The Hadleigh SocietyJan 2021
Newsletter Index Up


Dear Members

Here’s wishing for a healthier and more cheerful New Year in 2021.

We very much hope you have managed to stay well even though Covid-19 continues to rage around our county and within our town.

It was so frustrating to miss most of our 2020 speaker meetings; these evenings will re-commence just as soon as we are confident it is completely without risk for us to gather together.

In view of the new National Lockdown and uncertain Covid-19 situation, you will understand we have to cancel our speaker meeting planned for Wednesday 3rd February. Perhaps the vaccine will allow us to enjoy a few of the remaining lectures arranged for 2021 (see back page), in our new venue the Guildroom. We must, of course, wait and see exactly how the virus and vaccination programme impact on Covid restrictions before we make any decisions concerning these subsequent meetings.

In the meantime, here is the second of our Covid-19 Hadleigh Society Newsletters to provide some entertainment and challenge for you during these grey, wintry days spent at home during this protracted and unwelcome pandemic.

Please take care and stay safe and healthy.

Good wishes

Margaret Woods


Always Cake for Tea

By Hattie Bawden

Coronavirus and global warming have given us a strange, long, hot summer, but for me it was reminiscent of childhood summers; always sunny, and we predominantly stayed at home; petrol rationing, with occasional days out.

My parents were friends of Cedric and Lett, and artistic friends, who were attending the Benton End Summer school would often stay with us in Leavenheath. I remember one lady, Jasmine, who used to set off each morning on my mother’s pre-war bike with drawing boards, easel and paint boxes tied on everywhere; wearing a huge sun hat, she looked wonderful.

Jasmine's painting of Benton End

During these summers we used to visit Benton End; an exciting experience; the large garden was full of artists, and this lovely man, always wearing a panama hat, would take me by the hand and show me his flowers. But the real treat for me was there was always cake for tea; we only ever had cake on birthdays at home. Nearly forty years later I found myself back in Hadleigh when Richard and I bought our little house in Benton Street. A few years after arriving I was asked by FOHGs (Friends of Hadleigh Guildhall), to design a new garden for the Guildhall; so the Medieval Garden Project was launched.

After two years of slave labour by a band of volunteers, and some generous donations, the garden was opened. It was cultivated with plants that would have been growing in Hadleigh at the time the Market House and Guildhall were built; those associated with the cloth industry, alongside fruit and herbs, many medicinal. A little pleasure and formality were provided by box hedges and roses, and a nod to the twentieth century with a bed of Cedric’s irises.

It soon became a popular oasis, and cream teas began to be served, with some wonderful homemade cake too!

Finally, this year it was my own garden that has been the focus of my attention; many elements similar to those I used in the Guildhall design; sadly no tea and cake, but plenty of our own fruit and veg, with us enjoying almost all our meals outside during this surreal time. The irises have been magnificent, particularly the unusual brown ones, which were almost the only flowers in the garden when we arrived.

Now I look forward, optimistically, to returning to Benton End, where once again there may be cake for tea.

George Double of Hadleigh 1840-1916

Hadleigh Society regularly receives (and responds to) enquiries relating to Hadleigh’s history and past residents from all over the world.

Our most recent query arrived in December 2020; it concerned a 19th century Hadleigh inhabitant George Double. Could we reveal where he had lived in the 1840s. Yes - we could – and here we find a pleasing coincidence.

This query was shared with Sue Angland, our History Group Chair, and two Hadleigh Archive colleagues who often provide valuable historical evidence for us. Sue e-mailed back, quite excitedly, saying that George Double had actually lived in her previous house. She had identified the family in the 1841 census, George then one year old.  His father was Cornelius Double and his mother Susanna (nee Spooner); it was a large family. At that time the cottage was divided into three sections with the Double family living in the central part. Today that cottage is 130 and 134 Benton Street – the last house on the right as you drive from Hadleigh towards the A12 – now converted to private semi-detached accommodation.

The Dean of the time (Henry Barry Knox – from an Irish aristocratic family) visited every home in Hadleigh parish in the early 1840s, often describing his parishioners in scathing and somewhat impolite terms. The Double family he referred to as ‘rather above the generality’ – quite a compliment on HBK’s part. This was further evidenced in George’s successful career as a relatively well-known engineer. By1878 he was the foreman responsible for 20-30 workmen erecting Cleopatra’s Needle on the Victoria Embankment. During his career George was also contracted to build several iron and steel bridges, for example: five bridges in Hampshire, including the beautiful wrought iron trellis one at Curbridge in 1890, Wormingford Bridge in 1891 and Boxted Bridge in 1897. Perhaps he was most famous for Cleveden Pier in Somerset in 1893-98 - now Grade 1 listed.

George and his wife Emma retired to Kirby Lodge, Kirby Street, Ipswich with George dying in 1916 at the age of 76 years.

Certainly, a tale of a newly discovered Hadleigh lad who made good!!

