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Criminals named Little John (record texts)

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2015-09-25. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-11-19.

The items listed below concern historical (alleged) criminals named Little John (John Little, John Petit, Johannes Parvus etc.) Petit and Parvus can of course be French/Latin renderings of both Small and Little, but it must be remembered that, apart from in the higher echelons, during most of the medieval period most Englishmen's surnames had not yet become fixed. They were still often essentially additional (descriptive) identifiers that could be added to the Christian name in contexts were unambiguous reference was desired. A Small might therefore cnceivably appear in another context as a Little or, if that was his occupation, as a Smith. Nonetheless I have usually left out of consideration individuals surnamed Small eo nomine.

Records relating to criminals named Little John

The following 14 records concern criminal criminal Little Johns:

1281 - John le Petit poaching at Howden

[1281:]
Commission of oyer and terminer to W. de Brompton and N. de Stapel-
ton, on complaint by R. bishop of Durham that Master Thomas de Birland,
Nicholas del Haye, Robert de Coyngners, Eluard de Saute Mareys, Robert
de Balliolo, William son of Henry de Jokflet, Adam son of Henry, John le
Clerk, Peter de Lincolnia, Alexander de Cave, William de Haytfeld, William
de Belassise, John de Warewik, Robert de Crigeleston, John le Grrauuger,
Thomas Alger, John le Petit, William Batayl, Robert Bataill, Thomas de
Portinton, William son of William de Garton, John de Kayvill, Richard
de Kayvill, Roger Coy and Walter de Redenesse entered his free warren in
Houeden, co. York, hunted therein and carried away hares.[1]

1306 - John le Petit accused of assault in Meath (1)

