General Pardons

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This is a list of general pardons covering treason for the period 1399-1509, compiled for my article Exceptions to General Pardons 1399-1450 (forthcoming). A general pardon was an act of clemency, issued at irregular intervals for all the king's subjects, by which the king stayed prosecution and thereby remitted temporal punishment at his own suit for a wide range of serious crimes committed before a certain day (terminus ante quem (General 'General Pardons'). They differ from individual general pardons which were given to a named individual for a host of offences committed before a certain date, which was the issue date of the pardon for this individual. General 'General Pardons' are seen by some as an expression of the realization that the legal system could not bring felons to justice. Looking at the coverage of these pardons, one might well get that impression, because the coverage grows enormously in the course of the fifteenth century. But if we turn our attention to exceptions, we get a more nuanced view (Susanne Jenks) (note: work in progress)

Henry IV

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source Recipients
1 Henry IV’s first parliament, 1399 All treasons and felonies committed before 19 Nov. 1399 a) murder and rape of women

b) common thieves indicted before 19 Nov. 1399, approvers, those appealed of the death of a person, those captured with stolen goods, those who broke out of a royal prison before 19 Nov. 1399, those present at the murder of Thomas, duke of Gloucester

to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue Until 1 Nov. 1400 (PROME, Henry IV, 1399 October, item 156, Statutes ii, 119 c. 20) First copy on the pardon roll was issued on 20 Nov. 1399 (C67/32, m. 23), last copy on 7 Apr. 1400 (C67/32, m. 22), last copy found so far on plea rolls was issued on 6 May 1400 (KB 27/544 m 15 rex [1], KB27/554 m 13d Rex [2]. For a copy of the French version of this general pardon, issued on 15 December 1399, see KB 27/557 m. 21 Rex [3] A list of all recipients of this pardon, taken from C 67/32, mm 23-22: HIV Recipients:No1
2a Rising of January, 1400 all treasons, insurrections, felonies, trespasses, rebellions, contempts, extortions and oppressions committed before the feast of the Purification of Saint Mary (2 Feb. 1400) a) murder and rape of women

b) common thieves indicted before 2 Feb. 1400, approvers, those appealed of the death of a person, those captured with stolen goods, those who broke out of a royal prison before 2 Feb. 1400, those present at the murder of Thomas, duke of Gloucester

to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue Ten copies on the pardon roll issued on 18 March 1400, two on 23 March 1400 (C67/32, m. 20) A list of all recipients of this pardon, taken from C 67/32,m. 20: HIV Recipients:No2a
2b all trespasses, rebellions, contempts extortions, oppressions committed before the feast of the Purification of Saint Mary (2 Feb. 1400), and all treasons, insurrections and felonies committed before 2 Feb. 1400 a) murder and rape of women

b) ut supra

Eight copies of this pardon issued between 18 March and 20 March 1400 (C67/32, m. 20) A list of all recipients of this pardon, taken from C 67/32, m 20: HIV Recipients:No2b
2c all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed before 2 Feb. 1400, and all trespasses, contempts, extortions and oppressions committed before 2 Feb. 1400 a) murder and rape of women

b) ut supra

First copy of this version issued on 25 Mar. 1400 (C67/32, m. 20), the last copy issued on 20 Sep. 1400 (C67/32, m. 17) A list of all recipients of this pardon, taken from C 67/32, mm 20-17: HIV Recipients:No2c
2d all insurrections, felonies and rebellions committed before 2 Feb. 1400, and all trespasses, contempts, extortions and oppressions committed before 2 Feb. 140 a) certain persons whose names are on record in the chancery

b) murder and rape of women c) common thieves indicted before 2 Feb. 1400, approvers, those appealed of the death of a person, those captured with stolen goods, those who broke out of a royal prison before 2 Feb. 1400, those present at the murder of Thomas, duke of Gloucester