Margaret Woods

The Borough of Hadleigh 1618 to 1686

By WAB Jones

The following article appeared in our newsletter of May 2013; it was written from notes by Mr WAB Jones who, for many years, was the Headmaster at Hadleigh Boys School in Bridge Street. He was one of the three people responsible for the original cataloguing of Hadleigh Archive and for keeping the documents in Hadleigh. He wrote the book ‘Hadleigh through the Ages’.1 Mr Jones talked to many groups about Hadleigh’s history and wrote out his talks almost word for word in notebooks. Some of these notebooks have recently been donated to the Town Archive by the family of the late Cyril Cook who was Honorary Archivist. They have been transcribed in the article below largely as Mr Jones wrote them but with a few adjustments to aid fluency and some updating where felt necessary. We must be aware aspects of our knowledge of Hadleigh’s history have developed with the recent and on-going research of Sue Andrews and Margaret Woods. Nevertheless, much of this story remains the same and makes interesting reading.

Jan Byrne

In my last talk I mentioned that kings never gave charters to towns out of goodwill and generosity; the citizens had to pay for them – cash down!

In 1618 the Chief Inhabitants of Hadleigh thought the time was ripe to try for a Charter of Incorporation and they invited subscriptions. Eight people gave £20 each, 51 more gave between 5s and £5, the Hadleigh shoemakers gave a joint subscription; a total of £205. 15s. 9d was raised (craftsmen’s wages e.g. builder/carpenter were 1s a day). The charter was issued on 22 December 1618. Thirty shillings was paid for express delivery and the charter arrived in Hadleigh on 24 December.

Under the terms of the Charter2, the first Mayor was John Gaell who had headed the subscription list; he was also an Alderman. Appointed with him were seven other Alderman, appointed for life, and 16 Capital or Chief Burgesses i.e. ordinary councillors. It was rather like a limited company with a Board of 8 and 16 shareholders. The rest of the town were ‘customers’.

Future vacancies were to be filled by co-option; the citizens had no voice whatsoever in these appointments. Over time Hadleigh had 69 Mayors but only 19 surnames are listed – the ruling families kept a closed tight circle!

The Corporation met for the first time on 30 December 1618 in the Guildhall and first sent William Fowler, the caretaker, to fetch a gallon of wine. They then arranged for suitable pomp and circumstance for such an important group of people! For example, they had already had special stools made by John Lucas the town carpenter, for them to sit on in church; everyone else had to stand. They decided these stools were not quite good enough, so sent them back with orders to improve them.

Other orders were issued

-                      two silver maces to be purchased to be carried before the Mayor;

-                      the Council Chamber to be glazed, painted and hung with canvas;

-                      two floor mats and a table to be bought;

-                      a pair of gloves to be provided for a special preacher on Sundays;

-                      two brass maces and livery for the two town sergeants to be purchased.

The Corporation met again on 15 February 1619 and decided the Aldermen should wear black puke gowns and the Capital Burgesses either black or brown-blue. They were to wear their gowns to the Mayor’s house on days when the Corporation met and then to precede him as they processed to the Guildhall. At Easter, Whitsun, Michaelmas and Christmas they would lead the Mayor in procession to St Mary’s Church.

Regulations were drawn up for the citizens e.g.

-                      Foreigners, i.e. not townspeople, were forbidden to sell any goods in Hadleigh except on market days;

-                      meat could only be sold on market days in the Shambles;

-                      householders must not let pigs loose in the streets, nor pile logs or dunghills outside their front doors;

-                      no more roofs were to be thatched (Bury, Eye, Beccles, Bungay recently had fires);

-                      chimneys had to be built of brick;

-                      cromes (fire hooks/rakes) to be held in the Church tower and ladders kept along the Deanery wall.

Government by the Corporation

The Corporation seemed to have governed the town reasonably well.

They set a bar across the end of Duke Street and gates across Hadleigh Bridge; these were locked every night. They built Pest houses on the Green for plague victims and maintained town properties like the Guildhall. Something that has puzzled us is the quantity of nails they bought e.g. in 1660 they bought 17,000 three-penny nails at 22s a thousand; in 1677 they paid for 20,000 three-penny nails costing 14s 4d a thousand; another year they bought 22,000.

If people fell dead in other people’s houses, the Corporation paid for them to be taken home. There was a town surgeon who was given £1 for removing boys’ kidney stones; afterwards, each boy was given a new night-gown. When there were poor harvests, they bought up corn early, stored it in the Guildhall cellar then sold it to Hadleigh folk at reduced prices.

Hadleigh owned woods at Polstead and Semer, so they had as many as 80 cartloads of wood for fuel each year delivered free to the Alms-houses and they also sold to the poor at a low cost or gave it free. In 1624 they bought 1¾ yards of fustian to make a truss for John Cryche and also gave him a shilling for himself.

The anti-smoking campaign of today began with a book written by King James I himself – A Counterblast to Tobacco. A messenger was paid to bring a copy from London; when it came, they ordered two more!

The Corporation also seemed to have ensured a supply of fresh water for the town with town springs at Hadleigh Heath and Semer regularly being fenced, ditched and scoured out. There were also streams of water in the town (these have now dried up or been enclosed in sewers). A brook ran from Bradfield down to the river, another down Angel Street, High Street, Bridge Street to the river and another down George Street and Duke Street towards Toppesfield Bridge.

The disposal of human waste has always been a problem. People had been stopped from piling dung hills outside their front doors so several ‘do-it-yourself’ enthusiasts built loos for themselves above the watercourse outside their houses to drop their waste into. This was very convenient for them but their downstream neighbours were less pleased. The offenders all had to appear before the Hadleigh Law Court and were ordered to take their constructions down - under the supervision of one of the town Aldermen.