[1306:]
Luke de Nettreuill, James, Thomas and William de Nettreuill complain that, when they were riding on the King's highway (regia strata) between the bridge of Kennagh and the manor of Nicholas de Nettreuill their father, on the feast of S. Bartholomew last, there came there Stephen de Exon', John le Petyt, Adam de Exon', and Ph. Burnel, with Ric. Hasard, Simon Bray and others unknown, and assaulted and wounded them, to their damage of 200 l.
     And likewise said Nicholas complains that when Adam son of Magowyeus, William son of Ineges, and Roger son of Lewryn, his hibernici, were in the company of said Luke and the others, on same day and place, Stephen and the others assaulted and wounded his hibernici, to his damage of 100l.
     Stephen, John, Adam and Philip defend. They did no trespass. But they acknowledge that whereas Doneghuth Orailly, a faithful man of Theobald de Verdun, had cattle feeding on lands of Theobald, Luke and the others, with horses equipped and a multitude of armed men, took the cattle and drove them almost to the borders of this county. And hue and cry having been raised Stephen and the others with men of peace of those parts, followed them and rescued the cattle from them, as it was lawful for them to do without any injury or trespass.. [sic.]
     Luke and the others say that Duneghuth, by his men, stole from Nicholas many of his cattle, and those of his betaghs. Nicholas sued in this county against him, who did not appear. And when by judgment of the county court, by his default, it proceeded to outlawry [p. 176:] against Doneghuth; he by his friends procured that the Justiciar, for good of the peace, suspended the execution of the outlawry, and made a commission to Ric. de Exon' and Thomas de Snyterby to hear and determine the trespass. Before whom Dunoghuth made fine with Nicholas, by 5 marks, for payment of which at a term assigned, as well Doneghuth as Gilpatrik McMahoun, under whom Doneghuth then resided, granted that they might be forced to give pledges (devadiarentur), by all modes by which they and their men could be, until satisfaction be made, except that the body of Gilpatrik be not taken. And because Doneghuth failed to make payment, Nicholas sent Luke and the others to take a pledge of Doneghuth. Who finding Doneghuth's cattle, took and had them driven away with them, as was lawful for them to do, according to the form of the composition; until Stephen and the others with a great force attacked them, as complained, and rescued the cattle. And they pray that this be enquired. And Stephen likewise. Therefore let the truth be enquired by the country.
     The Jurors say that a thief came to Nicholas' manor of Doueth, and there stole about 60 cows, and drove them to Doneghuth, who then was under the avowry of Gilpatrik McMahoun, a man of Theobald de Verdun. And Nicholas learning this, made suit against Doneghuth to whom the cows came, up to outlawry. And because it was related to the Justiciar that Doneghuth was wont to repress (gravare) the felons of his parts, for the good of the peace, the Justiciar assigned Ric. de Exon' etc. (as in the stament of Luke). And afterwards Nicholas to whom 20s. of the fine were in arrear, hearing that Doneghuth was in the land of Stephen, sent Luke and the others with horses equipped, to take a pledge for the debt. Who coming to Stephen's land found a shepherd keeping cows in his pasture, of whom they asked whose the cows were; who answered that they were Doneghuth's. And they took the cows and drove them to the manor of Nicholas, of Doueth. And when they were driven a little way from the shepherd, who for fear of them dared not before cry out, he raised hue and cry. On which Stephen, who was near, mounted his horse, without arms, and followed them. And when he came to them, he asked that they should deliver him the cattle, and he would undertake that there should be done to Nicholas as justice might require, for said cattle. And Luke answered that he could not do this without Nicholas his lord; and he asked him to come with him to his lord. And when Stephen saw that he gained nothing, but that he was answered by rough words, he returned, and came to the house of John Petyt, who would have gone out to the hue unarmed, but Stephen forbad him, because Luke and the others were well armed and on equipped horses. And so Stephen took part of John's arms, and so they armed themselves, and with the others named and their men, and others who came to the hue, followed Luke and the others, and approached them about the distance of a league from the manor of Nicholas. And they sent their footmen to go before the cows to lead them back. So that immediately there was a conflict between the footmen of Luke, who drove the cows, and them. Luke looking back rode towards them and struck one of the footmen who came with Stephen, with a spear, under the arm; so that the spear passed through the middle of the footman's tunic without wounding him. But one of his company, being his kinsman, thinking that he was struck through the body, went to Luke and struck him in the head on [p. 177:] his iron headpiece, so that the headpiece was thrown to the ground. And John le Petyt seeing this doubting lest greater evil should happen approached Luke, who so had his head uncovered, and laid hands on him to hold him. On which Luke drew a dagger (anelacium) to free himself, from John's hands. At which some of John's men came, and seeing Luke, with his dagger drawn, and John, struggling together, struck Luke with a spear in the arm and gave him a severe wound, which grieved John, who let him go as soon as he saw that he was wounded. And so the parties withdrew from one another, Stephen and John bringing home the cows with them, except four cows which remained in ditches near, of which two were so wearied by the driving and so weak from it, that they could scarcely be driven to the manor of Nicholas. And when Nicholas saw that they could not live, he had them killed and salted. He however liad them first valued, understanding that if they perished it would be to his damage, because they fell to him for part payment of the debt against Doneghugh. And the other two cows yet remain with Nicholas. And they say that in the conflict, James, Thomas, and William were struck, but none of them wounded except Luke. But certain of the footmen on each side were wounded.
     Afterwards in the quinzaine of S. Hilary, at Dublin, the parties come. And a day is given them at the three weeks of Easter.
     Afterwards at the month of Easter a. r. i. Edw. II, the King the father being dead, and the plea being resummoned at the suit of Luke &c., to wit, in the same state as it was at said three weeks of Easter and which afterwards by death of the King remained sine die; it is adjudged that Luke and the others recover against Stephen &c. their damages, taxed by the jury at 10 marks. And let Stephen and the others be taken. And Stephen was attached by Will. Beaufiz and John Beaufiz. And Philip, by Adam Belejaumbe, and Ric. Bernard, who now have them not; therefore they in mercy. And this judgment is made against Stephen and the others, by their default after the Sheriff was commanded to make them come.
     Afterwards Stephen, John, Philip, and Adam made fine by 40s. before W. de Burgo, locum tenens of the Justiciar, as appears in the rolls of common pleas of the term of S. Michael a. r. ii. Ed. II.
     Damages 10 marks, whereof W. de Bourn 4 marks, J. de Patrik-churche 40s. and Nicholas the clerk senior 40s.[2]

1306 - John le Petit accused of assault in Meath (2)

[1306:]
     Nich. de Netteruill puts Luke de Netteruill or Will, de Netteruill, v. Theobald de Verdon senior, John Petit, Stephen de Excestre, Simon Bray, Ph. Burnel, and John son of Ric. de Excestre, of a plea of trespass.[3]

1306 - John le Petit accused of assault in Meath (3)

[1306:]
     ch. de Nettreuill puts Ric. Mannyng and Warin Myles, against Theobald de Verdun sen., John [Petyt], Stephen Dexcestre, Ric. son of Ric. Dexcestre, Simon Bray, and Ph. Burnel, of a plea of trespass.
     Luke de Nettreuill puts same against same. [... p. 292: ...]
     James de Nettreuill puts Ric. Mannyng and Warin Myles, against Theobald de Verdun sen., [John] Petyt, Stephen de Exon', Ric. son of Ric. de Exon', Simon Bray, and Ph. Burnel, of a plea of trespass.
     Thomas de Nettreuill puts as above.
     Ric. Proutfot puts same against Theobald de Verdun, of same.[4]

