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Jack Cade's Rebellion of 1450$

I. M. W. Harvey

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198201601

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198201601.001.0001

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(p.192) Appendix Β The Composition of the Pardon Roll of July 14501

(p.192) Appendix Β The Composition of the Pardon Roll of July 14501

Jack Cade's Rebellion of 1450
Oxford University Press

In Chapter 5 the matter is addressed as to who Cade's followers were. The roll which was drawn up in July 1450 of the names of those who received a pardon is rejected as straightforward evidence with which to answer the question. But if the pardon roll is no mere list of rebels, what is it? It is a list of those men—and a small number of women—who early in the July of 1450, for whatever reason, wished to have in their hands a free royal pardon. In his pardon the king promised every recipient that he or she was excused all transgressions they might have committed prior to 8 July 1450 and guaranteed that they would go unmolested by his justices, escheators, sheriffs, coroners, or bailiffs. The roll comprises a complex mixture of individuals who fall into three broad categories. There are those who clearly did not rise (these are in the minority); there are those who are there apparently as representatives of their communities and who may or may not personally have involved themselves in the rising but whose communities perhaps were implicated in it in some way, if only by living in the vicinity of the rebels’ routes; then there are those who in all likelihood are actual rebels.

Such a mixture means, of course, that nothing hard and fast can be said about the geographical distribution of the rebels. One can speak only about the geographical distribution of those on the roll—but that in itself is worth noting. In broad terms, the bulk (65 per cent) of the 3,000 or so names appear to have come from almost the entire length and breadth of Kent; from eastern and mid-Sussex (14 per cent); from eastern Surrey, particularly from the north-eastern corner nearest to London (12 per cent); and from all along the Essex bank of the Thames estuary, and from a band of Essex running south—west to north—east across the county (8 per cent).2 That is to say, these names come from along the main lines of communication between London and the coastal ports of the South-East. Joining dots on the sketch map down through Essex, (p.193)

Appendix Β The Composition of the Pardon Roll of July 14501

The Distribution of the Places Named on the Pardon Roll of 6 and 7 July 1450

beginning with Hadleigh in Suffolk, just to the west of Ipswich, and finishing in the eastern suburbs of London, produces the lines of the old Roman roads, Essex's main arteries of communication, converging upon Chelmsford from Braintree and from Colchester to travel down through Brentwood to London. In Kent the dots describe the main London to Dover road which passed through the northern and most populous section of the county, through Greenwich, Gravesend, Faversham, and Canterbury. The middle of the county was served by the Greenwich—Maidstone—Ashford route down to Folkestone in Kent and to Rye in Sussex. The villagers of the Weald of Kent were likely to have travelled to the capital on the main road which went out to the coast from London through Sevenoaks, Wadhurst, Battle, and Hastings. (p.194) The men of mid-Sussex and Surrey may well have moved along the main Greenwich to Lewes road.3

Only a score or so of names appear on the pardon list from areas beyond the South-East—a scattering of men from fifteen other counties. Richard Goldyng, a Shrewsbury yeoman, took out a pardon for himself and for all his fellow townsmen, and in their pardon the two Corni&hmen included for good measure all the inhabitants of their home county, but the remainder of this scattering are named solely as individuals.4 They are a miscellaneous group: their mix includes a Leicestershire knight; three gendeman from Herefordshire, Cornwall, and Oxfordshire respectively; a York merchant; a Bristol chapman; a Hertfordshire miller; a Bedfordshire clerk; a Derbyshire mason; and a Cambridgeshire butcher. These were men who were perhaps in the vicinity of London during the weeks of the revolt and who willingly or unwillingly became caught up in its events. At least two of them were among the prisoners in the Marshalsea in Southwark which Cade had opened on the night of the battle on the bridge. These were the Cornishmen, a gendeman and a yeoman, whom the king's bench that year had ordered the sheriff of Cornwall to bring before it within fifteen days of Easter to answer for diverse transgressions.5 Besides these, two others had earlier criminal records: Thomas Boll, the clerk from Temysford in Bedfordshire had raped a female servant at Hakeney in 1436 and stolen goods from her,6 whilst Richard Goldyng of Shrewsbury had stolen from a religious house near Tonbridge in Kent in 1448 (although he is described as a yeoman in 1450 and as a soldier in 1448).7 Not all of these geographical erratics need, however, have been press-ganged into the events of the rising. It is very suggestive that the yeoman and the butcher from Cambridgeshire both came from Babraham where Edmund (p.195) Beaufort, duke of Somerset, a figure associated with losses in France, had been given the manor in 1444. They may well have been his tenants.8