Four courts were identified in the Borough charter - one for governing the borough, one for overseeing the market and two for administering the law, these two being – a Court of Record (for civil actions brought by townspeople) and the Sessions of Peace3 (for law and order in the town. See the article following this one). There were also two Chief Constables who, each year, appointed half a dozen unpaid Petty Constables to keep watch and ward for twelve months. Every able-bodied man had to serve in turn; they were usually picked from a different row of houses each year.

Punishments for offenders included hanging (bodies being buried in the strip between the churchyard path and Hadleigh Hall), a prison which was beside the Guildhall, 2d a day was allowed to feed each prisoner; a cage pillory, a whipping post and stocks were kept in the market place. It cost 6s to hang a person; this was equal to 39 days cost in prison. There were also a good many floggings with the accused walking at a cart’s tail across the town while being flogged on bare shoulders so blood was drawn. Some started at the prison, others at the bar at Toppesfield Bridge; they were flogged all the way to Hadleigh Bridge. If you lived in Benton Street it would be from your house to Hadleigh Bridge; so if you were a law-breaker from Benton Street it would have been a good idea to live at the High Street end! Flogging was carried out by the Petty Constables. In Ipswich they were paid for it – 2d for a man, 4d for a woman, 6d for a Welshman or stranger. At the end of their year of office the Petty Constables, in front of the magistrates, had to swear an oath that they had flogged all the rogues who deserved it.

Examples of offences included

(i)                  William Turner attacked and wounded John Lucas so that his life was despaired of, and uttered divers (various) indecencies to two Capital Burgesses who tried to stop him – fined 12d.

(ii)                Three men who took half a sack of wool, value 6d, were flogged from the prison to Hadleigh Bridge.

(iii)              John Hawkins stole 2lbs of wool, value 10d; he was flogged from Benton Street to Bridge Street.

(iv)               There were many cases of illicit tavern keeping and beer brewing.

(v)                 Richard Haye and John Whitmarsh, labourers, at 4pm on a December night in 1622 ran through the town shouting ‘Constables on duty come down and open your front door’ and banged on every door; their punishment is not recorded!

(vi)               For being drunk and disorderly the punishment could be a specified number of hours in the stocks on market day with a paper describing the offence pinned to the offender’s chest.

You will have noticed the punishment was more severe for stealing 6d worth of wool than for nearly killing a constable!

How they lost the Charter

King Charles II was restored in 1660 after the death of Cromwell; those members of the Corporation who refused to swear allegiance to the king were removed and replaced.

In the 1680s two great political parties began to emerge. At first they were called Petitioners and Abhorrers, not names likely to catch on. One side called the other almost the worst insult they could think of – Whigs which in those days meant Wild Scotsmen. So the whigs retaliated by calling their opponents the very worst insult they could devise – Tories which meant Wild Irishmen.

Now the King and his ministers began to carry out a certain policy which involved replacing the heads of the army, navy, university colleges, civil service etc with men who could enforce it. The chartered corporations were however immovable. After a time, the king was advised by Judge Jeffreys – a vicious cruel man but the most brilliant lawyer of the day. The two of them watched all the doings of all the corporations in England and, whenever they found a petty or technical breach of the law, they cancelled that Corporation’s charter. Then when a town asked for it back, the King gave them a new charter which stipulated that only people approved by the King could hold office in it.

On 10 January 1686 a party of young men who called themselves ‘the loyal inhabitants’ of Hadleigh wrote to the Attorney General alleging illegal actions and great oppression by the Hadleigh Corporation. They petitioned for a writ of Quo Warranto4 against them and made it clear that they would apply for the charter to be revoked.

The Corporation panicked; they called a general meeting of the Inhabitants on 16 April and decided to make a voluntary surrender of the Hadleigh Charter. Judge Jeffreys accepted it at Bury Assizes. So Hadleigh lost its Mayor and the Market Feoffment Trustees again ruled the town, with the Dean as chairman, just as before 1618. But they had been too hasty. A revolution was brewing, the King (now James II) would soon flee abroad. Before he went, he tried to gain favour by restoring all the town charters that had been confiscated – Hadleigh was not on the list. The town asked Whitehall for re-instatement of its charter but the answer was ‘No’. The King only restored the charters which had been confiscated; Hadleigh’s had not been confiscated. They were told ‘You surrendered it voluntarily, so you’re not entitled to have it back again’. Thus, we lost our Mayor and did not have another until the Local Government Act of 1974.

(Editing and slight updating by Margaret Woods)

References (N.B. HA = Hadleigh Archive)

N.B. Much of Mr Jones information is not sourced; only the following references are known and can be provided.

1.        Jones W.A.B. (1977) ‘Hadleigh through the Ages’. EA Magazine: Ipswich.

2.        Hadleigh Borough Charter  HA 084/A/01

3.        The Book of the Sessions of Peace, 1619-1624. HA 04/D/01     

4.        Quo Warranto = ‘Ancient common law writ that was issued out of chancery on behalf of the king against anyone who claimed or usurped any office, franchise or liberty, to inquire by what authority he asserted such a right, in order that the legitimacy of the assertion might be determined. Source

Keeping the Peace in Hadleigh 1619-1624

Translated Extracts from the Book of the Sessions of Peace

by Margaret Woods

This article will be best read after the preceding article ‘The Borough of Hadleigh’ which provides a general context to this more specific topic relating to keeping the peace within the newly created borough of Hadleigh.

