Law and Order in Clent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1.

The following Extracts from The Court Rolls, were published in The Parish Magazine  July 2007, as part of  Clent History Society’s founding Chairman, Mr John Partington’s series ‘From the Archives’  

Clearly there were some ‘ Clent gents’ who had their own ideas about dealing with disputes regardless of the law. For some individuals the sourcing of their fish and meat was a very direct matter; no long obscure food chain for them.

The Manor Court was probably held in St Leonard’s church. If parishioners hung about outside to eavesdrop on the proceedings they could end up with a hefty fine to pay –   12 d This is what happened to Walter Franke, alias Chapman, when he was discovered doing exactly that, in 1613.

Clent folk frequently assaulted each other with great violence, even persons described as ‘gents’ were not above making each other’s noses bleed.

In 1576 William Cox attacked Thomas Sparry’s son, John, in the churchyard – fine to pay 6d.

Unclaimed strayed sheep were seized by the lord of the manor. When in 1577  William Holme ‘falsely claimed a shee’ he had to pay his 6d fine.

To stop such ‘false claims’ owners of sheep were ordered to rump mark their sheep, with their own mark. Failure to do so, as in the case of John Heath, in 1585, resulted in him facing an enormous penalty fine of 10s, unless he got them marked as he had been ordered.

A Hunting we will go…….

Partridges & Pheasants.    ‘Neither of these birds should be taken using an enginium or springe.’  The fine for disobeying this 1577 order  –20s.

Keeping dogs for hunting conies (rabits) was not permitted for anyone who was ‘not possessed of a free tenement worth 40s a year.’ Neither was it allowed for those same people to’ hunt or hawk in the manor’ or to fish in the ‘separate water’ of any tenant.Christopher Sparry ignored this order and in 1580 went off hunting in ‘the lord’s warren’ only to be fined- 40s ( quite a price to pay for a rabbit pies and stews.)

Not Sparry Again!

Yes, that same Sparry and his brother Thomas went with Thomas Wheeler of Clent into Stourbridge. Thomas Wheeler was armed with a club and a sword and declared his intention of attacking the Squire of Enville’s servants, saying, “Yf any of them be in towne he will be slapped on the lippes.”  He ‘openly’ and ‘publicly’ declared, “If the Squire were here I could find it in my harte to draw on hym.”

Wheeler was obviously a man with a lot of nerve and a  lack of caution. We do not know what the affair was about but they were possibly partners in crime for he and Mr Gray – the aforesaid Squire, along with others, had been in trouble in Hagley for hunting with hawks in the lord’s warren.

John Cordywayne butcher of Clent Parish, in 1575, was fined 2d for taking ‘excessive gain’ . Was this overcharging his customers?? (In 2013 a charge levelled at some Super Markets)

Poor William’s Death is the Lord’s gain!

Poor William of Walton met an untimely death in 1576 when part way through cutting down an oak tree one of the branches fell on him, causing his instant death. This tragic incident is recorded in respect of the law of deodand.- “the branch (which fell on him) is declared deodand and of the  value of 2d, and (to be ) forfeited to the Lord.”

*      Deodand.     *  – An ancient law which decreed that if any beast or object caused the death of a person, that beast or object must be forfeited to the King, or Lord of the Manor.

A horse too many.

This was Thomas Sandforth’s problem in 1581 – one horse too many grazing on the common. He was fined.

Villagers were restricted in grazing rights according to the size of their tenements.

Pigs were numerous and had to be ringed when 4 months old. Any failure to ring a young pig resulted in a penalty fine of 12d. There were many offenders and, strangely the majority came from ‘Kempstowe Green‘ ,  a spot sharing a border with Romsley.




Source  – John Amphlett’s –  Short History of Clent.  

If you would like to read more  Amphlett’s book was re-printed by, and is available from, Clent History Society – via the Website or at our meetings.





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