Saturday 28 February 2009

Murder, "Tithing", punishment ....

Dear Mr Postman .. now this looks interesting a bit of local Cornish history .. my mother will be interested in this positive story ..

A murder occurred ... the murderer seeking sanctuary in St Euny Church, Lelant - since sanctuary from the law was then given. It was recorded in 1284 at the Assize in Launceston, capital of Cornwall, some 60 miles away.

Although the judges met at Easter time in 1284, the murder may have taken place years before - the previous Assize had been in 1269!! The judges looked at what had happened and how the authorities at the time had dealt with it.

Crime and punishment was the ultimate responsibility of the community elders, under the unit of authority and administration known as a "tithing" - before the establishment of our English parishes. These were harsh and brutal times - William the Conqueror had advocated that "No-one shall be hanged or killed for any crime, but put out his eyes or castrate him". My Ma laughing on this .. when I said 'I'd rather be hanged '.. said: well you can't be castrated!! They can do worse!!

A record of these proceedings was produced for the Assize judges when they came to Launceston in 1284. They were to judge and review how the coroner and jury had dealt with it .. they weren't so much about ensuring that justice was done, but more about fining anyone and everybody for failing to follow the rules exactly - thus filling the king's coffers!! After due consideration & subsequent fining - the king did very well out of Richard's murder!!

The full story can be read here .. Lelant to St Ives by Sandra Pritchard.

Oh Mr Postman - we are so pleased we live today and not 750 years ago!! .. we had a bit of a chuckle about the story ... 'til tomorrow then ..

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