The previous article on ‘The Borough of Hadleigh 1618-1686’ mentioned the four courts identified in Hadleigh’s Borough Charter. Detailed records have survived from one of those courts – Liber Sessionae Pacis - in English ‘The Book of the Sessions of Peace’ - sadly only from 1619 until 1624 – the first full five years of borough status. These minutes were written in Latin but have recently been fully translated; now enabling us to elaborate on some of the information from Mr. Jones notebook and consequently from the preceding article.

The Sessions of Peace were held twice a year, usually spring and autumn, to deal with petty crimes and maintain law and order within and around the town. The Mayor and Recorder (the senior lawyer / law officer) presided at these sessions with the Clerk of the Peace, also an attorney, ‘in attendance’ at each court. Additionally, two of the town Aldermen were present, acting in the capacity of Justices of the Peace. Serious crimes such as murder, rape, counterfeiting, larceny and arson went to the Assize Court at Bury St Edmunds - a circuit court presided over by a judge.

As we also saw in the foregoing article developed from Mr. Jones’ notes, punishments meted out during these five documented years were fines, whippings, imprisonment in the Hadleigh gaol, a prescribed number of hours in the pillory /stocks and the requirement to make good any damage. Occasionally those found guilty were exonerated without any explanation being offered; sometimes no punishment was recorded. When necessary, a panel of inquiry was set up to examine a case more deeply; the judgement would then be made at a subsequent court session when all facts were known.

Each record of a court commenced with a formal statement setting the scene (in the Guildhall) and naming those present on that particular day to hear cases and make judgements.  The example below is from 31st March 1619, the very first such court under Hadleigh’s recently awarded borough status. Interestingly the word ‘town’, as an alternative to ‘borough’, appears in this quote and indeed throughout the Book of the Sessions of Peace - in spite of the upgrade to borough.

‘The Town of Hadleigh in Suffolk

‘The General Session of the Peace held at Hadleigh in the aforesaid county at the Guildhall of  the same town and within the town or borough on the aforesaid last day of March in the seventeenth year of the reign of Lord James by the grace of God King of England France and Ireland,  Defender of the Faith etc and his 52nd [year as King] of Scotland [1619] in the presence of John Gaelle gentleman, mayor of the aforesaid town or borough, Thomas Locke esquire, recorder of the same town, John Alabaster gentleman and John Britten gentleman, aldermen of the same town aforesaid, guardians of the peace of the said Lord King, justices of the same Lord King for hearing and determining various felonies, transgressions and misdeeds perpetrated within the town or borough aforesaid. Francis Andrew gentleman, Clerk of the Peace of the same town in attendance.’

Table 1 below provides a summary of the types of crimes which brought alleged offenders for trial at Hadleigh Peace Sessions. Where there is only one example of an offence, it has been allocated to the ‘Other’ category. By way of illustration, one rather interesting ‘Other’ example emanated from the court of 25th September 1621 when Charles Veysey and his wife Katherine were charged with allowing ‘Great Toppesfield Bridge’ to fall into ‘exceeding decay’. The bridge, being part of the king’s highway from Hadleigh to (Lower) Layham, ‘by law’ must be kept in good repair; firm orders were consequently issued to Charles and Katherine. Two further examples of ‘Other’ appear later in the text.

Table 1: Summary of legible charges identified in the Book of the Sessions of Peace 1619-1624



Unlicensed tavern keeping / illicit brewing




Failing to clean ditches


Unlawful gaming


Jakes [privies] unlawfully placed over public watercourse


Market malpractice


Contempt of court / of the Lord King (this usually accompanied another offence)


Others (I of each)


Disturbing the peace


Assault / Attack


Allowing inordinate drinking / drunkenness


Failing to keep watch


Apprenticeship malpractice


Being a common scold


Providing for a bastard child


Recognisances* (often noted along with another offence)


* Recognisances, recorded being used in many entries, are bonds entered into with a monetary sum

charged to ensure an offender or a witness appears in court on a specified date.

N.B. A few entries are illegible, could not be translated and therefore are not included in the numbers.

 Where two charges are contained within one entry, both have been counted separately

We shall now view examples of offences noted in Table 1, almost exactly as translated from the court minutes. This is intended to illustrate the functioning of the Sessions of Peace between 1619 and 1624 and give a flavour of legal proceedings at this level of justice; it will also introduce readers to the legal terminology of the time. A glimpse of life in 17th century Hadleigh will be had, as well as the chance to meet several Hadleigh inhabitants of the period.

The language used in these court minutes may seem cumbersome and repetitive with a number of rather lengthy sentences – that is how minutes of court proceedings were written - remember the entries are all direct translations of 17th century Latin legalese. Abbreviations of some entries, as well as a few small adjustments to phrasing and wording, have been made to lighten the text a little and permit clarification where it was felt essential. Let’s now examine 16 extracts from the records of Hadleigh’s 17th century courts for keeping the peace:-

1. Unlicensed tavern keeping – 31st March 1619

‘Thomas Cade of Hadleigh in the county of Suffolk, beer brewer, taken on the grounds that…on the seventh day of March in the sixteenth year of the present Lord King of England etc [1619] and continuing for many days afterwards, namely until the twentieth day of March next following at Hadleigh aforesaid… stubbornly and on his own authority without the permission of the aforesaid Justices of the Peace of the said Lord King in the aforesaid county by admission or allowance, kept a common tavern, in English A Common Tipling house. And there on the said seventh day of March and on the said days afterwards, he publicly sold ale made with hops, in English beer, to various liege people of the Lord King, independently and spuriously…  . He came in person into the presence of the afore-mentioned justices, brought to the bar by the Serjeants at Mace of the aforesaid town. And he was asked how he wished to acquit himself [to plead] concerning the aforesaid transgression and contempt. He said that he was not able to deny the indictment and nor deny that he was guilty of the aforesaid transgression and offence etc. Therefore, it was decided by the court that the aforesaid Thomas Cade should pay 12d for a fine etc, who, being present here in court, paid it to the Clerk of the Peace of the aforesaid town. And thus he was discharged etc.’

