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A LIST OF THOSE OF WENSLEYDALE WHO TOOK SANCTUARY AT ST: CUTHBERT'S AT DURHAM,
AND ST. JOHN'S AT BEVERLEY.
Certain privileges of sanctuary have been recognised from the earliest ages. Moses was directed to appoint, three cities of refuge for unpremeditated homicides. In heathen countries, the temples and sacred enclosures offered an asylum to those who fled to them. There is ample proof that the custom of taking sanctuary in Christian churches existed in the fourth century, but the privilege does not appear to have received the sanction of the Holy See until the time of Pope Boniface V., about the year 620. Some authors think the rule was introduced into Britain by King Lucius, who reigned
towards the close of the second century; it is unquestionably recognised in the code of laws
promulgated by Ina, King of the West Saxons, A.D. 693; and again by the laws of Alfred the Great, A.D. 887. It was also formally noticed and established by William the Conqueror, in the fourth year of his reign. The privileges of sanctuary were greatly curtailed at different intervals by Henry VIII. ; they were further abridged by an act 1st James I., c. 25, and were finally taken away in 1624, by the statute of 21 James I. c. 28.(1)
The right of sanctuary was granted to many churches in England; amongst others to St. Cuthbert's, of Durham, and St. John's, of Beverley. At Durham, persons who took refuge fled to the north door, and knocked for admission; the knocker remains. Men slept in two chambers over the door, for the purpose of admitting such fugitives at any hour of the night. As soon as any one was so admitted, the Galilee bell was immediately
1 See Gibson's Codes, c. L.
But if any
tolled, to give notice that some had taken sanctuary. The offender was required to declare, before certain credible witnesses, the nature of his offence, and to toll a bell in token of his demanding the privileges of sanctuary. This last custom is not noticed in the registers after 1503. Every one who had the privileges of sanctuary was provided with a gown of black cloth, with a yellow cross, called St. Cuthbert's Cross; a grate was expressly provided near the south door of the Galilee, for such offenders to sleep upon, and they had a sufficient quantity of provision and bedding at the expense of the house for thirty-seven days, when they were required to abjure the realm.
In the sanctuary at Beverley, offenders had their food provided in the Refectory during thirty days, and, if they were persons of any distinction, had a lodging in the Dormitory, or in a house within the precincts. At the end of the time, their privileges protected them to the borders of the county-and they could claim the same security a second time, under the like circumstances. one's life was saved a third time by the privilege of sanctuary, he became permanently a servant to the Church.
The general privilege of sanctuary was intended to be only temporary. Within forty days after a felon or murderer had taken refuge, he was to appear before the coroner, clothed in sackcloth, and there confess his crime, and abjure the realm,
The form of abjuration, as given by Sir Wm. Rastall, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, temp. Mary I., is as follows:
“This hear thou, Sir Coroner, that I, M. of H., am a robber of sheep, or of any other beast, or a murderer of one or of two, and a felon of our Lord the King of England, and because I have done many such evils or robberies in his land, I do abjure the land of our Lord Edward, King of England, and I shall haste me towards the port of such a place as thou hast given me: and that I shall not go out of the highway, and if I do, I will that I be taken as a robber and a felon of our Lord the King: and that at such a place I will diligently seek for passage, and that I will tarry there but one food and ebb, if I can have passage; and unless I can have it in such a place, I will go every day into the sea up to my knees,
assaying to pass over: and unless I can do this within forty days, I will put myself again into the Church, as a robber and a felon of our Lord the King, so God me help and his holy judgment.”
This abjuration of the realm, (after which, although out of the peace and protection of the King, all were as if they were in the protection of the Church, if they were not found out of the highway,–broke their oaths,-or did mischief in the highway) lasted only during the lifetime of the reigning sovereign, after whose death they had, if not previously pardoned, free right to return unquestioned to their homes. (1)
The privileges of sanctuary being frequently abused, we find the parliament of Westminster, in A.D. 1378, 1 Richard II., ordained that if any took sanctuary at Westminster with purpose to defraud their creditors, their lands and goods should be answerable to the discharging of their debts.
In 1487, Pope Innocent VIII. granted a bull, authorising the apprehensien of persons who had issued from sanctuary to commit robbery or murder, although they should have again taken refuge there; and that persons accused of high treason, who had taken sanctuary, might be guarded so as to prevent thǝir escape. This was confirmed by his successor, Alexander VI., in 1493:(2) and by Julius II., in 1504.(3) (4)
From the Sanctuary Registers of St. Cuthbert's at Durham, and St. John's, at Beverley, I have extracted the following entries concerning delinquents from Wensleydale and its vicinity, who claimed and obtained the privilege of sanctuary at those refuges; thinking the list cannot be uninteresting to any Wensleydale reader.
