Law Enforcement Officials and the Limits of Violence in Medieval England

Legal History Miscellany

Posted by Sara M. Butler, 18 August 2020.

Towards the end of the fifteenth century, William Hemyng, a chaplain associated with Hereford cathedral, experienced a harrowing ordeal. Richard Rollesden, undersheriff to Thomas Parker, the county sheriff, stole 21 marks of goods and chattels from a local gentleman, then pinned the crime on Hemyng, whom he arrested and indicted by means of a jury fraudulently empaneled with jurors he had bribed. Hemyng’s time in prison was truly horrific. He tells us that they

sette a pon hym a peyre of grete gyves and boltys of iron to importable to bere and bolted his armes the space of a yerde frome other and then leyde hym yn a peyre of stockys in a depe pytte and with all this peyn ther hongyd hym frome the grounde and kepte hym frome mete and drynke and frome his frendys

(set upon him a…

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