1306 - John le Petit accused of assault in Meath (4)

[1306:]
     Day is given to Luke de Nettreuill, James de Nettreuill, Tliomas de Nettreuill, and Will, de Nettreuill, plaintiffs, and Stephen de Exon', John le Petyt, Ric. de Exon', and Ph. de Burnel, of a plea of trespas.[5]

1307 - John le Petit accused of assault in Meath

[1307:]
     Day given to Luke de Nettreuill, James de Nettreuill, Thomas de Nettreuill and William de Nettreuill, v. Stephen de Exon', John le Petyt, Ric. de Exon', and Ph. Burnel, of a plea of trespass. To the quinzaine of S. Michael, at prayer of the parties, without essoin.[6]

1314 - John Petit of Shorne pardoned

[1 Sep. 1314:]
  Pardon to John Petyt of Shorne, co. Kent, on account of his good service in Scotland, for the death of John le Ismongere of Shorne, and also of any outlawry incurred thereby.
By K. on the information of W. de Melton.

  The like, word for word, for John Poteman of Shorne, co. Kent.

By K. on the information of W. de Melton.[7]

1315 - John Petit among disobedient mariners

[8 Oct. 1315:]
  Writ de intendendo, under pain of forfeiture, directed to John Mot and his fellow mariners, for Humphrey de Littlebury and John Sturmy, captains and admirals of the king's fleet. The writ was issued in consequence of John Mot and his fellow mariners contemning the commands of the said Humphrey de Littlebury and John Sturmy as captains of the fleet, at which the king was much incensed.
By K. & C.
  The like directed to the under-mentioned mariners, viz.:—
William le Fissher, Luke de London, John Petit, Richard Golde, Richard de la Woses, and their fellow mariners.[8]

1315 - John Petit plunders cargo of Flemish ship

[22 Jul. 1315:]
The like [i.e. a commission of oyer and terminer] to John de Fresingfeld, Richard de Walsingham and Richer de Reefham, on complaint by Ralph Frapaile, John Hungeri (Hungrie), Gervase Waretes' and John Compaile, merchants of Dynaunt in Almain, that, when a ship which they had laden at le Swyn in Flanders with divers wares to take to England was driven ashore near Bromholm, co. Norfolk, and they had taken the goods ashore, John Petit of Westminster, Thomas Springot and Alice his wife, John Springot, John Faireman and Joan his wife, Robert Lenys, John Seitesele, Bartholomew Merke, John Mot, William le Fisshere, John le Fisshere, Richard Eliot, Richard atte Wase, Robert Peverel, Ralph Bruneman, Martin son of Amice, William Ethe and Margery his wife, William Proudefot and Amice his wife, Stephen de Marisco, John Grygge of Houpp, John Belle, Thomas de Hull, Walter 'on Thenesse,' William le Mazoun, Richard Bat, Sweteman Flemyng, Adam Cadeford, John Stane, Richard Oseborn, William Werke and Joan his wife, Letitia Springot and others of the counties of Norfolk and Kent carried away a great part of the said goods.
By K.[9]

1323 - John le Little confiscates ship at Newcastle-on-Tyne

[1323. July 27:]
To the mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Whereas at the complaint of John Vanele and Claisus Hourel of Brugge, merchants of Flanders, that, after the truce lately made between the king's subjects and the men of the count of Flanders until Michaelmas next and proclaimed at Easter last, they and certain of their fellows loaded a ship in Flanders with wine, cloth, wax, and other wares, to the value of 900l., in order to bring the same to Newcastle-on-Tyne, John le Little, Roger Catour, Cokkus atte Wose, and certain others with them entered the ship by force on her voyage thither in the water of Tyne between Tynemuth and Newcastle, on Wednesday before St. George last, and assaulted the men and mariners of the ship, and arrested certain of them with the ship and goods, and delivered them and the ship and a great part of the goods to the aforesaid mayor and bailiffs to be detained under arrest, taking away with them nevertheless a great part of the goods, the king ordered the mayor and bailiffs, if they found the premises to be true, to release the said men and the ship and goods, and the king caused the ship and goods in the possession of the mayor and bailiffs to be delivered to the aforesaid merchants; and the king now understands that the aforesaid Roger and Cokkus have returned to Newcastle; he therefore orders the mayor and bailiffs to arrest the said Roger and Cokkus, and to cause them to be kept under safe custody until the aforesaid merchants have been satisfied for all their goods that came into the possession of Roger and Cokkus.