To return to the names from the South-East, released prisoners may be found here too, but from the Fleet prison in London with its moated site in the ward of Farringdon Without. John Mars, a gendeman from Rickling in Essex had been in debt in 1448, had been oudawed in 1449, and had come to the king's bench on 30 June 1450 and been committed—with the city then under siege—to the Fleet.9 Another inmate with John Mars would have been John Cuder, a husbandman from Deding in Kent. He had been committed to the Fleet prison in October 1449 in considerable debt to William Isle, the onetime sheriff of Kent. A Richard Cuder, husbandman, from Deding appears on the pardon roll and is likely to be the same man or a kinsman.10

It may (or it may not) say something for the workings of the common law in mid-fifteenth-century England that from this sample of many hundreds of individuals, which Professor Griffiths has described as ‘a cross-section of society in the south-east of England’,11 only a few dozen individuals are to be found among the records of the king's bench being brought to book for engaging in criminal activities during the twelve years prior to 1450. This figure only just exceeds the number of people on the roll who were victims of major crimes during the period. To name some examples of crime in the South-East, Walter Brenchesle of Benenden had been part of a gang who in 1446 had allegedly killed a man in his home village; William Pilcher and John Pery, both of Chatham, had been fined for having together assaulted a man in Clerkenwell in 1443; Richard Nicoll, a tinker from Rochester, had attacked the city bailiff in court in 1445.12 During the dozen years prior to 1450 some ten cases of theft, seven cases of assault, and three cases of murder are to be found amongst the king's bench indictments allegedly committed by men who are named on the pardon roll.13 Other miscellaneous offences range from poaching to the selling of worthless charcoal.

Apart from the bulk of names, which as we have seen are designated as coming from the South-East and the score which did not, there are sixty-two names occurring throughout the roll which are given no place of origin. Just one or two of them are accompanied by their occupation, such as, for example, ‘Robert Perry, trumpet’, a man who perhaps had been of service to Cade (p.196) during the encampment on Blackheath.14 To omit the place of origin from only sixty people from all the hundreds suing for pardons would seem to be a small percentage of error. No clue is given as to how exacdy any of the names were given in, but, since a few names occur in triplicate with slight variations of spelling, perhaps some individuals obtained pardons not only for themselves but for friends at the same time and some persons had more than one friend doing this for them.

There is a more intriguing group of names of no given place of origin which totals three hundred and thirty-nine. These are not, as the last group of sixty-two was, a scattering of oversights, but are written out in a single list as coming from the same place. The very frequent occurrence of the same surnames (sometimes up to six of the same name) strengthens this impression. Of these three hundred and thirty-nine, a hundred and fourteen are, most unusually, women.15 Since only ten names on the entire roll are designated as coming from London it might seem obvious to suggest that the three hundred and thirty-nine come from there. This is not necessarily the case: Londoners did not see themselves as conniving with the revolt. Indeed, when it was all over the Court of Aldermen held an inquiry and decided that Cade's army had been allowed into the city by an accident. No commission of oyer and terminer was sent into London after the events of the rising, unlike the experience of every other affected area.16 It is more likely that this long list is of the inhabitants of Greenwich or Southwark who may have fed and accommodated the rebels. This would help account for the appearance here of women on the pardon roll.

