The many deaths of John Grene, Gentleman.

King’s bench records are full of oddities and light on details. I have no idea if the very thorough killing of John Grene, in July 1457 will lead to anything useful for my thesis but it has some promise. If only I could explain why he keeps showing up with new murderers, that would be great.

According to the indictment entered into KB27/798 (rex r. 1v), and heard before the king’s bench in the Michealmas term, 1460, John Grene of Plompton, Yorkshire, was killed on 28 July 1457 at Pannal, Yorkshire by John Perpoynte, Gentleman, Gilford (?) Pylkyngton, and William Hall, Yeomen, and Robert Croft, labourer. Each one struck Grene at least one mortal blow with swords, glaves, and some other sword (it’s a little hard to make out the weapon asighned to Perpoynte, but it was worth only 2 shillings while Pylkyngton’s glave was valued at 6 shillings 8 pence).

Or, Grene was killed by Henry Grenwodd of Holme, Gentleman, who on the same day, in the same year, but at Kirkby Over Blow (not Pannal) struck Grene with a sword and gave him a mortal wound. A different Perpoynte (Henry this time) is also indicted with Grenwodd for aiding and sheltering the killer after the fact. Because that’s what KB27/798 rex r. 2r says, just one membraine later.

Or, Grene was killed by all the named parties, but at some third location yet unnamed.

The confusion rests not only in my imperfect grasp of the Latin and brevigraphs which may clear up some of the chronology but the case appears confused at the start as the first 4 men were indicted at Selby, before a commission of the peace headed by Sir William Plumpton while the last two men were indicted before the same commission at Wetherby, 3 days later.*

Both cases were heard before king’s bench during the same reporting week and are separated in the roll by just a few cases. Odds are they were heard the same day. The indicted parties were also bailed in the following term at the same time and the same men stood as sureties against their release. Nothing more came of the case, at least not from these particular indictments.

The Grene murder is interesting mostly because victim and (some) of the perpetrators were gentry but the record itself doesn’t tell me much more. With any luck I will find the original indictments or some other material that gives details (or links the individuals to other events). We will see.

But they sure did a number on John Grene, that’s fairly clear.


* This is one of the Plumptons who left us a decent stock of personal correspondance. Nothing close to the vast Paston collection, but better than nothing.


2 thoughts on “The many deaths of John Grene, Gentleman.

  1. Could this be one of those cases in which the body was found after the event, and the two sets of accused reflect the lack of any direct evidence to link the body to people, or groups of people, who were known to have animosity towards the deceased? These days we have CSI but there wasn’t much of that in Yorkshire in 1457.
    And the Plumpton correspondence may not be as extensive as Paston but still moving.

    • My initial reading of this is that it’s covering the bases, rather than some confusion over the actual events. This happened with indictments where the jurors rattle off all the people who they know were involved, just to make sure they get some of them. Also, the 12 jurors who delivered both indictments, were locals and knew better than anyone else what happened but that doesn’t mean they are impartial or free from influence. I will need to check the other sources on this one to make sense of it but it’s a good example of the sort of thing that turns up.

      And yes, the Plumpton letters are great, as are the Stonour letters.

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