Note Thomas was brought to the bar by the Serjeants at Mace. Two were appointed in the borough to assist court business, especially ensuring the accused and witnesses were present in court. They would have worn their special livery and carried their maces made of brass.

2. Theft – 23rd September 1619

‘John Kemball, recently of Cockfield in the county of Suffolk, labourer,     taken on the grounds that he was accused in the presence of the afore-mentioned justices of the Lord King …within the aforesaid town… because, on the twenty-sixth day of February in the sixteenth year of the reign of Lord James [1619] by the grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith etc…by force of arms at Hadleigh aforesaid and within the liberty, boundaries and precincts of the same town then and there he was found to have feloniously taken, stolen and carried off one measure of charcoal, in English a bushel of charcoal, worth six pence from the goods and chattels of John Blewitt of Hadleigh in the aforesaid county, clothier - against the peace of the said present Lord King, his crown and dignity etc. He [John Kemball] came in person into the presence of the aforementioned justices, brought to the bar by the Serjeants at Mace of the aforesaid town and was asked how he wished to acquit himself concerning the aforesaid felony; he said that he was not able to deny the aforesaid indictment nor deny that he was guilty of the aforesaid theft. Therefore, it was agreed by the court that the aforesaid John Kemball should be stripped from the waist upwards and whipped upon the shoulders after the cart from the prison of Hadleigh [by the Guildhall] to the boundary of the town of Hadleigh until the blood flowed and then he may be discharged.’.

Quite a humiliating and fearsome punishment! Theft was always treated most seriously.

3. Failing to clean ditches - 23rd September 1619

‘And that William Mixer of Hadleigh aforesaid weaver, George Brownyng of the same town, innkeeper, Nathaniel Hargrave of the same town clothier, William Kyrke of the same brick-maker, John Bardwell of the same town butcher, John Hills of the same town husbandman, Edward Shinglewood of the same town weaver, John Wortham of the same town butcher and Christopher Meriton of the same yeoman did not scour out and clean a certain piece of common land etc and ancient watercourse flowing beside their private houses, gardens and lands in Hadleigh aforesaid from a street called le George Street to the common river as by law they should and are accustomed to do; they have allowed the aforesaid water course to fill with muck from each of them beside their individual houses, gardens and lands for which the flowing water in the same is not able to follow the ancient course - to the serious and general nuisance of the liege subjects of the Lord King etc.’

They were required to clean up the ancient watercourse so that it could flow again.

4. Unlawful gaming in a common gaming house – 30th April 1622

‘Matthew Hubbard of Hadleigh aforesaid, shoemaker, on the twenty-fourth day of March in the nineteenth year [1621] etc and on various days and occasions both before and afterwards at Hadleigh aforesaid and within the liberty and precincts of the same town, by force of arms, kept a common house for unlawful gaming, in English unlawful games; and also various servants of various inhabitants of the same town there played at unlawful games such as Tables, Cards and Dice as much in the day as at night, after due and lawful hours. This was to the injury of the inhabitants and a bad example to other subjects of the said Lord King and also against the peace and against the terms of the [relevant] statute etc.’

No punishment was recorded here

5. Jakes [Privies] unlawfully placed over a public watercourse – 23rd September 1619

‘Whereas at the last session holden for the said town, George Brounyng and William Kyrke were indicted separately for erecting and maintaining several houses of office [jakes / toilets] over the common waterways running from the bridge in Duck Lane to the river called Toppesfield River in Hadleigh aforesaid; whereby the said watercourse was stopped. And whereas the said George Brounyng and William Kirke and William Mixer, Nathaniel Hargreaves, John Brudnell, John Hills, Edward Shinglewood, John Wortham and Christopher Meriton, at the said last session were presented also for not scouring the said common watercourse against their ground. Now at this session the said William Kyrke, William Mixer and most of the rest of the said parties appearing and the said indictments and presentments being openly read in court, it is ordered by the court that Robert Strutt gentleman and John Whiting gentleman, two of the aldermen of the town, shall call the said parties before them and shall view the said watercourse running as a sewer from Duck Lane Bridge, as from the Bridge against the house of Robert Norrys, unto the river and see what houses [privies], lets [obstructions] or annoyances there are, either in or over the said watercourse. And [Richard Strutt and John Whiting are] to set down what is fit to be done for the scouring of the watercourse and for the taking away of the houses [the jakes] and other lets and annoyances in or over the same watercourse and [to determine] by whom the same is to be done. And whatever they think fit to be done is ordered to be undertaken before Whitsuntide next coming. And if the same shall not be undertaken [by] then, the said parties are to answer to the said indictment and presentment at the next session and a judicial process to that purpose will be made out against them’.

