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RELIGION Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Nottingham lawsuits trespass priests immorality adultery

Subject: A chaplain commits a worldly sin
Original source: Borough court roll, Nottinghamshire Archives
Transcription in: W.H. Stevenson, ed. Records of the Borough of Nottingham, (London and Nottingham, 1882), vol.1, 240-43.
Original language: Latin
Location: Nottingham
Date: 1389


John de Bilby brings a charge of trespass against Roger de Mampton, chaplain, complaining that when John, on 1 August 1387, was at Radcliffe on business, Roger broke into his property and entered his chamber here at Nottingham in Bridlesmithgate, in contempt of John['s rights]. He was found under a curtain of John's bed. John interrogated Roger as to what he was doing there; who responded that he was not there, nor had he come, with any evil intent. After which John advised Roger that he had better not find him with his wife, nor in any of his houses, at any time of day or night. After which warning, Roger subsequently, in the week following 22 June 1388, came during the night to John's house in Stone Street, here at Nottingham, and broke John's wall there, leaped over it to [get to] the houses of John de Bilby, entered where was private and John's wife was, and spent a long time there with John's wife, without John's permission or consent. This continued through an entire year after the warning. Because of Roger's visits, John's goods and possessions have been used up and lost to him, viz. two pairs of linen sheets, tablecloths, towels, and 1 brass pot, worth 13s.4d, have been lost to him through their destruction, and the entire profits in John's money from 10 quarters of malt have been spent and wasted by Roger and John's wife, particularly due to the visits paid by Roger. For which reason John brings this complaint, claiming a hundred pounds in damages. Roger appeared in person and denied the force and injury and the damages, saying that he was going about with holy water in his parish, as is the custom for parish clergy, and came with the water to John's house in a proper fashion, not with any evil intent. As for breaking the wall, wasting John's goods and possessions, or entering John's house, he says that he is in no way guilty, and asks that this be enquired into. And the other [party requests] the same. Therefore it is ordered [to hold an inquest].


This complaint was brought before Nottingham's court on 13 October 1389. The jury inquest upheld Bilby's accusation. This was the sort of morals-related offence that brought disrepute on the clergy. However, it is notable that John does not dwell here on damages associated with interference in his relationship with his wife, but more on property damage and loss of possessions. Nor is there any suggestion that John's wife was an unwilling partner in the offence.



"John de Bilby"
Probably the skinner of that surname (without mention of a Christian name) referred to in 1396. He was himself in trouble with the authorities in 1394, for refusing to take the juror's oath and participate in an inquest, and in 1395 for forestalling coal in order to create a shortage and push up the price at which he could sell it.

Radcliffe on Trent, a few miles east of Nottingham.

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Created: March 14, 2003. © Stephen Alsford, 2003

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