As for the form in which the pardons were taken out, all but seven, that is to say, almost nine-tenths of all the numerous hundreds of Kent, are named through one means or another on the pardon roll. Several are cited because a single individual from there sought a pardon, such as the weaver from Brookland who is the only man named from Aloesbridge Hundred on Walland marsh. It is far more typical, however, that a hundred is represented by two constables who accept a pardon for themselves and all other men of their hundred, besides whom there may be named some half a dozen individuals from villages or towns of the hundred who accept a pardon for themselves and for all the other men of their respective parishes. Nearly a third of all the Kentish hundreds follow this pattern and twenty-two of the thirty-three Sussex hundreds named do so, although several of these have the hundred represented merely by the two constables alone without any further names. For some reason the men of the six Surrey and the twelve Essex hundreds on the roll are represented in a less systematic way: the lists of names for certain towns are, erratically, quite fulsome, as in the cases of Charlwood, Southwark, (p.197) Croydon, Merton, and Streatham in Surrey, and of Great Waltham and Maldon in Essex—although here the hundred constables are often absent.

To return to the question of who these names on the roll are, Chapter 5 lists some of the most conspicuous examples of individuals who were patendy not rebels. Indeed, they include some of the very men Cade's followers were out to condemn.17 But, besides the infamous, their relatives, and associates, there are on the pardon roll examples of unlikely (although not impossible) rebels amongst the respectable and locally well esteemed. Sir John Cheyne, kt., of Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey was a royal serjeant-at-arms by 1445, MP for Kent in 1449, would be sheriff of Kent in 1454–5, and would serve as JP for Kent through from 1447 to 1460.18 The mayor of Faversham, John Seyncler, is there too. He helped in the capture of Cade only a few days after the pardons were issued. So are former officials of the archbishop of Canterbury.19 From Essex there is on the pardon roll Robert Darcy esq., whose father had been keeper of writs and rolls at the court of Common Pleas and one of the county's most prominent JPs.20 Robert Darcy the younger himself followed such a public career and would be a member of the commission appointed in September 1450 to arrest and imprison all traitors and rebels in Essex. He went on to undertake frequent duties as a JP throughout the 1450s and was later to be knighted.21 Another JP from Essex on the roll is William Tyrell the younger, esq., also destined to become a knight and often appointed on to the same commissions as Robert Darcy. He too would be on the commission to go into Essex in September 1450, and made an equally unlikely rebel, more especially since he and his brother, Sir Thomas, helped to capture rebels in Kent early in 1450 and after Cade's revolt did the same in Essex.22 Matthew Hay, named alongside William Tyrell on the pardon roll, had served on commissions in Essex. In January 1450 he had been appointed as justice to deliver the gaol of Colchester casde, and in 1451 he would serve on the commission led by the duke of Norfolk to investigate Lollards and heretics in Essex. His active service on commissions of all kinds in Essex was to extend throughout the 1450s and 1460s.23 Among the men from Sussex Bartholomew Bolney of West Firle and Bolney stands out as an implausible rebel; a yeoman-farmer of property, he had sat on a couple of commissions in Sussex during the 1440s, in May 1451 he would sit on a (p.198) commission to investigate all treasons and offences in his native county since the time of Cade's revolt, and he would go on to serve on numerous commissions throughout the 1450s, acting regularly as Justice of the Peace. Moreover, he was employed as steward both by the abbot of Batde and the archbishop of Canterbury.24

Thomas Tebbe, a yeoman from Brenchley, Kent, and William Sandherst, a yeoman from Lamberhurst on the Sussex border, who in 1451 was to be one of the constables of the hundred of Brenchley, are two associates who appear on the pardon roll and who yet pursued active hostilities against the insurgents of their district of the Weald throughout the 1450s.25 In April 1451 during troubles associated with the local Sussex leader Henry Hasilden, a gang of artisans from Brenchley, East Peckham, and Yalding lay in wait to attack them.26 In 1456 followers of a Kentish captain rising up at Lamberhurst broke into William Sandherst's house and attacked him because he did not want to join their cause.27 Then the tables turned and in 1458 Tebbe led a large gang attack upon a local rebel, Stephen Christmas (the gendeman from Staplehurst who had excited men in the Weald in January 1451 with rumours about the king's plan to invade Kent with Northern soldiery). In 1459 Sandherst alongside Tebbe was party to another such attack on Christmas. Two more gang ambushes set upon Christmas led by Tebbe's associates in 1460 and 1461.28 There could scarcely be a clearer example of two men on the pardon roll who wanted nothing to do with the insurgents of their area and who were in turn victims and victimizers of such rebel elements.

