Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears



Crime and punishment in Fishlake before 1700, some examples from historical records. 

This is a small selection from principle sources of crimes committed by Fishlake residents mostly perpetrated within Fishlake township.

From the Hatfield Manor Court Rolls.

Fishlake was part of the manor of Hatfield and in the absence of any other options the Manor Court over saw the behaviour of its own tenants, presided over by the lord or his steward.
Wednesday 26 th November 1338.
At the court held at Hatfield on Wednesday on the morrow of St Katherine 11 Ed. 111, a number of tenants were amerced (fined) for cutting down and carrying away the lord's wood at NorthWode in Ffishlake.
Richard del Lathe for cartloads of wood cut down and carried away outside le NorthWode in mercy 20d.

John le fferyman for the same in mercy 20d.

Hugh son of Roger Webster for three cartloads of wood cut down and carried away in mercy 2s.6d.
The total of the fines impose was one pound, three shillings and ten pence.

Note. These records clearly indicate that there was a substantial wooded area immediately North of Fishlake village in medieval times.

From Surtees Society no5 1837. ‘Sanctuar Dunelm Et Beverlac’.

A registery of persons who claim the privilege of Sanctuary in the cathedral of Durham and in the church of St John in Beverley. The register extended from June 18 th 1464 to September 10 th 1524.

23 March ...  Robert Saxton, shoemaker late of Fishlake, co York took sanctuary ‘he came to be at peace and liberty’ at St John of Beverley having murdered a vagabond.

6 th October 1501 Robert Andrew, taylor late of Fishlake, co York he came to be at peace at St John of Beverely having murdered William Bull at ‘treaclewode near Skelowe’ Treaclewood, Skellow.

Background. While every church possessed this right of sanctuary, there were certain privileged churches such as at Westminster, St Martin’s le Grand and Beverley Minster (under the overall control of the Archbishop of York). These sanctuary rights extended for some distance round the church and in such places there grew up regular settlements of ‘sanctuary men’, refugee criminals, who lived there and carried on their trades in safety so long as they did not leave that area. Between the years 1478-1539 there were 186 murderers sought sanctuary at Beverely. By the end of the fifteenth century complaints were made regarding the abuse of these settlements.

Justice of the Peace and the Quarter sessions records.

By 1327 as crime swept throughout the country so keepers of the peace had to be established. These were so successful that by 1361 justices appeared in every county. By Tudor times this system was well established. Educated local gentry acted as unpaid justices 2 or 3 from each area and they had powers of arrest.

They sat in petty sessions at local Inns to hear small offences. However there chief responsibility was at the Quarter Sessions courts held 4 times a year in October, January, Mid Summer and Easter. They adjudicated over a diverse range of offences including stealing, house breaking, licensing ale houses, fixing wages, marriage bonds, assaults and killing game.

From Yorkshire Archaeological Society, YAS  Record Series- West Riding Session Rolls 1597/8 – 1602.

William Dowson of Fishlake 8 th December 1598, butcher stealing by force and arms 3 sheep belong to Richard Silverwood.

From the West Riding Sessions Records 1611-1642 vol L1v YAS Records Series. Indictments.

Thomas Chantrie of Barnby Dunn, husbandman, Richard Parkin of Fishlake, yeoman, William Smith of the same “cowper” (cooper), and Peter Teale of the same, labourer, for on 1 Oct 1639 entering a dwelling house at Barnby Dunn in the peaceful possession of  John Jenkinson, forcebly expelling him therefrom and keeping him out of possession from then until now. Witn. Jo Jenkinson Mich Dolbye. (All at large. Put themselves not guilty).

Thomas Teale of Fishlake, husbandman, for exercising there on 1 st May 1640 for his own lucre ( Sordid gain ed.) a certain art or mystery called the butchers trade, when in truth and fact he was never brought up therin as an apprentice for 7 years, against the form of the statue etc. Witn, Rich Clerke, Ed Swaine. (At large).