SANCTUARIUM DUNELMENSE. NO. IV. PETICIO IMMUNITATIS ECCLESIÆ FACTA
PER CRISTOFERUS BROWN. Cristoferus Brown personaliter constitutus in navi Ecclesiæ Cath Dunelm, die Sabbati xxvjo die Julii, Anno Domini MCCCCLXXVII°, coram notario et testibus infrascriptis, peciit cum
1 Rastall's Collection of Statues. Art. Abjuration, sec. 3. See also Gibson's
Codex, Tit. L., c. I. 2 Rymer, Vol. xii., p. 541.
3 Ibid, vol. xiii, p. 104. 4 The foregoing account of the ancient Sanctuaries has been simply abridged from the Preface to the volume entitled, “SANCTUARIUM DUNELMENSE ET SANCTUARIUM BEVERLACENSE; published by the “Surtees So. ciety," A.D. 1837.
instancia immunitatem et libertatem ecclesiæ Sancti Cuthberti, pro eo quod ipse Cristoferus, ut asseruit, die Veneris in festo Sancti Wilfridi, Anno Domini MccccLIX, apud Laburn juxta Midilham in Coverdale Ebor. Dioc. fecit insultum in quemdam Thomam Carter, equitatem ac tenentem filium suum ætatis trium annorum ante ipsum, occasione cujus insultus dictus Thomas ab equo festinanter descendens permisit filium suum cadere super terram, et dictus equus ex casu infortunatæ ipsum filium pedibus suis conculcavit et oppressit. Unde idem filius infra duos dies obiit. Et sic idem Cristoferus recognovit se fore reum mortis dicti pueri, et hac de causa peciit immunitatem ecclesiæ prædictæ. Presentibus tunc et audientibus M. Edwardo Bell clerico, publico auctoritatibus apostolica et imperiali Notario, Johanne Maynsforth presbytero, magistro Scolarum Abbatiæ Dunelm, Johanne Swynton et aliis.
XXVIII. THOMAS BORELL. Thomas Borell de parochia de Thornton in Comitatu Richemond. venit ad eclesiam Cath. Dunelm. xx die mensis Junii Anno Domini MCCCCLXXXXV [ita, sed MCCCCLXXXV]. et ibidem, pulsatis campanis, instanter peciit immunitatem et libertatem ecclesiæ Cath. supradictæ et S. Cuthberti in eo et pro eo quod idem Thomas Borell insultum fecit in quemdam Willielmum Claypham de parochia de Witton in eodem Comitatu, ac eundum Willielmum cum uno le bill felonice super anteriorem partem capitis, die Mercurrii proxime ante datam præsencium, percussit et vulneravit; ex qua plaga et vulneri sic impositis idem Willielmus incontinenter obiit et diem clausit extremum. Pro qua quidem felonia sic ibidem perpetrata idem Thomas instantissime peciit immunitatem et libertatem S. Cuthberti et ecclesiæ Cath. Dunelm. supradictæ. Presentibus ibidem Magistro Ricardo Empson publico notario et scriba Registro Domini Prioris Dunelm, Edwardo Patonson, et Johanne Brown, famulis ecclesiæ Cath. predictæ, testibus ad præmiesa specialiter rogatis et requisitis.
LXXXIII. THOMAS STOKDALL. Thomas Stokdell, nuper de Baynbrig in Com. Richmond, Ebor. Dioc, venit ad ecclesiam Cath. Dunelm. xviij die mensis Octobris, Anno Domini mdi, in sua propria persona, et ibidem, pulsata campana, instanter peciit immunitatem et libertatem Sancti Cuthberti et ecclesiæ Cath. prædictæ, pro et ex eo quod idem Thomas Stockdell, xiiij die mensis Octobris ad octo annos elapso, quemdam Willielmum Strikkerd in villa de Baynbrig predicta cum baculo, anglice, a pikk staff, super caput felonice percussit; ex qua quidem percussione idem Willielmus incontinenter infra res dies extunc proxime sequentes obiit. Pro qua felonia peciit immunitatem et libertatem Sancti Cuthberti et ecclesiæ cathedralis prædictæ. Hiis testibus Atkyn Watson, Johnanne Dichburne, et Johanne Whitehed clerico, apostolica et imperiali auctoritatibus notario publico, et multis aliis.
CLXVIII. RADULFUS GAILL. Ad Ecclesiam Cath. Dunelm. venit quidam Radulfus Gayll, de Rydmar. in Com. Richmond, Ebor. Dioc., viij Julii, MDXIII., et