sayd Robert Ledham, contynuyng in this wyse, callyd unto hym his sayd mysgoverned felowshipp, consydryng the absence of many of the well-rewlyd people of the sayd hundred of affere cast malice, and congected, purposed and labored to the sheriff of the shire that the sayd Roger Chirche, on of the sayd riottous felawshipp, was made bailly of the hundred; and after causid the same Roger to be begynner of arysyng and to take oppon hym to be a captayn and to excite the peple of the countrey therto. And ther oppon, be covyne of the sayd Robert Ledhaum, to appeche all these sayd well rewlyd persones, and as well other divers substanciall men of good fame and good governaunce that were hated be the sayd Robert Ledhaum, and promittyng the sayd Roger harmeles and to sew his pardon be the mene of Danyell; to the which promyse the sayd Rogger aggreed, and was arested and take be the sayd Ledham be covyne betwixt hem, and appeched suche persons as they lust, to the entente that the sayd substanciall men of the countre shuld be by that mene so trowblyd and indaungered that they shuld not be of power to lette and resist the mys rewle of the sayd Ledham and his mysgoverned felawshipp, the whiche mater ys confessid by the sayd Roger Chirch.
Item, William Breton and John Berton, and other of the sayd ryottes, come into the place of on Robert Spany of Poswyke and serched his housez, hous be hous, for to have bete hym yf they myght have founde hym.
Item, William Donmowe, servaunt of the sayd Robert Ledham, and by his comaundement, the same yere bete the parson of Hashyngham, and brake his hede in his owyn chauncell.
Item, the sayd Thomas Bery, Elys Dukworth, Thomas Cokowe, George of Chamer, the v. day of Novembre last past, with divers other onknowyn men, onto the nombre of xx. persons, and noman of reputacion among hem, comen, under color of huntyng, and brake uppe gatys and closys of Osburne Monford atte Brayston; and xij. persons of the same felowshipp, with bowys bent and arowys redy in thair handys, abode alone betwixt the maner of Brayston and the chirche, and there kept hem from vij. of the clokke on the mornyng unto iij. of the clokk after none, lyyng in awayte oppon the servauntez of the sayd Osburne Monford, lorde of the sayd maner, so that nonne durst comen ouut for doute of thair lyves.
Item, viij. of the sayd felowshipp, on the Wennesday next after, prevely in an hole layn in awayte oppon William Edworth and Robert Camplyon, servauntz to the sayd Osburn Montford, comyng from Okill[313.1] market, till that tyme that the said William Owell and Robert come uppon hem onwarre, and theruppon chasid hem so that yf they had not be well horssyd and well askapped, they had ben dede and slayne.
Item, vj. or vij. of the sayd Ledamys men dayly, boyth werkeday and haly day, use to goo aboute in the countrey with bowys and arowys, shotyng and playng in mennys closis among men catall, goyng from alhous to alhousez and manassyng suche as they hated, and soght occasion and quarels and debate.
Item, notwithstandyng that all the lyvelod that the sayd Ledham hath passith not xx_li._ , be sydes the reparacion and outcharges, and that he hath no connyng ne trew mene of getyng of any good in this countre, as for as any man may conceyve, and yette xypith in his house dayly xx. men, besydes women and gret multitude of such mysgoverned peple as ben resortyng to hym, as ys above sayd, to the whiche he yevith clothyng, and yitte bysyde that he yevith to other men that be not dwellyng in his household; and of the sayd xx. men ther passith not viij. that use occupacion of husbondrye; and all they that use husbondrye, as well as other, be jakked and salettid redy for to werre, which yn this countrey ys thoght ryght straunge, and ys verely so conceyved that he may not kepe this countenance be no good menes.
Item, the sayd Ledham hath a _supersedias_ oute of the chauncerie for hym and divers of hys men, that no warant of justice of pees may be served agayn hem.
Item, please unto your Lordshipp to remembre that the sayd Ledham and his sayd mysgoverned feloushipp be endited of many of these articles and of many moo not comprehendit here, and in especiall of the sayd rysyng agayn the Kyng. Wherfore, though the sayd Ledham can prove the sayd enditement of treson voyde in the lawe for symplenesse of them that gaffe the verdit, that it lyke you, for the Kyngs availl, not redely to suffre the sayd Ledham to departe atte large unto the tyme that the mater of the sayd enditement be better enquered of for the Kyngs avayll, and that the sayd Ledham fynde surte of his good aberyng; and the inhabitauntz of the sayd hundred of Blofeld shall pray for you. And els they be lyke to be destruyd for ever.
[Footnote 307.1: [From Add. Charter 16,545, B.M.] This paper refers mainly to events of 1452 and 1453, but was probably drawn up in 1454, after the Duke of York had come into power.]
[Footnote 309.1: 3rd April 1452.]
[Footnote 309.2: Philip Berney died, as we have seen, on the 2nd July 1453, fifteen months after the date assigned to the outrage.]
[Footnote 309.3: 6th April 1452.]
[Footnote 310.1: 10th April 1452.]
[Footnote 311.1: 19th March 1452.]
[Footnote 313.1: Acle.]
[[she beyng iiij^xx. ... yere of age _printed "vere" (error or broken "y")_]]
[[toke suche kynesse that he dyed _text unchanged: error for "sykynesse" or equivalent?_]]