Henry Portington of Fishlake gent, John Royston of Doncaster, labourer, John Nicholson, of the same, labourer, Richard Champney of Fishlake labourer, and Robert White of the same labourer, for on the 22 March 1641(2) unlawfully and riotously assembling at Fishlake, and entering the house of Wm Reynolds in the night. Witns viz Reynolds (Put themselves).

West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield.

From Rotherham Quarter sessions .
QS1/17/6/2/1. Information of Richard Cooke of Fishlake concerning a theft by his daughter in law. Mary Crabtree [ Crabtry ] was apprehended for taking linens from John Petty who then compounded with the informant for 5s 4d and took back his goods. 17 Jun 1678.

QS1/17/6/2/2  Information of William Pease, constable of Dowsthorpe (a lost settlement in Sykehouse parish), concerning the theft of linens from John Petty of Fishlake. He had made out a warrant and after a search had apprehended Mary Crabtree for the theft: Petty had then taken from him back the warrant and the theft. 17 Jun 1678.

QS1/17/6/2/3. Informant of Mary Laverack of Fishlake about the theft of linens from her master John Petty had stolen two holland handkerchieves, one lawn hood, four coife, four head bands and a linen shift, they later found in the possession of Mary Crabtree of Dowesthorpe. 18 Jun 1678.

Doncaster/Wakefield session. QS1/9/2/2/2. Information of Isebel Sale of Fishlake that Thomas Waite of Fishlake had broken into her house, intending to do her some mischief 21 Dec 1669.

Pontifract sessions QS1/11/3/2/2 Information of Richard Swindin of Fishlake linen weaver on the theft of his geese. On searching will the constable, one goose was found in the possession of William Smith of Fishlake, tailor, and two in the possession of Thomas Doughty, labourer Jan 1672.

Pontifract session QS1/21/4/1/99. Indictment Michael Roe weaver of Fishlake for assault on Joshua Horten. Ap 1682.

Quarter sessions from an unknown source.
Indictment 11 October 1710 Francis Bladworth of Fishlake, labourer for stealing a lamb from John Wilson and four shilling from Thomas Shaw and 2/6 from Robert Beckett.

Also 1668 Edward Turner has uttered contemptuous and approbious speeches against His Majesty's Justices of Peace in derogation of their authority. He has not found surety for good behaviour and is to be taken and put in York Castle until he does so.

Cases of forced conscription into the navy. Kings Shilling refers to this process.

QS1/11/5/2/1   Rotherham Sessions. Information of William Clarke of Fishlake about his refusal to accept the King's shilling. Michael Hemsley of Hatfield had told him that he was pressing him in the King's name and took him to John Carter of Fishlake where one Heselltine offered Clarke the King's shilling, which he refused to take.   28 May 1672. Navy.

QS1/11/5/2/2 Information of Thomas Padley of Fishlake the attempt to press him into the King's service Michael Hemsley of Hatfield had taken him to John Carter's house in Fishlake where one Heselltine had given him the [King's] shilling; on Padley's wanting to be set free, they had tried to extort half a crown from him, as well as the shilling, but he only had 1s 3d. 28 May 1672. Navy

QS1/11/5/2/3 Information of Richard Steele of Fishlake on his refusal to accept the King's shilling. Michael Hemsley and John Heselltine had tried to press him into the King's service, but he refused; they had been successful in pressing George Bramham of Wormley Hill.  29 May 1672 NAVY.

QS1/11/5/2/4 Information of Richard Whittaker of Fishlake about his being pressed into the King's service.  Michael Hemsley of Hatfield had pressed him and forced him to go to an alehouse at Clay Pits (Hatfield), and then had let him go. 4 Jul 1672.  NAVY.

Other post 1700 crime records can be found in both Quarter Sessions records and in regional newspapers.

Other types of ‘crime’ including morality offences are covered in Diocesan Consistory Court records these are a large and fascinating group of records which I plan to cover in a future article.

Rob Downing 30 November 2016.

Rob Downing research at ht