Adultery was a capital offence in the seventeenth century.

On 15th January, 1657-1658, a woman was sent to the Assizes "for having a chyld begott on her body by Thos. Turner, her husband being alive as is supposed."

On 14th July, 1658, a man was indicted "for having begott a bastard child (since dead) on the body of his wife's sister, in ye lifetime of his wife."

On 11th July, 1610, It was stated by the oath of Richard Walker of Bilstropp gentleman that Peter Rod of Weston in the County of Stafford gentleman being a married man had unbecomingly kept company with the wife of the said Richard as appears by letters mutually sent between them, and that, the same Peter had challenged the said Richard to fight with the said Peter body for body And if the said Peter should be released from the recognisances of the peace he would destroy the life of the said Richard Walker And the same Peter offered to give to the same Richard £50 if he would sue a divorce between the said Richard and his wife and also join in the costs of suing the divorce aforesaid with the said Richard And further William Sutton, Knight, has notified to the Court here that the said Peter was bound before him to peace promising that he would not further keep company with the wife of the aforesaid Richard, and afterwards sent for the wife of that Richard to an Alehouse at Billesthorpe. An Order was made that Peter find sureties for good behaviour &c. or in default that he be sent to gaol. On nth January, 1655-1656, Mary the wife of Richard Roberts of Sutton on Trent was sent to gaol "for taking her corporall oath before ye Justices that her husband was found in bedd with one Grace the wief of William Liller and now denyes it in Court."


There are two records of the offence of Incest:

On 17th July, 1617, a laborer sent to gaol for begetting a bastard by his sister.

On 2nd April, 1638, the following Order was made: "Whereas Katherine Mee, of Beeston, spinster, has before had three bastards by her father three separate times as appears to this Court by the oath of some inhabitants of the same town of Beeston. Ordered that she be whipped on her naked body at Beeston by the Constable there until blood shall show three several times."


There are several entries of Indictments for the offence of Rape.

On 4th October, 1613, Phialathes ffitzrandolph of Langley Hall, in the parish of Kirkby in Ashfield, gentleman, was sent for trial at the Assizes for Rape on Alice Green servant to his father Jacob ffitzrandolph."


There are a number of instances of persons (male and female) being charged with "incontinence."

On 16th April, 1604, Robert Vittye and Frances for their incontinence were ordered to be stripped and whipped at South Collingham.

On 12th July, 1615, there is a Recognisance that Cecilia Bower, of Clipstone, charged with incontinence with Richard Hancock shall be from henceforth "in eternum" of modest and honest behaviour and also that she will live at the least 6½ miles from the town of Clipstone and that Richard Hancock shall not keep company with her.

On 2nd April, 1638, Robert Taylor of Stapleford was sent to gaol "for wandering abroad with Margaret Henson and living incontinently with her leaving his wife and children to be a charge on the parish."

On nth January, 1655, a warrant of good behaviour was issued against Moses Pharoah of Claworth for being seene in bed with one Sarah Hooton.

On 13th January, 1657, Wm. Greene was sent to gaol in default of sureties for incontinency with John Richardson's wief and "inveighing" her from her husband, with him in his own house.


There were several presentments for "keeping a prostitute," and on 2nd October, 1616, a widow of Kneesal was sent to the House of Correction "for keeping a bawdy house."


In 1614, a labourer of Gamston was charged with Bigamy, but there are no particulars of the case.


Persons were charged with "Bad behaviour at night"; "Bad behaviour on the Sabbath," &c, &c.

On 7th October, 1629, Edward Wilson of Burton Joyce, clerk, was committed for trial at the Assizes for nuisance and for bad behaviour.

On 12th January, 1624-1625, a Warrant was issued against Quittance Loryman, a staymaker of Holme (Newark) "because he is of evil manner of life and among other his evil deeds he daily attempts to violate the chastity of Margaret now the wife of Edward Paget, and also that the said Quittance is now presented for eavesdropping."