By K. on the information of Master R. de Baldok.[10]

1323 - Littele Johannes of Leicester

[?1326-29:]
Henry Cooper taken on suspicion of larceny and imprisoned in the prison of the town of Leicester, confessed that he stole a horse in Beaumondheye. He appealed Ric. le Thressher of aid in the felony and Ralph le Staleworthman dwelling in the street of the Abbey of Leicester that he helped him in a burglary and took 3s.. for his share of the clothes and brass stolen; he appealed also Geoff, le Pultere1 and Little John (Littele Johannes) his groom, Rob. Sabyn le Siveker and others for their share in other burglaries.

Et predictus appellator liberatus fuit ad Gaolam domini Regis Leycestrie.

[Editor's translation:]
And the said appellant was delivered to the King's gaol of Leicester.[11]

1325 - John le Luttle to be arrested

[27 May 1325:]
Appointment of Simon de Redyng, serjeant at arms, to arrest Richard atte Wose, John le Luttle and Roger le Catour and bring them to Neugate gaol to be delivered to the sheriffs there by indenture.
By K.[12]

1325 - Mariner John Petit released from the Tower

[1325. Dec. 31:]
To the treasurer and barons of the exchequer. Order to cause John Petit, mariner, Catour, mariner, and Cok' atte Wose, mariner, who are imprisoned in the Tower of London, to be released, upon their finding mainpernors that they will not eloign themselves and that they will be always ready at the king's pleasure when summoned in this behalf, so that by this mainprise they may go at large and sue to recover their debts for their discharge. The king has ordered the constable to bring them before the treasurer and barons, and to release them from prison at the order of the treasurer and barons.
By p.s. [7277.]

Mandate in pursuance to the constable. By p.s.[13]

1332 - John Petit at Canterbury

[1332:]
Pardon to the abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, Nicholas Dagh, one
of the monks, John Petit the younger, and Thomas Everard, for having
rescued Master Peter de Dene, said to be a monk of the abbey, from the
custody of William de Reculvre, steward of the liberty of the archbishop
of Canterbury, who, by the king's command, had arrested him, with
William Chaunterel and John his brother, at Bisshopesbourne on an appeal
lately laid against them before the steward by Thomas de Fyndon that they
had robbed him at the abbey of 111 Florentines, worth 33 marks 3s. 4d.,
and of 6 dishes, 6 saucers, a cup, a water-pot and 6 spoons, all of silver,
and 25s. in money, and for having then brought him with the said
Florentines to Canterbury and there kept him in the abbey.     By p.s.
  Pardon, at the request of the abbot, to the said Master Peter de Dene for
the robbery, as Thomas de Fyndon has not prosecuted his said appeal
after the king had caused it to be brought before him.        By p.s.[14]

Also see

Notes

  1. [Black, J.G., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward I. A.D. 1272-1281 (London, 1901), p. 470.
  2. Mills, James, ed. Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls on Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Edward I. Part 2. XXIII to XXV Years (London, 1914), pp. 175-77.
  3. Mills, James, ed. Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls on Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Edward I. Part 2. XXIII to XXV Years (London, 1914), p. 231.
  4. Mills, James, ed. Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls on Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Edward I. Part 2. XXIII to XXV Years (London, 1914), pp 291-92.
  5. Mills, James, ed. Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls on Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Edward I. Part 2. XXIII to XXV Years (London, 1914), p. 314.
  6. Mills, James, ed. Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls on Proceedings in the Court of the Justiciar of Ireland Preserved in the Public Record Office of Ireland. Edward I. Part 2. XXIII to XXV Years (London, 1914), p 359.
  7. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 168.
  8. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898), p. 356.
  9. [Handcock, G.F., compil.; Fowler, R.C., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1313-1317 (London, 1898),p. 409.
  10. [Stevenson, W.H., ed.; Woodruff, C.H., index.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1323–1327 (London, 1898), p. 10.
  11. Bateson, Mary, ed.; Stevenson, W.H., ed. & revis.; Stocks, J.E., ed. & revis.; Stocks, ed. & revis.; Creighton, Mandell, introd. Records of the Borough of Leicester: Being a Series of Extracts from the Archives of the Corporation of Leicester (London; Cambridge, 1899-1905), p. 379.
  12. [Black, J.G., compil.; Isaacson, Robert F., compil.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1324-1327 (London, 1904), p. 123.
  13. [Stevenson, W.H., ed.; Woodruff, C.H., index.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, introd.] Calendar of the Close Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II. A.D. 1323–1327 (London, 1898), p. 437.
  14. [Isaacson, R.F., ed.; Maxwell-Lyte, Henry Churchill, ed.] Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office [...] Edward III. A.D. 1330-1334 (London, 1893), p. 239.