Sunday, 27 January 2008

Blackmore: Crime In The Sixteenth Century

An extract from the booklet, “Blackmore. A Short History”, available from the Priory Church of St Laurence and Megarry’s Antique Shop. The church is open to visitors from the beginning of May until early October, Tuesday to Friday afternoons, 1.00 to 4.00pm and on Sunday afternoons from 2.30 to 4.30pm with Teas In The Tower on the first Sunday in the month. Other books in the series are also available including a new Guide Book.

From 1583 to 1615, with the exception of 1588, Blackmore had as its curate, “the notorious” Edward Binder. By all accounts he appears to have been quite a rogue. Ecclesiastical Court records are littered with appearances. At Romford, in 1588:

Edmund Bynder. Clerk. Detect for not teaching Mr Nowells Catechism and for not expounding the scripture not being licensed. He said that he did catechise in Mr Nowells catechism and that he readeth the Homilies and doth not expound the scriptures [ERO D/AZ/1/8].

The following year:
Edmund Bynder. Curate. That he being Curate of Blackmore sundry times there was no service said as viz – the first and second of November last. [ERO D/AZ/1/9].

Then, in 1608:

Edward Bynder. Curate. He giveth no warning of marriages Christenings or burials. No Quarter sermons and doth hinder others that are willing to come, who are good preachers, to the greefe of the countrie thereabout. Alleged that he hath the monthly sermons and hindereth none that as are not licensed. [ERO D/AZ/1/8].

Edward Binder’s misdemeanours led to his suspension from duties.

There is an incident where William Mott, the curate in 1588, was prevented from carrying out his duties. He was appointed by the Crown rather than the Smyth family, who held the manor at the time. Allegations made at Brentwood refer to:

Thomas Smyth, junior. For resisting and withstanding Mr Mott, not suffering him to come into the parish church of Blackmore so that by those means he cannot execute and discharge that duty or function that belongeth unto him

Frances Knockstubb. Detect ut supra, and further that he did Charles Smyth, his man, did haule try and drawe Mr Mott up and down the chyard and in the ch porch upon the xxx [30th] of march in the time of ye Divine Service, and did rent and teere his cloak and also ye he wish one Edward another of Mr Smyth’s men upon the xxix [29th] of march did rend and draire the said Mr Mott out of the churchyard [ERO D/AZ/1/8].

“Edward, another of Mr Smyth’s men” must have been Edward Blacketh, his servant. With Francis Smythe, he was bound over to “keep the peace for one whole year” [ERO Q/SR 111/49]. Although the offence is not recorded, it may relate to another incident, heard before the Quarter Sessions in July 1588:

We present Francis Smith of Blackmore, gentleman, “for strikinge at the Constable at the Churche gate with his sword drawen, and for fetchinge John Reve of Blackmore out of the Churche forcably with his sword drawen, which John Reve was locked up in ye Churche by the Constable” [ERO Q/SR 106/28].

There is not space to record in detail
- Alice Godsave, who would not say who was the father of her illegitimate child
- Those who did not attend church or communion
- The man found sleeping most irreverently on the altar
- People selling ware (and drinking or guzzling) during service time
- The man in the chamber alone with a Scotch woman at The Bull.

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