On 6th October, 1628, a laborer of Mansfield Woodhouse was sent to the House of Correction "there to remain until he has satisfied Richard Wayt butcher of the sum of £613 4 delivered to him to pay for cattle, with which he had run away and spent it in a tippling house—also for idleness and for bad behaviour."

On 1st October, 1655, William Clarke of the brewhouse yard under ye Castle of Nottm. yeoman, was bound over for the good behaviour of his wife.


There are many records of persons presented merely for "Idle life" or for "Idleness."

On 7th July, 1606, a Petition under the hands of the Inhabitants of Keyworth was read that Anne Bingham wife of William Bingham, of Keyworth. "is a dissolute woman and of evil manners of life." A Warrant was issued.

On 10th January, 1613-1614, an Order was made that Richard Gray a laborer lately sent to gaol by Gervase Clifton, Knt. and Bart. "for certain wicked and evil deeds in his course of life" be sent to the House of Correction, "he being strong in the body for working and to endure toil and therefore meeter to be sent to the House of Correction."

On 14th January, 1613-1614, a laborer was sent to House of Correction upon testimony of certain misdemeanors perpetrated by him and likewise concerning the dissolute rude and lazy life which he led not being able to give account of a day's work at any time done by him these five years past, being strong in body to work and endure toil, and he lives by unknown means without wages of work or spending labor for gaining his living, being a common drunkard, brawler and walker by night as by the certificate of certain Inhabitants of the township of Edwinstowe remaining on record more fully appears at large.

On 10th April, 1616, a miller of East Stoke was charged with being "in ife disobedient (vita imorigera)."

On 14th July, 1617 there is a Recognisance that Valentine Clare who had been sent to the House of Correction for a dissolute and disobedient course of life will apply himself to work to support himself and to live an honest course of life.

On 30th September, 1633, Helen Wilkinson of Radford "(who by a false pretext of indigence is demanding an allowance towards her maintenance) is of lazy disposition and a vagrant and refuses to work being able in body and moreover grievously molests her neighbours with daily chidings," was sent to the House of Correction to be whipped and set to work.

On 9th October, 1657, John Scott, a laborer of Scrooby, was presented for being of "an idle and lewed life and conversacon."

On 3rd October, 1687, Ordered that Will Jackson of Kirkeby, labourer, being an idle, loose, light-fingered pilfering ffellow be conveyed to the House of Correcon at Southwell for one month and in ye interim to be well whipped 3 times in each week.


There are many Indictments or presentments "for being a common barretor"; "for being a reviler" (maledictor); and "for inciting to strife."

A common barretor was an instigator of suits and quarrels.

On 16th April, 1604, John Savage, Senior, of Sutton Bonington, clerk, was charged with being a common barretor.

On 5th October, 1614, a miller of Sutton on Trent, was charged that on 13th June, 1614, "he was and still is a common barretor, assiduous and public disturber of the peace of the lord the King who now is, and also a common and turbulent challenger, fighter with his fists and sower of strife between his neighbours so that divers assaults, strifes, controversies, altercations and fights on the said 13th June and on other days and times at Sutton between divers liege subjects of the lord the King he moved, procured and incited, &c." He was fined 10/- and entered into a recognisance for good behaviour "in eternum."

On 21st April, 1626, a Warrant was issued against Robert Walsham of Gringley, gentleman, ' because he is a turbulent man, an inciter to strife, and of bad life and fame."


There were several presentments "for Swearing," and on the 7th October, 1695, there is the following entry:

"Mem. that John Allsoppe, of Rempstone, hath paid the some of three shillings for swearinge three oathes beinge thereof convicted, to ye poore of Rempstone."


On 10th January, 1626-1627, a widow named ffrances Jessop of Caunton, was charged with being "a common tale-bearer."


There were many presentments and indictments for being "night walkers," one, on 13th July, 1629, being against Robert Ollerenshaw, of Lenton, clerk.