N.B. Duck Lane is today’s Duke Street. Richard Strutt and John Whiting (Aldermen) ensured all ditches were cleaned and jakes, obstructions etc were removed by the due date! 

6. Market malpractice – 24th September 1622

‘And that the aforesaid William Turner, on the fifth day of August in the twentieth year of the reign of Lord James, the present King of England etc [1622] at Hadleigh aforesaid in a certain market held then and there, for a certain sum of money bought and, having come upon and obtained half the meat of a dead bullock from a certain Samuel Bird whom it was believed was selling the aforesaid half bullock at the same market. And that immediately afterwards, namely on the said fifth day of August above-mentioned, the same William Turner in the said same full market, then and there held at Hadleigh aforesaid in the said county, illegally sold the aforesaid meat to various subjects of the Lord King for certain sums of money at great injury to the public and against the tenor of various statutes and edicts of this kingdom of England for this kind of case concerning purveyors of food.’

Re-selling an item at the same market as it was purchased was illegal. No punishment was recorded here.

7. Disturbing the peace / rioting – 17th August 1624

‘William Webber recently of Hadleigh in the county of Suffolk, sherman, Thomas Greene lately of Hadleigh in the aforesaid county, labourer, Richard Bardwell lately of Hadleigh in the aforesaid county, hat-dresser, Ralph Francis of the same, labourer, Thomas Jannyng of the same, labourer and Nathaniel Jordan of the same, labourer, with many other wrongdoers and unknown disturbers of the peace of the Lord King adding to them, up to a total of ten persons now brought before the court. An indictment was drawn up that they had assembled and congregated on the twenty-eighth day of February in the twenty-first year of the reign of Lord James present King of England [1624] etc by force of arms, namely with swords, axes, sickles, sticks and other weapons, as much for attacking as for defending at Hadleigh aforesaid in the aforesaid county. They assembled unlawfully, riotously and they broke and entered an enclosure of the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church and Metropolitan See of the Church of Christ of Canterbury, called the ‘lord’s wood’ at Hadleigh aforesaid; and then and there unlawfully, riotously and zealously broke and cut down for timber three oak trees growing then and there belonging to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of Canterbury. And at another time they unlawfully, riotously and zealously did dig and uproot sixty timber oaks belonging to the Dean and Chapter, likewise then and there still growing, and they took and carried away the timber and underwood from the aforesaid oaks - making profits to the value of ten pounds against the peace of the said Lord King and against the terms of various statutes concerning riots and rebellions and unlawful congregations, recently published and provided etc.’

For what is rather a serious offence, we are not told of the punishment meted out.

8. Assault / Attack – 31st March 1619

‘Laurence Goldsborowe of Hadleigh in the county of Suffolk, gardener, taken on the grounds that he was indicted in the presence of the afore-mentioned justices because, on the nineteenth day of March in the sixteenth year of the reign of the present Lord King of England [1619] etc…by force of arms, namely with swords, sticks and knives, he assaulted and beat, wounded and badly treated a certain William Warde, then one of the constables of the town or borough of Hadleigh aforesaid who was in and around the town executing his aforesaid office, at the time being in Hadleigh aforesaid at a certain place called Pound Lane,…so that his life was despaired of against the peace of the said present Lord King his crown and honour. He [Laurence] came in person into the presence of the afore-mentioned justices, led to the bar by the Serjeants at Mace of the aforesaid town. And he was asked how he wished to acquit himself concerning the aforesaid transgression and contempt, he said that he was not able to deny the aforesaid indictment and nor deny that he was guilty of the aforesaid transgression and of contempt. Therefore, it was decided by the court that the aforesaid Laurence should be placed in the stocks for the period of one hour and he should pay 3s 4d, which, being present here in court, he paid to the Clerk of the Peace. And thus, he was discharged etc.’

9. Inordinate drinking in an alehouse – 25th May 1621

‘Simon Cooper of Hadleigh aforesaid, alehouse-keeper, since the last session of the peace held here and before the day of the holding of this inquiry at Hadleigh aforesaid, kept a common tavern, in English A Common Tipling House, within the same town by licence etc. And there he allowed various subjects of the said Lord King dwelling within the aforesaid town to continue and to remain behind inordinately drinking in his aforesaid alehouse in contempt etc and against the terms of the [relevant] statute etc.’

The above example was of a licensed alehouse-keeper allowing inordinate drinking; the second example is of an individual, with his cronies, drinking inordinately in his own home. No punishment is mentioned in either example.

10. Inordinate drinking in his own home 25th May 1621

‘James Bowton of Hadleigh aforesaid, labourer, since the last session of the peace held here and before the day of the holding of this inquiry at Hadleigh aforesaid illegally allowed various people to be and to remain behind in his house in Hadleigh aforesaid inordinately drinking and getting drunk on Sundays at the time of the celebration of various services and on other days, fetching the drink from the common tavern into his aforesaid house for such inordinate drinking in contempt of the said Lord King and a bad example to others  and against the peace etc.’