Enrolled on C67/32, m. 18 under the date 18 March 1400, but apparently no copies issued
2e De pardonacione Cestre all treasons, insurrections, felonies, rebellions and trespasses committed between Christmas 1399 and 2 Feb. 1400 a) murder and rape of women to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue First copy issued on 22 May 1400 (C67/32, m. 15), last copy issued on 23 Sep. 1400 (C67/32, m. 15) A list of all recipients of this pardon, taken from C 67/32,m 15: HIV Recipients:No2e
2f all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed before 2 Feb. 1400, and all trespasses, contempts, oppressions and extortions committed before 2 Feb. 1400 a) murder and rape of women

b) common thieves indicted before 2 Feb. 1400, approvers, those appealed of the death of a person, those captured with stolen goods, those who broke out of a royal prison before 2 Feb. 1400, those present at the murder of Thomas, duke of Gloucester

to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue First copy issued on 2 Oct. 1400 (C67/32, m. 14), last copy issued on 20 Oct. 1405 (C67/32, m. 10)
2g all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed before 2 Feb. 1400, and all trespasses and oppressions committed before 2 Feb. 1400 a) murder and rape of women

b) common thieves indicted before 2 Feb. 1400, approvers, those appealed of the death of a person, those captured with stolen goods, those who broke out of a royal prison before 2 Feb. 1400, those present at the murder of Thomas, duke of Gloucester

to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue variant, issued on 12 April 1402, found only on a plea roll: KB27/564 m. 7 rex [4][5]
3a marriage (issued at the instigation of Queen Joan), 1403 all treasons, insurrections, felonies and trespasses committed before 7 September 1403 a) entering into lands and tenements which are being held directly from the king (transgressionibus pro ingressibus in terras et tenementas que de nobis tenentur in capite) without due process and transfer of such lands and tenements (non alienacionibus terrarum et tenementorum hujusmodi) without the king’s licence

b) common thieves indicted on 7 Sep. 1403 (dicto 7 September 1403 indictatus non fuerit quod est communis latro), those imprisoned for murder or theft and kept in prison without mainprise or bail (nec tunc in prisona pro murdro aut pro latrocinio absque manucapcione seu tradicione in ballium corporaliter detentus extiterit)

to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue 22 November 1403 (C67/32, m. 9) - first copy issued on 22 November 1403 (C67/32, m. 9), last copy issued on 1 February 1413 (C67/32, m. 1)
3b Percy insurrection, 1403 all treasons, insurrections, felonies, rebellions, misprisions,trespasses and evildoings to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue 22 November 1403 - 6 January 1404 (CCR 1402–05, 279 = C54/252, m. 28d)
3c at supplication of the king’s son, 3 Nov. 1403 (CPR 1401–5, 330–1) to all the king’s lieges in the county of Chester all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed by them with Henry Percy and other rebels before this time (C66/370, m. 15) the mayor and commonalty of the city of Chester to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue for a fine of 3,000 marks payable within three years after Christmas next
4a at the request of commons, 1404 (Statutes ii, 147) all treasons, insurrections, rebellions, misprisions, felonies and trespasses committed before 14 Jan. 1404 a) murders and rapes of women; b) all who are in prison or in custody for treason (illis qui tunc in prisona vel in custodia occasione prodicionibus extiterunt), counterfeiters of the king’s seal, makers of false money (factoribus false monete), felons detained in prison or were released on mainprise or bail (felonibus qui tunc in prisona corporaliter detenti vel ad manucapcionem seu ballium dimissi extiterunt) to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue No purchase of copy needed Note: Order to obey this pardon issued on 22 Jan. 1413 (KB27/607 m 1d Rex [6]), pleaded twice in the king’s bench in Michaelmas term 1421 (KB27/642 m 4 Rex [7])and KB27/642 m 27 Rex [8])
4b 1404 (Statutes ii, 147–8), to all the king’s enemies in the realm of England, the country of Wales and the marches of Scotland for all insurrections, rebellions, felonies, trespasses, misprisions, committed avaunt lour rendre ou venue einz a lour ligeance William Serle, Thomas Ward of Trumpington to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue within 40 days after the proclamation
5a 1405 all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed between 1 May 1405 and 1 Aug. 1405 Proviso semper - clause to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue first copy issued on 8 Aug. 1405 (C67/33, m. 4), last copy issued on 1 Oct. 1408 (C67/33, m. 2), variant (C67/33, m. 1, ad valorem £10 and £8 resp.) issued between 10 Aug. 1409 (C67/33, m. 1) and 27 Sep. 1409 (C67/33, m. 1), another variant (C 67/33, m. 1, ad valorem 100 marks and £8 resp) issued on 9 Aug. 1409
5b 1405 De pardonacionibus communis gratie (no formula given) issued between 11 Oct. and 20 Oct. 1405 (C67/32, m.10)
6a Recovery from an illness, 1409 all treasons, insurrections, rebellions, felonies, offenses, misprisions, impeachments and trespasses committed before the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 Jan. 1409) a) murder and rape of women; b) approvers, notorious thieves, those in prison for theft without being released on mainprise or bail First copy issued on 28 Jan. 1409 (C67/34, m. 11); last copy on pardon roll issued on 1 Mar. 1410 (C67/34, m. 4)
6b 1409 all treasons, insurrections, rebellions, felonies, misprisions, offenses, impeachments and trespasses committed before the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 Jan. 1409) a) murder and rape of women; b) approvers, notorious thieves, those in prison for theft without being released on mainprise or bail First copy issued on 30 Jan. 1409 (C67/34, m. 3), last copy issued on 20 July 1409 (C67/34, m.2)
7 special request of all members of parliament, 1411 all treasons, insurrections, rebellions, felonies, misprisions, offenses, impeachments, trespasses and contempts committed before 19 Dec. last (1410) a) murder and rape of women; b) approvers, thieves, robbers, those in prison for theft or robbery without being released on mainprise or bail, or convicted or attaint of a felony on record and Owain Glyndŵr of Wales and Thomas of Trumpington and other enemies of the king stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue proclaimed on 22 Dec. 1411, available until Midsummer 1412 (CCR 1409–13, 311)