There were Indictments or presentments "for evisdropping" and for being "an evesdropper."


There were many Indictments and presentments for the offence of drinking and drunkenness, the charges in several instances being brought against clergymen, viz., Bardol Gregg, of Thorney; George Green, of North Collingham; Matthew Hickman, of Basford; Thomas Naylor, of Arnold; Arthur Hargreave, of Orston; Jacob Browster, of Gringley on the Hill.

In one case a man is charged with being "a common alehouse haunter."

On 26th April, 1609, Thos. Ridge, of North Collingham, was fined 33/4 to the use of the poor because after the last Sessions he was at ten separate times at a common alehouse at North Collingham; and Robert ffotherby was fined 13/4 to the use of the poor because he was twice at a common tavern or alehouse in the said town.

On 12th July, 1615, Christopher North, of Sutton, was fined 5/- for "drinking in the night about the twelfth hour at three alehouses with others."

On 12th July, 1616, a Warrant of good behaviour was granted against three men of Tuxford who "behaved themselves badly in the night after 9 o'clock in a certain tippling house and then being required by the watch and constable of that town to depart from the aforesaid illdoing they threatened and reviled the Constable and Watch with scandalous and opprobrious words and fired a certain loaded gun from the window of their house to the terror of the people of the lord the King in the said town."

On 14th July, 1624, Bardol Gregg, of Thorney, clerk, John Swift of Thorney, miller, and Wm. Story of South Scarle, were to pay 3/4 each for the use of the poor of Thorney for sitting and drinking in an alehouse, and the alehouse keeper was also fined 3/4 for bad conduct by drinking in his house.

On 1st October, 1627, evidence was given in Court on oath by divers faithful and worthy men that John Weston of Beeston, taylor, on the Lord's day viz., on the feast day of Easter last, after receiving the Lord's Sacrament, was in an alehouse and was drinking there till he was drunk. He was sent to the House of Correction to be whipped.

On 15th July, 1653, Thomas Stow of Scrooby, gent, was fined 10/- for tippling in alehouses on the lords daie and affronting and abusing ye Magistrate that found him there."

On 14th January, 1658-1659, Richard Dorden of Harworth, laborer was bound over for "being drunke in open Court."


"Warrants of good behaviour" were granted in the following cases:

On 9th October, 1612, against Humfrey Rayner of East Drayton, because he practiced and committed certain outrage and threatenings against a certain Richard Pickaver and that he threatened the Constables saying "that he wished to obey the King but no Justices of the 'Peace."

On 11th January, 1612-1613, against Robert Alcock, because he showed a sword and a pistol and threatened to kill Philip Stanhope, Knight, and his servant, who were present at the arrest of German Poole, Knight, at the suit of the aforesaid Philip Stanhope.

On 3rd October, 1614, against a yeoman because he entered the dwelling house of his mother of Basford and in an outrageous manner desired to know what she would give him, and then unnaturally extended a small stick towards her body with a declaration that he wished to know what she would do for him before he would depart thence, by which his mother was placed in great fear.

On 12th April, 1616, against Hugo Clark of Laxton, gentleman, for bad conduct and for threatening Wm. Rooke, clerk and minister of the same town

The threat to "burn houses" was not uncommon:

On 9th January, 1625-1626, a Burton Joyce laborer was sent to the House of Correction for threatening to sell his goods and burn his house "to the terror of his wife and children."

On 8th January, 1626-1627, John Hardy was sent to gaol for threatening words to Sir Gervase Clifton, Bart.


The Court also had jurisdiction to deal with the offence of Libel and Slander.

On 30th September, 1616, Richard Wightman of Nottingham, gentleman, was charged with libel.