11. Failing to keep watch – 18th September 1620

‘And that George Cooper senior of Hadleigh aforesaid, sherman, John Mannyng of the same, sherman, John Downes of the same, sherman, and Nicholas West of the same, glazier, being inhabitants of the aforesaid town, were instructed to keep watch within the aforesaid town. They refused on behalf of themselves and others, in English to watch, within the aforesaid town. George Cooper and Nicholas West appeared in court and submitted themselves to fines of 12d for each of them and thus they were exonerated. John Downes likewise appeared in court on 25 May year 19 of James [1621] and on the same submission he was exonerated.’

As you read in the previous article by Mr. Jones, all able-bodied Hadleigh men had to take a turn of keeping watch. Here we had three townsfolk refusing to do so.

12. Apprenticeship malpractice – 23rd September 1619

‘At this session in respect of Robert Seamans of Hadleigh, shoemaker, a complaint was made  that, in March last, there was one George Kempe of Hintlesham in the county of Suffolk being then reputed to be but of the age of 17 years bound apprentice with the said Robert Seamans and intended to be bound for seven years and fifty shillings in money given to the said Robert Seamans to take the same George Kempe as his apprentice. But the Indenture of Apprenticeship stated that the same George Kempe should serve the same Robert Seamans as an Apprentice until the said George should be 24 years of age and no certain number of years was included in the said Indenture. Since which time it has become apparent that the said George Kempe was already of the age of four and twenty years when he was so bound. The said Robert Seamans, did, without order by any of his majesty’s justices of the peace, put away the said George Kempe out of his service. And the said Robert Seamans, being here in open session and complained of on account of five misdemeanours, could not deny but that the intent was that the said George should have been bound apprentice to him for seven years yet he refused to take the said George Kempe into his service or to repay the said fifty shillings taken by him, although he could not allege any just cause to the contrary. It is thereupon ordered by his majesty’s Justices of the Peace in open session that the said Robert Seamans, upon notice of this order, shall receive into his service the said George Kempe and keep him as his apprentice until the said seven years shall be expired from the date of the said indenture.’ 

Seven years was the standard term of apprenticeship. The Hadleigh Court of Common Council had oversight of apprenticeships including their registration; the Court of The Sessions of Peace dealt with infringements.  

13. Providing for a bastard child – 13th September 1620

‘And also the same Mayor handed over here in court a certain other recognizance taken in his presence and on behalf of Ralph Gale of Hadleigh aforesaid, weaver, the sum of £10 and John Gale and Richard West as his sureties, each of them the sum of £5 for  the use of the Lord King; acknowledged by the appearance of the aforesaid Ralph here at this session for keeping the court regulations concerning an illegitimate English boy, a bastard child born on the body of Katherine Water, a single woman. In respect of which the aforesaid Ralph appeared here in court. And because the aforesaid boy had [recently] died, therefore, the same Ralph was dismissed from the court here without a day.’

That means he was discharged. Had the child lived, Ralph would have probably had to contribute to his maintenance.

14. Being a common scold: 17th August 1624

‘And that Susanna Birde, wife of John Birde of Hadleigh aforesaid, butcher, on the third day of August in the twenty-second year of the reign of Lord James the present King of England [1624] etc at Hadleigh aforesaid, was and still is a common scold, a frequent disturber of the peace of the said Lord King and also a common and trouble-making slanderer, most abusive and the originator of quarrels amongst her neighbours, disturbing greatly the peace of the said Lord King and against the terms of various ordnances and statutes of this his reign of England, provided and published in such cases as this.’

Susanna had appeared in court on the same offence 3 years earlier on 25th September 1621 when she protested her innocence; no punishment was recorded on either occasion. One wonders if Susanna was subjected to the ducking stool or the cruel (and actually illegal) fitting of a scold’s bridle, a heavy iron frame, locked on to her head?

15. Other: Allowed to return to receiving the sacrament of the Lord – 25th May 1621

‘To this session came William Hurst of Hadleigh aforesaid, tailor, and in full court in the presence of the aforesaid justices, openly, publicly and voluntarily on the holy object of God, the Gospel Book, pledged his corporal oath for his allegiance towards the said Lord King according to the tenor, form and effect of the Oath of Allegiance contained in the statute of the Parliament of the present Lord King in the nineteenth year of his reign [1621] etc. And it was decided by the court that the same William Hurst. in the Church of Hadleigh aforesaid, personally and with all reverence and, as is proper should, according to the ecclesiastical laws of this kingdom of England, receive the sacrament of the Eucharist or the last supper of our Lord Jesus Christ at the next celebration thereof in the Church of Hadleigh aforesaid.’

16. Other: Not supporting his elderly widowed mother – 13th September 1620

Whereas Thomas Goldingham of the parish of Hadleigh aforesaid, joiner, appearing here in court was complained of to the court that he hath not relieved   …*   Goldingham of Hadleigh aforesaid, widow, his natural mother, being a poor, aged and impotent woman not able to live without having anything to maintain her whereby she has been and still is like to be chargeable to the said parish. And that the said Thomas Goldingham hath heretofore gained to himself from the said mother such estate as she had to live upon, which was affirmed in court by credible testimony. Therefore, and for that the said Thomas Goldingham, a man able to maintain himself and his family and his said mother, it is ordered by this court that for the relief and maintenance of his said mother, which he has formerly refused, that the said Thomas Goldingham should, henceforth pay weekly to the overseer of the poor within the said parish of Hadleigh for the time being upon the Sunday in every week straight after the end of evening prayer in the church of Hadleigh aforesaid the sum of twelve pence to the said overseer, presently to be given to the said Goldingham widow, for her maintenance and relief. And this weekly payment is to continue from week to week in the  form aforesaid during the year next coming and from then until it shall appear to this court that the said Thomas Goldingham shall not be able to continue the full payment or that his said mother should be otherwise able to live without being chargeable to the said parish; then this court will take out an order to the contrary.