It would appear that some men had their names enrolled among the pardon seekers not as rebels, but as representatives of their communities. There is evidence that some communities produced their natural representatives to add weight to their corporate pardon. In Chapter 5 Canterbury is cited as an example of a city which chose to take out a pardon for its population, the names from there having been included on the roll as representatives not as rebels. At the queen's manor of Great Waltham in Essex of the twenty-nine men who were named as chief pledges at the view of frankpledge which was held for the manor on 28 May 1450, fifteen subsequendy appear on the pardon roll amongst the total of sixty-one from Great Waltham.29

Although it is quite possible to enumerate categories of individuals who appear on the roll but who are unlikely to have been followers of Cade, this exercise answers for only a handful of the total number. It looks likely that the bulk of names are those of the insurgents themselves. This likelihood is made all the stronger by the circumstance that several of the men on the roll were (p.199) involved in subsequent uprisings in the South-East. Henry Bedill, a husbandman from Thurnham went on to join a series of Kentish uprisings in April 1451;30 in May 1452 John Newman of Halstow, husbandman, supported a newly arisen captain of Kent;31 in August 1452 Henry Hamon, a sawyer from Headcorn, and William atte Chamber, a fuller from Harrietsham, complained with all the vigour of personal injury that the king and his bishops had rescinded on their promises to Cade's followers;32 and in April 1456 John Badisden, tailor, and Henry Pelham, cooper, of Hawkhurst supported the rising of John Percy.33 In Sussex, too, men on the pardon roll are to be found rising up in the September, October, and November of 1450.34

However, although it is noteworthy that men who took out a pardon in July 1450 would later be indicted for rising under subsequent captains, more striking is the absence of individuals from the pardon roll in the lists of later insurgents. They form only a very minor percentage of the total numbers indicted for the risings of 1450–6. Of the fewer than thirty men alleged to have been followers of Parmynter in Kent and Sussex (though this must represent a very small proportion of the total number) no more than one appears on the pardon roll; one among the sixty-one indicted for the risings associated with Hasilden; thirteen among the 137 indicted as supporters of Wilkyns; and a mere two among the 126 indicted for supporting Percy. This points to the very different nature of these subsequent uprisings which although they declared allegiance to Cade's aims stemmed as much from the economic and social difficulties of the industrial villages of the Weald and mid-Kent as from political indignation. So that in asserting that the bulk of names on the pardon roll are those of insurgents the evidence comes not from their later histories as rebels but from the plainly stated grievances of the bills of 1450. They are the grievances of these constables, parkers, tax collectors, farmers, and yeomen. (p.200)


(1) Two articles on this subject appeared during the last century by the same author: W. D. Cooper, ‘John Cade's Followers in Kent’, Arch. Cant., 7 (1868) and ‘Participation of Sussex in Cade's Rising, 1450’, Sussex Archaeological Collections, 18 (1866). Cooper's work has been more or less completely superseded by the section in R. A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422–1461 (London, 1981), 619–23, which provides the best account of the rebel host.

(2) I take these percentages from Griffiths, Henry VI, 622.

(3) On the subject of medieval roads, see B. P. Hindle, The Road Network of Medieval England and Wales’, journal of Historical Geography, 2 (1976), 207–21.

(4) Their names as printed, CPR, 1446–52, are as follows (in alphabetical order by county/country): Bedfordshire—Thomas Boll, clerk, of Tempsford (p. 366); Thomas Hamlyn, husbandman, of Pulloxhill (p. 353); Berkshire—Thomas Hakkere, yeoman, of Maidenhead (p. 355); Cambridgeshire—Henry Fraunces, yeoman, of Babraham (p. 351); John Glover, butcher, of Babraham (p. 351); Cornwall—John Bainton, gent., of Flexbury [manor] (p. 370); William Bainton, yeoman, of Burn alias of Flexbury, bailiff (p. 370); Derbyshire—William Crauford, mason, of Higham (p. 359); Devon—John Merymouth, fuller, of Honiton (p. 342); Hampshire—John Russell, mariner (p. 354); Herefordshire—John Holmiton, gent., of Holme Lacy (p. 351); Hertfordshire—John Mayster, miller, of Cheshunt (p. 370); Ireland—John Hereford of Kilkenny (p. 359); Leicestershire—William Trussell, kt., of Elmesthorpe (pp. 355, 356); Oxfordshire— Richard Bowie, yeoman, of Banbury (pp. 366, 367); Thomas Stone, gent., of Oxford (p. 345); Shropshire—Richard Goldyng, yeoman, of Shrewsbury (p. 361); Bristol— Peter Hereford of Bristol (p. 359); William Savage, chapman, of Bristol (p. 359); York—William Snawedon, merchant, of York (p. 354).