On 8th January, 1620-1621, three men were fined 2/6 each for publishing an infamous and scandalous libel, and were ordered on the next Sabbath day before the congregation of the inhabitants of the town of Gedling to pronounce and publish this confession:
"We William Alvey, ffrancis Holmes, and Symon Moreley do hereby openlie confess that we have greatlie wronged Anne Melton, widow, Elizabeth Heeson and Margaret Pickard of Gedling aforesaid by publishing a scandalous libell heretofore made in defamacon of the creditt and good names of the said Anne, Elizabeth, and Margarett ffor wch lewd act we acknowledge ourselves to be hartilie sorry and do hereby earnestlie entreat the said Anne, Elizabeth, and Margaret to forgive the same unto us."

On 30th September, 1622, the wife of a butcher of Eastwood was ordered on the next Lord's day immediately after morning service at the Church Style in the presence and hearing of the Rector and the whole congregation in these words to speak to Bridgett wife of Robert Hardy and say:
"I am right hartely sorry for all the abuses and injuries that I have done you and wherein I have anie way defamed or spoken ill of you, and I doe beseech you to forgive me all that is past and hereafter I will behave myself orderly and respectively towards you."
If not that she be sent to the House of Correction.

On 5th October, 1655, Thos. Viccars, a gentleman of Beckingham, was bound over to good behaviour for making a certain Libell against Thomas Bunting and his wife and Wm. Dawson, a yeoman of Beckingham, was bound over for publishing of the aforesaid libell.


In the early part of the seventeenth century there were a number of entries of women being indicted for Witchcraft, and the indictments were transmitted to the Assizes in the following instances:

On 6th October, 1609, Johanna Clark of Sutton in the Clay, spinster,* wife of Michael Clark, laborer, "for witchcraft and for felony."

On 12th January, 1620-1621, Helen, wife of Bryan Beckett of West Drayton, "for witchcraft."

On 25th April, 1623, the wife of a husbandman at Boughton, " for witchcraft."

On 14th July, 1623, Alice, wife of Douglas Busse of Bagthorpe, "for suspicion of witchcraft."

On 17th April, 1629, Eliza Tutty of Mattersey, widow, "for witchcraft."

The following Indictments were dealt with at Sessions:

On 30th April, 1606, Margaret ffrore of Harby, widow, was bound over for her good behaviour, for witchcraft.

On 8th April, 1608, Isabella Cotton of Hayton, was charged with "using charmes" contrary to Statute.

On 10th July, 1609, Barbara Daste of Broughton Sulney, widow, was charged with being a witch.

On 2nd October, 1616, a warrant was issued against Christian Clark of North Muskham, widow, Elizabeth Hudson of the same place, spinster, and Susan Hudson of the same, spinster, suspected of using incantations against Anna Strey.

On 15th July, 1629, a warrant was issued against Katherine Brown of Cromwell, widow, for suspicion of witchcraft.


The following are instances of Conspiracy and of False Accusation:

On 13th July, 1632, a warrant was issued against a laborer of Misterton for conspiring with his daughter Dorothy that she should accuse a certain Edward Baguard of having rendered her pregnant so as to extort money from the said Edward, whereas in fact she was not pregnant at all. Dorothy was sent to the House of Correction.

On the same date, Thomas Fitzwilliams of Doncaster, gentleman, was presented that he had "abused William Viscount Eyre one of the Justices of the Peace in procuring a warrant against Peter Dickenson of Claworth, by color of divers evil deeds falsely suggested."

On the same date, Martin Squire of Moregate, taylor, was presented that he had "procured a certain Robert Pye a simple and poor man to be sent to gaol by color of a certain false suggestion made with the sole intention of injuring the said Robert Pye without any just cause as it is said."

On 7th January, 1632-1633, two yeomen were charged with maliciously accusing a certain Valentine Barnes of Gedling of felony, and of causing him to be bound over to appear at Sessions.

On 2nd October, 1637, a warrant was issued against Richard Shipman for offering 5/- and one strike of barley to a certain Barbara, wife of Richard Corker, to swear that William Avery would have hired her to swear against Shipman at Bonney before the Justices of the Peace.