Henry V

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 coronation 1413 all treasons, insurrections, rebellions and felonies committed before 9 Apr. 1413 a) murder and rape of women; b) approvers, those found guilty or held in prison without being released on mainprise or bail for the aforesaid causes on the 9 April 1413, those officers of the mint or officials of the mystery of money, coinage, or the exchange in the Tower and the city of London and the town of Calais who did not find surety to stand to right in the chancery in regard to certain defaults and impeachments alleged in the last parliament of Henry IV on which they are not yet fully excused stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue proclamation 9 April 1413 (CCR 1413–19, 67–8), available until Octaves St Peter Chains (8 Aug. 1413) (ibid.), prolonged until Christmas 1413 (CCR 1413–19, 84–5) First copy issued on 12 Apr. 1413 (C67/36, m. 15), last of seven copies issued on 28 Apr. 1413 (C67/36, m. 15), then again from 4 May 1413 (C67/36, m. 15) until 12 Dec. 1413 (C67/36, m. 11), but still availalbe on 20 July 1414 (KB 27/614 m 5-5d Rex [9] [10]
2 PROME Henry V, 1413 May, item 18 terminus ante quem 15 May available until Christmas 1413
3 1413 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, conspiracies, trespasses, offenses, negligence, ignorances of the law (ignorantiis), contempts, extortions, misprisions, concealments and deceptions committed before 8 Dec. 1413 to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue issued on 25 April 1414 (KB 27/616 m 22 Rex [http://aalt.law.uh.edu/H5/KB27no616/aKB27no616fronts/IMG_0216.htm
4 request from commons in parliament 2 Henry V (1414) all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies and other trespasses, offenses, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments and deceptions committed before 8 December a) murders committed after 19 Nov. 1414; b) forgers who mix a great deal of money and coins, sweaters of gold and silver with our stamped coins, clippers of money (controfactor mistere monete noste et cunagii multiplicator et lotor auri et argenti cum cuneo nostro cunato et tonsor monete nostre), approvers, common and notorious thieves, abjurors to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue available until Michaelmas 1415 (Chronicle of Adam Usk, 253, PROME Henry V, 1414 November, Introduction with note 9), later extended to Michaelmas 1417 (CCR 1413-19, 372) issued until at least 16 Sept. 1417 [11]
5 parliament, 1416 (PROME Henry V, 1416 October, item 30) all treason committed before 19 Oct., breaking of the king’s truces and safe-conducts No need to sue charter