*Mother’s first name is not given. Charges on the parish were to be avoided at all costs.

From such examples of court cases and throughout the whole book of the ‘Sessions of Peace’, an impression might be assumed that a relatively tight rein was kept on the inhabitants of 17th century Hadleigh, at least in its first five years of borough status. We cannot, however, be certain that every single miscreant was brought to this court with its special mission to keep the King’s Peace within the ‘town or borough’. Four centuries later we are left wondering just how many misdeeds escaped justice.

Sessions of Peace could finish with a report cum update from the town constables. To bring our Peace Session extracts to a close we shall reproduce the Constable’s ‘presentment’ from the session of 17th August 1624, the final session for which minutes are available:-

A presentment made by the constables the day and year above-mentioned:

(vii)             Firstly, no felonies [serious crimes] have been committed within the town since the last sessions.

(viii)           Item that they have duly searched upon the ‘Hues and Cries’ [raising the alarm on finding a crime has been committed] which have been sent to them and [they] could find none [worthy of bringing to justice] and have presently sent them away.

(ix)               Item that William Elmen, Nathaniel Jordan, John Hare and Nicholas Cussen, having been severally [separately] warned to watch within this town since Ascension Day last past, have neither come themselves to watch nor yet sent any others in their places.

(x)                 Item that they have taken seventeen vagrant and idle persons within the said town and have whipped them and sent them away [out of the town] according to the statute in that case made and provided.

(xi)               Item that they know not of any recusant remaining or resident within this town.

(xii)             Item that Walter Gunn, John Porter, Widow Kirke widow, Thomas Allen, John Cricke, Henry Walton, Walter Garrad and John Coleman do keep Alehouses within the said town without licence from any of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace within the said town.

(xiii)           Item that Thomas Allen and Richard Martyn have suffered inhabitants of this town to sit drinking in their houses contrary to the statute in that cause made.’


                                The Book of the Sessions of the Peace 1619-24. Hadleigh Archive reference: 04/D/01.

                          Translations from Latin by Margaret Woods

Assistant Membership Secretary

We recently contacted members by e-mail seeking a replacement for Mavis, our membership secretary, who was set to move from the area around Christmas.

Pleasingly for us, Mavis will be staying in Hadleigh longer than originally thought. She has offered to remain in this crucial post if we could find someone to assist her - especially when she is unable to attend an occasional evening meeting.

This element of the role would involve welcoming members & visitors to meetings, ensuring all sign the book, accepting payment of some fees and liaising with Mavis.  Light and pleasant responsibilities.

If you might consider helping, please contact

How observant are you?

by Ray Whitehand

Enjoy a stroll through Hadleigh town centre - keeping a safe distance.  See how many of these images you can spot.   As an overall clue:

·         Start at the dead centre of the town

·         Amble down the main thoroughfare

·         Continue as far as where the fallen are remembered

·         Retrace your steps back to the Market Place

·         Wander down as far as alley way into St Mary’s ‘grounds’

·         Then meander back over the cobbles into the Market Place.

As a tie breaker: What was the significance of the year brick 1789?















1.	Market Cross by Partridges 
2.	Above ‘Cutters’ shop
3.	Above 97 High Street. 
4.	Section of original iron bridge on verge by new bridge 
5.	Cemetery lodge, viewed over Cricket pitch from Bridge street.
6.	War Memorial
7.	Pump by Town hall
8.	Priests door in churchyard corner by alleyway.  
9.	Cross on Church porch 
10.	Date stone on west wall of Guild hall
11.	On front of Corn Exchange to right of entrance
12.	Crest on Town hall wall opposite ‘The Ram’. 
Tie breaker 
The 1789 brick on the Guild hall wall was the year the overhang was filled in.
Answers to Observation Quiz




Programme of Events 2021

Wed 3 Feb

Cancelled: River Brett and its Environment

Will Akast

Tue 23 Mar

16th Century Suffolk Maps and Cartographers

Vivienne Aldous

Wed 5 May

The Black Death in Suffolk

Mark Bailley

Tue 15 Jun

AGM, short talk on Hadleigh's Overlooked Heritage

Richard Fletcher

Wed 4 Aug

Hadleigh Airfield

Peter McGee

Tue 5 Oct

Suffolk Relocated Buildings

Liza Psarianos

Wed 1 Dec

At The Field's Edge, Adrian Bell and the English Countryside

Richard Hawkings

Meetings are held in Hadleigh Guildhall Guildroom at 8pm, unless otherwise notified.  Entry is free for members, £3 for non-members.

Honorary Secretary

Richard Fletcher

6 Lister Road




01473  827891

All views expressed are those of the contributors and are not necessarily those of the Hadleigh Society

Other Contacts




Margaret Woods

01473 823798

History Group

Sue Angland

01284 830034

Environment Group & Planning

Dick Fletcher

01473  827891


Mavis Winders

01473 824359

Website & Editor

Graham Panton

07711 862625

Newsletter delivery

07711 862625

The Hadleigh Society website has past and present newsletters, etc at