From the following entries it would appear that persons were privileged from arrest while attending a church service:

On 10th July, 1616, a warrant was issued against two Bailiffs of the Sheriff for that turn only, for taking a certain Richard Upton of Elton by warrant of the Sheriff by virtue of a writ of the lord the King at Elton aforesaid and arresting him "being in church there on Sunday at the time of the sermon in the same church," and then made a certain outrage in the churchyard there.

On 17th April, 1626, Robert Bowes, glover, and Robert Cross, shoemaker, both of Nottingham, were presented for arrest of Vicar of Arnold "in church."

On 6th April, 1635, Thomas Wiseman of Orston, was presented for executing a warrant on Thomas Cariby "in the parish church there."

On 9th July, 1638, Richard Noton of Lenton, laborer, was presented for arresting Master Stokes Vicar of the parish church of Gedling "departing from divine service." The same Richard Noton was also charged with absence from church.

What is termed a "Writ of Privilege " was issued by the Court in certain cases:

On 18th July, 1617, a writ of privilege was granted by the Court and directed to the Bailiffs of the town of East Retford to liberate and allow to go at large Thomas Byron, arrested by their servants.


Butchers were prohibited from selling meat in Lent. This prohibition was not so much on religious grounds, as in order to promote the consumption of fish, and so benefit the fishing community.† A person was liable to indictment if he sold flesh or if he had it in his house for consumption.

The following entries occur in the records:

On 11th April, 1605, Thomas Goddard of ffarndon, butcher, was charged with killing two calves in Lent without licence; and Thomas Bagguley of ffarndon, victualler, was charged with "permitting meat to be eaten in his house during Lent." On 22nd April, 1612, two butchers were presented "for killing a calf in Lent."

On 2nd May, 1614, a butcher was presented "because he killed meat in Lent without licence."

On 17th April, 1615, a butcher of Snenton was presented for "butchering (laniavit) meat in Lent."

On 12th July, 1615, three men of Farndon (one described as called "little Twopence") were presented "for eating hens in the house of Richard Bower," presumably during Lent. Richard Bower was fined 2/6 for "receiving these three."

On 12th April, 1616, a widow of Tuxford "ate meat in Lent."

On 29th April, 1622, an alehouse keeper was presented for "contempt in eating meat in Lent and was fined 6d."

On 5th April, 1623, a butcher at Hucknall Torkard was presented for selling meat in Lent.

On 17th April, 1626, two butchers of Mansfield were presented for killing and selling in Lent.

No cases are recorded after the year 1626.


On the 15th January, 1635-1636, George Booth, of Woodcotes, gentleman, was indicted "for maintenance." There are no further particulars. "Maintenance" is an officious intermeddling in a suit that in no way belongs to one, by maintaining or assisting either party, with money or otherwise, to prosecute or defend it. But as it is not applicable to criminal proceedings it is difficult to understand the meaning of the entry.


On 8th April, 1608, the Bailiffs and Alderman of East Retford were presented "for a defective measure bound with a chain."

On 12th April, 1697, Samuel White, of Bingham, was charged with selling goods in the market by false weight.


The following are instances of Wife Desertion:

On 12th January, 1634-1635, a laborer of Selston was sent to gaol for want of sureties "to save harmless the Inhabitants of Selston from all future burdens and expenses which shall happen by reason of his wife whom he has threatened to leave and fly from."

On the same day, a yeoman of Ansley "who has lately abused and repudiated his wife," was ordered to "again receive her to himself and support her and live quietly with her'"

On 14th April, 1654, a laborer was sent to gaol until he could "find sufficient sureties to save the towne harmless from all charge and damage about the mayntenance of his wief and children having formerly run away and left them and threatens to doe the like again."

The prosecutions for wife desertion were always at the instance of the Parochial Authorities, whose fear was that the deserted wife and family would become a burden to the parish.

* Note—Spinster here means a female spinner.
† * See preamble of Act passed in 1548. This Act was re-enacted at various dates during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.