Henry VI

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 parliamentary pardon, 1437 (PROME Henry VI, 1437 January, item 31) all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies and other trespasses, offenses, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments and deceptions committed before 2 Sep. 1431 forgers who mix a great deal of money and coins, sweaters of gold and silver with our stamped coins, clippers of money (controfactor mistere monete noste et cunagii multiplicator et lotor auri et argenti cum cuneo nostro cunato et tonsor monete nostre), approvers, common and notorious thieves, abjurors stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue until 1 Aug. 1437 (PROME, Henry VI, 1437 January, item 31) First copy issued on 27 Mar. 1437 (C67/38, m. 29), last one issued on 15 July 1437 (C67/38, m. 1), for this pardon presented in the king's bench see KB 27/664, m. 9 [12] - Note: see also KB27/655 m. 60 [13] for John Cowper’s pardon, whose name does not appear on the pardon roll under the date 27 March 1437; the patent writ to testify his pardon is said to be dated 27 March 1437, the non molestando writ was issued on 26 Apr. 1437
2 parliamentary pardon, 1446 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries and other trespasses committed before 9 April 1446 those who are involved in open or hidden treason against the king’s person (Dumtamen idem x proditor de aliqua prodicione personam dominum regis tangente palam vel occulte existat) stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue First copy issued on 28 May 1446 (C67/39, m. 49), last copy issued on 15 June 1446 (C67/39, m.1,but issued as late as 12 March 1447 (C237/43/340)
3a Good Friday, 7 April 1452 (by privy seal) (C67/40, m. 34) all treasons, insurrections, congregations, illicit meetings and gatherings, felonies, murders, rebellions, illegal assemblies, misprisions against the king’s peace, offenses, confederations, conspiracies, discussions, ignorances, negligences, depredationes, despoilings, robberies, riots, trespasses and other misdeeds committed against statutes or proclamations committed before 7 Apr. 1452 those involved in the murders of Bishops Moleyns and Aiscough as principals or accessories stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue all copies issued on 7 April 1452 (C67/40, mm. 34, 33)
3b variant (C67/40, m. 32) all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries and other trespasses, offenses, negligence, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, forfeitures and deceptions committed before Good Friday (7 April 1452) those involved in the murders of Bishops Moleyns and Aiscough as principals or accessories stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue copies issued from 21 May 1452 onwards (C67/40, m. 32)
4 1455 (PROME, Henry VI, 1455 July, item 29) all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 9 July 1455 all leading accounting officials, present or past, namely our treasurers including those of our household, victuallers of Calais, the chamberlains of Chester, North Wales and South Wales, the keepers of the wardrobe, the clerks of our works, constables of Bordeaux, treasurers of our land of Ireland, and the receivers of our duchy of Lancaster and our duchy of Cornwall, both general and particular, with regard to any of their officers or responsibilities available from 6 Aug. 1455 last copy issued on 1 May 1456 (C67/41, m. 1)
5 1458 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 4 Nov. 1461 certain named persons (see C67/45, m. 49) to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue first copy issued 9 Jan. 1462 (C67/45, m. 49), last copy issued on 6 Feb. 1462 (C67/45, m. 1)