(5) KB27/755 rex side, m. 13v; CPR, 1446–52, 370.

(6) KB9/255/2, m. 44; CPR, 1446–52, 366.

(7) KB9/273, m. 8; CPR, 1446–52, 361.

(8) CPR, 1446–52, 351.

(9) C88/134/127; CPR, 1446–52, 340.

(10) C88/134/207; CPR, 1446–52, 355.

(11) Griffiths, Henry VI, 621.

(12) KB9/254, m. 53; /250, m. 100; /251, m. 123.

(13) The ten cases of theft: KB9/234, m. 18; /242, m. 7; /248, m. 59; /233, m. 96; /997, m. 52; /256, m. 95; /245, m. 89; /253, m. 51 (bis); 7255/2, m. 44. The seven cases of assault: KB9/250, m. 100; /253, m. 38; /240, m. 49; /251, m. 123; /1050, m. 130; /235, mm. 7, 9. The three cases of murder: KB9/229/1, m. 24; /229/3, m. 29; /254, m. 53. To give some idea of the incidence of recorded crime, during the ten years 1440–9 there was an annual average of 8 indictments from the county of Kent among the term indictments of the king's bench.

(14) CPR, 1446–52, 361.

(15) Ibid. 357–8.

(16) C. M. Barron, ‘The Government of London and its Relations with the Crown, 1400–1450’, Ph.D. thesis (London, 1970), 538–9.

(17) For further examples, see Griffiths, Henry VI, 619–23.

(18) CPR, 1446–52, 339; Griffiths, Henry VI, 620; Wedgwood, Biographies, 181.

(19) Griffiths, Henry VI, 620, 621.

(20) Ibid. 672, 703; CPR, 1436–41, 471, 532–3; CPR, 1446–52, 22.

(21) CPR, 1446–52,348,431,477; CPR, 1452–61,490, 558, 665; CPR, 1461–67, 564.

(22) CPR, 1441–46, 470; CPR, 1446–52, 338, 431, 440, 443; CPR 1452–61, 299, 665; CPR, 1467–77, 211; E403/784, m. 14; E404/67, m. 20. For the way in which William was accused as a follower of Cade, see Ch. 6, above.

(23) CPR, 1446–52, 136, 338, 433, 440; CPR, 1452–61, 220, 222, 299, 347, 406, 558, 665; CPR, 1461–67, 278, 564.

(24) Griffiths, Henry VI, 622, 656; and, for example, CPR, 1441–46, 479; CPR, 1446–52, 88, 478, 540, 595; CPR, 1452–61, 679.

(25) CPR, 1446–52, 364, 373.

(26) Virgoe, ‘Ancient Indictments’, 250.

(27) KB9/289, m. 88; KB27/788 rex side, m. 19.

(28) KB9/298, m. 79.

(29) Essex Record Office, D/D Tu 243, m. 23; CPR, 1446–52, 370, 371.

(30) CPR, 1446–52, 350, 374; Virgoe, ‘Ancient Indictments’, 244, 247, 249.

(31) CPR, 1446–52, 374; KB9/273, m. 11.

(32) CPR, 1446–52, 342, 372; KB9/955/2, m. 2.

(33) CPR, 1446–52,353; KB9/49, mm. 5, 6,10,13,14,15; /284, m. 42; /288, mm. 58, 59. Henry Pelham is sometimes designated as a husbandman, but more often as a cooper.

(34) CPR, 1446–52, 356, 361; KB9/122, mm. 15, 21, 40.