Edward IV

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 1462 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 4 Nov. 1461 to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to suecertain named persons (see C67/45, m. 49) First copy issued 9 Jan. 1462 (C67/45, m. 49), last copy issued on 6 Feb. 1462 (C67/45, m. 1)
2 1468 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 15 April 1468 proviso semper clause First copy issued on 14 July 1468 (C67/46, m. 38), last copy issued on 14 June 1469 (C67/46, m. 1), for an example see KB27/831 m. 15 Rex [14] [15]
3 1470 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, confederationibus, riotis routis, conventiuculis illicit, embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 25 Dec. 1469 Extensive proviso semper- clause: various custom officials are named, offenses etc. committed in a port, or in Calais or the March are except, certain named men, persons attainted by authority by any parliament of high treason and after this attaint restored to the benefit of the law, anybody who has not be rehabilitated, all leading accounting officials .... , abjurors, approvers, those convicted or attaint of felony, those who entered lands or tenements on the king’s possession, or have seized any heir under age in the king’s custody, violators of safe conducts and truces or alliances stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue First copy issued on 22 Feb. 1470 (C67/47, m. 9), last copy issued on 12 Sep. 1470 (C67/47, m. 1)
4 parliamentary pardon, 1470 (C67/44, m. 9) all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances and embraceries, and other trespasses, offences, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 26 Nov. 1470 proviso semper clause: ... forgers who used false metal only (controfactores), moneyers (ministeri monete) and counterfeiters who used base metals and bullion (multiplicatores cunagii), ‘sweaters’ of gold and silver coined with the king’s die (lotores auri et argenti cum cuneo nostro cunato) and coin-clippers (tonsores monete), common and notorious thiefs, abjurors, approvers (who had confessed to counterfeiting), notorious felons First copy issued on 18 Dec. 1470 (C67/44, m. 9), last copy issued on 12 Feb. 1471 (C67/44, m. 1)
5 1470 (C237/32/23) all treasons, insurrections, rebellions, felonies, misprisions, offences, impeachments and trespasses committed before the feast of the Conversion of St Paul last (25 Jan. 1470(?)), except murder and rape of women, dumtamen etc., stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue issued on 20 May 1470 (more undated examples in this file)
6 1471 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, confederations, riotis routis, conventiculis illicit, embraceries and other trespasses, offenses, negligences, extorsions, misprisions, ignorancies, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 30 September 1471 Extensive proviso semperclause to stand to right in the royal court if a private person wants to sue First copy issued on 23 Nov. 1471 (C67/48, m. 35), last copy issued on 6 March 1472 (C67/48, m. 35), still issued on 22 May 1477 (C 237/49/100)




Edward V

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 1483 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, confederacionibus, riotis routis, conventiculis illicitis, embraceries and other trespasses, offenses, negligences, extortions, misprisons, ignoranciis, contempts, concealments, fortfeitures and deceptions committed before 21 Jan. 1483 proviso semper clause First copy issued on 24 Feb. 1483 (C67/50, m. 6), last copy issued on 12 March 1483 (C67/50, m. 1)




Richard III

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 1484 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, , confederacionibus, riotis, routis, conventiculis illicitis, embraceries and other transgressions, offenses, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignoranciis, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 21 Feb. 1484 proviso semper clause stand to right if somebody wants to sue First copy issued on 23 Feb. 1484 (C67/51, m 1), last copy issued on 12 Nov. 1484 (C67/51, m. 36), first copy on C67/52, which has names only, was issued on 31 Jan. 1485 (m. 1), last copy issued on 27 Mar. 1485 (m. 16)




Henry VII

Number Occasion/Date Coverage Exceptions Requirements Availability Source
1 1485 all treasons, murders, rapes of women, abjurations, rebellions, insurrections, felonies, conspiracies, champerties, maintenances, confederations, riots, riotous assemblies, illicit assemblies, embraceries and other trespasses, offenses, negligences, extortions, misprisions, ignorances, contempts, concealments, forfeitures and deceptions committed before 7 Nov. 1485 Stand to right if somebody wants to sue 1485-1505 (C67/53) example: C237/58/1/16 (issued 26 June 1503), C237/58/1/19, C237/58/1/23 (issued 28 June 1503), C237/58/2/1 (issued 12 Oct. 1503), C237/58/2/8 (issued 8 July 1504), C237/58/3/2 (issued 20 Nov. 1504)
2 1496 all treasons, misprisions, confederations, conspiracies, concealments not touching the king, rebellions, insurrections, maintenances, confederations, riots, riotous assemblies, illicit assemblies and other trespasses offenses, negligences, extortions, ignorances, committed before 14 October 1495 proviso semper clause (counterfeiters, ‘sweaters’, coin-clippers) stand to right if somebody wants to sue First copy issued on 11 May 1496 (C67/55, m. 1), last copy issued on 20 Jan. 1501 (C67/55, m. 11)
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